As part of the Treasury of British Comics’ mission to bring back the classics of British comics, the huge number of incredible girls’ comics strips from the ’70s and ’80s get a chance to shine in the forthcoming Tammy & Jinty Special, out on 27 June.
Tammy and Jinty were two of the best-loved girls’ comics, full of a huge range of great strips from some truly ground-breaking creators. And with this new special, edited by Lizzie Boyle, we get to see the return of the titles, complete with all new strips celebrating the spirit of the originals and a number of old strips, from Tammy, Jinty, and other girls’ comics, rebooted for a brand-new audience.
One of these reboots is Justine, The Wing’d Messenger of Justice, a supernatural superhero given the ‘Cloak of Icarus’, arrows of sleep, magical vision lenses, and a magical mirror. The strip, originally from Sally, is given new life in the Tammy & Jinty Special from Emma Beeby and PJ Holden.
What will Justine do? The only way to find out is to pick up the Tammy & Jinty Special, out in all good comic shops and newsagents on 26 June. Celebrate the spirit of great girls comics with us!
Emma, the girls’ comics of the ’70s and ’80s is a part of British comics history that’s long been neglected. And finally, with the Tammy & Jinty Special, we’re getting all-new strips for a new age. How much did you already know of the history of girls’ comics?
Emma Beeby: Honestly, very little. They were on the way out by the time I was old enough to be interested. I remember seeing Annuals and things like that but I never read them when I was a girl. I didn’t read comics at all until well into my teens!
One thing that always struck me about them was the difference in story and art that made girls’ comics so different and interesting compared to more traditional boys comics. What are your thoughts on the differences?
EB: Just after Rebellion announced they had bought these titles I happened to meet Pat Mills and he said that at that point in his career he enjoyed writing girls comics the most, and I’ve heard John Wagner say similar. When I came to look at them more I could see why. There’s not the same pressure for action, there’s more time for character drama and more just weird and unnerving things. That flexibility is great for getting your teeth into a story and to develop your characters.
How did you approach bringing Justine back for a new audience, did you try to keep the spirit and tone of the originals whilst adapting it for new readers?
EB: The old strips get the stories going very, very quickly, they’re not shy with numbers of panels, and lots and lots of captions. I wanted to do something that felt similar but was more modern and funny as well.
Your strip, ‘Some Mino Troubles – how Justine, The Wing’d Messenger of Justice, acquired her superpowers’ is an example of the magical type of strips, with Justine, effectively, having a load of magical superpowers; flight, strength, x-ray vision, etc. We’re you both already aware of the character or is this one you’ve had to read up on?
EB: I didn’t know her at all. It was fun to think about how to combine modern schoolgirl concerns about fitting in and dating with the supernatural and mythological. The tools are great for that: her magical mirror has become a sort of annoying mobile phone except it has no mute button and it’s a Goddess calling.
PJ Holden: I’ve gotta be honest and say I was totally ignorant of her, I’m not sure that’s a surprise as she’s from before my time. Though I’d go around picking up whatever comics I could as a kid in second hand shops, I’d read almost anything, Justine was one I’d never come across before.
I suppose she’s something of a Wonder Woman analog, perhaps in the same way the Leopard From Lime Street was a Spider-Man type of hero?
EB: I saw a Wonder Woman parallel with Greek gods and an empowered girl in the modern world, but there’s also that Spider-Man thing of life in school and a secret identity that will get in the way.
PJH: I have a special spot in my heart for all of the slightly low key (dare I say mildly rubbish?) British superheroes, including the Leopard. Never saving the world just sort of dealing with bullies and low level hoodlums.
There is that strange element to her origin… weird man rewards girl for freeing him when his foot was trapped in the rocks – taking her into his cave to give her a gift… hmmm. According to Lizzie, you’re doing the origin story, how she got her powers. I’d imagine you might be changing it slightly to be a little less… well, creepy?
EB: Yes, the old guy got ditched! So the origin story nods at the original but it’s different – the design is new, she’s in jeans and a t-shirt with Ancient Greek accessories. I wanted the modern and mythical to coexist and you can see that in the Minotaur as well as hopefully the humour.
PJH: I think a powerful female superhero deserves a more fitting origin.
PJ, I’ve been told by Lizzie that the history of girls’ comics is something of a specialist subject for you. What’s the appeal for you?
PJH: I think I’ve told people (anyone who’d listen) how as a kid I’d be as fascinated by girls as boys comics-I didn’t see a gender distinction except in so much as the girls comics tended to be a little more soul searching and weirdly scary. Not sure I’d qualify as a expert but I did once affectionately poke fun at the medium in a script by Arthur Wyatt for a silly one page strip several years ago. And the memory of the blood oranges story from Misty crept me out for decades.
You can find their rejuvenated Justine in the Tammy & Jinty Special, out on 27 June.