Friday, September 17, 2010

British Girls' Romance Comics: Jackie Annual 1980

Jackie was a British girls' comic published by D.C. Thompson from the mid-1960s through the early 1990s. It had a mixed magazine and comic format, with comics interspersed with fashion, pop, horoscopes, and other features deemed interesting to young teenage girls. At its zenith it was selling over half a million copies a week - 1 in every 100 inhabitants of the UK was buying Jackie! Each year, as was typical for British comics, a hard cover annual was published for Christmas. Here's a selection of material from the 1980 Jackie Annual, including 21 of the 22 total pages of comics contained therein (the entire book including covers is 96 pages). The comics are mostly in black and white. The first is a humorous piece about a young couple, but like the other strips in this book, delves into relationships. The male protagonist has a French rival for his girl's affections, but prevails in the end. The first story is drawn by David Matysiak.

The next story is historical fiction set in Cornwall. It's the tale of a love between a gypsy girl and a wealthy young man, who ends up making a huge sacrifice to save her from harm born of prejudice.

There's a fashion section much like those discussed regularly by Jacque Nodell in her Sequential Crush blog. Despite 1980 being at the tail end of the first wave of British punk, there's little evidence of this in the book. About the punkiest people mentioned are Blondie and Bob Geldoff. 1980 was, however, early in the emergence of the New Romantic genre in music (Duran Duran, ABC, Human League, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, etc.), something that didn't really cross the Atlantic at the time, and the clothes on these fashion pages seem a little more in tune with that trend than anything else.

There are also advice sections, like in the American romance books. Jackie has a greater percentage of these kinds of features, in terms of the number of pages they occupy relative to the comics, when compared to its American counterparts.

The final story looks at sibling rivalry, something that many readers with sisters could probably relate to and perhaps be provoked into thinking about.

None of the art is signed, and I have little knowledge of British comics generally, girls' comics especially. Of course that makes it all the more interesting to me. Hopefully you'll also derive some enjoyment from this excellent art.

Jackie has acquired a kind of cult status in recent years, but has long been an object of popular as well as academic interest. An early analysis of the comic written during the peak years of its popularity is to be found in Angela McRobbie's book Feminism and Youth Culture: From 'Jackie' to 'Just Seventeen'.


  1. It is amazing that Jackie lasted into the '90s. What do you think accounts for that, when American romance comics died out so much earlier?

    The fashion spreads are great and I really enjoyed seeing the different art styles! Can't wait to see more issues in the future!

  2. Jacque: from what I've read about the comic, it seems that the advice columns were a critical component, with at least some willingness to address sensitive teenage issues. Apparently the publishers decided that the market wanted them to go further in this respect than they were willing to go, and this, combined with falling sales, led to the comic's cancellation. There were a number of Jackie 'wannabe' comics around as well at the time, and I've managed to get hold of a few Jackie comics and some of these others (e.g. 'Pink', 'Mates', etc.), so I'll be scanning and posting as soon as we're set up in our own apartment at the beginning of October.

  3. leonard j watkins was drawn by.. david cuzik matysiak

  4. the last farewell

    drawn by norman lee..