Jane
Medium: comic
Year: 1932
Writer/artist: Norman Pett
Format: Newspaper comic strip
Website category: Comics
Review date: 19 November 2021
I first heard of Jane thanks to the 1982 BBC TV series starring Glynis Barber. The original comic strip is basically just remembered for its nudity, but the TV series aired at a family friendly hour and was safe to show to maiden aunts.
I've just flicked through a few of the original Jane stories. They're not that great.
The later ones work better. I'm being polite there. The art's actually quite good, if you look at it closely, but Pett's not being flattered at all by the four-panel medium, his compositions and his inking style. I'd be genuinely interested in seeing him tackling bigger pictures, in a less crude medium. (I just did a google image search, without finding much.) His faces can be characterful, though, and he draws quite a pretty Jane.
He improves later, but he's still not threatening the likes of Jim Holdaway (Modesty Blaise) or Sydney Jordan (Jeff Hawke).
As for the stories... well, calling them "stories" is generous. Sometimes events follow each other in what could be called a narrative, but without drama. Jane and her friend go to the seaside, hurrah! Sometimes it's like a weak attempt at a humour strip, with silly colonels and their stuffy, jealous wives. This can be mildly amusing, but to be honest I'd almost stopped reading after a while. I was just flicking through. There wasn't enough in the scripts to detain me.
The nudity made the strip famous, but in a simpler era. Today, ahahahahaha. Despite all the underwear and so on, I could imagine modern readers not realising that this was meant to be risque. Compare with softcore porn newspaper strips like The Sun's George and Lynne, for instance.
I've been fairly dismissive, but this strip genuinely was a big deal in its day, especially in World War Two. It was considered morale-boosting. In a pre-internet age when pornography as we know it barely existed... yeah, I can imagine stuff like this making a difference to soldiers on the front. Historically, it's important. Today, though, as a comic strip, it doesn't really stand up.