Book Review: The Misadventures of Jane


by Norman Pett & J.H.G. ("Don") Freeman

London: Titan Books, 2009. Pp. 160.. Illus.. $19.95. ISBN:1848561679

The "Jane" of the title is a naughty cartoon character created in 1932, which ran in British newspapers and magazines for several decades, solving mysteries, nabbing spies, or pursuing other adventures, all with considerable pluck and brains, though always, through mishap, managing to lose part -- occasionally all -- of her clothing.  Jane, who was much less covered than competing American girl cartoon characters, even those running in Esquire, reached the peak of her popularity during the Second World War, when she appeared regularly in various servicemen's magazines such as Union Jack and The Maple Leaf, and became an immensely popular pinup for British and Commonwealth troops.

In this collection, of several strips, including some in color, from the war, plus some additional material, on her background, the artists, and the models.  In them, Jane, working as an undercover agent, manages to nab some spies, pursue a few boy friends, and even helps turn a plain-Jane woman NAAFI worker (the Brit equivalent of a Doughnut Dolly) in a moderately glamorous sex object, all the while, of course, almost constantly in a state of at least partial undress.  There are a lot of jokes in the strip, including some Britishisms that may be a bit difficult to catch for American readers, and some not-so-subtle digs, such as a French bistro with a sign welcoming soldiers, which suggests how transitory the welcome may be, since the names of various armies -- French, British, German, British again -- are crossed out, leaving at the end "American."

Pretty much anyone will find The Misadventures of Jane entertaining, and it is likely to be particular interest for anyone studying things like troop morale, soldiers' entertainment, and the like.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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