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The Quest for the lost JSFs

by Ashwini K Aggarwal, PhD Jan 31/2021

Today...I possess 498 out of the 499 titles published in the long-lost JSF/Schoolgirls picture library! This post shares how I tracked and recovered these long-lost treasures.

In 1969, My dad got transferred to Jodhpur. I still remember riding in a truck full of our household stuff from Jaipur to Jodhpur.

We moved into a small house in Shastri Nagar – near the Shastri Circle. In those days, the place was desolate with empty plots and sand – and I felt very lonely missing my friends and neighbors in Jaipur. So, my parents took me to the city and we came across a book shop – the Universal Book shop (it still exists though a shadow of the original as I remember it). It had some brand new, bright colored picture story comics and I could not resist picking up a couple of them. My dad gently bought me the same – partly to calm me, partly to feed my hunger for reading…and so I went home that evening with my first June & School Friend (JSF) comics (Mystery at Goose Hayes & Spy-hunt among the Magicians).

Schoolgirls Picture Library was a British comic published by Amalgamated Press, later Fleetway, from 1957 to 1965, when it was merged into June & School Friend Picture Library.Quite a few stories were repeated across different picture libraries (Originally School Girls picture library – and later Princess, School Friends Picture library) over the years. It had simple, inspiring stories with a simple moralistic ending – and I simply loved them. We found several 2nd hand copies at another book store that I added to my collection during the Jodhpur stay.

As time went by, Dad got promoted and transferred back to Jaipur – and then destiny took us to other journeys. And comics – including the new JSFs were no longer available easily in bookshops. I recall that the 2nd hand bookshops and circulating libraries still had these available in mid 70s – and yes, I picked quite a few of these at the Daryagunj Kabadi bazaar in the 80s…but with time these rare comics were just not available anywhere.

In 2010s when we discovered internet and its wonderful treasure trove of digitized comic collections of the past, I scanned far and wide for the JSFs. None were available! Even the original Fleetway publishing house had downed its shutters long back!.

Now and then, a few titles were coming up for sale on Amazon and eBay at exorbitant prices ranging from $ 5 to $20! And at these prices were obviously beyond my reach!!

In 2009, It was by chance that I came across a blog on British comics on the internet – and I shared on it that I had nearly 80+ JSFs with me – and that I was planning to digitize them. Lima Soris from Sri Lanka took the cue and wrote to me asking if I had specific titles. I confirmed and shared a digitized copy with her (a skill that I got as the product manager for HP Scanners). I still remember that title as “Aunt Jemima on warpath” – the humorous antics of a super-charged aunt with her for harrowed nephews and nieces!

Lima was thrilled – and asked for some more titles which I shared – subject to the simple condition that it was not for sale as I wanted to keep life simple and not enter any copyright issues. As it turned out, Lima was a JSF fan – and as passionate about it as me. She also had a list of titles that were published for JSF , Princess and Schoolgirls picture library. This became the master list thru which we tracked.....read the full post at http://india-inspires.com/?p=1060

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