- Skate-Cat Kate – Emma: #10 (29 April 1978) – #23 (29 July 1978)
- Art: Leslie Branton
Kate Dobie is excited about the new skate-park that is opening and wants to join the new Ketworth skate-boarding team, her brother Simon isn’t too happy about this. He is the jealous type that always wants to be centre of attention. He is also grumpy as he had an accident on his skateboard and hurt his leg. He tells Kate they won’t allow girls on the team. Kate eagerly goes to the opening of the new skate-park opens, but when Brett Kenn, the new team trainer, prompts any “boys” with the skills to tryout for the team, Kate is nervous that Simon is right. She decides to audition under Simon’s name and figures once she gets in the team she can reveal her true self. She makes the team but the next part doesn’t go to plan as Simon shows up asking if can audition once his plaster is off, and Kate scurries off before she can be questioned. She believes her chances are now ruined as no one will believe she was going to tell the truth.
She does eventually get to ask Brett for another chance, he gives it to her, but Simon isn’t happy. She suspects that Simon messes with her equipment ruining her 2nd chance audition and then Simon ends up getting her place on the team. She watches the team practicing in the hopes of learning something. Even at home Kate doesn’t find things easy as her parents keep praising Simon and buying him new equipment and tell her she should be supportive of him. For the first competition, the whole family go to support Simon and it is only then that Kate finds out she was made reserve on team but Simon didn’t pass the message onto her. As one of the team doesn’t show up, Brett asks her to step in, as she is ill-prepared she has to do the whole competition in a dress. Simon always wanting to be the best attempts to jump over the rest of the team, but his leg gets caught on Kate’s dress at the end. While she argues that he was already coming in low, he still blames her.
While Kate is doing some early practice, a truck crashes near the skatepark, Kate skateboards for help. When reporter hears of this and wants to interview her, Simon pushes in to get some of the spotlight saying she is part of Kenworth team. So Kate is back on team officially. The team continue to prepare for a big competition, and Simon continues to make things difficult for Kate and tries to be the most prominent team member. While practicing Simon tries a stunt without safety gear and when Kate breaks his fall, she injures her hand. Before competition she has to have a final check on her wrist, Simon says there is no point waiting for her, but luckily Brett decides to swing by hospital anyway and Kate makes it to competition. At the competition Kate is worried about Simon trying to cheat, especially as despite how boastful as he is, he is actually a good skateboarder. She puts a stop to some of his plans and the team do end up winning partly because of a skateboarding trick Simon pulls off.
Simon is still not the best team player, and always wants to be star of the show, so while Kate is concerned when Mr Keen gets bad news about his fiancee being missing, Simon sees it as opportunity to take over the team and do his plan for the semi-finals. At the semi final Simon manages to hurt his hand. He has to ask Kate for help doing a handstand trick pretending to be him and they succeed in making to finals. While watching the televised report after, Simon’s jealousy flares up again, when the TV reporter calls Kate more stylish than Simon. Simon then decides its best to replace Kate and a younger small boy, Johnny, with two stronger boys. Though soon even Simon has to admit the replacements aren’t as good but he has hard time telling them that. Luckily Mr Keen turns up with his fiancee just in time for the finals and reinstated the team as it should be. At the finals Kate tells Simon he can beat the other team’s best time and win the individual prize. Finally Simon realises Kate is still cheering for him after all he did to her and that she is a good sister. The team win and conveniently Simon and Kate jointly win the individual prize all expense paid trip to California.
With the release of IPC’s Concrete Surfer thought it was an opportunity to look at a DCT skateboarding story. They are very different takes and having recently read Concrete Surfer, it is clearly the superior of the two and a better crafted story, but Skate-Cat Kate still has some merits. Interesting while Concrete Surfer did come out first there was only a couple of months between the 2 stories and they ran consecutively for a while (so it doesn’t seem like it was an influence, Emma previously had articles about skateboarding as well). While skateboarding wasn’t the most common sport to see in these comics, it does seem like 1978 was a popular year for skateboarding as Mandy also had a humour strip Skateboard Sally, that year. Clearly to comics were trying to keep in tune with trends at the time.
Concrete Surfer among other things does well at addressing class divide, Skate-Cat Kate addresses a different issue – sexism (although it’s not the main focus). Simon is antagonistic towards his sister, jealous and conceited, so overall not great person, but it is actually the actions of people around him, particularly Brett,that highlights the sexism issues. Simon winds Kate up by telling her girls won’t be allowed on the team, but it is Brett’s statement about boys should try out for the team, that makes Kate believe it’s true. In the end Brett doesn’t mind girls on the team but he does make assumptions that it’s a boys sport first. His treatment of Kate and Simon, is to see them equally responsible for their fighting. Even when it’s clear that Simon is starting arguments, or not passing information to Kate, they are both seen as in the wrong. When Kate gets in the newspaper at Simon’s pushing, Brett reprimands her as using it as opportunity to sneak back on the team, but when Simon says it was his idea to get good publicity he praises him for being shrewd. Brett seems unaware of his biases, but at least as times go in he begins to value Kate more and not just take Simon’s word on things, such as actually going to collect Kate from hospital so she can attend event.
Maybe more favoritism than sexism (though still a bit of that mixed in) the Dobies do take Simon’s side of things a lot, buying him new skateboarding gear, encouraging Kate to congratulate and cheer her brother on and never do much to encourage her own skateboarding. With all this against her, no wonder Kate fears standing up to her brother too much in case he becomes even more spiteful to her. Yet despite all of what Simon has done she does clearly care for him, even injuring herself saving him. Simon really doesn’t get repercussions for his actions, he finally comes around to Kate and says she is a good sister but doesn’t actually apologise for what he has done and they both end up getting the prize. (Very odd that the prize could be afforded to be split as surely logistics of paying for a trip to California for one wouldn’t match up to price of sending two people!). It is also odd that a lot of time is spent showcasing Simon’s skills, like how he’s the only team member that can beat the rival’s team speed times. Both Kate, and another team member Paul who is far nicer and encouraging of Kate, actually seem to put in the work, whereas Simon tries flashy things that only sometimes work. Some of the lesson seems to be Simon overcompensating and maybe should have faith in his own skills, but a far more satisfying ending would have been Kate winning the individual prize for her precision skillful skateboarding, and Simon apologizing, realizing she deserves it more!