Monthly Archives: November 2018

Scream! #11, 2 June 1984

 

 

 

  • The Dracula File (artist Eric Bradbury, writer Ken Noble)
  • Monster (artist Jesus Redondo, writer Rick Clark)
  • The Thirteenth Floor (artist José Ortiz, writer Ian Holland)
  • Tales from the Grave: A Fatal Extraction – final episode (artist Jim Watson, writer R. Hunter)
  • Library of Death: Ghost Dance (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Angus Allan)
  • Fiends and Neighbours – cartoon (artist Graham Allen)
  • A Ghastly Tale – Behind the Door! (artist Eric Bradbury?)
  • The Nightcomers (artist John Richardson, writer Tom Tully)

More attempts at Ghastly’s face this week. None succeed, but one extracts another clue and a second has the honour of being on the back cover (above) because it is so well drawn.

Scream 11 From the Depths

Scream 11 Dungeon

Stakis manages to escape Dracula’s trap and put the stake into one of his servants. That’s one down, but there are two more and Drac himself to go. Meanwhile, Drac has to resort to a condemned house for his new hideout, and shows that even he turns up his nose at drunks because booze makes their blood unfit to drink. He throws a good scare into them instead.

Groan. Uncle Terry kills again. This time it’s self-defence against two men who tried to kill him because of his appearance.

Max shows mercy to the latest visitor to his Thirteenth Floor, who is being punished for shoddy repair jobs, because he begged for it. This shows Max is learning where to stop with the Thirteenth Floor and trying not to let it go too far, as happened in some of the earlier episodes.

The (yeouch!) cover gives you an idea of how things end up for Sweeney Todd dentist Thorpe in the final episode of the Leper’s tale, doesn’t it? Yes, it turns out Makepiece the ghost had more than just revenge on his mind in killing Thorpe’s assistant Grimes. He uses his dark magic powers to turn Grimes into an animated corpse to wreak his revenge on Thorpe. Makepiece sends Grimes and Thorpe straight to Hell through their own Sweeney Todd chair – after having Grimes give Thorpe a taste of his own dental treatment, of course.

This week’s Library of Death tale is an intriguing one. It raises a few eyebrows and is full of surprising ironies, some of which you may find amusing as well as scary. The lead of a pop group mocks his fellow members for believing in ghosts although they use a ghost gimmick. So what happens when they shoot their latest video in a place with a reputation for genuine ghosts? Read it and find out.

(Click thru)

 

 

In a Ghastly Tale, a boy dreads what is behind the door. And what is behind the door? It is a common thing that boys don’t like. Clue – there is a lot of steam coming out from the door.

In “The Nightcomers” Beth rescues her brother Rick just as Cutler and his flunky are about to burn him alive, along with the house and the demon haunting it. However, it’s the flunky who gets burned alive and he throws himself down the well. Then another entity appears, and appears to be an unhappy female. Cutler clearly knows who it is and is terrified of it…but why do we sense it is more friendly than the demon?

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How do you know who’s the hero (in British girls comics)?

I have been thinking about how you can tell who is the hero, or at least the main character, in British girls comics. I’m sure that as readers most of us can tell who’s the hero most of the time, but there are always some odd cases that test the boundaries. Perhaps we will learn something about some underlying rules of British comics storytelling if we have a deeper look?

Below I suggest five key tests to check who is the main character in a story. These tests aren’t anything to do with how nice or kind the person is – they would apply to an anti-hero as much as to the most perfect hero. Rather, they should tell us whether or not the story is about that person.

Reference in title

You would think the title of the story would be a dead giveaway as to who the story is about – but it’s not always as simple as that, of course. The main villain might be the one featured in the title (“Angela Angel-Face“, “Wanda Whiter Than White“) or, particularly in the case of Jinty, the title may be fairly allusive (“The Valley of Shining Mist“, “Waves of Fear” and many others).

For most stories, though, it’s true – the title does give away who the main character is. Often her name is right up front as the first element of the title along with the key struggle of the story: “Gwen’s Stolen Glory“, “Stefa’s Heart of Stone“, “Glenda’s Glossy Pages“, “Cora Can’t Lose“. But is Amanda Blay the main character in “Amanda Must Not Be Expelled“? And in “The Slave of Form 3B“, is the main character weak-willed Tania or the villainous (and rather more interesting) Stacey?

Hearing their words

A more important test than the title of the story seems to me to be whether we know what the character thinks and says. Do we see the character’s words (spoken or thoughts) directly on the page or not?

  • The sample episode of “Amanda Must Not Be Expelled” has Amanda’s words showing (in speech or word balloons) in only 10 out of 28 panels in the episode. Her antagonists, Jane and Marty, have their words or speech reported in 22 of the 28 panels (including ones where Amanda also speaks).
  • The sample episode of “The Slave of Form 3B” does not include any words or thoughts of Tania’s, but only those of Stacey (in the 26 panels shown, we hear Stacey’s thoughts or words in all bar 5).

amanda must not be expelled crop

Seeing their face

Similarly to the test above of whether we hear their words directly, do we follow them on the page and see what they do, in each panel or the majority of the page?

  • You might think that it comes to a fairly similar outcome if you check how many panels the person appears in;  I would expect the main character in a British girls comic to be in most of the panels (and that, by some way). However, in the same episode of “Amanda Must Not Be Expelled”, Jane and Marty are visible in 23 of the 28 panels while Amanda is in 18 of the 28 panels. Amanda is visible in quite a lot more panels (18 panels) than just the ones where she says or thinks something (10 panels): she is a focus of the reader’s attention without actually being the main person that you put yourself in the place of.
  • In the sample episode of “The Slave of Form 3B”, Stacey appears in slightly more panels than she speaks in – there are only 3 panels that she does not appear in, compared to the 5 that she does not speak in.

 

Active doer, or passive done-to?

This can be a bit harder to determine, I think. Does the hero (or the person who might be the hero) kick off the actions and make things happen, or is she ‘done-to’ rather than actively ‘doing’? In girls comics there is a definite theme of the downtrodden underdog hero, whose heroism lies in her endurance and persistance rather than in solving the world’s woes, so this may be a less definitive way of singling out the hero of the story. What happens if we look at the two sample stories to check how active the characters are?

  • Jane and Marty ensure that Amanda gets back to the dorm without being spotted and expelled (foiling her intent), and even sneak back the gown and mortar board that Jane dressed up in, to remove all evidence of what they were up to. But Amanda is pretty active too, by the end of the episode: she takes a pair of scissors from the needlework room and sets out to pick herself a bouquet of the headmistress’s prized tulips, as a way to get herself expelled. Honours are relatively even, though I think that on the showing of this single episode, Jane and Marty feel like the initiators of more action than Amanda does.
  • In “The Slave of  Form 3B” Tania is unconscious throughout the whole sample episode and therefore as passive as she could possibly be. Stacey initiates the action throughout: she hides Tania out of sight of possible rescuers, and she makes it look as if Tania has run away. The teachers initiate a search of the grounds, but again Stacey’s action is the decisive one as she lies to the other searchers to decoy them away from where she has hidden Tania.

Slave of Form 3B pg 1 crop

Who has the emotional journey?

Pat Mills is currently writing a series of blog posts on storytelling, and one of the recent entries is on the Emotional Journey. Many thanks to him for this post, as it was something I nearly overlooked in this series of tests. We can sensibly ask, is there a shape to the story and if so, who does that story-shape belong to? There are a number of fairly well-worn story ‘shapes’ and these also help to identify the main character. ‘Spoilt girl redeems herself’ is one of them, and ‘brave girl beats her bullies by enduring’ is another – and by phrasing the story in this way you immediately understand who the hero is. But another way to think of it is, who undergoes the emotional journey – who is changed by the end of the story? Not all stories necessarily have change as part of their core structure, but many do, and it can provide an interesting contrast to the answers derived from the other tests.

  • To answer this question you need to think about the story as a whole, not just individual sample episodes, so it can be harder to determine unless you know the story reasonably well. I don’t know “Amanda Must Not Be Expelled” very well but Mistyfan has provided a detailed synopsis. From this it does look very much to be the case that it is Amanda who has the emotional journey – going from desperately wanting to be expelled to being glad she never managed it, and from hating even being at school to being proud of it and wanting her team to win. Jane and Marty do not obviously seem to change throughout the story, their motives and psychology remain pretty consistent.
  • In “Slave of Form 3B” then again, when we look at the overall story, the sense of who is the hero is rather different from when we look at the details. Tania, who starts off the story weak-willed and very passive indeed, ends up still pretty ‘done-to’ rather than actively bringing about Stacey’s downfall. It is Tania who is acclaimed by her schoolfellows due to her persistence and survivorship, so at least she is changed from being a timid outcast to being someone that all her fellows know and think well of. Stacey, in contrast, has not changed her motivation or aims at all; if anything she has just become more fixed in her ambitions. The arc of Tania’s emotional journey is rather tacked-on in the final episode or two though, which dilutes the effect considerably.

 

Summary

I called the above ‘five key tests’ but of course most of the time it’s hardly necessary to apply a series of tests to determine who is the hero or main character in a story. For more unusual cases like the two stories chosen here, it can however shed some interesting light on aspects of the story.

  • Is Amanda the main character in “Amanda Must Not Be Expelled”, or are Jane and Marty the real heroes? If you just look at the sample episode then Jane and Marty are acting much more like the main characters – they are the ones that the reader sees and hears, and the ones who move the action forward more substantially. But taking the story as a whole, especially when you consider the intention signalled by the story title, it is Amanda who the story is most ‘about’, as the person who has the significant emotional journey.  Perhaps if we re-ran the tests on who we see and hear, and who initates the action, based on a later episode, she would be more obviously marked as the main character?
  • Is Timid Tania, who is the Slave in question, the hero of “The Slave of Form 3B”, or is it wicked Stacey? Stacey is by far the most active and most visible character throughout the story, though there may be other episodes where she does not dominate the action quite as fully as in this sample epsiode. The final part of Tania’s emotional journey feels very tacked on at the end, though there are earlier points in the story where she stands up for herself to some extent. Even taking the story as a whole it does not feel like Tania is ‘really’ the main character; possibly the writer intended her to be so, but had much more fun writing the frankly rather evil Stacey instead!

Scream! #10, 26 May 1984

Scream cover 10

 

  • The Dracula File (artist Eric Bradbury, writer Simon Furman)
  • The Nightcomers (artist John Richardson, writer Tom Tully)
  • The Thirteenth Floor (artist José Ortiz, writer Ian Holland)
  • Tales from the Grave: A Fatal Extraction – (artist Jim Watson, writer R. Hunter)
  • Library of Death: Night of the Cobra! (artist Julian Vivas, writer Angus Allan)
  • Monster (artist Jesus Redondo, writer Rick Clark)
  • Fiends and Neighbours – cartoon (artist Graham Allen)
  • A Ghastly Tale – Goodbye Uncle George!

The latest attempt at Ghastly’s face is more successful than most so far because it actually hits on something about Ghastly’s face. Reckon the entrant should have been given extra money for that?

Scream 10 From the Depths

Dracula’s latest feedings are in the headlines as murders, but only Stakis realises their true nature. Unfortunately, Dracula has realised there is a vampire hunter on his tail after Stakis has a close encounter with Dracula’s new servant. Dracula does a runner while setting a trap for Stakis in his abandoned hideout. And Stakis walks straight into it!

The Rogans finally make their way into Raven’s Meet. While disposing of Cutler’s dead dog, Rick gets knocked out by Cutler and his flunky – who looks like Frankenstein’s Monster, minus the bolts on his neck.

This week’s Thirteenth Floor story is one that everyone who has been hit by a dodgy repairman should love. Two sleazy plumbers, who did shoddy work that actually hurt someone, find themselves on the Thirteenth Floor where pipes burst and threaten to drown them. Then they are trapped by raging fire.

In part two of the Leper’s story, the ghost of George Makepiece is out for revenge against dentist Thomas Thorpe, who murdered him Sweeney Todd-style. Too bad for Thorpe Makepiece was an occultist, as he and his assistant Grimes discover when they try to rob Makepiece’s house. Makepiece uses his powers to kill Grimes with a Sweeney Todd stunt of his own and sends him to the bottom of the river!

In the Library of Death, a laboratory in Malaysia is home to every species of snake. A newcomer on the science team is an unpleasant type who is only in it for the money that will get him out of debt. He is warned never to underestimate a snake. He would also be well advised not to underestimate a place that is nicknamed “the house of death”. But of course he doesn’t heed those warnings.

Scream 10 Dungeon

Oh dear, Uncle Terry’s done it again. He’s trashed a café with that horrible temper of his. At least he didn’t kill anyone this time. But now there are enough eyewitnesses for the police to get an identikit of Uncle Terry. And it’s one that will stick in anyone’s mind, because he looks just like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Meanwhile, Uncle Terry and Ken continue on their way to Scotland to find the doctor who could help.

In the Ghastly Tale, the Jordans aren’t shedding a tear at Uncle George’s funeral. They think they are well rid of their kooky scientist relative and those crazy experiments of his. They throw the last one he made, labelled “life potion”, down into his grave as he is being buried – er, life potion?!

Scream #9, 19 May 1984

Scream 9 cover

  • The Dracula File (artist Eric Bradbury, writer Simon Furman)
  • Library of Death: Ghost Town (artist Steve Dillon, writer Simon Furman)
  • The Thirteenth Floor (artist José Ortiz, writer Ian Holland)
  • Tales from the Grave: A Fatal Extraction – first episode (artist Jim Watson, writer R. Hunter)
  • A Ghastly Tale – The Summoning (artist Tony Coleman)
  • Monster (artist Jesus Redondo, writer Rick Clark)
  • Fiends and Neighbours – cartoon (artist Graham Allen)
  • The Nightcomers (artist John Richardson, writer Tom Tully)

The cover for Scream #9 is one of Scream’s gorgeous wrap around covers, so both back and front cover are produced here. In addition to the regulars on the cover we see some familiar faces from complete stories in previous issues (The Punch and Judy Horror Show, The Drowning Pond and Beware the Werewolf!). No attempts at Ghastly’s face are published in this issue. Ghastly launches a second creepy captions competition because the first was so popular.

Scream 9 From the Depths

The writing credits for The Dracula File change again. Was Gerry Finley-Day writing under pseudonyms for this or were some of the episodes farmed out to other writers?

In the story, Drac’s a bit put out to find his servants have housed his home soil in the (hee, hee!) bathtub because there is no coffin in his new hideout. Waahh! Wanna coffin! While his servants scramble to find one Drac is off in search of more victims to feed on. Meanwhile, Stakis arrives in Britain to hunt the vampire down, and he’s assembled a full vampire-hunting kit.

The Library of Death story is about an American ghost town, which is haunted by skeletal ghosts. The ghosts constantly set a deadly trap – which includes lynching – for unsuspecting motorists. It’s their revenge for a motorcar causing a catastrophe that destroyed their town years before, albeit accidentally.

Max demonstrates a new power – the power to hypnotise people. He uses it to get a tenant to take the latest victim of his Thirteenth Floor back home because he can’t risk any more Thirteenth Floor victims, dead or otherwise, to be found in that lift.

We know going to the dentist in the 19th century must have been murder, but this is ridiculous. In the new Tales from the Grave story, dentist Thomas Thorpe isn’t “too particular” in how he treats his patients, but for the rich ones he has an extra-special treatment – murdering them Sweeney Todd-style in order to rob them. However, Thorpe’s latest victim, George Makepiece, is rising up from the river swearing revenge, and he looks kind of ghostly…

This week’s Ghastly Tale has some dark magic practitioners in a graveyard trying to summon a demon. Instead, they get one angry corpse telling them to stop making such a racket.

Ken and Uncle Terry went on the run without any place to run to. But in this week’s episode of “Monster” they finally find a destination from a newspaper – a doctor who could help with Uncle Terry’s temper problems that can cause him to kill. The trouble is, the doctor is in Scotland, which means a long trek to get there. They manage to sneak aboard a lorry, but while Ken is buying food the lorry takes off – with Uncle Terry on board. Oops!

In “The Nightcomers”, Raven’s Meet is making The Amityville Horror look like a G-rated film. First, the Rogans meet an enormous demon. It is obvious that this demon is what is haunting the house, and Beth’s psychic powers tell her it killed their parents too. Next, blood comes pouring down the front steps of the house!

Spell of Fog [1983]

Sample Images

Fog 1

Fog 2

Fog 3

 

Published: Tammy 29 October 1983 to 17 December 1983

Episodes: 8

Artist: Tony Coleman (credited as George Anthony)

Writer: Jake Adams

Translations/reprints: none known

Plot

A film crew arrives in the village of Wolfen to make a film about Alice Compton, a victim of witch persecution by none other than Mathew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General. Her so-called crimes included bewitching cattle and an artistic style that was ahead of its time and dubbed “the Devil’s likeness”. Nobody spoke up for her because they were too scared of Hopkins. Hopkins applied the usual junk witch tests of the day, which were sometimes augmented by fraud, to ‘prove’ Alice was a witch. After Alice’s burning at the stake her ashes were scattered on the marsh. Predictably, her ghost is said to haunt the spot.

Sally Groves, who feels very strongly about Alice’s fate, is shocked to hear the film director is going to depict Alice as the “devil’s handmaiden” with a “dark, malignant force beneath her almost angelic appearance” who brought evil to the village instead of “the innocent victim of ignorance and superstition” she really was. When Sally protests against this portrayal, the film director has her thrown out. Several people, including the film director, are saying Sally is stupid to get worked up over something that happened centuries ago. Nobody else speaks out against the way the film portrays Alice.

Alice’s self-portrait in the vicarage shows that Sally bears a striking resemblance to her – oh dear! That never bodes well for the protagonist in a serial that features witch-hunting. It is never established as to whether the resemblance is due to Sally being a descendant of some sort, which is the usual assumption in other witch-hunting stories. The self-portrait is the only one of Alice’s pictures to survive; the rest were burned with her. It shows her looking really sad, but that’s all there is. No sign of any malice or evil is present in the portrait.

A mist arises on the marsh where Alice’s remains lie. Sally and her friend Jenny immediately notice it is coming towards them when the wind should be blowing it away. Believing this is Alice’s angry reaction to how the film depicts her, Sally tries to spread the warning, but the director does not listen and continues with his version of Alice Compton. However, the mist comes into the village, stops the filming cold, and has a lot of people running scared.

The mist soon has the film crew trapped in the inn run by the Groves family – and then breaks a window and makes its way in. And they’re not the only ones – the mist has everyone trapped in their homes and nothing keeps it out; it is even breaking down doors to get in.

That’s only the beginning, of course. Next, the mist cuts Wolfen off from the outside world and forces it to revert to a 17th century pattern. All modern technology, including running water, stops working. All modern clothes rot while the 17th century costumes from the film remain intact so people have no choice but to wear them, and they have to cook, clean, fetch water etc the way they did in the 17th century.

But the fog is making one conspicuous exception – Sally Groves. Her modern clothes are the only ones to stay intact. This not only makes her stick out like a sore thumb but also makes her a target of the hysteria, panic, confusion and terror the fog has aroused. These are bringing out the primeval instincts that can turn even civilised people into hysterical idiots and witch-hunting mobs. Gradually, people mutter and then scream that Sally has something to do with the fog, she summoned it, that she’s a witch, she’s Alice Compton returned for revenge etc. Sally becomes the target of persecution, with kids throwing things at her and such. Jenny defends Sally at first, but then goes as nutty as the rest of the villagers when the fog shows up at the attack on Sally. Sally herself has an awful nightmare of the villagers taking her for Alice Compton because of the resemblance they share and burning her at the stake, and is terrified it will become reality.

Sally believes Alice must be behind the fog and what’s happening but can’t understand why Alice is doing this to her when she was speaking up for her. Was she wrong and Alice was a real witch after all who is out for revenge? The portrait betrays no clues and just continues to show Alice looking sad.

There is no doubt in Sally’s mind that the film production is what started it all. When she tells villagers this they try to remove the film crew and equipment in a most violent manner, much to Sally’s horror; she did not mean that. In any case, when the villagers try to throw the film crew out of the village, actual figures appear in the fog and block them, saying there is no escape. The figures look like Puritans from Alice’s time, but Alice herself is not present at all. However, nobody grasps the significance of this clue (that maybe it is not Alice who is behind the fog?).

Then the fog touches everyone in the village, causing intense pain as it does so. Again, Sally is the exception. After this, the villagers think they are the actual 17th century villagers from Alice’s time. They talk, think and act like 17th century people. They can’t even see the now-useless 20th century technology whereas Sally can. These Puritan-thinking people react with horror and outrage at her 20th century clothes. They also believe she is Alice Compton the witch, and Sally’s efforts to convince them that this is the 20th century are misconstrued as further proof of witchcraft. Sally’s parents, which are likewise affected, change her “godless apparel” for 17th century dress, and again try to help her escape, but are blocked again. This time, it is by the possessed villagers and the film director, who now thinks he is Mathew Hopkins the Witchfinder General (it sure is perfect casting!).

The stage is set for the re-enactment of the persecution of Alice Compton and so it ensues (above): sham trial; crazed, ignorant hysterical people on all sides providing testimony; Witchfinder General twisting everything Sally says about this being the 20th century to prove she’s a witch and taking advantage of the villagers’ hysteria; the junk tests/fraud to prove witchcraft; and only sporadic, token protests (from Jenny). The Witchfinder General declares Sally a witch and she is tied to the stake to be burnt.

At this moment the fog reappears, extinguishes the fire, and returns the villagers and film director to normal. The villagers are shocked and ashamed at what they almost did to Sally.

The figures in the fog reappear. They are the original persecutors of Alice Compton. In death they came to realise what they did to Alice and how Hopkins took advantage of them. They cannot rest because they are so ashamed of their crime. And when the film production started it was too much for them and brought them back. With apologies to Sally, they had the villagers re-enact the Alice Compton persecution, right down to the thinking behind it. This was so they too would emerge from it feeling the same way and understand that witch-hunting is not just something ignorant, superstitious people did in times past. All humans, in any age, are capable of it because they all carry the same primeval instincts that fuel it: unreason, prejudice and fear of what they do not understand. The ghosts also did it because they want to entrust with the villagers with two things: first, consecrate Alice’s remains on the marsh so both she and they will find rest; second, a warning not to let a modern witchfinder take advantage of them too.

When Alice’s remains are consecrated her own foggy figure finally appears in the story. Alice tells Sally she knows about her sharing the same pain of persecution and hopes they will now share the same joy. She says farewell and departs for the next world.

Within days Wolfen returns to normal and everything modern is back and functioning. The film director (who must have realised the ghosts also did it to teach some people a lesson) scraps the film and makes one about the recent events so as to spread the warning. Sally approves of this film and is sure Alice will too. The vicar finds Alice’s portrait has gone from looking sad to all smiles, but reckons Alice will be even happier if the portrait was gifted to Sally.

Thoughts

Tammy started this story in her last Halloween issue because it is a spooky one. It sure is; it’s got themes about ghosts, witches, the Devil, possession, a grip of terror and hysteria, persecution, a historical setting, and above all, that mist. No villager from Wolfen would look at mist the same way again after this experience.

As the mist takes hold, it gets creepier and creepier. It is clear that this is no ordinary mist. It is intensifying in thickness and intenseness, and it is taking over the whole village. It can even break down windows and doors. It is forcing people back into the 17thcentury, but its reasons for this are hard to discern. Is it Alice returning for revenge? If so, she seems to be taking a very odd approach, including making the girl defending her a target of persecution. When those figures in the fog appear, it suggests it may not be Alice after all. Or are these figures trying to protect the villagers from the mist? And where is Alice? Nothing has been seen or heard from her at all during all the time the mist is taking over the village. It’s all very confusing; we don’t know what to think (or have we guessed?). All we know is, it’s a time bomb that has been ticking ever since Alice was burned, and the film production has detonated it. The question is: where will the fallout from the blast end up?

This story has been mentioned before on this blog, in the Shadow on the Fen entry, as there are echoes of Fen (Witchfinder General references, girl threatened with burning for witchcraft, modern villagers turning into witch-hunting idiots, strong message against the evils of witch hunting and a fog that cuts a village off from the outside world) in this story that has me wondering if it was the same writer.

There have been plenty of stories of murdered witches, both innocent and guilty, returning from beyond the grave or leaving a curse behind them. Examples are “Secret of the Skulls” (Tammy), “Sharon’s Stone”, (Bunty) “The Painting” (Bunty), “Witch!” (Bunty), and “Bad Luck Barbara” (Mandy). There have also been stories that condemn superstitious people for persecuting people in this manner and ones portraying witch hunters as the true evil, including “Shadow on the Fen”. Misty took delight in complete stories about witch hunters and witch-hunting mobs meeting their downfall at the hands of a protagonist with genuine powers.

But this is the only serial I have seen where former witch persecutors return from the grave because they are remorseful and want to make amends and find peace. Their repentance is far more believable than the repentance of witch-persecuting villagers in stories like Jinty’s “Wenna the Witch” and “Mark of the Witch!”. The villagers in these stories just change their minds when they see the girl they persecute perform a heroic act, while the ghost villagers learned it in the afterlife where, we presume, were condemned until they had made amends for their act.

It certainly is a twist to have the former persecutors to be the ones behind it all. From the outset we expect Alice to be behind any creepy stuff that ensues in the story, especially when we hear how the film is going to depict her. To our mind it’s not who’s behind it but what she intends to do and where it’s all going to lead. But then, making it Alice is a bit too obvious and clichéd, isn’t it?

The way the ghost villagers go about their redemption certainly takes you aback. Forcing modern people to re-enact the witch persecution of long ago? Putting an innocent girl through a terrifying ordeal of being persecuted for witchcraft? Inflicting terror on an entire village and forcing it to revert to the 17th century? Wow! But anyone going through that would emerge never assuming witch hunting is just a thing of the past ever again. It can occur anywhere, anytime, because the mechanisms behind it (hysteria, fear, prejudice, hatred of the other) are part of human nature, regardless of the day and age. When the atmosphere is right (such as the terror the fog induces or fear of the growing threat of Communism) all that is needed is the spark to strip away all common sense and sanity and turn apparently reasonable, civilised people into hysterical, witch-hunting idiots and for someone to rise and take advantage of it. Just look at the examples of the Communist witch-hunts and the Satanic Ritual Abuse scares. Or look at the hysterical villagers. It didn’t take much for their common sense, sanity and belief that Alice was just a victim of superstition to be stripped away and for them to become witch-hunting idiots, even before the fog had turned them into complete persecutors.

Scream! #8, 12 May 1984

Scream 8 cover

  • The Dracula File (artist Eric Bradbury, writer Ken Noble)
  • The Nightcomers (artist John Richardson, writer Tom Tully)
  • A Ghastly Tale – The Pharaoh’s Curse (artist Tony Coleman)
  • The Thirteenth Floor (artist José Ortiz, writer Ian Holland)
  • Library of Death: Beware the Werewolf! (artist Steve Dillon, writer Simon Furman)
  • Tales from the Grave: The Cabbie and the Hanging Judge – final episode (artist Jim Watson, writer Ian Rimmer)
  • Fiends and Neighbours – cartoon (artist Graham Allen)
  • Monster (artist Jesus Redondo, writer Rick Clark)

Dogs, wolves and werewolves are cropping up a lot in this issue, starting with the cover. Even our vampire in “The Dracula File” takes his wolf form. He rescues his servants, claims a couple more victims, and sets up shop in London. Meanwhile, Stakis is on his way to stop the vampire, but at the cost of defecting from the KGB, becoming a fugitive, and getting out of the Eastern bloc without paying the price of a Soviet gulag or something.

From the DepthsGhastly Faces

The Nightcomers arrive at Raven’s Meet. They are quick to realise that whatever is in there wants them dead. Simon Cutler, who definitely knows something about it, escaped by the skin of his teeth after the evil of Raven’s Meet possessed his dog and nearly killed him. At least the blurb for next week will tell us what the horror actually is.

A dog also attacks and frightens a man to death during a visit to King Tut’s tomb. The twist is the hieroglyphics on the door aren’t about a pharaoh’s curse – they say “Beware of the dog”.

In “The Thirteenth Floor” Max manages to squirm his way out of the cloud of suspicion. How very prudent of the policeman to tip him off about the error that aroused his suspicions, which enabled Max to cover it up quickly. Back to business, which Max resolves must be conducted with more care in future. The next victim at the Thirteenth Floor arrives in response to Max’s call about knocking down a girl’s dog and not stopping. He finds himself in the middle of a road filled with cars threatening to knock him down.

In “Tales from the Grave” we learn how the wheels of justice turned for “The Cabbie and the Hanging Judge”. There is a final twist that has the Leper laughing, but might have someone turning in his grave…

Cabbie and the Hanging Judge 1aCabbie and the Hanging Judge 2aCabbie and the Hanging Judge 3a

The Library of Death story is of the werewolf that appears on the cover. The hunter on his tail looks a bit like a fascist in the way he is dressed and is the werewolf’s own father.

In “Monster” the police hunt for Ken and Uncle Terry intensifies now they have a very good lead – a man who almost got killed by Uncle Terry and got a very terry-fying look at what looks like a monster. And they’re bringing in tracker dogs. Dogs again…

Scream! #7, 5 May 1984

Scream 7 cover 5 May 1984

  • The Nightcomers – first episode (artist John Richardson, writer Tom Tully)
  • The Thirteenth Floor (artist José Ortiz, writer Ian Holland)
  • Library of Death: The Punch and Judy Horror Show (artist B. McCarthy, writer James Nicholas)
  • Tales from the Grave: The Cabbie and the Hanging Judge – first episode (artist Jim Watson, writer Ian Rimmer)
  • Monster (artist Jesus Redondo, writer Rick Clark)
  • A Ghastly Tale – Young at Heart! (artist Tony Coleman)
  • Fiends and Neighbours (artist Graham Allen)
  • The Dracula File (artist Eric Bradbury, writer Gerry Finley-Day)

J.R. Ewing from Dallas is in the London Dungeon this week. Best place for him, eh?

Scream 7 From the Depths

The Dracula File has been pushed from its usual spot by new serial “The Nightcomers”. Rick and Beth Rogan take up the mantle of their deceased parents. Ostensibly stage magicians, they were also psychic investigators. Unfortunately they met their deaths in their latest case, a house called Raven’s Meet. The evil in that house was too strong for them and killed them. The junior Rogans take on the case in their parents’ name.

Another thing the Rogans need to investigate is Simon Cutler, who hired the parents to investigate Raven’s Meet. The parents suspect he knew more than he was telling. Sure enough, Cutler is telling the evil forces that he gave them the Rogans. But all he’s getting in return is a spectral dog on his tail.

Another man dies in the lift after visiting Max’s “The Thirteenth Floor”. That’s one too many and the authorities are getting suspicious of Max. Moreover, Max made a mistake in his faked footage of the Fogerty criminals shooting each other to death (in fact they are shooting at computer-induced terrors on the Thirteenth Floor), and the police have found it. Is someone about to pull the plug on Max and his Thirteenth Floor?

In The Library of Death Fred Fresco hates being Punch and Judy man. Yet he kills his manager for closing his Punch and Judy pitch. Anyway, as Fred soon finds out, Punch and Judy don’t relish sharing their basket with a murdered corpse. The rest is…well, talk about judge, jury and executioner.

Speaking of which, the new Tales from the Grave story (below) is about justice for an innocent man who suffered injustice at the hands of one of those notorious hanging judges of the 19th century (throwbacks of which you can still sometimes encounter today, unfortunately).

Cabbie and the Hanging Judge 1Cabbie and the Hanging Judge 2Cabbie and the Hanging Judge 3

In “Monster”, the sight of those murdered corpses resurfacing in the garden cements Ken’s decision to go on the run with Uncle Terry, with no place to run to and Uncle Terry having only just stepped out of his attic prison. After a good start, disaster strikes when Uncle Terry looks set to kill for the third time. Meanwhile, the hunt for him and Ken has started because those two corpses have led the police to find out everything.

This week’s Ghastly Tale is about two Victorian scientists who discover a youth potion. One kills the other because he does not want to share the profits. Retribution comes when the potion backfires on him. It makes him way too young to use the antidote that would restore him.

Finally, we get to The Dracula File. The vampire escapes the M15 agents. His servants are arrested but the agents don’t realise what happened to them. They just think they are crazy or something. The vampire assumes the form of a wolf to intercept their vehicle and rescue them. Meanwhile, KGB agent Stakis has to go on the run from the KGB in order to get to Britain and stop the vampire because they won’t let him use official channels.

Tammy 5 November 1983

Tammy cover 5 November 1983

  • Lucky By Name… (artist Juliana Buch, writer Malcolm Shaw)
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Glenda’s Glossy Pages (artist Tony Highmore, writer Pat Mills)
  • Room for Rosie (artist Santiago Hernandez, writer Alison Christie)
  • Remember November… (artist Len Flux, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Alison Christie, sub-writer Ian Mennell)
  • The Dawn Horse – a Pony Tale (artist Hugo D’Adderio, writer Chris Harris)
  • Spell of Fog (artist Tony Coleman, writer Jake Adams)
  • The Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)

This was the last Guy Fawkes issue Tammy ever published, and it is bang on 5 November. Tammy dropped Bessie and Wee Sue in 1982, so they are no longer able to provide any special stories for Guy Fawkes. We have a Guy Fawkes feature, “Remember November…” and in “The Crayzees” we learn Miss T does not like fireworks because they are so noisy. So what is in that mystery parcel she has ordered for 5 November? Joe Collins was always one for incorporating the Fireworks Code into his Tammy cartoons and this one is no exception. It is written all around the border of the full-page cartoon. We also have a recipe for a Bonfire cake in “Tammy’s Tasties”.

Room for Rosie had her Guy Fawkes story in the Halloween issue, but there is some carryover this week. Rosie has taken damage from the bonfire party, so her chances of a home have been reduced. Can Pauline find a way to restore her?

A new Pam of Pond Hill starts. It would have been nice if Jay Over had written a Pam of Pond Hill Guy Fawkes story, which is something Pam never had. Instead, Pam and her friends find themselves being roped into a cookery contest by Jenny Bates, who is using the excursion to see her favourite pop group, the Phonees. Moreover, Jenny has chosen them more for their good nature than their talent for cooking. They decide to go along with it because they are under the impression Jenny’s days are numbered and it’s her dying wish. Actually, it looks suspiciously like Jenny’s playing on their sympathy. Anyway, Jenny’s reason for entering them all in the contest is selfish and not giving any thought to winning for the school – which they don’t have much chance of.

In “Lucky By Name” everyone is now thinking Lucky the foal has some strange power over animals. Snobby Amanda and her father demand the foal be examined by a research institute but Lucky’s owners refuse because the institute has an unsavoury reputation for animal experimentation. Now someone is stealing Lucky, and we strongly suspect Amanda and her father are behind it. Lucky, if you really do have a power over animals, now might be a good time to use it…

This week’s episode of “Glenda’s Glossy Pages” was drawn by Tony Highmore instead of Mario Capaldi. Capaldi must have been unavailable for some reason, but he returns in the next episode. In the story, the power of the glossy pages drives off the police who think Glenda stole the items she mysteriously got from the catalogue, but they warn she hasn’t heard the last of them. Next, it looks like the catalogue is helping Glenda by giving her the confidence to swim against her arch-enemy Hillary. But when Hillary suddenly develops cramp, Glenda finds herself just swimming off instead of helping. What the hell has come over her? Well, it’s not hard to guess, especially as Glenda is at a loss to explain it herself but just can’t help it. We rather suspect the same thing is behind Hillary’s cramp too.

The Button Box gives us more Jackson family history this week. This time it’s a World War II story on how gran’s sister met her husband – all through one of the buttons in the box, of course.

This week’s pony tale is a sad one and based on fact. It discusses the last of the Tarpan horse breed in the Ukraine. Sonja and her father travel to the Ukraine in search of the Tarpan breed – only to find the Tarpans are on the brink of extinction and two parent Tarpans being shot by farmers pushes them over the edge.

In “Spell of Fog” Sally is convinced the mysterious rising mist is Alice Compton’s angry response to the sensationalised, historically inaccurate filming of her persecution for witchcraft. But the filming continues, so the mist intensifies. It’s got everyone scared and has even shattered a window.

Beforehand, we are introduced to Alice’s sad-looking self-portrait, the only one of her pictures to survive her burning at the stake. It seems her “extremely modern, natural style” was too far ahead of its time; people called it “the Devil’s likeness” and it sounds like this is one of the reasons why she was branded a witch. The self-portrait is clearly a plot thread to be followed up, but will it be in a way that tells us anything about the mist?

Tammy 4 November 1978

Tammy 4 November 1978

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Bella (artist John Armstrong)
  • The Upper Crust – first episode (Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Dancer Entranced (artist Angeles Felices)
  • Tuck in with Tammy – food ideas for Bonfire Night
  • One Girl and Her Dog… (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the Tender Trap (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • Strange Story – The Pied Piper
  • Edie the Ed’s Niece – cartoon (artist Joe Collins)
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • TEAM in Action (artist Carmona)

Guy Fawkes is coming, so I am taking time out from Scream to discuss fireworks issues, courtesy of Tammy.

This one, from 1978, had the regulars Edie the Ed’s Niece, Wee Sue and Bessie Bunter available to provide Guy Fawkes-themed stories, and they all do so. Tammy’s recipe page, “Tuck in with Tammy”, also has some recipes for Bonfire Night.

In Bessie Bunter Miss Stackpole won’t allow the girls to have Guy Fawkes because it clashes with a concert she booked for the girls for the same night. “Mean rotter!” says Bessie, and we totally agree. Naturally, the girls don’t look very happy at the concert, and Bessie is taking a more proactive stance – sneaking out of the concert with her friend Mary to let off fireworks secretly. As it turns out, this leads to a chain of events that have the girls enjoying a Guy Fawkes celebration after all.

Wee Sue and her friends are on the Penny-for-the-Guy routine, but some boys steal their Guy and leave them with an inferior model. Surprisingly, it’s Miss Bigger who gives the boys their comeuppance when they mistake her for an even better Guy.

Now here’s a twist on The Pied Piper legend in this week’s Strange Story. The Pied Piper turns up at the scene of an accident near Hamelin where a hit-and-run driver forces a coachload of kids off the road. And would you believe it, the Pied Piper helps the injured driver and drives the kids to safety at a carnival in Hanover. But was it really the Pied Piper or just someone dressed up? There was a carnival going on, after all.

Toni, Ellie, Anthea and Maggie (TEAM) have formed the school newspaper editorial team for their boarding school, with the scrapes they get into becoming fodder for the paper. This week it’s Ellie’s turn, with some water gypsies stealing her sacred talisman for good luck. Ellie believes the loss is causing her to suffer terrible misfortune as she tries to recover the talisman, to the extent where the police have nabbed her for her failed bike lights.

Bella is in Australia and has joined Limber, a promotional team for gymnastics equipment. The trouble is, her latest coach, Sergeant Marks, has too much of a military and masculine view of gymnastics, which not only causes clashes between him and Bella but is also detrimental to the way he coaches the team for a competition. When the day comes, Bella is not confident that Sarge’s style of coaching will lead them to victory. His latest is setting the floor routines to military marches, despite Bella’s protests they won’t fit. Fortunately she has managed to set her floor routine to different music secretly. Will it make a difference?

It’s part one of “The Upper Crust”, where the Carrington-Crusts arrive in High Hills, the super-snob area of Cherryton. The daughter, Clara Carrington-Crust, immediately clashes with snobby Mavis Blunt, but in a very odd way. One minute she seems to be taking Mavis down a peg or two, the next she’s as snobby as the rest of them at High Hills. Nobody knows what to make of Clara and she’s baffling everyone at school, even the caretaker. Meanwhile, the Blunts decide there is something about these Carrington-Crusts that they’re determined to get to the bottom of.

A ballerina is under the influence of hypnotism in “Dancer Entranced”. It’s not in the same way as “Slave of the Clock”, but when you think about it, there are some hallmarks. Trina Carr is obliging her father’s dream for her to become a top ballerina like her late mother but she has no talent and doesn’t want Dad to know. Then a hypnotist seems to give her the ability to dance, but only while his metronome is ticking. The metronome has now gotten Trina into a top ballet school, where she is striking problems with a jealous rival and keeping that damn metronome ticking because she believes she can’t dance without it.

In “One Girl and Her Dog…” Kim Robinson is hoofing it all the way to London to claim an inheritance because her daft dog Rumpus ate her train ticket. They’re getting into all sorts of scrapes along the way. Among them is Harry Whelkes, a flunky a relative hired to stop them claiming the inheritance. They have just met Harry in this episode but don’t realise what he is up to. Rumpus almost scared him off for good when he tried out growling for the first time, but the promise of double the money has lured Harry back into the game.

You wouldn’t think anyone could seriously fall in love with that bully butler Pickering in Molly Mills, would you? Well, the district nurse Miss Key has after a misunderstanding has her thinking he is in love with her, and she doesn’t realise his true nature. All Pickering’s attempts to get rid of her have failed. Now the daft woman thinks he has proposed to her, and she has accepted!

Scream! #6, 28 April 1984

 

Scream 6 cover

  • The Dracula File (artist Eric Bradbury, writer Gerry Finley-Day)
  • Monster (artist Jesus Redondo, writer Rick Clark)
  • The Thirteenth Floor (artist José Ortiz, writer Ian Holland)
  • Tales from the Grave: R.I.P. Willard Giovanna – final episode (artist Jim Watson, writer Ian Rimmer)
  • The Library of Death: Death Road! (artist J. Cooper, writer Barrie Tomlinson)
  • Fiends and Neighbours – cartoon (artist Graham Allen)
  • A Ghastly Tale! – That Sinking Feeling
  • The Terror of the Cats – final episode (artist John Richardson, writer Simon Furman)

Ghastly posts a whole page of attempts to capture his likeness this week. But still nobody has nailed it.

(Click thru)

 

The killings the Rumanian vampire has made in Britain have made such news that it prompts an unlikely hero to emerge – a KGB agent named Colonel Stakis, who knows the defector is a vampire and has more conscience than you might expect for a KGB agent. Meanwhile, the British agents are after the nurse and agent whom they suspect have changed sides. They don’t know how right they are – the vampire has hypnotised them into becoming his servants. They corner the two servants guarding the vampire’s coffin, and the servants look like they’re about to bare their fangs.

In “Monster”, Ken is having horrible nightmares of the corpses of the two horrible men in the garden rising up and taking their revenge. It’s not far wrong, because flooding dislodges the bodies from their graves and now they’re sticking up in the mud. When Ken sees, he thinks those two corpses really have risen from the dead. Arghh!

A mean bailiff strips some tenants of everything they have, even worn out stuff. This guy is totally heartless all right. Hence the inspiration for his punishment on “The Thirteenth Floor” – meeting the Bailiff of Death and skeletal hospital staff who tell him he’s got no heart and needs treatment for it.

Monthly payments from a ghost? That’s what Finley ends up receiving in the conclusion of this week’s “Tales from the Grave story” – monthly instalments to keep Willard Giovanna’s grave tidy – plus no further visits from Giovanna’s ghost about his grave being neglected. The latter is the real incentive for Finley to keep that grave maintained.

We’ve all heard stories about phantom hitchhikers who mysteriously disappear from the vehicle of whoever picks them up. But in this week’s Library of Death story we meet one who takes it to a whole new – and deadly level. Incidentally, that demon in the last panel must be from the Continent or something because his steering wheel is for right hand driving.

(Click thru)

 

It’s Titanic justice in this week’s Ghastly Tale. Slippery Sid Smith thinks he has gotten away with his latest jewel heist thanks to his “unsinkable” alibi. Unsinkable? Funny – that’s what they said about a certain ill-fated ship Sid tries to make his getaway on…

“Terror of the Cats” is the first serial from the original Scream lineup to be ejected. Kruhl finds the beast he created (the superior intellect he created to control cats) has gotten beyond his control and now has its own agenda. Surprise, surprise! Anyway, in a tussle between Woodward and Kruhl, Kruhl ends up falling into the brain and they horribly destroy each other, and the lab blows up. And what is Woodward’s reward for stopping the terror of the cats? A kitten. Hee, hee, we’re so glad you can see the funny side, Woodward. Its replacement next week is “The Nightcomers”.

Terror of the Cats