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Black Schneider [1967]

black schneider cover

 

Published: Commando #273 (July 1967)

Reprinted: Commando #5168 (November 2018)

Artists: Gordon C. Livingstone (story); Rafael Lopez Espi (cover)

Writer: E. Hebden

On the Jinty blog we love to collect information on writers and artists in comics, whether Jinty or otherwise. The reprint gives some titbits of information about Rafael Lopez Espi, the cover artist.

Espi began his career as a comic book artist in 1953. He worked extensively for war comics, beginning with drawing covers for war stories published by Simbolo, moved on to Commando, and even worked for Commando’s rival, Fleetway. His Commando covers included Black Schneider, Break Through!, Pirate Breedand Dangerous Dawn. As well as war comics, Espi worked on Western and romance comics.

More information on Espi can be found at https://www.lambiek.net/artists/l/lopez-espi_rafael.htm and https://www.comicartfans.com/comic-artists/lopez_espi.asp

Plot

In 1938, traveller and explorer Stanilaus Schneider is dispatched to a German archaeological dig in Libya to help search for prehistoric cliff paintings. After the paintings are found he disappears for a month in the desert on a secret military mission for the Nazis, and tells the archaeological professor to cover for him.

During World War II Schneider re-emerges in the desert as Army Major Sonderkommando (Sand Commander), and self-styled King of the Desert, which he boasts is his friend, and he gives the impression he is in confident, total command of it. He dresses himself up in black leather (despite the desert heat), which gives him a sinister Gestapo-like appearance, hence his nickname of Black Schneider. He has developed a military style that enables him to somehow sneak up on Allied platoons and take them down from the rear and completely unawares. There is a real mystery as to how he is able to emerge out of nowhere from the desert sands and catch them napping from behind, and he’s giving the impression he must be a magician or something.

black schneider 1

Schneider pulls this stunt several times on Sergeant Bill Kane and his 3rd platoon of the 2nd North Loamshires, which always causes them to fail in their mission and take heavy casualties and loss of equipment. As a result, the platoon develops a reputation as a bad luck platoon that is jinxed, and the jinx is dubbed “the Mark of Kane”. Nobody wants to join that platoon, and one soldier dubs Kane “Mr Suicide”. Lieutenant Colonel Stacey at Battalion HQ won’t listen to Kane’s protests that Schneider and his desert tactics are responsible for their failures. Nor does he listen to Kane’s suspicions that Schneider is making clever use of little-known desert paths, a discovery he made when investigating how Schneider and his platoon managed to escape from one of their attacks so readily. When it reaches the point where Kane loses his entire platoon through Schneider’s tactics and Stacey won’t listen to the reason why, he is transferred to a store job at base camp.

En route to base camp, a mine field gives Kane an idea on how to get back at Schneider. He extracts two mines and uses them to mine the pathway he discovered before and blow up Schneider next time he uses it.

Then a desert Arab appears out of nowhere and starts to use the path, and Kane has to warn him about the mines. But when Schneider and his army show up, they are well prepared to deal with the mines, and Kane realises the Arab must have been an informer. Schneider confirms this as he takes Kane prisoner.

black schneider 2

En route to and during his time in Schneider’s POW camp at the Oasis of Sitra Kane discovers how Schneider does it. He used that month in 1938 to trace a desert road constructed in ancient times and mapped it with compass bearings. The road is concealed by desert sand, so he cunningly uses his map to navigate it without sinking into the sands as so many convoys have done. He is also keeping Arab guides well paid with old Spanish gold (treasure to them) to guide him along the caravan routes and ancient wells, which enables them to keep themselves supplied with water as well. And the secret to his success is that very few outsiders know about the ancient road, which is also concealed by desert sand, the caravan routes or the Oasis of Sitra, so the Allied Intelligence knows nothing about it. This is how he is able “to hold a gun in the back of the British all the time. They never expect the enemy to come from the sea of sand”.

Schneider’s POW camp at Sitra has the deadly desert itself acting as the bars and barbed wire. So there is no need for them, only plenty of guards. The prisoners are forced to fill up cans with either water or petrol, and keep the water and petrol cans apart, don’t mix them up (hmm, do we sense something crafty could be pulled here?). Most of the prisoners are resigned to staying until the war ends because the camp is surrounded by desert that only Schneider seems able to cross, and the British know nothing about the camp’s existence. But not Kane once he has the full picture of how Schneider is doing it – with the ancient concealed road he plotted and the Arab guides. He is going to orchestrate a mass breakout by beating Schneider at his own game.

black schneider 3

The Battle of El Alamein is now on and Schneider wants to be part of the action. He departs, leaving the prisoners only lightly guarded. He does not realise his water tanks are really filled with petrol and the prisoners have taken water tanks for themselves (yes, we thought something like that was coming). The soldiers quickly overcome the few remaining guards and seize vehicles, ammunition and weapons. Kane also seizes the Arab who betrayed him and forces him at gunpoint to take them along the caravan route. Before departing, he paints the captured vehicles with “3 Platoon” and tells his fellow escapees this is what they are now. He is forming a new 3rd platoon with his escapees, to salvage the reputation of the old one and settle old scores with Schneider.

Kane directs the Arab to take them to the wells Schneider showed him at Bir Quara, figuring that Schneider must be stopping there for water and discovering the trick with the cans. Upon arrival they surround Schneider, but he is not one to surrender, so “the Skirmish at Bir Quara” begins. Soon Schneider is the last man standing. Kane takes him prisoner to El Alamein and seizes his map of the concealed desert road.

Stacey is very surprised to see this new 3rd platoon arriving at the Battle of El Alamein, with Kane himself in command. He will soon learn that the new 3rd platoon is much luckier than its predecessor, much of which is due to consisting of toughened desert fighters who have ironically learned to navigate the desert through their enemy Schneider.

Thoughts

This Commando certainly had a very long wait for a reprint – 51 years. That sure is a very long wait for a reprint and it’s surprising the issue did not get a reprint earlier.

The first thing you see with this issue is that it is the villain on the cover, and his presence monopolises it entirely. None of the heroes appear anywhere. His resplendent, strident, confident appearance hits you right in the eye and makes it an eye-catching cover. It’s an unusual step for Commando to take, having the villain star on the cover rather than the hero, but it’s a very sensible one, and makes a far more striking cover, rendered brilliantly by Espi.

Schneider’s nickname is also the title of the story. It has you thinking that maybe the whole story is going to be about him. Maybe he will be the anti-hero or even hero of the story, which Commando has done before with non-Gestapo German soldiers.

But once you open the issue (or read the blurb on the back) you know that’s not the case. Black Schneider is set up to be the bane of Bill Kane and his 3rd platoon.

Schneider and his desert tactics are clearly based on General Rommel, “The Desert Fox”. There is also a dash of the Red Baron in the way he unconventionally dresses in black leathers rather than army uniform. There is a hint of the Gestapo as well, both in his dress and in his icy demeanour. He is an extremely clever villain, styling himself as master of the desert and giving the impression his control of the desert is seeming miraculous and strikes awe and confusion into the enemy. As well as his seeming uncanny ability to sneak up on the enemy from behind out of nowhere, he further dumbfounds them with tactics such as destroying their supply of water, the most precious commodity of the desert, saying he has no need for it himself. Why the hell should he not need water when he’s out in the desert? His bragging that the desert is his friend appears to be no idle boasting and he almost appears to be a magician.

But once Schneider’s secret is uncovered, Kane discovers there was nothing miraculous about it – just learn how others before you have tamed the desert – and it was all a simple yet ingenious trick. And it’s a trick that his enemies take over themselves and start to use against him.

black schneider 4

Schneider’s seeming magic is further enhanced by the fact that he is always bumping into the same platoon and pulling the same trick over and over on them, and giving them a bad luck reputation. If Schneider had done it on several platoons, British HQ would have had to take these reports about Schneider more seriously. But as only one platoon seemed to get picked on it is poor old Sergeant Bill Kane who gets the blame and has to clear his name and reputation of his platoon.

Kane is reduced to the point where he has to take on Schneider and clear his reputation single-handed. It is ironic that it happens through being taken prisoner by Schneider, but Kane soon finds out that this is the only way he could learn Schneider’s secrets and start to use them himself. So we get some elements of the slave story of the protagonist being the only one who refuses to be broken by his captivity, which the other prisoners are resigned to, and find a way to escape. He not only does so but also gets his fellow prisoners back into action. And as this is the Battle of El Alamein, it would have been a stunning victory for them all and restore the name of the 3rd Platoon, and Black Schneider finally met his match in Sergeant Bill Kane.

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Boss of Beadle Street [1973]

Sample Images

Boss of Beadle Street 1Boss of Beadle Street 2Boss of Beadle Street 3

 

Published: June & Pixie 31 March to 14 July 1973

Episodes: 16

Artist: Audrey Fawley

Writer: Unknown

Reprints/translations: None known

Plot

Liz Green is a very bossy, pushy girl, especially when she gets bright ideas about helping someone. She barges right in with her “help” without a by-your-leave or do-you-mind and won’t stop until she gets her way – which she almost invariably does, she’s such a steamroller. In Beadle Street where she lives, she is notorious for it. She gets herself into constant trouble with the residents who chase her off for her unwarranted interference. But Liz never learns. As far as she is concerned, she is just trying to help and people just don’t listen because they don’t take take her seriously. Nora, Liz’s best friend, tells Liz her day will come. Nora will come to regret her words.

Before we go on, Nora is Liz’s voice of reason, but it’s a voice that constantly falls on deaf ears against the bulldozer Liz. Nora comes from the long tradition of the good friend in girls’ comics who sticks by the protagonist, no matter what crap the protagonist gives her and drives her to distraction. She takes in quite a bit already with her bossy friend and her bright ideas, but, as you might have guessed, it’s all about to amplify to levels Nora never expected.

It starts when Liz and Nora are researching for a history project and discover the long-forgotten bylaw 381, which says that anyone living on the site where the old beadle’s house once stood can claim the rights and responsibilities of the beadle. After Liz determines her house stands on that site, there is no stopping Miss Bossyboots from enacting that bylaw to style herself as the new beadle, and Boss of Beadle Street. Everyone will have to do what she says now, and doing everything her way will all be for their own good and they will thank her for it.

The residents of Beadle Street just about turn into a lynch mob when they see what bright idea Liz is hatching with them under the bylaw. But the mayor says it’s the law, Liz is within her rights, and they have to obey. He slyly adds that Liz also has the responsibility of solving everyone’s problems as beadle. He appears to be calculating that this will soon have Liz so fed up she will give up being a beadle.

But he has miscalculated. Liz solving residents’ problems goes surprisingly well and she begins to win them over to her side. She sorts out the street tearaway Tony Atkins, which his parents never tried to do and is good at solving neighbourhood disputes. These successes impress the council, the residents begin to take to their beadle, and her fame is growing as a celebrity.

However, as Liz is such a bossyboots, it’s all to easy for it all to go to her head – and it does. Liz is soon acting arrogantly towards Nora and even her own mother. She also neglects her friendship with Nora because the demands of sorting problems is making her too busy for that, and all she cares about is beading Beadle Street.

When Liz goes power mad, the good she does is soon outweighed by the bad. Liz acts like a dictator, imposing unfair rules on the residents, which she posts up for them to see, and fines those who don’t obey.

Among them:

1: Everyone must walk on the left in the street.

2: When meeting the Boss, doff your cap. If you don’t have one, bow or curtsey. When Nora protests against this rule, Liz forces her to sweep the street while wearing a sign that says: “I have disobeyed the boss. I must sweep this street in punishment. Let everyone learn from me!”

3: Every dog must be leashed. Every dog must have a weekly bath. Every dog must have a daily half-hour walk and brush-down afterwards. The Boss is conducting rigorous inspections to make sure this rule is kept, and fines people who fail to do so, regardless of excuse (now what does she do with the money from those fines, anyway?). The people hit back at this rule by lumbering Liz with a litter of eight puppies and say she must obey her own rules in looking after them.

Yes, revenge and backlash are striking back at Liz. On another occasion, it happens when  Liz unwisely makes Tony highwayman at an ambitious street costume party. Tony takes advantage to wreak havoc and Liz gets into big trouble.

But the backlash is too small and piecemeal to make a real dent in Liz’s power. And Liz’s swollen beadle head continues to grow. She actually starts dressing up as a beadle and patrols the street in her beadle costume. This makes her even more of a celebrity and curiosity, and tourists take photos of her. She uses the money from this for more beadle mania, and this time she really goes overboard. She buys beadle runner and beadle servant outfits for Nora and Mum and browbeats them in her usual manner, plus threats of fines, until they agree to wear them. Even worse, she bosses them into painting the house a gaudy gold, which she thinks befits the beadle’s house. Surely even Mr Bumble would be mortified! Liz treats Mum (now forced to do housework in the servant’s outfit) and Nora like slaves, giving them constant orders and having them at her beck and call all the time. What the hell is next – is the Beadle going to bring back the workhouse or something?

Before Liz gets the chance, the residents decide enough is enough and this time they really get together to make a stand. Everyone, including Mum and Nora, empties out of Beadle Street, leaving Liz on her own and nobody to boss around. And they won’t come back as long as Liz stays beadle.

This stance certainly has its effect. It isn’t long before Liz is feeling lonely, miserable, and scared at night. She is also hungry and cold because Mum turned off the gas. It has her ready to give in by the time Nora comes to check up on her, but she is too proud to publicly resign as beadle for that reason because it would mean loss of face.

Nora suggests re-checking the bylaw to see if there is an “out” clause that would enable Liz to quit the beadle job gracefully. They soon find there is one. In fact, if Liz’s enemies had checked the bylaw they could have used it themselves to stop her. A resident may put in an application for cancellation of the beadleship, but the council must hold a vote on it. As Liz can’t put in an application for the cancellation of her own beadleship, she dons a disguise to do so.

You would think the Beadle Street residents would be only too happy to vote to strike Liz down as beadle, but there is a most surprising U-turn from one of the residents, Mrs MacFish. Forgetting what drove her out of Beadle Street, Mrs MacFish starts a campaign to keep Liz as beadle. And Mrs MacFish is such an orator that she soon has the other residents forgetting the bad things and remembering the silver lining, such as Liz the Beadle generating extra custom for the store. So, to make sure everyone votes against her, Liz declares more of those unpopular rules she will impose on Beadle Street.

Liz is quite relieved to not be beadle anymore, just an ordinary girl again. She throws a party to celebrate and renews her friendship with Nora. She is still a big bossyboots though; it’s too much in her nature for her to change there, and she hasn’t really learned not to be such a bulldozer. So when Nora stumbles across “Ye Ancient Right of King of Beadle Street”, she doesn’t say a word to Liz, and hopes that law will stay hidden and forgotten about!

Thoughts

There have been plenty of stories on the evils of “grownups know best”, with what they think they know best being imposed by methods that range from the just plain misguided and narrow to the subversive and even downright abusive. But the message is always that it is totally wrong and choice and free will must not be trampled on in the name of discipline, perfection or whatever. “Dracula’s Daughter“, “Children of Stepford” and “Slave of the Clock” are classic examples.

But here the premise is turned inside out with “kids know best”, which is quite a twist. Liz Green, a mere kid, is just as sincere and adamant that she knows as best as the grown-up meddlers in stories like the ones mentioned above. Yet she turns out to be no better than they are. Although she has her good qualities, most notably in sorting problems, her bossiness and narrow-mindedness in always believing she knows best makes her totally unfit for the job of beadle, especially when she becomes increasingly power mad and her rules and orders become increasingly outrageous and unbearable. Like her grown-up counterparts in “grownups know best” she started out with a degree of well meaning to her intentions, but her intentions became increasingly dark and corrupted as power went to her head. She either has to be brought down entirely or made to wake up in some way.

This time the adults are the ones made to suffer, right alongside the kids. Even Liz’s mother is made to suffer. Mum should give her daughter a jolly good spanking, but Liz always gets her way with Mum because she’s so forceful, and her father, being dead, is not there to have a say, or a belt with him.

It’s not too much of a surprise that Liz does not change all that much in the end; one has gotten the feeling she’s just plain bossy by nature and won’t ever change. Being on her own deflates her power and she finally wants to give up being beadle and go back to the way she was. But she has not really learned her lesson. Although she is pleased to be an ordinary girl again, she does not wake up to how horrible she’s been or really apologise to anyone, and clearly should not be trusted with power.

When reading this story, one is reminded of the words of another (in)famous fictional beadle: “The law is an ass!” Too right, especially if the law is antiquated, has no place in modern society. It should have been struck out years ago and could cause serious, even ridiculous problems if reenacted because the need for that law has long since disappeared.

 

Tammy & Sally 1 January 1972 – first New Year issue

Tammy cover 1 January 1972

  • Gina – Get Lost (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Beattie Beats ‘Em All! (artist John Armstrong)
  • Halves in a Horse (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Lulu (cartoon)
  • Skimpy Must Ski! (artist Tom Hurst)
  • The Four Friends at Spartan School (artist “B. Jackson”, writer Terence Magee)
  • Maisie’s Magic Eye (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • The Secret Ballerina (artist Roy Newby)
  • Bernice and the Blue Pool – final episode (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Talk It Over with Trudy (problem page)
  • Alison All Alone
  • Cinderella Spiteful (artist Jose Casanovas)
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

This is Tammy’s first New Year issue. The girl on the cover has a nice touch of mystique with her mask at a New Year’s party. Molly Mills finishes her current story with a Christmas party for all the orphanage kids, despite Pickering’s attempts to ruin things for them. Heck, he even tried to tie up the kids’ dog and leave it on the roof to freeze to death! Anyway, Molly will have a new story in the New Year.

Gina – Get Lost must be wishing she could get lost. A phoney child welfare officer has sent her to a sadistic children’s home where, among other things, she has been forced to crop her own hair. And their idea of punishment is to leave her in a freezing room all night with a vicious dog barking and snarling at her all the time.

“Bernice and the Blue Pool” ends this issue, so there will be a new story for the New Year. “The Four Friends at Spartan School” is on its penultimate episode, so there will be another new story helping to kick off New Year in two weeks. The four friends have successfully escaped Spartan School, but now they find an avalanche is threatening the school. Well, an avalanche may the best thing for the most horrible school in the world, but let’s face it – there are lives at stake up there, after all.

“Halves in a Horse” is near its end too. Pauline’s cruelty goes too far. She sends Topper bolting and now he’s in danger of drowning in a river. The Major, who had figured out Pauline’s bullying and tried to get Pauline’s victim Kay to stand up to her, is the only one on hand to help, but he doubts the horse can be saved. When Pauline hears this, she is suddenly struck with conscience.

Skimpy is determined to show her grandfather she is not an invalid anymore and can tackle skiing. By the end of the episode he has got the message and decides to help her with skiing. Excellent! Now the story can move more smoothly, though we are sure there are still bumps in the road ahead, and not just the tumbles Skimpy will take on the ski slopes.

Beattie has been cribbing lessons in secret at the school she has been squatting in while keeping up her athletics. Now she has a chance to be properly enrolled, but she has to pass exams.

Maisie tells a fat, gluttonous girl that she’s an awful pig. She never learns to watch what she says while wearing that damn brooch, does she? The girl instantly turns into a pig. Needless to say, she isn’t so greedy after Maisie finally gets her back to normal.

In “The Secret Ballerina, Karen finally makes it to the locked room – only to find nothing but Aunt Edith crying over someone named Karen, but Karen realises it’s not her. So who is this other Karen? Everything begins to point to Karen’s mother, but what’s it got to do with Aunt Edith not allowing Karen to dance?

Alison seems to be having more success in unravelling her own mystery. The clue she has uncovered leads her to Fengate Hall and she is going in. But the boys who have accompanied her are worried she is going to desert them once she finds out her true identity. Oh, surely not? After all, none of them really know what is waiting inside for Alison.

“Cinderella Spiteful” tries to ruin cousin Angela’s party. But in the end she is glad she failed to do so as she misjudged Angela over who she was going to invite, and she likes the look of the guests.

Tammy & Sally 25 December 1971 – first Christmas Tammy issue

Tammy 25 December 1971

Cover artist: John Armstrong

  • Gina – Get Lost (artist Miguel Quesada)
  • Beattie Beats ‘Em All! (artist John Armstrong)
  • Halves in a Horse (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Lulu (cartoon)
  • Skimpy Must Ski! – first episode (artist Tom Hurst)
  • Bernice and the Blue Pool (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Talk It Over with Trudy (problem page)
  • The Secret Ballerina (artist Roy Newby)
  • The Four Friends at Spartan School (artist “B. Jackson”, writer Terence Magee)
  • Maisie’s Magic Eye (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Cinderella Spiteful (artist Jose Casanovas)
  • Alison All Alone
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • A Tammy Outfit Idea for Christmas (feature)

 

This is Tammy’s first Christmas issue. Beattie Beats ‘Em All! (John Armstrong’s first Tammy story) does the honours on the cover. The back cover has a Christmas how-to-make. In Molly Mills, Lord Stanton wants to bring Christmas cheer to orphanage children, but he has reckoned without the cruel butler Pickering. The issue also advertises Tammy’s first-ever annual. Lulu is trying to find Christmas presents for Dad but keeps getting foiled.

You’d think this week’s episode of Maisie’s Magic Eye would be Christmassy too, but no. It’s a regular episode, where Maisie and her friend Lorna try to break bounds and sneak off to the circus. Hijinks with the brooch ensue, with a lot of monkey business when Maisie unwittingly turns the circus strong man into a gorilla and the brooch stops glowing before she can change him back.

Normally new stories are reserved for New Year, but one does begin in the Christmas issue,  “Skimpy Must Ski!” Skimpy Shaw, a convalescent girl, is sent to live with her grandfather who looks a real sourpuss. Time will tell if he has a heart under there. Meanwhile, Skimpy is inspired to ski, and she thinks she has a natural talent for it.

Gina – Get Lost has been left to look after herself when her parents emigrate, which is not going down well with the welfare authorities. And it sounds like there is worse to come. She has already fallen foul of blackmailers and it looks like she will fall foul of potential guardians out to exploit her.

Before Bella Barlow, John Armstrong drew “Beattie Beats ‘Em All!” for Tammy. Beattie Brown is a promising athlete. Unfortunately she has no fixed abode either, so she and her stray cats live in a boiler room at a girls’ college.

In “Halves in a Horse”, two cousins are left with half shares in a horse, Topper. The cousin who wins the most prizes with him will acquire full ownership. As might be expected, one cousin (Pauline) is not playing fair and making the other cousin (Kay) suffer. Now the cousins have almost equal shares, Pauline is using blackmail against Kay.

Bernice and the Blue Pool was Tammy’s first swimming story and also the first story Douglas Perry drew for Tammy. It was the start of a regular Tammy run for Perry that lasted into 1981. The Blue Pool has a supernatural theme, which ranges from beneficial (curing our protagonist of her fear of water) to ominous – wearing Victorian swimming costumes that were worn by a pioneering Victorian swimming team that drowned.

The Secret Ballerina, Karen Jones, has to practise in secret because her aunt is against ballet for some reason. This is, of course, the mystery that needs to be unravelled. Compounding the mystery is a locked room in auntie’s house. But now Katie has discovered the room has been unlocked and someone is inside. She is heading to the attic to investigate. Will she find the key to the mystery next week?

Surprise, surprise – Miss Bramble’s henchman, er girl, Siddons helps the four friends at Spartan School to escape from the school where sadism is the rule. But of course they should have known it would be a setup. Mind you, they didn’t expect Siddons to actually attempt to kill them! When they survive that, they discover Miss Bramble and Siddons have concocted a plan to get them arrested instead.

Cinderella Spiteful – now that’s a very unusual title for a Cinderella story, you think. Actually, the story has nothing to do with Cinderella. Emma is jealous of her cousin Angela because Angela is good at everything while Emma is not. Next week it sounds like it will be more spiteful than Cinderella, because Emma reaches her limit in this episode.

Alison All Alone is on the run after being imprisoned by her guardians for many years. The question is: why did they keep her locked up like that? The three runaway boys who helped her escape are helping her to find out. This week they uncover a clue about her past – a crook who says he will be finished if Alison finds out who her true parents are!

 

 

 

 

Room for Rosie [1983-1984]

Sample Images

Room for Rosie 1aRoom for Rosie 1bRoom for Rosie 1c

Published: Tammy 13 August 1983 to 7 January 1984 (no episodes 12 November to 17 December 1983)

Episodes: 21

Artist: Santiago Hernandez

Writer: Alison Christie

Translations/reprints: none known

It is the Christmas season. This story from Tammy has been chosen to honour the Christmas theme because its last three episodes were especially themed to tie in with Tammy’s (last, as it turned out) Christmas and New Year issues. Accordingly, the story was put on hiatus to return at Christmas.

As discussed below, this story is also related to Jinty history.

Plot

Everywhere Gran Wheeler goes, so does her beloved pram Rosie (from the roses painted on her sides). Rosie is a tough old boneshaker with a voluminous capacity, both of which have enabled her to work tirelessly at helping people in an assortment of ways as well as being perambulator to a few generations of Wheelers. Gran takes great pride at Rosie being such a toughie and made to last, and not at all like the flimsy contraptions that pass off as modern prams. Gran and Rosie have even won a community award for the work they have done in helping people.

On her deathbed, Gran has her granddaughter Pauline promise to find someone with “room for Rosie” and not let her end up on the scrap heap. Pauline, who cares as much about Rosie as Gran does, earnestly promises to do so.

But there is one big problem. The Wheeler house is too small for Rosie and she is taking up all the space in the hallway. This is a real nuisance for the rest of the family. They are always falling over Rosie (hitting shins, ruining pantyhose etc). They are putting up with it because Pauline was so insistent; she carted Rosie home in pouring rain to the house after they left her outside gran’s house for the dustmen. But there are limits to their patience. If that patience runs out, it’s the scrap yard for Rosie. And because of lack of space in the Wheeler house, there can be no future generations of Wheelers being taken for walks in Rosie. Rosie has to pass out of the family with this generation. So the quest to find someone with room for Rosie is pressing as she is on borrowed time in the Wheeler household.

Now, you’d think Pauline would put advertise for a home for Rosie in the paper, put Rosie in a garage sale, or sell her to a second hand shop or something. But this being a girls’ serial that has to be spun out, Pauline never does any of those things. Instead, it’s a story of the week format where each week Rosie continues to be put to 101 uses as a tireless workhorse with heaps of space and helping people in an assortment of ways. By turns we see Rosie being used as the Princess’ cot in the school Sleeping Beauty panto, being taken on the run by a girl who can’t stand her parents arguing anymore, and catching loot that a crook throws from a window. As shown above, she is even Santa’s helper at one point. Santa with a pram sure makes a change from his sleigh, doesn’t it? Rosie is accumulating quite a fan club out of the people she helps.

However, not everyone appreciates how useful or durable Rosie is. In several episodes Rosie draws a lot a teasing and snide remarks as to what a piece of scrap she is and is fit for the junk heap. In one episode Rosie is pitted against modern prams in a pram race where Pauline is dressed as a baby. The boy pushing her has been deploring Rosie as he thinks she’s just a piece of scrap that wouldn’t last five minutes in the race. But Rosie is soon proving what stern stuff she is made of compared to modern prams, which are soon dropping out like flies. They win hands down thanks to Rosie and Pauline’s partner is taking back what he said about her.

Pauline hopes to find a home for her out of all the people Rosie helps, but they can’t or won’t for some reason or other. Or sometimes fate intervenes to block Rosie from a new home.

When Christmas approaches, finding a home for Rosie becomes even more pressing because Dad says they’re giving Pauline’s brother Ben a bike for Christmas, and the only place to keep it is the hallway. But there is no room for both the bike and a pram the size of Rosie in that hallway. She really has to go now, even if it is to the scrapyard.

Come New Year’s Day, there is still no new home for Rosie. Happy New Year indeed for Pauline; she’s so upset that she’s failed Gran and can’t bear the thought of Rosie at the scrapyard. And that’s where Rosie will go after the family’s trip to the funfair. But it’s no fun at all at the fair for Pauline, of course.

Then Pauline realises that the fair could have room for Rosie – on their carousel. The fairground people are only too happy to take Rosie on board for it and say she will be extremely popular. Sure enough, there is a queue lining up for a ride in Rosie the moment she is put into place on the carousel. So it’s a Happy New Year’s Day after all for Pauline and Rosie.

Thoughts

This is not the first time Alison Christie wrote a heartwarming story about a pram that’s a tough old boneshaker and can be put to 101 uses. There was a predecessor, Old Peg, which appeared in Christie’s 1976 Jinty story, “For Peter’s Sake!” We strongly suspect Rosie and Old Peg were inspired by a real pram somewhere in Christie’s childhood.

As with Rosie, Old Peg is a real workhorse and famous in the locality for community work. Both prams are owned by grandmothers. They bequeath them to their granddaughters upon their deathbeds and charge them with a special mission for it. In Pauline’s case it is find a home for the pram. In the Jinty story it is take the pram to a sick baby brother, Peter, who needs it for his recovery. Towards the end it looks as if the granddaughters have failed in those missions despite all their efforts, and they are heartbroken. But an unexpected turn of events at the last minute changes everything and ensures a happy ending.

Old Peg differs from Rosie in that people believe her to have supernatural powers. Any sick baby that is rocked in her will be cured. Rosie has no claim to have any supernatural powers, though at times she gives the impression she is alive somehow. Curiously, a lot of people call her a “magic pram” for no apparent reason. Maybe she does have a power somewhere after all?

Room for Rosie also follows a similar pattern to “The Button Box”, in using a “story of the week” format. As with the buttons in the box, this accumulates a great deal of stories behind Rosie. This is not surprising as Christie wrote both of them and both were running at the same time. But in the case of Rosie there is always that underlying urgency in finding a home for Rosie and disappointment in how each time a new lead fails to pan out. It’s not a mere “story of the week” as The Button Box is. The urgency is carried right even through Pauline’s Christmas for a luck last-minute turnaround to keep up the suspense and drama right up to the last page of the final episode.

Walking the Line [2018]

Walking the Line cover

Published: Commando #5147

Art: Morhain & Rezzonico (story), Neil Roberts (cover)

Story: Andrew Knighton

Here is another recently published Commando in its new trend of featuring a female protagonist.

Plot

In July 1943 Flight Lieutenant Alan Freeman leads a bombing squadron against Germany. Unfortunately Freeman has an obsession about winning back his ex, Sarah, whose photograph he carries on every mission, by impressing her with a huge scorecard of daring, heroic war deeds. Freeman does not realise that his drive to make his missions as daring as possible to impress Sarah is clouding his judgement and causing him to take ever-increasing risks with his squadron.

One night the inevitable happens – Freeman takes one risk too many to impress Sarah. This has the Luftwaffe bearing down on the plane fast and Freeman and his comrades get shot down. Knowing the situation is partly his fault, Freeman tries to rectify it by flying his plane for as long as possible and be the last to bail out. He takes care to retain Sarah’s photograph as he jumps. As he watches his burning plane go down, he tells Sarah it’s all been for her.

Walking the Line 1

Right – so putting your squadron in a position to get shot down, losing planes and possibly lives that way, and bailing out over occupied territory, which could mean capture, have all been for impressing Sarah, Alan Freeman? You tell that to your superiors when you get home.

Well, back to the story now.

Freeman parachutes into occupied France, which is of course very dangerous for him. Moreover, the crash his plane made was heard for miles, so the Germans are bound to come running. At least Freeman paid attention in French class and also had training in evading capture. As per training, Freeman hides all trace of his parachute and military uniform. Well, nearly all – he forgets his boots, which are clearly military issue. Fortunately the Frenchman (Henri Chaput) who spots this oversight is friendly and hides him from the searching Germans.

Walking the Line 2

Henri’s daughter, Juliette, runs an underground escape line for Allied soldiers, which runs through the Pyrenees and Spain. However, Juliette warns Freeman there is a risk in taking it: she suspects the Gestapo have compromised it somehow because some of their people have gone missing recently. Freeman gladly accepts that risk, just because it will be another thing for him to impress Sarah. That night he takes a moment to think of Sarah and how going through an underground route will impress her.

Escapee reports are vital to the war effort. So next evening they radio London to inform them of what Freeman had seen during the bombing run. Unfortunately the Germans trace the signal of the illegal radio (the Achilles heel of the Resistance) and soon have the place surrounded. Freeman and Juliette are the only ones to escape when the Germans open fire – and kill Henri.

They make it to a town in search of a safe house. There they spot a Gestapo agent, and he is looking at them in a way that indicates he has realised Juliette is on their wanted list. They take advantage of this to lure him into a trap and capture him. At the safe house Juliette interrogates the agent to find out what happened to their missing numbers and why they have gone missing. The agent sneers that those missing people are all dead of course. And in reply to her other question, one of their number is a traitor but he does not know which one. Juliette now gags him and leaves him for the local Resistance to pick up.

Freeman comes up with an idea to flush the traitor out: use him as bait by taking him down the escape line and spread the word through it that he carries vital British intelligence. And for the first time, Freeman is not taking a risk to impress Sarah. He’s taking it to help Juliette and the war effort.

Two days later Juliette and Freeman are at a café waiting for their contact, Claude the forger. Juliette suspects Claude is the traitor because he is in the perfect position to be. But Claude is soon eliminated as a suspect when another contact, Celine arrives, and tells them the Germans have arrested Claude, along with several more members of the Narbonne cell. Freeman and Juliette head for Narbonne and the remaining cell members.

On the way Juliette tells Freeman that the Germans killed her sister, Lucile, who was not even a Resistance member, along with nine others, in revenge for a Resistance attack. Lucile is the reason why Juliette fights the Germans. Now that sure is a far more worthy reason to fight than trying to win back an ex who keeps trying to tell you she’s moved on.

In Narbonne they meet Louis, leader of the Narbonne cell, and Julio, the guide through the Pyrenees. A fight breaks out when Louis says that before they helped Juliette’s escape line they lost nobody and now the Germans are picking them off, and Juliette angrily accuses him of being the traitor. Freeman breaks up the fight and is not convinced Louis is the traitor.

Walking the Line 3

Whoever the traitor is, he soon strikes again; that night the Germans arrive and arrest Freeman and Juliette, who had no chance to flee or fight. They are taken to an Abwehr (Army) run prison, and are soon joined by other Resistance fighters. Louis joins Freeman and Juliette in their cell. This convinces Freeman that Louis is not the traitor, but not Juliette.

Freeman is first to be interrogated. His interrogator, Colonel Weber, makes a remark that will be of major plot significance later: “Some of your predecessors may have got away, but you would not like to end up like Lieutenant Davies, would you?”

A Gestapo agent interrupts the interrogation. An argument erupts between him and Weber, and this makes them careless in how they are guarding Freeman. Freeman takes advantage to seize Weber’s gun and shoots both Germans dead. He makes a dash for it, taking the cell keys that were attached to Weber’s belt. He frees the others and a mass prison breakout ensues, but the Germans are gathering forces with gunfire. Louis bravely covers for them while they make their escape until he is finally mown down. To Freeman, this is the ultimate proof that Louis is not the traitor and he convinces Juliette of it.

They head for Julio’s hideout and persuade him to take them over the Pyrenees. It’s a hard journey, made all the harder by having to avoid border guards on both sides, and no short cuts or easy routes. As they go on, Freeman realises he has no further taste for daring adventures to impress his ex and will just be glad when it is all over. And it’s only the first day of their escape through the Pyrenees.

Walking the Line 4

After the first day, Julio goes ahead to check the trail while Juliette and Freeman settle down by the fire. Recalling what Weber said about Lieutenant Davies, Freeman asks Juliette if she knew him. Juliette says Davies was the first pilot she helped, before she had even started her escape line. She took him to Julio and Julio got him to Spain – Julio said so himself! But that’s not what Weber said…unless…

All of a sudden, everything falls into place.

When Julio returns, Juliette and Freeman have an ambush prepared for him. He puts up a terrific fight, but once he is overpowered he does not deny being the traitor at all. His motive was self-preservation by making himself useful to the Germans, but no doubt the rewards must have been an additional motive.

The problem is, what to do with Julio? Where they are right now, they can’t leave him for the Resistance to pick up as they did the Gestapo agent. But Juliette can’t kill a man in cold blood and Julio takes advantage to plead for his life. Juliette agrees to hand him over for trial and execution but Julio is not having that. He lunges at Juliette, and in the ensuing struggle Juliette is forced to make her first kill. Juliette is deeply upset at this, and realises it has not given her the satisfaction of vengeance that she thought it would.

But Juliette can’t dwell on that – they still have to get across the Pyrenees. This is now even harder because they have lost their guide. Juliette has a fair knowledge of the Pyrenees, but it is not as extensive as Julio’s. The further they go, the less Juliette knows the terrain, until Freeman remembers he has a compass hidden in his boots. And there are still those pesky border patrols they have to dodge all the time.

Eventually they reach Juliette’s contacts in Spain. From there, the British embassy smuggles Freeman to Gibraltar and a waiting ship to Britain. Juliette will go back to continue her work. It would not be surprising if Juliette takes Julio’s place at the Pyrenees end of her escape line as there has been a strong buildup towards it. Besides, there is nobody else on her escape line with enough knowledge of the Pyrenees to navigate that route. In any case, Juliette can’t go back to her hometown with her family gone and the Gestapo looking for her.

Before Freeman boards his ship he discards Sarah’s photograph, saying she’s not worth it. He now realises that he has long since stopped thinking about Sarah and fighting just to impress her. As he sails home he thinks about more important things and far better reasons to fight. Among them is the inspiration Juliette has given him.

Thoughts

This story is another in a growing trend in female protagonists in Commando. They have ranged from partners to the male protagonist to the star of the show. The cover of this issue indicates that the male and female protagonist will be pretty much equal in how they are developed.

The thrust of the story is still on the male protagonist, Alan Freeman, as he battles to escape from occupied France through an escape line. It’s not only a struggle for survival and escape through the underground and past the difficulties of Pyrenees and enemy patrols. There is also the added worry of an unknown traitor compromising the escape route, whose treachery could get them captured and killed if they don’t get to him first. So there is a mystery to this story as well that needs to be unravelled. But until they do, paranoia and suspicion run through the escape line and are setting the cell members against each other, as shown in the near-fight between Louis and Juliette.

It could have been a pure adventure/mystery story for Alan Freeman. Instead, it develops his character by taking him on an emotional journey where he has to stop dwelling on his ex and trying to win her back with heroics because it’s affecting his performance. It’s causing him to take thoughtless risks that are putting missions, his comrades’ lives and his own in jeopardy, and he does not even seem to care. And his reasons for it are not only selfish but also pathetic, and they may not even succeed in getting her back. After all, will Sarah even be there to impress when he returns – if he returns – with all his tales of heroics? For all he knows, she could now be married to a medal-laden war general or died aboard a ship sunk by some U-boat. He’s just got to move on, as Sarah has done.

Walking the Line 5

As Freeman’s journey through the Underground progresses, we see him changing from taking risks to win back his ex to taking risks for the war effort and the Underground. After his first night in Juliette’s house he stops thinking about Sarah pretty quickly, because once the Germans strike he has more pressing things to think about. He stops looking at Sarah’s photo all the time. The next risk he takes is for unselfish reasons that have nothing to do with impressing Sarah. Furthermore, as Freeman hears the horrors Juliette and the French people are going through under Nazism and sees some of them first hand, he begins to discover the real reasons why he should fight. By the time Freeman is finally reminded of Sarah, he has grown mature enough to let her go and realise there are more important things than getting back your ex when you’re in the middle of a war.

Freeman also goes from cavalierly going through adventures to impress Sarah to understanding it’s not a bravo adventure of risk and daring. He has to learn things like keeping cool when he’s in disguise when Germans are prowling close by, and persistence when he has to go through the Pyrenees the hard way to avoid capture. All the while he is fighting for his life and his freedom.

Although we never see Juliette’s thought bubbles, she’s clearly going through an intense emotional journey too. It shows through her words and her actions. As we learn more about Juliette’s escape line, we realise that while she is brave and competent, it sounds like she is still pretty new to this game and there are some hard lessons she still has to learn. One is learning to kill when she has to, because this is war. And when it’s war, sometimes you have to kill or be killed. This lesson Juliette is forced to learn when at first she tries to avoid killing Julio but eventually she has to make her first kill with him.

Another lesson Juliette has to learn is not get emotions cloud her judgement, as her handling of Louis proved. She had no real reason to suspect Louis is the traitor and there was no proof. All he did was make a very pointed observation that suggests the traitor is connected to her escape line, but she went too much on the defensive over it. For his part, Louis acted with too much emotion in handling his suspicions about Juliette’s line. In so doing, Louis and Juliette both missed a vital clue to the identity of the traitor – he was someone linked to both Juliette’s escape line and the Narbonne cell.

Walking the Line 6

Juliette’s reason to fight – to avenge the sister the Nazis killed – is better than Freeman’s selfish reason to fight. But it sounds like Juliette is dwelling on it too much as her reason to fight. Like Freeman, she has to get beyond it and realise that there are other reasons why she should fight. And Juliette does when she realises that when she finally gets her revenge for the death of her sister, she gets no satisfaction over it. But she has to go on and get Freeman to safety. In so doing, Juliette has to grow as she develops her own experience and knowledge of the Pyrenees.

At the end of it, Juliette has a whole new reason to continue with her work – keeping downed pilots like Alan Freeman out of Gestapo clutches. Moreover, she will do it even better, and it’s not just because she has removed the traitor who had been sabotaging her escape line before it had even started. Rooting him out has also helped to develop her experience, competence, and also shown her that you really can’t afford squeamishness in a job like this. After all, enemies like the Gestapo agent or the dirty rat Julio won’t have any compunction in killing you.

Scream! #15, 30 June 1984 – last issue published

Scream 15 cover

  • Monster (artist Jesus Redondo, writer Rick Clark)
  • The Dracula File – (artist Eric Bradbury, writer Ken Noble)
  • The Thirteenth Floor (artist José Ortiz, writer Ian Holland)
  • Tales from the Grave: The Man They Called Dr Death (artist Jim Watson, writer Ian Rimmer (but credited as Rick Hunter))
  • Library of Death: Out of the Fog! (artist Rafael Boluda, credited as Bollida, writer Angus Allan)
  • A Ghastly Tale – Blood Track! (artist Tony Coleman)
  • Fiends and Neighbours – cartoon (artist Graham Allen)
  • The Nightcomers – final episode (artist John Richardson, writer Tom Tully)

This was the last issue of Scream ever published. Like Tammy, it abruptly disappeared in the 1984 IPC strike, never to be resumed. Exactly why it was not resumed is not clear. One factor could have been the Ghastly Tale “Blood Track!”, which prompted a threat of legal action, though it was eventually dropped. That story will be omitted from discussion here.

Later, Eagle picked up the tab with Scream to some extent. The Thirteenth Floor and Monster continued in Eagle to reach ultimate, respectable conclusions, and are now enjoying their own reprint volumes. The Ghastly Face competition continued in Eagle and the top prize was eventually split between two contestants. I have no information about whether or not the new Creepy Caption Cartoon Competition in this issue was concluded there as well.

When The Thirteenth Floor and Monster stopped in Scream, the former was about to deal with an extortionist who charges heavy fees in return for not breaking bones. In the latter, Uncle Terry and Ken have just fought their way through yet more bounty hunters and the police, and now they are taking a boat.

At least “The Nightcomers” managed to complete their story in this issue, so that was not left dangling. The Nightcomers, with eager help from Edna the ghost and unwitting help from Baphomet the demon when it kills Cutler, destroy the evil that haunts Raven’s Meet. We are told the Nightcomers will start a new adventure in the next issue, so they must have been planned for an ongoing series. Sadly, they did not get it in Eagle. Fortunately the second Nightcomers story was reconstituted and finally published in “It’s Ghastly! The Untimely Demise of Scream!” in 2016. Better late than never.

However, The Dracula File was left open by the cutoff, which is annoying. Dracula does at least manage to complete the flashback of his clash with vampire hunter Alexander Quinn, but we don’t find out where things end up with his new adversary, Colonel Stakis. And just when it sounded like it was about to get really exciting, because Drac says he’s getting really pissed off at living on the run because of Stakis and he’s jolly well going to turn things around!

The Tales from the Grave story was also left on a loose end. The last episode of “Dr Death” got cut off entirely and the story was never finished. It was left forever dangling on the penultimate episode (below), just like “Cora Can’t Lose” in Tammy.

(Click thru)

 

Fortunately, in “It’s Ghastly!”, writer Ian Rimmer (writing as Rick Hunter) was able to say he thinks the ending went something like:

“Fox turns up at Phillary’s lab, only to be startled and attacked by the re-animated hand. Phillary hears the rumps and enters too. He desperately tries to intervene, but Fox is killed and equipment is knocked over. Suddenly the lab bursts into flames…I think in a panic Phillary looks to escape, yet is prevented from doing so by the hand. The conflagration consumes the hand, all of Phillary’s notes, and Phillary himself. We then have the Leper tending to his fire at the cemetery at the end, saying something suitably caustic.”

In the Library of Death (fortunately not another two-parter like the previous story), Barry Holls is on the run from an orphanage where everyone picks on him because his father is in prison for murder. Barry knows his dad’s innocent – and so does the murder victim. He returns from the grave to guide Barry to the crucial evidence that will clear his father. Awww…

Later, Scream produced two holiday specials, which actually produced some unpublished material from the parent comic. This included Black Beth, who returns in the Scream & Misty Halloween Special II, the actual face of Ghastly McNasty from the Ghastly Face competition, and what looks like part 16 of The Dracula File. Here, Stakis finally gets a shot at Dracula with a stake and Dracula gets pinned. Unfortunately Stakis fails to get one in the heart, and Dracula escapes on a train.

Scream did not produce an annual.

 

Scream #14! 23 June 1984

Scream 14 cover

  • The Nightcomers (artist John Richardson, writer Tom Tully)
  • Library of Death: The Sea Beast part 2 (artist J. Parkhouse, writer Simon Furman)
  • The Thirteenth Floor (artist José Ortiz, writer Ian Holland)
  • Tales from the Grave: The Man They Called Dr Death – first episode (artist Jim Watson, writer Ian Rimmer (but credited as Rick Hunter))
  • A Ghastly Tale – Dumb Animals
  • Monster (artist Jesus Redondo, writer Rick Clark)
  • Fiends and Neighbours – cartoon (artist Graham Allen)
  • The Dracula File (artist Eric Bradbury, writer Simon Furman)

 

Scream 14 From the Depths

Nobody has hit the jackpot with Ghastly’s face, so he’s dropped another clue to help things along. Ghastly also reveals some facts about the popularity ratings of the serials. The Thirteenth Floor is first, Monster second, and The Dracula File and Library of Death are close behind. The letter page this week indicates The Nightcomers are also popular.

Looks like Ghastly really did not care much for opera – he gagged the latest victim in the London Dungeon for opera singing rather than have her sing high notes as suggested.

Dungeon

This week’s Ghastly Tale feels even more relevant today, where we are in an era of accelerating mass extinction, with poaching and animal trafficking being among the reasons. Yet some people still hunt endangered animals for trophies – and post it proudly on their Facebook pages – or for body parts, animal trafficking and so on. So the story has been posted here.

(Click thru)

 

 

Ghastly insisted that the artwork of the sea beast from the Library of Death tale be the best it could be, and they must have shown him the cover to prove it. The sea beast, a giant mutant created by radioactive waste dumped in the ocean, certainly makes for a magnificent cover. Once the beast is ashore, it’s “The Horror of Party Beach” Scream style. After the party’s over, with the aid of antidotes to the radioactive waste and the sea beast mutation, the authorities are relieved that at least the radioactive waste did not come into contact with a human being. Unfortunately the final panel indicates they may have spoken too soon…

Max is cheesed off to find a kid nicknamed Cheezy has taken to spraying graffiti on the walls of Maxwell Towers. Needless to say, it’s the Thirteenth Floor for Cheezy, where Max forces him to spray graffiti on the Empire State Building in increasingly dangerous conditions until he falls right off. Don’t worry – Cheezy will only land where he will be well and truly painted.

Dracula is still reminiscing on a prior encounter with another vampire hunter, Alexander Quinn. The flashback may be interesting and adds something to Dracula’s character, but really, it’s not doing much to advance the plot of Dracula vs. his current vampire hunter, Colonel Stakis.

“The Nightcomers” finally reaches the stage in the plot where the villain Simon Cutler captures our heroes and explains everything. Yes, he did dabble in demonology and summoned a demon, Baphomet. He did it for the power Baphomet would bring him, but instead found his life has been hell ever since he summoned that demon. The unhappy ghost is his wife Edna, who was accidentally killed when she stumbled onto his rituals, and he dumped her body down the well. Cutler believes the only way to satisfy Baphomet is to sacrifice the Rogans to him. He is not listening to Beth’s pleas that what Baphomet is really doing is using Edna, who can’t rest without proper burial, as a conduit to fully enter the world as a corporeal demon.

The Leper begins a new story with a Frankenstein theme. Dr Phillary has invented a machine that can bring body parts back to life, but is having trouble finding decent body parts for it. Phillary finally stumbles across an arm that’s a perfect specimen, but the body was whisked away to the graveyard before he could amputate the arm for his experiments. Undaunted, he’s turning to a bit of grave robbing to get it, and recruiting a couple of criminals, Fox and Hopkins, to help him.

It finally happens – Uncle Terry finally comes face to face with the policemen who have been pursuing him and Ken. The policemen – and their patrol car – come off the worst after trying to tackle Uncle Terry, but at least they are alive. Then Ken spots a means to get them to their destination – a boat. But how is Uncle Terry up for sailing? He doesn’t even know what a boat is.

Scream! #13, 16 June 1984

Scream 13 cover

  • The Nightcomers (artist John Richardson, writer Tom Tully)
  • Library of Death: The Sea Beast part 1 (artist J. Parkhouse, writer Simon Furman)
  • The Thirteenth Floor (artist José Ortiz, writer Ian Holland)
  • Tales from the Grave: The Escape – final episode (artist Jim Watson, writer S. Goodall)
  • A Ghastly Tale – Unlucky for Some
  • Monster (artist Jesus Redondo, writer Rick Clark)
  • Fiends and Neighbours – cartoon (artist Graham Allen)
  • The Dracula File (artist Eric Bradbury, writer Simon Furman)

Scream hits its 13th issue, which is a celebration for a comic like that, and that is precisely what Scream does. On the cover, The Thirteenth Floor (what else?) kicks off the theme of 13 and unlucky for some. In the story itself, Mr Bullock the callous housing official is subjected to a shark-infested ocean and being attacked by giant crabs on a desert island until he agrees to give five-star treatment to the family he treated so badly.

Scream 13 dungeon

The Ghastly Tale also has an “unlucky for some” theme, with a boy showing the yearly pictures of his birthdays. They progressively show his life going on a downward spiral that includes falling strangely ill and being put in a top secret MOD establishment, until he hits his nadir with – you guessed it – his 13th birthday photograph shows what he has become by then. There are no photographs of his 14th birthday.

Dracula’s a bit unlucky as well, you might say. Having a vampire hunter on his tail is giving him horrible nightmares of his previous experiences with vampire hunters, which range from torch-wielding lynch mobs attacking his castle to a professional vampire hunter, Alexander Quinn.

In this episode of “The Nightcomers” Raven’s Meet is really throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Rogans to destroy them. The Rogans dodge everything but clonks on the head from Simon Cutler. He’s taken them prisoner and he intends to sacrifice them to Raven’s Meet. At least it sounds like they’re going to hear the full story now.

The Library of Death does something new – a two-part story. It’s about a giant sea beast that emerges from the depths of the ocean and lands on the beach – and boy, is it a whopper! Eat your heart out, Jaws! Of course it’s scaring the hell out of everyone. The sea beast was probably inspired by “The Horror of Party Beach” as it was created from radioactive waste dumped in the ocean.

In the final episode of “The Escape” from Tales of the Grave, Barry White thinks he has gotten away with murder (which becomes double murder in this episode) and his booty by stowing away in a coffin that is sailing away to America. But he finds out too late that the coffin was intended for a burial at sea! Well, there’s his execution.

Unlucky for some, they say, but in this week’s episode of “Monster”, Uncle Terry and Ken turn out to be lucky – for a while, anyway. They finally met a more friendly person, a lady named Mrs McCrone who is not fazed by Uncle Terry’s appearance. Mind you, that’s because she’s blind. Mrs McCrone wants to turn them over because she says Uncle Terry needs help. But when Ken insists, she gives them a motorbike to help them along. But then they bump right into the police! Luck’s run out again.

Scream! #12, 9 June 1984

Scream cover 12

  • The Dracula File (artist Eric Bradbury, writer Ken Noble)
  • The Nightcomers (artist John Richardson, writer Tom Tully)
  • The Thirteenth Floor (artist José Ortiz, writer Ian Holland)
  • Tales from the Grave: The Escape – first episode (artist Jim Watson, writer S. Goodall)
  • A Ghastly Tale – The Final Cut!
  • Library of Death: Terror of the Tomb (artist José Casanovas, writer Simon Furman)
  • Fiends and Neighbours – cartoon (artist Graham Allen)
  • Monster (artist Jesus Redondo, writer Rick Clark)

More attempts at Ghastly’s face, and another clue is dropped. The fourth entry is the one that is paying more attention to the clues already dropped, but Ghastly makes no acknowledgment of it. Nobody is in the London Dungeon this week.

Ghastly Faces Scream 12

Here we have another wrap-around cover, this time of this week’s Library of Death story. The story is rendered by the ever-popular José Casanovas. Well, we don’t often see Casanovas drawing ancient Egypt and walking mummies, so here is the story for Casanovas fans.

(click thru)

 

 

Dracula is using some surprising tactics in his quest for blood tonight: first he turns bus driver (now where did he get his HT licence?) and later he lies in wait in a post box. But he’s also rumbled that vampire hunter Stakis survived his trap, and it’s rousing memories of another vampire hunter. Woo…has our Dracula actually been traumatised by his experiences with Van Helsing?

The Nightcomers make their way into Raven’s Meet and discover the first evidence of why it is so horribly haunted. Someone was clearly messing around with the supernatural and unleashed forces they couldn’t control, and it could only have been that Simon Cutler. Beforehand, they found a very unhappy woman haunting the well, and think she might be the key to the mystery. But now there is a more pressing problem they haven’t seen yet – a bony hand reaching for Rick…

Max is at it again. This time it’s with a pompous housing official, Mr Bullock, who made a blunder in the booking for new tenants, the Sopers, and is not exactly anxious to correct his mistake. Instead, the remedy he offers splits the Soper family up and he doesn’t care squat. The punishment of the Thirteenth Floor has Bullock washed up on a raft and headed for a desert island, with sharks right behind him. Not quite sure how this punishment fits the crime, but let’s see how it plays out next week.

The Leper begins a new story about another nasty undertaker, Old Jeb, who likes taking rich pickings off corpses and counting them each night (talk about Scrooge!) and his ill-used apprentice, Billy White. But don’t spare any sympathy for Billy; he’s just as bad and greedy as Old Jeb. So bad in fact, that he murders Old Jeb, takes his pickings, and puts himself into a client’s coffin, which is intended to carry the corpse away on a ship. It looks like a great way to escape, but we suspect this will only have grave consequences for Billy…

In “Monster”, a bounty hunter has a go at Uncle Terry with a rifle. The result is another death at Uncle Terry’s hands and Ken being shot. Uncle Terry carries the injured Ken to a house in search of help. Unfortunately for him he has no concept of what “Beware of the Dogs” means and can’t read the warning sign because he has never been taught to read – and the dogs are lunging for him already.

We also get an Uncle Terry type in the Ghastly Tale, who takes the film director’s call to “cut” a bit too literally…

Next issue is #13, and for a comic like this, that’s a call for a special celebration. Indeed, we have a half-page blurb on how Scream will celebrate its 13th.