Scream! #3, 7 April 1984

Scream 3 cover

  • The Dracula File (artist Eric Bradbury, writer Gerry Finley-Day)
  • Terror of the Cats (artist John Richardson, writer Simon Furman)
  • The Thirteenth Floor (artist Ortiz, writer Ian Holland)
  • Tales from the Grave: “The Undertaker” (artist Jim Watson, writer Tom Tully)
  • The Library of Death: The Drowning Pond! (artist Julian Vivas, writer B. Burrell)
  • Fiends and Neighbours – cartoon (artist Graham Allen)
  • A Ghastly Tale! – Green Fingers (artist John Richardson)
  • Monster (artist Jesus Redondo, writer Rick Clark)
  • Ghastly’s Creepy Creature Quiz!

No free gift came with the third issue of Scream!, which goes against the tradition of a free gift with the first three issues of a new IPC title. However, the first attempt at Ghastly’s face is in, as is the second person to spend the week in the London Dungeon.

Scream 3 From the Depths

A British agent is on the trail of the Rumanian defector who’s a vampire and the nurse he’s hypnotised into becoming his servant. But the vampire escapes him. In the preview for next week there’s a panel of the vampire going to the cinema, and it looks like he’s going to make a Dracula film more realistic than usual…

Last week “Monster” changed credits completely. This week it is “Terror of the Cats”, with new artist John Richardson and writer Simon Furman. In the story, the cats have the hospital under siege now. The man in charge of the cat victims tells Woodward he suspects Dr Kruhl is behind the crazy cat attacks. So Woodward is off to check out Kruhl – and finds the killer cats waiting outside. How can he get past them?

The second round of transgressors arrives for Max’s special treatment on “The Thirteenth Floor”. A tattoo one of them has provides the inspiration for their punishment, as seen below.

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In “Tales from the Grave”, Sleeth the Undertaker thinks he’s got the murder he was contracted to commit all sewn up and his victim is now at the bottom of the river, eaten up by rats. But his client Emily has a nasty surprise for him – she has just found that same victim (her uncle) poisoned. So who the heck was Sleeth killing just now? Er, it looks like that horribly injured, but still alive and very angry man who’s now barging in through your door, Sleeth. What’s more, he’s saying, “I have survived to wreak the vengeance of death on your foul and treacherous soul!”

The story in this week’s “Library of Death” is the one that readers request the most on Ghastly’s “Back from the Depths” site. It appears below for the benefit of any curious readers.

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It’s back to the one-page format in this week’s Ghastly Tale, and the moral is never to touch strange meteors. A boy does and it gives him the power to make plant life grow out of everything and everyone he touches – including his mum, and now’s she’s a horrible plant freak. He’s worried about what will happen when his father comes home. Never mind that, laddie – how are you going to eat when everything you touch turns into these freaks?

This week we learn more about Uncle Terry from the note Kenny’s mother left behind. As we do, we are more horrified by how Uncle Terry has been treated all his life than his appearance. Poor Uncle Terry has spent the whole 32 years of his life locked in the attic, in neglect and squalor, because his parents couldn’t stand his appearance. As a result, he is retarded, clearly brain damaged, and can barely string a few words together, but he is dangerous if provoked and can kill. Terry’s treatment improved somewhat under Kenny’s kindly mother, but she could not help him fully because of her abusive husband (why the heck did you marry him, lady?). After she died, cruelty towards Terry resumed under the husband. Now Kenny has inherited the task of minding Uncle Terry, and he’s only 12, but the note says Mum was dead against the idea of institutionalisation for Uncle Terry. As if an institution could be any worse than that squalid attic.

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Scream! #2, 31 March 1984

Scream 2 cover

  • The Dracula File (artist Eric Bradbury, writer Gerry Finley-Day)
  • Monster (artist Jesus Redondo, writer Rick Clark)
  • The Thirteenth Floor (artist Ortiz, writer Ian Holland)
  • Tales from the Grave: “The Undertaker” (artist Jim Watson, writer Tom Tully)
  • The Library of Death: Spiders Can’t Scream! (artist Ron Smith, writer John Agee)
  • Fiends and Neighbours – cartoon (artist Graham Allen)
  • Terror of the Cats (artist Gonzales, later John Richardson, writer John Agee)
  • A Ghastly Tale! – a complete story (artist José Casanovas)

The free gift that came with Scream #2 was a big, black, spooky spider, so it’s little wonder that spiders are big in this issue, beginning with the cover (front and back) profiling what horror awaits in this week’s Library of Death story. We are also told that Max will unleash spider terror as his next punishment in issue three.

Meantime, Max forces the harsh debt collector to enter a debt collector computer game – where the computer always wins, of course. The concept might almost be funny if the debt collector had not died of a heart attack because The Thirteenth Floor frightened him to death.

More ghoulies get added to the “From the Depths” letters page. It’s the “grislies”, and you are invited to draw your own.

From the Depths

In “The Dracula File”, the East is confident the Rumanian vampire defector they allowed to escape to the West will not unleash a reign of vampire terror there because he cannot live without his home soil. They don’t realise he has found the answer to that problem – the home soil left behind from previous Rumanian vampires who got to Britain. So his reign of terror has started.

The plot between “The Undertaker” and Emily Carlisle to kill her uncle looks simple and foolproof (and gruesome!). All it needs to kill him is a sudden shock, so the Undertaker takes him to the river and unleashes some rats in his carriage to not only frighten him but also eat him alive. And it would look like he just drove too close to the river and the river rats got him. What could possibly go wrong? Well, the blurb for next week does say “A fatal mistake…”.

The credits for “Monster” change to Jesus Redondo (artist) and Rick Clark (writer). Strangely, the reprint volume gives the change of writer as John Wagner. Was Wagner writing under a pseudonym here? Anyway, Kenneth has now seen what’s in the attic and it’s…the Hunchback of Notre Dame?! Something tells us Kenneth is now lumbered with the role of Esmeralda. Too right. Kenneth finds a letter from his late mother explaining that the, um, “monster” as the family dubbed him is in fact his Uncle Terry. Terry’s parents (Kenneth’s grandparents) kept him locked in the attic because of his appearance, and Mum says it’s now Kenneth’s job to look after him. Whoopee…

Uncle Terry

Allen Woodward tried to stop “The Terror of the Cats” striking the hospital, but all it’s done for him is get him into trouble with the police and on the run. But that’s nothing compared to what he finds when he hides in a cupboard – another crazy killer cat!

A Ghastly Tale is longer than the one-page spread last week. It’s also a tale of nature striking back at the abuses of humanity in the 21st century. How far ahead of its time was this story? It has been posted here for your judgement. Besides, it’s drawn by José Casanovas, and who doesn’t like his artwork?

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Scream! No. 1, 24 March 1984

Scream 1 cover

  • The Dracula File – first episode (artist Eric Bradbury, writer Gerry Finley-Day)
  • Monster – first episode (artist Heinzl, later Jesus Redondo, writer Alan Moore)
  • The Thirteenth Floor – first episode (artist Ortiz, writer Ian Holland)
  • Tales from the Grave: “The Undertaker” – first episode (artist Jim Watson, writer Tom Tully, later John Wagner)
  • A Ghastly Tale! (complete story)
  • Fiends and Neighbours – humour cartoon reprinted from Cor!! (artist Graham Allen)
  • Library of Death: At Death’s Door… – complete story (artist Cam Kennedy, writer Barrie Tomlinson)
  • Terror of the Cats – first episode (artist Gonzales, later John Richardson, writer John Agee)

Our Halloween theme continues with Scream! This was a short-lived publication, lasting only 15 issues before it disappeared during the same strike that brought down Tammy (though opinions from former IPC staff differ as to just what killed it off). Nevertheless, Scream achieved a cult status that has made its issues collectors’ items, spawned fanzines and websites, and now it is enjoying a revival with the Misty & Scream Halloween specials and volume reprints of its strips.

The gift that came with the first issue of Scream was a set of Dracula fangs, approved by the famous vampire himself, who leads off with his very own strip inside, “The Dracula File”. A Rumanian defector has escaped to the West. However, his Eastern bloc pursuers have realised that he is a vampire and decide the West can have him: “He is their problem now!” The poor RAF pilots flying the defector into Britain don’t realise the horror they are about to unleash…

Scream 1 Dracula

Before the strips begin, however, the host of the comic, Ghastly McNasty, sets things up with the letters page and the special features it offers. There is “The Dracula Spectacular”, where Ghastly has fun turning someone into something hideous. To make it even more fun for readers, he wants them to provide the victims (teachers, family members, themselves, etc) and the reason why. Ghastly also invites readers to nominate someone for appearing in “The London Dungeon” for the week and the reason for this punishment, and the comeuppances would be drawn accordingly. Who would you like to see in the London Dungeon for the week? How about the Tammy editor for leaving us dangling on the final episode of “Cora Can’t Lose”? Or how about Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin?

Scream 1 letters page

Of course a new comic would not be complete without a competition, and this is one that really tests deductive, artistic and maybe even clairvoyant skills. The challenge is to draw Ghastly McNasty’s face absolutely right. This is no easy task as the face is hidden in complete darkness under his hood with only lights shining where his eyes are. Clues include him being extremely ugly, too much tree root in the beauty treatment he tried that backfired, and other clues that would be dropped as the competition progressed. An actual likeness of Ghastly had been drawn and was being kept secure. The best but still-failed attempts would be printed, comments were made about any clues the pictures had hit upon, and the winner would get £5. The one to hit the absolute mark would win £50. The top prize was still unclaimed when Scream abruptly disappeared.

Scream 1 Monster

“Monster” is one of the Scream stories that would continue and finish in Eagle. It is the “something monstrous hidden in the attic” story. It’s so secret that Kenneth Corman’s abusive father gives him yet another walloping for even saying he heard something up there in the locked attic room. The father goes up to the attic to get rid of it, only to get horribly murdered, with deep claw marks on his body. Kenneth opts for secretly burying his father in the garden instead of calling in the police, and now he’s heading for the attic himself to deal with whatever is up there.

Scream 1 13th Floor

“The Thirteenth Floor” was another Scream strip to continue in Eagle, and now it has its own reprint volume and return appearances in the Scream & Misty Halloween special. Max is the computerised superintendent of council-run Maxwell Towers. Max takes his duty of looking after his tenants very seriously. In fact, it’s so seriously that anyone who threatens the safety and well-being of Max’s tenants is sent on a trip to his secret Thirteenth Floor through the lift, where Max wreaks a computerised, holographic punishment upon them that he deems the most fit for their crime. The first transgressor to pay a trip to the Thirteenth Floor is a merciless debt collector. On the Thirteenth Floor he meets the Grim Reaper, who says, “Welcome…to your death.” Erk! Is Max really going to go as far as murder? We find out next week.

Scream 1 Leper

The Leper (so named because of his medical condition, appearance and lack of social acceptance) is a 19thcentury gravedigger and host of “Tales from the Grave”. Not surprisingly, these tales are associated with death, the Victorian fascination with it (murders, executions, body snatching, Goth etc) and the stories behind the graves in the cemetery. The Leper’s first story is “The Undertaker”, about a Burke and Hare-type undertaker named Joshua Sleeth: “If you wanted someone buried, ole Sleeth was the man to do it, no questions asked […] Sleeth was an evil beggar all right. If yer needed a helpin’ hand into the next world, so to speak, he was always ready to give it…”. Sleeth’s reputation has reached the ears of Emily Carlisle, who wants a helping hand in getting her Uncle Henry into the next world so she can inherit.

Scream 1 Cats

The final serial is “The Terror of the Cats”. All the cats in the neighbourhood are going crazy and attacking people for no apparent reason. Reporter Allen Woodward is on the story and also that of Dr Kruhl (nicknamed “Cruel” because of his reputation), the Director of the Government Research Institute. It’s soon obvious to the readers that the two stories are linked somehow, though Woodward hasn’t clicked yet.

Scream 1 Library

As with Misty, Scream has complete stories, though less prolific. One format is uncredited one-page one-shot stories, some of which end with a dash of humour. The other format is the “Library of Death” (yes, more death tales), which has more pages. The first tale is about a boy who gets strange, frightening visitations in his bedroom after his parents deny him his request to go into the Ghost House at the fair.

For the resident funny cartoon, Scream is reprinting Fiends and Neighbours from Cor!! An ordinary couple are looking forward to meeting their new neighbours – only to get the shock of their lives when they find the newcomers are a regular Addams family.

Tammy 29 October 1983

Tammy cover 29 October 1983

  • Lucky by Name… (artist Juliana Buch, writer Malcolm Shaw)
  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • The Crayzees (artist Joe Collins)
  • Glenda’s Glossy Pages (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Pat Mills)
  • The Nightingale’s Song – complete story (artist Douglas Perry, writer Roy Preston)
  • The Button Box (artist Mario Capaldi, sub-writer Linda Stephenson)
  • Spell of Fog – first episode (artist Tony Coleman, writer Jake Adams)
  • Room for Rosie (artist Santiago Hernandez, writer Alison Christie)
  • Lonely Ballerina – final episode (artist Maria Barrera, writer Jay Over)
  • Make a Mask for Halloween! – feature (writer Chris Lloyd)

Halloween is coming up. So I am bringing out the last Halloween issue Tammy ever published. The cover is very nice, and the girls look like Trick-or-Treaters or organising their Halloween party. Inside, we have instructions for making a Halloween mask and the Crayzees go to a Halloween fancy dress ball. Miss T and Edie are rather chagrined when the human-sized Snoopa wins first prize for dressing up as Miss T!

In last week’s issue, Tammy had a blurb about a spooky story starting this issue in commemoration of Halloween. It is “Spell of Fog”. A film crew arrives at the village of Wolfen to make a film about Alice Compton, a girl who was burned at the stake for witchcraft and rumoured to haunt the spot where her ashes were scattered.  So when the film producer announces his plans to do a historically inaccurate, sensationalised film where Alice is truly evil and an agent of the Devil instead of one of the hapless victims of witch hunts, it really is asking for trouble. Sure enough, a mist is soon arising on the spot where Alice is said to haunt, and it’s clearly blowing in the opposite direction of the wind…

Surprisingly, “Room for Rosie” is celebrating Guy Fawkes one week early and passing over Halloween altogether. Pauline Wheeler is trying to honour her dying gran’s last request to find a good home for her beloved pram, “Rosie”, but so far no luck. Meantime, Rosie is being put to more of the 101 uses that she was so famous for with Gran. This week it’s carrying the Guy for the penny-for-the-routine. Rosie does not do much to sort out the problem of the week, which is where to have the bonfire after the kids lose their regular lot for it.

You’d think there would be a Halloween story in the Button Box. Instead, it’s a story to reassure you that a representative will always be on hand to sort out any problems you may have when you are on holiday abroad.

The complete story is about a promising singer, Suzy Nightingale, who loses her power of speech and singing from the shock of her mother’s death. She nurses her namesake back to health when it is injured, and notices that the nightingale has remained silent all the while, just like her. But all of a sudden the nightingale regains its power of song, which prompts Suzy to regain hers.

“Lonely Ballerina” reunites the creative team from ballet story Slave of the Clock. This was the last ballet story Tammy ever published (not counting “I’m Her – She’s Me!”, although it does have ballet in it). Tanya Lane arrives at Mary Devine’s ballet school, only to find it’s nothing but a mess, she’s the only serious pupil there, and there is a mystery to unravel. The reveal (not very credible and does not make the story one of Tammy’s best) is that Mary’s sister Betty has been struggling to keep the ballet school going after an accident rendered Mary catatonic. This was a foolish thing to do, as Betty knows nothing about ballet. Even more unwisely, she tried to conceal Mary’s condition instead of explaining the situation, getting help, and keeping the school closed until her sister recovered. Mary did not do so until the final episode. In the meantime, the school fell apart, efforts to hide the secret from the governors have now failed, the story is all over the newspapers, and the school faces closure. But of course, being a girls’ story, things end happily.

“Lucky by Name” is a foal named Lucky who seems to have powers over other animals. Unfortunately more and more people are beginning to notice. Now Lucky has made two rich and powerful enemies over it, and they look like they are threatening serious trouble.

Glenda gets a really freaky sign that her “glossy pages” have supernatural powers that could be dangerous. Mum lights a fire where Glenda hid her glossy pages and elsewhere, the bike she got from them catches fire! Yet there’s not a trace of damage on the bike or glossy pages. Then there’s even more trouble when the police come around and demand to know where Glenda got that nice stuff that is way beyond her means, and are not going to believe it came from those glossy pages. What can Glenda do? Or, more to the point, what are those glossy pages going to do?

The latest Pam of Pond Hill story ends this week. Dad has been facing down a supermarket rival whose cut-price fruit & veg have been threatening his greengrocer business. But just when that problem looks all sorted out, the supermarket gets vandalised and Pam is suspect because of the recent bad blood between the two businesses and an item, which was given to her, was found at the scene of the crime.

Top 10 Tammy Villains

We have had my lists of the Top 10 Jinty Villains and the Top 10 Misty Villains. Now it makes sense to conclude with Top 10 Tammy Villains. In compiling this list I found Tammy was relatively low on supernatural or SF villains. I believe this is because Tammy had a high emphasis on cruel, abusive villains who tortured and exploited the protagonists, particularly in her early years. Jealous rivals, scheming employers and gold diggers were also frequent.

As always, I have tried to be as broad as possible in the types of villains that appeared in Tammy, and acknowledge that the list may be subject to second guessing and alternative suggestions. Please express your views in the comments below.

Now, the countdown will begin…

10: Sir Edgar Whitland

Story: The Fairground of Fear

Creators: Diane Gabbot (artist); writer unknown

Tammy Villain Whitland

Although Sir Edgar was not initially set up as the villain in the story he turns out to be the true one, and it is his ruthless acts that are responsible for why “the fairground of fear” is bringing such trouble to the village of Baychurch. He is such a snob and a hard-hearted man, and holds the good name of Whitland so high above all else that there is nothing and nobody he won’t destroy in order to uphold it. He is capable of wrecking the lives of innocent people, even those of his own family, just to uphold the name of Whitland. He ruined his own daughter’s marriage to Alan Barker by having Barker sent to prison on a false charge, just because he could not stand the thought of “that nobody” being part of the “great Whitland family”.

When Barker returns for revenge and clearing his name, Sir Edgar absolutely refuses to bow to Barker’s coercion to make a confession because he will not destroy the great name of Whitland. He even destroys the evidence that would have cleared Barker. He does not care squat that the village is suffering because of his refusal to confess or even when it puts the life of his adopted daughter/granddaughter Julie in danger. Instead, he abandons Julie to her fate and won’t make any confession to save her. All he cares about is the great name of Whitland. He does not even make any effort to help Julie. It’s no wonder Julie never wants to see him again after that. Sir Edgar Whitland is one of the most despicable characters ever to appear in Tammy. Not many Tammy villains would arouse the same repugnance that readers would have for this ruthless snob with a heart of stone.

9: Aunt Aggie

Story: Aunt Aggie

Creators: J Badesa (artist); Pat Mills (writer)

Tammy Villain Aggie

You know those serials about a girl who seems so sweet and angelic but in reality is a dirty schemer who takes advantage of people? Aunt Aggie is the adult version. Aunt Aggie is the star of a famous down to earth chat show and famous for her kind, generous personality and helping people. However, her adopted daughter Helen Gray knows all too well that off-screen, Aunt Aggie is a hard-hearted, selfish, scheming woman. She only gets involved in charity events in order to pull dirty tricks to turn the event to her own advantage. However, Helen always comes up with the answer to thwart those schemes of Aunt Aggie’s and give her would-be-victims the last laugh without them even realising it. Aunt Aggie was so popular that she even spawned her own competition where readers had to send in ideas of schemes of her to pull and Helen to foil.

8: The Crystal Aliens

Story: E.T. Estate

Creators: Guy Peeters (artist); Jake Adams (writer)

Tammy Villain AliensTammy Villain Aliens 2

Space aliens were not common villains in Tammy, but these gaseous crystal aliens are ones to dread far more than most alien invader serials. They are body snatchers who feed off the life forms they replicate (and keep trapped in their crystals). They spell doom for any planet they land on because they will continue to feed off all its life forms until the planet is stripped bare and all life on it becomes extinct. In other words, it’s genocide and mass extinction on a planet-wide scale. Then they will go back into outer space and drift for so many years until they find another suitable planet.

7: Bert

Story: It’s a Dog’s Life!

Creators: Phil Townsend (artist); Alison Christie (writer)

Tammy villain Bert

There aren’t many boy villains in girls’ comics, but this one is a worthy rarity for the villains list. The animal cruelty Bert (no last name given) is capable of is so sickening and brutal he goes straight into the Top 10 list.

Bert is being paid to mind a dog, Riley, as his owner is away so much. Now, you’d think that one look at this thuggish-looking boy should alert Riley’s owner as to what sort of carer Bert is and he would be wiser to take Riley to the kennels, but no. Bert’s list of cruelties against Riley include starving him, constantly kicking him like a football, putting him on a chain that is too short, no proper shelter, and having him pull a shopping trolley that is way too heavy for him. It’s a wonder Riley hasn’t died under Bert’s charge. It would not be at all surprising if Bert is also the worst bully in the school and notorious for beating up other children.

6: The Rotts

Story: Olympia Jones

Creators: Eduardo Feito (artist); Anne Digby (writer)

Tammy villain Rotts

Much of why Olympia Jones is such a well-remembered Tammy classic is due to its two villains: Mr Rott and his daughter Linda. In fact, it’s their scheming that gives the story far more excitement and thrills than Olympia’s quest to win an Olympic gold. Rott sacked Olympia for cruelty (brutal whippings) to one of his circus horses, Prince, when he knows very well his daughter Linda was the one responsible. He did it to cover up for Linda and worm his way out of trouble with animal welfare officer, Horace Phipps. The Rotts don’t mind when Olympia runs off with Prince afterwards because they have gotten a good exchange out of it.

But some time later the Rotts discover Olympia has turned Prince into an Olympic prospect, which makes him worth an even bigger fortune. Seeing their chance, the Rotts take advantage of Phipps, his animal welfare society, and then the police to get Prince back for them. They trick these poor mugs into laying false charges of horse theft and animal cruelty against Olympia, and she ends up in court. Poor Olympia looks done for because she has absolutely no case to offer against what the Rotts have concocted to destroy her. And Prince looks set to face the same cruelty yet again at the hands of the Rotts…

5: Miss Bigger

Story: Wee Sue

Creators: various artists and writers

Tammy Villain Bigger 2Tammy Villain Bigger

Bully teachers and old dragons cropped up regularly in school stories as teachers/headmistresses that readers just loved to hate. The best remembered and longest running of them all is Miss Bigger, the nemesis of Wee Sue. Miss Bigger is a real tartar of a teacher who specialises in “whacking great helping[s] of homework”. And the girls dread the moment when Miss Bigger is in a foul mood, for she will take it out on them. Miss Bigger is also vain, conniving, and forever trying to ingratiate herself with the higher levels in society and taking undeserved credit. She often ropes the girls into doing the donkey work in one of her grand schemes, of which she plans to profit from.

Miss Bigger’s biggest dislike is the smallest girl in her class, Sue Strong. Sue is always coming up with schemes to get the girls out of Miss Bigger’s monstrous amounts of homework or whatever she has lined up for them, and Miss Bigger finds it most infuriating that the midget’s brains are too mighty for her. Still, Miss Bigger is allowed to win now and then, and there are times when she and Sue both lose. There are also plenty of occasions when Miss Bigger finds herself in desperate need of Sue Strong when she is in a jam, or even outright danger. In fact, there are some stories where Miss Bigger and Sue are almost friends. It is a curious love-hate relationship between Miss Bigger and Sue, which is played for light relief and to delight the readers.

Continued next page…

Nightmare Academy [1979]

Sample Images

Nightmare Academy 1Nightmare Academy 2Nightmare Academy 3Nightmare Academy 4

Published: Misty 5 May 1979 – 29 July 1979

Episodes: 12

Artist: Jaume Raumeu

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: None known

Plot

Sharon Watts is sent to Knightstair Boarding School when her father gets an oil job in UAE. She is not thrilled at the idea of boarding school, and as the story unfolds she will be even less so. There is no school bus to meet her at the station as arranged, and the station master says the school never has a telephone. So she walks there and finds it is a Transylvanian-style castle, which strikes her as creepy. The place is deserted except for angry dogs, which look as if they were from hell or something, and are kept securely behind a section of the castle that is out of bounds. The dogs, she later learns, are called Belial, Baal and Mordred, which the headmistress Miss Nocturne keeps under control with a whip. Miss Nocturne tells Sharon that obedience is the first thing the girls must learn here, and the dogs too. Miss Nocturne confiscates Sharon’s mirrors, saying she will not need them, and says she was not met at the station because she arrived too early for them. Then she asks Sharon if she is anaemic. After an answer in the negative, she hands Sharon over to head girl, Rowena Marre.

Sharon soon learns the pupils sleep by day and have classes at night, and they are forbidden to look out the windows while having their lessons: “At this school, girls only see what they are told to see!” (In case they see something they shouldn’t, perhaps?) Sharon finds it hard to stay awake in this ‘night school’. She falls asleep, has horrible nightmares of Miss Nocturne being a vampire, and is sent to bed. She wakes up at midday and goes looking for food, but there isn’t much of it in the kitchen.

Exploring the grounds, Sharon finds the gates are always locked. Then she spots a gravestone with the name Rowena Marre on it, and the girl died in 1895. Sharon assumes the current Rowena must be a descendant. Then Sharon meets the caretaker’s daughter Fiona, who tells her Miss Nocturne only lets him come at night. After playing ball with Sharon she mysteriously disappears. Later, Sharon follows Miss Nocturne to an old chapel, but all she finds are bats. The bats fly away and Miss Nocturne appears on the roof. Furious at how Sharon has disobeyed her by exploring the grounds instead of resting during the day, she orders Sharon to scrub the kitchen to teach her obedience and posts a guard dog over her. Despite this bizarre form of discipline, Sharon thinks Miss Nocturne seems perfectly reasonable, even if she seems a bit eccentric “…but sort of creepy, too!” By now, Sharon should be getting hints of what sort of creepiness. Her subconscious sure is, with those nightmares of hers.

Another girl, Yvonne, smuggles Sharon food to cheer her up. Sharon sneaks out of the kitchen. She is astonished to see Miss Nocturne go off in an old-fashioned carriage, and even more astonished to see it has no driver. Rowena catches her with an oddly strong grip and cold hands. She tells Sharon the place may be haunted by vengeful spirits and takes her to the vault where the dogs are kept, but aren’t there this time. Rowena tells Sharon this section is out of bounds because it is a family vault. On the staircase a knight defended the lord of the castle, hence its name of Knightstair. Sharon thinks, “nightmare’s more like it!” (Now we know where the story title comes from.) At the bottom of the steps are coffins, and Sharon sees the name “Rowena Marre” on one of them. Her nerve snaps and she runs back up the stairs.

Then Rowena takes Sharon to dinner, and Sharon is surprised that they eat off gold plates. Yvonne tells her the staff and prefects eat elsewhere and sometimes pupils are “sent for” to join them. When that happens, the pupils never see them again, but it is regarded as a high honour. Miss Nocturne then enters with a list of names of pupils who have been “sent for”.

At this, Sharon finally decides something is definitely wrong at this school and writes a letter to her father, but it is intercepted and taken to Miss Nocturne. Privately, Miss Nocturne realises Sharon is a threat to her. But when Sharon confronts her with her suspicions, Miss Nocturne blames Sharon’s troubles and suspicions on anaemia and should have paid more attention to the biology lessons on blood (what?). She then makes Sharon drink a tonic. Sharon feels like she is falling and sees Miss Nocturne turn into a bat. She then sees the coffins again – and one has her own name on it! Miss Nocturne appears with fangs, tells her they are the Undead and Sharon must join them by way of blood. Sharon wakes to find herself locked in a dungeon and gets Fiona to take a note to her father to help her escape, but it is Miss Nocturne who comes to let her out.

Sharon wonders if Miss Nocturne is just eccentric and not a vampire. But then she hears Yvonne has been “sent for” and resolves to find out what happened to her. She also hears Miss Nocturne say that her potion is working and she will be one of them soon.

While looking for Yvonne Sharon finds Fiona, who teaches her how to operate the castle portcullis (sounds like something that will come in handy when the time is right in the plot). Sharon then meets Yvonne, who is acting as if she has been hypnotised and has super-strength. Fiona tells Sharon she has become a “watcher”, the girls who guard the place in daylight. Sharon realises Yvonne has been dispatched to “watch” her. Sharon gives Fiona another desperate letter for her dad to post. In the meantime she is stuck with this “watcher” Yvonne.

Sharon explores the stables and finds the carriage, but Miss Nocturne catches her. As punishment, Miss Nocturne takes her for a breakneck ride in the carriage (which Sharon finds icy cold, like a tomb), and drives the coach herself. She drives the coach so crazily that a wheel smashes against the rocks. The force flings Sharon out and she cuts her head. Miss Nocturne bathes it in the river, saying, “You must not bleed. Not yet.”

While at the river Sharon sees Miss Nocturne has no reflection, and finally decides she really is a vampire. As she is finally outside the school grounds she tries to escape, but the dogs chase her. She takes refuge at Fiona’s cottage, and the caretaker tells her that the school used to be a real one. Then Miss Nocturne came and turned all the staff and prefects into vampires, and drugged the pupils into submission. Sharon is the first to break free of the school. But the caretaker sees no hope of destroying its evil, as the whole place is a vampire nest now. Besides, he says, can Sharon drive a stake through a vampire’s heart? He says he is forced to work for Miss Nocturne as she killed his wife and is threatening his daughter. So he just turns Sharon over to Miss Nocturne.

Miss Nocturne now reveals she really is a vampire. She shows her fangs and tries to give Sharon the bite, but gets distracted by the dogs fighting. Then the dogs just fall down dead and Miss Nocturne discovers that Fiona has poisoned them.

The caretaker, Fiona and Sharon make a dash for it in a waiting car. The caretaker takes them to a warehouse where the “sent for” girls are being held. The vampires keep them hypnotised and drugged into suspended animation, and dangling from the ceiling in vampire-made membranous sacs. They serve as a food larder for the vampires and their blood is drunk as needed. However, the caretaker says he has an antidote for the girls.

Miss Nocturne chases them, but gets pierced by the falling portcullis (oh, so that’s what its purpose was in the plot). Then daylight destroys her altogether. As it is daytime the other vampires will be sleeping, so the caretaker brings their coffins out to expose them to daylight and destroy them too. The caretaker will use his antidote to help Yvonne and the other pupils to recover, and they have no memory of what happened. The caretaker, being the school doctor as well, puts out the story that it was an epidemic that killed the headmistress and closed the school, and orders the pupils to rest for one term. Sharon is sent back to her parents, much to her great relief.

Thoughts

Misty was one girls’ comic that was huge on vampires whereas most other girls’ titles barely even mentioned them. As far as I know, Jinty was the only other girls’ title to have serials that touched on the vampire theme: Dracula’s Daughter and Worlds Apart. In Misty, vampires often cropped up in Misty’s complete stories. Dracula himself appeared up in a number of them, and in one case even met Jack the Ripper! But this is the only time Misty used vampires in a serial. There might have been more if Misty had run longer. Who knows?

The vampire story is combined with another common theme in girls’ comics: the evil headmistress. Some of these headmistresses are just sadists who turn discipline into downright child abuse. Others, like Miss Nocturne, are using the school and its pupils for sinister purposes. But the purpose itself is a mystery that the protagonist must unravel in order to put everything right and free her fellow pupils.

When we first meet Miss Nocturne we can guess she’s a vampire from the moment she confiscates Sharon’s mirror, though Sharon herself thinks (and maybe hopes) Miss Nocturne is probably just a weirdo. But the vampire herself has an unusual appearance as vampires go. Female vampires are usually depicted as looking like Vampirella, but this vampire has blond hair instead of dark. And it’s a surprise to see this vampire in a teacher’s gown and modern clothing. Little by little though, she appears in more gothic style clothing and a cloak, before finally donning an occult-style gown that has skulls on the neckline by the time she fully reveals herself as a vampire.

Whether vampire or weirdo, you definitely don’t want to stay in Miss Nocturne’s school once you see her ideas of discipline (whips and total obedience?), teaching pupils at night, and the things she likes to teach, especially in biology. None of the pupils seem to complain, or show any concern or fear at how the girls who are “sent for” are never seen again.

Sharon, like all protagonists in a “strange school” serial, is the only one to sense anything wrong, be immune to or rebel against its influence, and be determined to fight against whatever’s wrong. As with other protagonists like her she gets help along the way, but they don’t or can’t tell her fully what’s going on. The caretaker and his daughter do know what it is, but they haven’t got the courage to fully help the protagonist until the final episode. And wouldn’t you know it – they have everything that’s needed to destroy it, including antidotes for the drugged girls. They just couldn’t find the nerve until Sharon came along. And even then the caretaker took a little while to come around. Fortunately his daughter Fiona showed more pluck (poisoning the dogs), which finally prompted him into action.

In the meantime, we have a story that is drenched in chilling, gothic atmosphere, all rendered by the brilliant artwork of Jaume Raumeu. From the moment we first see Knightstair Castle on the hill against the night sky we get the shudders at the sight of this castle. It looks like it came straight out of Transylvania and Dracula would feel right at home there. And when we meet those guard dogs and hear what their names are, we sense the castle must be a place out of hell itself. Other things keep coming to chill and scare: the cobweb-laden coffins in the vault; the old-fashioned coach that has no driver; Sharon’s nightmares of Miss Nocturne as a vampire; Miss Nocturne punishing Sharon with a breakneck ride in the coach; the “sent for” girls who just disappear, and it doesn’t take a genius to guess what Miss Nocturne is doing with them; the hypnotised girls who serve as “watchers”…the list goes on and on.

The only plot point that doesn’t quite fit is the headstone declaring the death of Rowena Marre in 1895 and the Rowena Marre we see. This is never explained and the story implies Miss Nocturne took over the school more recently than 1895 because the caretaker can recall when it was a normal school. Perhaps the Rowena Marre who died in 1895 really is a descendant of the current Rowena Marre after all.

The panels that reveal the fate of the “sent for” girls must be one of the most perturbing Misty ever produced. When we see those girls trapped in those sacs and hanging from the ceiling like prey waiting for a spider to devour them, it is so macabre and sickening. We heave a sigh of relief to hear it is reversible and glad the girls will not remember it. But it does not make up for the horror of their plight.

Nightmare Academy larder

A number of evil headmistresses/teachers actually believe, in a perverse or misguided way, that what they are doing is for the pupils’ own benefit, whether it is harsh discipline, perfection induced by drugs, hypnotically induced dancing, or anything else. Curiously, Miss Nocturne’s may actually be one of them, what with her ideas of obedience and telling Sharon “one day you will thank me for it” when she has her scrubbing the kitchen to “learn obedience the hard way”. Is it all just about turning the pupils into mindless puppets and blood banks to keep her supplied with blood and minions? Or does she genuinely believe that what she is doing is for the pupils’ own benefit as well?

Using a portcullis is a pretty unorthodox way to bring down a vampire. Is it supposed to be some mechanised version of the stake or something? Still, as the caretaker said, could Sharon have seriously been able to drive a stake into a vampire’s heart? After all, she would hardly have the arm for it. Come to think of it, stakes were never used to destroy vampires in Misty. Such things were not appropriate for girls to do be seen doing, after all. It’s more in the line of Van Helsing. More often Misty used the light of day to destroy vampires, as in Miss Nocturne’s case, or in one case, a silver bullet.

Top 10 Misty Villains

I now present my list of the top 10 Misty villains. In compiling it I found it hard to find a respectable number of seriously memorable villains in Misty’s run. This is likely due to Misty having fewer serials due to her stories having four-page spreads and having an over-abundance of complete stories. Plus she only had a two-year run. These factors combined did not allow much room for more serials to run. So I have also included villains who were more on the unusual side or caught my eye for one reason or other.

In compiling this list I tried to be as broad as possible about the types and archetypes of villains. In so doing, I found that Misty had a very high emphasis on mad scientists, evil doctors, twisted Victorians, and characters that originated from earlier time periods. In contrast, I was surprised to realise Misty was light on supernatural villains such as witches and wizards despite being a spooky comic. As a matter of fact, she never used a witch or wizard as the heavy; ghosts and hellspawn had a stronger presence as supernatural villains. She was also low on villains who were peers of the protagonist, such as school bullies and jealous rivals. I believe these differences in emphasis on particular types of villains from more conventional titles like Jinty gave her a higher proportion of male villains than female villains. And unlike Jinty, Tammy or June, not one single Misty serial used space aliens as the main villains.

The choices are entirely mine and I am aware they may be subject to second-guessing. Some of you may have different choices or different rankings of Misty villains. Please feel free to express your views below.

And now, on with the countdown…

10: The Alt-world Gestapo Interrogator

Story: The Sentinels

Creators: Mario Capaldi (artist); Malcolm Shaw (writer)

Misty Villain 2

In this story about a parallel world where the Nazis won WW2, this Nazi appeared in only two panels, had no given name, and hardly had the chance to contribute much to the plot. So how come he made it to this list, you ask? In the panels where he does appear, he delivers one of the most powerful and disturbing scenes ever in girls’ comics – his brutal torture of Mr Richards. All the brutality of Nazism is summed up in the splash panel that depicts this torture, with all the ruthlessness in which the Nazis inflict it, and all without shying away from the horror while not going over the top.

Also, he is the only Nazi in this parallel world to have any form of substance. All the other parallel-world Nazis in this story were flat, hard-faced goons who looked pretty samey and had no development or names whatsoever. But this was the Nazi who had the real potential to represent to the protagonists the horror of this Nazi parallel world if only he had been developed more. Frankly, this character is crying out for further development. After all, Nazis are common enough in girls’ comics, but a Nazi who serves a Hitler who actually won the war – that’s different.

9: Rosie Belcher

Story: Hush, Hush, Sweet Rachel

Creators: Eduardo Feito (artist); Pat Mills (writer)

Misty Villain 4

Rosie Belcher “The Incredible Bulk” might not be as evil or dangerous as some of the Misty villains who didn’t make it to this list. But she is one of Misty’s more striking baddies because she must be the grossest character ever in girls’ comics. She has the most disgusting eating habits, which she enjoys revolting her classmates with because it gives her such a feeling of power. There is no limit to her depravity of disgusting. The worst example of this is taking bets that she can eat a mountain of school dinner slops, which she mashes together to nauseate her classmates even more before she eats it (why the heck don’t the teachers or dinner lady crack down on this?!). Plus, she is a bully and a totally unpleasant character with no redeeming qualities, except having been brought up that way; her family are as bad and disgusting as she is. And she wonders why she has no friends, which she blames on victimisation.

8: Miss Nocturne

Story: Nightmare Academy

Creators: Jaume Rumeu (artist); writer unknown

Misty Villain 9

Every girls’ comic has its own “evil headmistress” story. Some are just sadists while others have more sinister intentions. This is the Misty version: a headmistress who is a vampire, and her school is a “nest of vampires” that trap pupils as new prey or recruits in her vampire army. Drugs, hypnotism and three hellhound guard dogs bring the pupils into submission; obedience is Miss Nocturne’s first lesson. School classes under Miss Nocturne are taught at night, because of course vampires can’t be active during the day. As vampires go, the depiction of Miss Nocturne is unusual and therefore more interesting. Usually female vampires are drawn like Vampirella, but Miss Nocturne has blonde hair and has a more occult-like costume with miniature skulls on her neckline. She could easily have been taken for a witch if not for those fangs and vampire tendencies.

7: Mrs Black

Story: Moonchild

Creators: John Armstrong (artist); Pat Mills (writer)

Misty Villain 1

Misty’s answer to Mommie Dearest, and the nearest Misty has to a witch being the villain in one of her serials. Wherever Mrs Black goes, people whisper she’s a witch because of her crone-like appearance and the black cloak she always wears. More likely she’s an eccentric, as she doesn’t even allow electricity in her house or allow her daughter Rosemary to dress fashionably or have normal friendships. That wouldn’t be so bad if not for the way she constantly beats Rosemary because she says there is a form of wickedness in her, which she doesn’t really explain. It turns out to be the power of telekinesis that runs in the family, but passed over Mrs Black. Mrs Black has a long-standing bitterness towards it because it unwittingly caused her father’s death. However, jealousy is the true cause of her cruelty to Rosemary; she’s jealous of Rosemary having the power while she doesn’t. Moreover, if she had been born with the power she would have used it for evil, which shows how truly inclined she is towards villainy. Plus, she just abandons Rosemary at the end of the story, which shows what an unfit mother she is and how much she really cared for Rosemary.

6: The Marshalls (and their accomplice, Gerry)

Story: The Four Faces of Eve

Creators: Brian Delaney (artist); Malcolm Shaw (writer)

Misty Villain 6

The Dr Frankensteins of Misty, except in this case they create a girl from the bodies of three dead ones. They did it because it was a challenge to feed their egos. They name her Eve and pass themselves off as her parents, but make it obvious to Eve that they don’t care for her at all. In fact they refer to Eve as “it”, not “she”, because they just see her as an experiment, not a person – and they can casually throw that experiment away if it turns out to be less successful than they thought. And this is what they try to do once Eve finds out what she really is and they could face prison terms for what they did. They don’t even regard killing her as murder because they don’t look on her as a human being. Dr Marshall and his accomplice Gerry are the ultimate, cold-blooded doctors who are the likes of Dr Mengele and are capable of anything in the name of science. Only Mrs Marshall has any conscience about what they have done, and she redeems herself by trying to help Eve when her husband wants to get rid of her.

5: Lord Vicary

Story: End of the Line…

Creators: John Richardson (artist); Malcolm Shaw (writer)

Misty Villain 8

Contrary to what the guide thinks, that portrait of Lord Sefton Roland Vicary is finished and that is exactly how his eyes are now. It is a side effect of the elixir of life that Vicary has extracted from his botanical studies and now he is immortal. This alone raises his creepiness levels high enough for him to be considered as one of Misty’s more standout villains.

Rejecting the Industrial Revolution and its encroachment on the power of the aristocracy, Vicary sealed himself, his hapless servants, and a slave labour gang in a subterranean Victorian world within the London Underground. In his world he continues to live out the good ol’ days where the aristocracy ruled over downtrodden servants. He is waiting for the day humanity above wipes itself out with warfare and he can emerge to rule the world. But for Vicary’s servants, endless life with Vicary’s elixir means endless drudgery and misery in an underground world where they never see the sun, moon or sky. For the slave labourers it is even worse – constant backbreaking labour under constant whippings and merciless slave drivers. For this reason the labourers don’t last long in this world despite the elixir of life, so Vicary resorts to kidnapping people from the London Underground to replace them.

There have been plenty of stories about heartless Victorians who live off the backs of the people they exploit, abuse, and regard as expendable and totally beneath them. But this Victorian takes it to a level like no other by making them immortal. In so doing, he has ensured his downtrodden slaves don’t even have the option of death to release them from his oppression.

Continued next page…

The Body Snatchers [1979-1980]

Sample Images

Body Snatchers 1Body Snatchers 2Body Snatchers 3Body Snatchers 4

Published: Misty 10 November 1979 to 12 January 1980 (final issue)

Episodes: 10

Artist: Maria Barrera

Writer: Unknown

Translations/Reprints: The Best of Misty Monthly #4

Plot

Nancy Perkins is making a belated return to boarding school after an illness and immediately notices strange things happening. Her taxi is crossed by a teacher, who looks scared out of his wits and in a dreadful state before he disappears into a storm. Yet Nancy later sees him at school, looking perfectly normal and doesn’t know what she is talking about. Certain pupils and teachers act out of character – as if they were imposters. A pupil disappears without explanation. Nancy sees a procession of pupils and teachers heading off to Broughty Manor in the dead of night, although the headmistress has just put that place strictly out of bounds and has reminded the pupils about it twelve dozen times already. We soon learn that these people are the henchmen of “the master”, there is something non-human about their eyes, and they have some sort of affinity with plants. Realising Nancy is noticing too much, “the master” orders them to kidnap her and bring her to his lair at Broughty Manor.

The master, Dr Bracken, explains that the Government and scientific community refused to believe his claim that he could heal people by combining plant serum to human flesh to re-grow body parts. Desperate to prove his theory, Bracken tested it on himself. But the attempt was premature, or so Bracken believes anyway. As a result, the entire left-hand side of Bracken’s body is plant, and now he’s a freak. Bracken blames the Government for his condition, so he is seeking revenge by overthrowing the Government and establishing himself as Britain’s ruler. The first stage of his plan is replacing everyone in the community with special plants that are grown as human clones. The clones are equipped with the brain-patterns of their human counterparts. These include all the staff at Nancy’s school and a considerable number of the pupils. What happens to the real people? They get fed to his man-eating plant, of course.

Nancy makes a run for it, only to nearly fall foul of the man-eating plant when she stumbles into its layer. Bracken sees this on his monitor and laughingly leaves her to the plant. Fortunately Nancy realises in time that sudden movement attracts the man-eater, so slow movements will get her out. After that escape she stumbles into the greenhouse where Bracken grows his plant-people. She is revolted and sickened by this “people factory” and can’t get out fast enough. She did not notice that her own double was growing there too!

Nancy breaks into the school to call the police. However, the plant people detect her before she can complete the call. She tries to escape down the ivy, but the plant people control all plants, which enables them to capture her by commanding the ivy to fall down. They tie her up in the infirmary. Fortunately Nancy’s friend Laura saw everything and gets her out.

After Nancy explains what’s going on, the girls make a run for it together. As they do so, they discover that Bracken almost has the entire district under his control and realise the plant people have a power over other plants, including communicating with them. So it’s only a matter of time before they are caught and have to get right away. They see a plant man preparing truck to drive to London, which is where Nancy’s parents live. Nancy and Laura sneak aboard the lorry, and have to share a dreadful ride with incubating plant people. They can barely keep themselves from screaming.

Nancy and Laura make it to Nancy’s house, only to find Bracken got there before them. He has kidnapped the parents and replaced them with plant clones. While trying to flee the plant people Nancy throws weedkiller at them, which destroys them. Now they know what weapon to use against the plant people.

Laura is dispatched to alert the police while Nancy heads back to Broughty Manor to rescue her parents. The first thing Nancy encounters in the manor is her plant clone! Nancy smashes a pot plant into the clone’s lantern, which causes it to burst into flames. Nancy heads to the man-eater plant room where her parents are sure to be. Sure enough, Bracken himself is about to feed them to it when Nancy bursts in. Nancy shouts at her parents not to make sudden movements, a warning Bracken forgets when he draws a gun on her. Attracted by the sudden movement, the plant seizes Bracken and devours him.

The police arrive (after Laura finally convinced them she was not crazy), but there is little for them to do except mop up. Fire has spread from the destruction of Nancy’s plant clone and is now burning down Bracken’s lair. The plant people just wither and die without Bracken to control them. So Bracken’s operation is now falling apart “like leaves in the wind”.

Thoughts

Mad scientists who tamper with or abuse nature were a common staple in Misty. And this being Misty, they paid the price, usually in the form of nature striking back one way or other. Bracken is no different. First, he suffers grotesque but fitting damage to his body as a result of his own experiments and tampering with nature. Of course he never even considers it was his own fault for not heeding what must have been legitimate warnings. Second, he gets eaten alive by his own man-eating plant and meets the same end he had inflicted on so many innocents.

In terms of weapons or credible invasion plans, the plant people are not all that strong. All you have to do is bring out the weedkiller or flamethrowers and they’re finished. I doubt they would stand up to bullets either. Or if you bring down Bracken himself, the plant people just keel over. The plant people are not good imposters although they carry the brain patterns and memories of those they have replaced. Sure, Bracken’s plan to take over Britain may look credible when he takes over the village and school, but that’s comparatively small and nobody except Nancy has caught on to what he’s up to. Taking over a whole country is vastly different and far more people would realise something’s wrong, and it would not take the army long to figure out the weaknesses of the plant people.

The definite strength of this story is definitely the horror and repulsiveness of Bracken’s experiments, including what he’s done to himself. The incubation of the plant people is nauseating. The plant people themselves are frightening in their somewhat vacant, zombie-like stares, but their real strength is how they have all plants at their command. Imagine if you are at 10 Downing Street and suddenly all the plants outside turn hostile. Or you are a farmer and suddenly all your crop fields go crazy. Of course there is Bracken’s ultimate monstrosity – the monster-sized maneater plant he uses to dispose of people once he finishes with them. And let us not forget the horror of Bracken’s appearance. Half-man, half plant. Urrghh, what a bizarre, grotesque sight he is. One side of his body is perfectly normal, but the other side is wood, twigs, and leaves. You scream out the moment you see his appearance in full! The horror is all brilliantly rendered by the Maria Barrera art in such intricate detail and effective use of shadowing.

I wonder if the Dr Who story “The Seeds of Doom” was inspiration for this story. It was aired three years before Body Snatchers, so it is possible. The story is so reminiscent of the Krynoid menace in the Dr Who story. The Krynoid, for those who don’t know, was an alien plant that not only eats people but also has the power to control other plants and make them turn hostile towards people. Both stories have a mad botanist out for conquest. Both mad botanists use ecological ways to dispose of people; in Body Snatchers it’s a maneater plant and in the Dr Who story it’s a compost machine. And wouldn’t you know it – both of these mad botanists meet their own gruesome ends by those very methods, which backfire on them.

Of course “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” would be inspiration too. Curiously, the book the movie was based on was also called “The Body Snatchers”.

Top 10 Jinty Villains

I now present my list of the top ten villains from the run of Jinty. Some have been chosen because they are the most obvious choices while others have been chosen as representatives of particular types of villains. The choices on this list are entirely mine, and in making my choices I have tried to keep a broad spectrum of the different types and archetypes of villains that appeared in Jinty. But I am aware some of you may have your own views and some of my choices could be subject to second-guessing. Please feel free to suggest your own lists for the top ten Jinty villains in the comments below if you wish.

And now, counting down…

10: Mr Grand

Story: Village of Fame

Creators: Jim Baikie (artist); writer unknown

Jinty villain 10

Just how far would you go for the highest television ratings? Mr Grand goes to the lengths of spy cameras all over the village called Fame he’s chosen for his location where he can watch every move under pretext of collecting footage, devious publicity stunts, including a faked UFO abduction, genuine kidnappings, blackmail, and even hiring a hypnotist named Marvo to brainwash people to do whatever he wants. At the climax, this takes the form of a widespread television broadcast where Grand and Marvo attempt to hypnotise the whole village in order to restore the television ratings. Mr Grand takes the popular view of television as a one-eyed monster that hypnotises people with junk and intrudes into their homes to a whole new level.

9: Jean Marlow

Story: Waves of Fear

Creators: Phil Gascoine (artist); writer unknown

Jinty villain 4

As you might expect, there has to be a school bully somewhere on the list. There sure have been some nasty ones in Jinty, such as Sandra Simpkins (Tears of a Clown) and Lydia’s ex-friends in Dracula’s Daughter. But the worst of them all has to be Jean Marlow and her hate campaign against Clare Harvey. There can be nothing worse than bullying a mentally ill girl, and just because Jean hates her for some unknown reason. Jean takes advantage of Clare being branded a coward and becoming ostracised and bullied when her illness causes her to flee while her friend is drowning in a cave pool. Jean has the girls throw Clare into the same cave pool, which nearly drowns her. Then Jean plays upon Clare’s illness to get her expelled: she locks Clare into a classroom, forcing Clare to smash her way out once the illness overwhelms her, and then leading the headmistress believe Clare did it out of spite. As if that weren’t enough, Jean vandalises her own orienteering club in order to frame Clare for it because Clare stumbled across her cheating.

8: Miss Marvel

Story: Golden Dolly, Death Dust!

Creators: Phil Gascoine (artist); writer unknown

Jinty villain 5

It wouldn’t be complete without a witchy, cackling crone type on this list either. Jinty certainly had plenty to remember, such as Madam Kapelski (Curtain of Silence), Mrs Tallow (Slaves of the Candle) and Miss Vaal (Girl in a Bubble). However, Miss Marvel has been chosen to represent them all, for she is not only a real witch but also, in modern parlance, an eco-terrorist with her poisonous death dust. The death dust kills all the flora and fauna it touches, and Miss Marvel uses it to bring terror to the district by destroying all the plant life around. In an increasing climate of widespread pollution, mass extinction, environment destruction and, of course eco-terrorism, this sounds more relevant and disturbing than when it was first published. Plus Miss Marvel has one of the most frightening of accomplices – a terrifying Halloween mask that can float around and scare the living daylights out of anyone who sees it!

7: Mrs Siddons

Story: Dora Dogsbody

Creators: José Casanovas (artist); Terence Magee, Pat Mills et al (writers)

Jinty villain 8

Comical villains are a long-running staple in girls’ comics. A popular mechanism was a schemer getting his or her comeuppance every week at the hands of the protagonist. Such is the case with Mrs Siddons. Mrs Siddons runs a dogs’ hotel where all the pooches live in the height of luxury – but she is no animal lover. She only runs the hotel for profit and making extra money out of the dogs’ owners or crafty schemes wherever she can find them. Often these come at the expense of the dogs, such as undercutting their food and heating to save money. Moreover, she can’t be bothered doing the dirty work of running the hotel. So she brings Dora Watson in, ostensibly to adopt her, to do all the work as unpaid servant and treat her worse than a dog. However, it turns into grand hijinks and laughs for the readers every week with Mrs Siddons vs Dora Dogsbody as Dora rises to the occasion to foil Mrs Siddons. And the hijinks, scheming, and animals are all rendered brilliantly and amusingly with the artwork of José Casanovas.

6: Jemima and Agnes

Story: Cinderella Smith

Creators: Trini Tinturé (artist); writer unknown

Jinty villain 3

Cinderella-type stories are long-running staple in girls’ comics, where the heroine is made a drudge at the hands of cruel guardians and seeks solace and escape in a talent. The most famous one is Bella Barlow from Tammy. But surely not even Cinderella herself experienced cruelty like this at the hands of these two wicked stepsisters, er cousins. Locked in chains and deprived of food and water because she tried to tell her father how she was being treated? Being made to wear leg irons while she works? Forced to eat from the dog’s dish? Being tricked into signing away her inheritance? Deliberately given tainted food to make her ill? Made to live in a cold, shabby attic with no electricity, decent lighting,  heating or proper bedding, and forced to wear tatty clothing while the cousins live in the lap of luxury? Forced to paint a huge house from top to bottom? All these and more were inflicted on Cinderella Smith at the hands of her cruel cousins, Agnes and Jemima. They do it because they hate Cindy’s mother for some reason and are so stingy they make or save as much money as they can out of Cindy with free labour and any possessions she has. There have been hundreds of serials with cruel guardians who treat the protagonist like Cinderella. But the cruelties and excesses of Agnes and Jemima are hard to beat, even by Jed and Gert from Bella Barlow.

5: The Aliens aka The Silent Death

Story: The Human Zoo

Creators: Guy Peeters (artist); Malcolm Shaw (writer)

Jinty villain 6

The aliens, also known as the Silent Death, were the only alien race in Jinty to give readers cause to remember them. They may be highly advanced telepathic beings, but advancement has not brought enlightenment. They are a cold-hearted race who disapprove of all sentimentality and emotion, yet revel in bloodsports and animal cruelties. They lock animals – including humans, whom they kidnap from Earth – into obedience collars that give intense pain when activated. The humans kidnapped by the aliens in this story are by turn subjected to the aliens’ equivalents of bounty hunting, pain-induced discipline, cattle markets, zoos, slaughterhouses, circuses, bloodsports, beasts of burden, vivisection and even a hint of animal sacrifice. They regard humans as animals and their attitude is (with welcome exceptions who care for animal welfare) “they’re just animals, for us to use as we like”. These include cruel versions of chimps’ tea parties where they starve humans for the purpose and never let them get the chance to eat any of the food that is thrown at them, and circus acts where the non-swimming protagonist is nearly drowned every night while the aliens clap and cheer.

But what makes them such unforgettable villains is that we see so much of ourselves in them. Humans are guilty of the same atrocities against animals as the ones the aliens inflict on the humans in the story. Even today, particularly in Third World countries, you will see animal cruelties of all sorts that are just as horrible and barbaric as the ones the aliens commit.

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Panel Borders (internet radio show): Girls’ Comics Autumn Special

On a happier note than the last post, I have received notification of two recorded talks that are due to be broadcast on Panel Borders, the UK internet radio show about comics (hosted by Alex Fitch).

Panel Borders: Girls’ Comics Autumn Special

Cartoonist and Graphic Novels editor Corinne Pearlman introduces a pair of interviews about “Girls Comics”:

  • Comics scholar Mel Gibson interviews Anne Digby, the author of the Trebizon novels, who was also the writer of a variety of strips for Tammy.
  • Also, Jenni Scott talks to a pair of female graphic novelists – Hannah Eaton and Hannah Berry – about how girls comics influenced their work, and relaunch of Misty as an annual Halloween comic…

This is due to be broadcast at 5.30pm on Wednesday 5th September 2018, with a repeat broadcast at a time TBC. You can find it on Resonance 104.4 FM and DAB (London), or: