Bella at the Bar (second Bella story) (artist John Armstrong, writer Jenny McDade) – final episode
Waifs of the Wigmaker (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Bill Harrington)
Ella’s Ballet Boat (artist Jim Eldridge)
Aunt Aggie (artist J. Badesa, writer Pat Mills, creator Gerry Finley-Day)
Carol in Camelot St. (artist Douglas Perry)
Typewriters for Writer Types! – competition
The Truth about the Treasure (artist John Armstrong) – Strange Story
Bessie Bunter (artist Arthur Martin)
Wee Sue (artist John Richardson)
No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
Now we come to 1975 in our Tammy August month round.
Inside, Bella’s second story comes to an end, and readers finally see how she clears her name after being framed and publicly disgraced by the jealous Natalia Orlov. This Bella story drew lots of letters from readers, including ones trying to guess how Bella would win out against Natalia. As it turned out, they were not bad guesses. But none of them anticipated Bella damaging her back (while saving Natalia, and Natalia confessing in return) and becoming wheelchair-bound as the cost of clearing her name. And so the scene – Bella’s road to recovery – is set for her third story, which readers are informed will be starting soon. So now Bella is on her way to becoming a recurring regular in Tammy instead of a serial. Meanwhile, readers will get a new tennis story, “Backhand Billie”.
Aunt Aggie (the TV star with the sweet persona on screen, the scheming one in real life) is also doing another sequel. In this week’s episode, how much does it take to get Aunt Aggie jealous? It’s Helen getting a bit of fan mail of her own. Just a few letters for Helen, and Aunt Aggie brings out her big guns. But, as usual, Helen finds a way to make it all rebound on awful Aunt Aggie.
In “Waifs of the Wigmaker”, there’s no more slaving in the wig factory for Moira, says Ma Parting. She’s training Moira up for something bigger, and Moira is to take on another identity for it. Sounds ominous. On the plus side, while dodging the authorities, Ma Parting was forced take Moira through a secret tunnel to the factory. Moira’s got the escape route from the wig factory at last, and Ma Parting showed it to her herself!
This week’s Strange Story is a treasure hunt story, which leaves the hunters with a moral: there is more than one kind of treasure. In “Ella’s Ballet Boat”, the floating ballet company is dogged by more sinister treasure hunters, in search of a treasure chart hidden on their boat.
Carol Clancy finds King Arthur is being taken a bit far at her new school in Camelot Street. Her school carries on the Round Table and the Camelot tradition, complete with quests and defending the weak and poor against fairytale threats of dragons, ogres, robber barons and such. You couldn’t possibly find things like that in the modern world? Well, they are up against “dragons” this week – a motorcycle gang by that name. But there’s a more pressing threat from Mordred. No, not the witch – the deputy head who wants the head’s position, which would bring down the Round Table.
In the Tammy regulars: Bessie takes advantage of bob-a-job week, but it all blows up in her face. She also meets a boy scout who’s just like her. Miss Bigger’s cousin is giving a lecture about his game hunting in Africa. Sue badly wants to see it, but Miss Bigger won’t let her. When Sue wins in the end, “even that hyena [on photo slide] don’t look so wild as Miss B.” Molly is the only one standing by a new tenant farmer, Mark Travers; everyone else has turned against him because of claims he’s a fraud. Even his wife has doubts. And now Pickering swings by with an invitation that sounds like a plan to catch him out altogether.
Belinda Black-Sheep (artist Mario Capaldi) – first episode
Miss High-an’-Mighty (artist Julio Bosch?)
The Lame Ballerina (artist P. Montero, writer Gerry Finley-Day?)
The Uxdale Urchins (artist Eduardo Feito)
Swim for Your Life, Sari (artist Juan Garcia Quiros, writer Gerry Finley-Day?)
Skivers’ School (artist J. Badesa)
Dog Paddle Doris (artist Carlos Prunes, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
The Greek Girl (artist John Armstrong, writer Bill Harrington?) – first episode
Here Comes Trouble (artist Luis Bermejo)
Lonely Romy (artists Luis Bermejo and Miguel Quesada (inks))
No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
A Special Tammy Portrait – Don McLean
We come to 1972 in our Tammy August month round, and in this issue, two new stories start: “Belinda Black-Sheep” and “The Greek Girl”. Mario Capaldi, who went on to become one of the longest-standing stalwarts on the Tammy team, starts his first story for Tammy, “Belinda Black-Sheep”. Belinda McRea and her father become outcasts in their fishing village after Dad commits a seeming act of cowardice that led the deaths of his fellow fishermen in a storm. But did he really? Or did he lose his mind in some way and was not responsible for his actions? Or did something else happen? He seems to recall saving them, but he’s become so addled we don’t even know what to think, much know where to start working out what happened.
In the second new story, “The Greek Girl”, Rose Banks has no confidence in herself, and it shows in her appearance (scruffy) and schoolwork (“appalling”). She wishes upon the statue of Penelope, the Greek goddess of confidence, to become more confident. (Incidentally, there really is a Greek goddess of confidence, but her name is Flaunta, and she is the second cousin of Aphrodite.) Soon after, a girl and a cat who are dead ringers for the goddess and her cat come into Rose’s life. Oops, is it the old “be careful what you wish for” again? Incidentally, this was one of the John Armstrong Tammy stories chosen for reprint in the Misty annuals, and a number of them were written by Bill Harrington.
Miss High-an’-Mighty, a spoiled, arrogant Victorian girl named Ursula Thorndike, has to be the hardest nut of all to crack in redemption stories. Bill Fletcher, a convict made good, is taking her on a tour to see how the other half live in the hopes it will change her. Ursula’s had to agree, as it is the only way to save her family from bankruptcy, but so far none of it is making any impression or improvement on her.
Molly’s in a really complicated fix. She’s taken in an amnesic girl named Lorna, and then a Lady Lancton claims Lorna stole jewellery from her. Lorna is indeed scared shitless of Lady Lancton, but is it for that reason? Molly’s attempt to get Lorna’s side of things is soon putting her in danger.
In “Lonely Romy”, another Cinderella story, Romy hits the road after her spiteful stepsister frames her for stealing a watch. The truth is discovered later, but by this time Romy’s found a new venue for her paintings.
In “Here Comes Trouble”, the trouble for Mitzi Trouble comes from spiteful Katy Dennison. First Katy dopes her horse, and now she’s started a grass fire that’s raged out of control, just to get Mitzi into trouble, but it’s put lives in danger.
Girls’ comics often had some bizarre premises, and “Dog Paddle Doris” is one. Doris Farrell is making her name as…the best dog paddle swimmer around. Although it’s the only stroke she can do, she’s joined a swimming club and is competing in races, against girls who are doing freestyle. She even wins a freestyle event, but she was doing dog paddle, not freestyle. Aren’t there any grounds for disqualification here?
“Swim for Your Life, Sari” is another swimming story, about a long-distance relay swimming race for Sari Marsh and her team. But Sari soon finds there is more danger than just the risks of the race – something sinister is afoot, and it looks suspiciously like the relay race is a setup for it.
Jill Hudson discovers Louisa “The Lame Ballerina” isn’t that lame, but thinks there’s a medical problem and wants to be friends. The truth is, Louisa is faking lameness to avoid the ballet she’s being pushed into, and now she sees a glorious opportunity to take advantage of Jill.
“Skivers’ School” looks like it’s riding on the success of “School for Snobs”. But instead of teaching snobs a lesson, the special school teaches ill-mannered girls to behave. Flo and Ethel Binns have been sent to it to learn how to be ladies. The hijinks have their skivvying backfiring on them and being foiled by the headmistress Miss Meake. We’re always left wondering as to whether Miss Meake does this without realising it or not, which is probably a running gag.
The Uxdale Urchins win the semi-finals despite problems along the way, but now there’s a real hurdle – the finals are in London, and they can’t afford a horse box.
Published: Tammy & Misty 19 January 1980 – 22 March 1980
Artists: Jaume Rumeu 19 January to 1 March 1980; Mario Capaldi 8 March to 22 March 1980
Writer: Bill Harrington
Translations/reprints: Misty Presents: The Jaume Rumeu Collection (2021)
In the last entry we briefly touched on the subject of Spider Woman. So here she is for the final entry in our Halloween lineup.
Mrs Webb, the villainess from Misty’s “The Black Widow”, returns. She has abandoned revenge for her husband’s death in favour of world domination, and has established a base on an island in Australasia that was once a leper colony. Her new weapon is a strain of man-eating spiders she has developed, and her plan is to use them to scare the whole world into submitting to her and her spiders.
Accidentally stumbling into this are Paula Moore, on holiday in Australia, and her grandparents. Their boat got blown off course by a storm and they discover the ship that was the first test for Mrs Webb’s man-eating spiders. It’s a ghost ship, with crew stripped to the bones from the spiders, which are still on board.
Sensing danger from the spiders, they quickly head back to their boat and radio mainland to report the incident, but Mrs Webb is watching them on her monitor. Posing as naval authority, she kidnaps them and strands them on her island base, with nothing but decrepit old leper huts for accommodation and tales of leper ghosts to frighten them. Gran is bitten by one of the spiders Mrs Webb left to guard their boat and falls gravely ill. In her delirium she raves about spiders and ghosts of lepers who don’t want them around. They are forced to take shelter in one of the leper huts.
Paula goes in search of the woman who stranded them in the hope of treatment for gran. Mrs Webb has her servant, Gorza, who looks like some sort of weird, lumbering cross between a dumb waiter, Frankenstein and a ogre, capture Paula and bring her to her base. She introduces herself and her plans to Paula, and she wants Paula’s full cooperation if her family is to stay alive. She knows the Navy will soon discover the ghost ship, and she wants Paula and her family to tell them of her great power. Mrs Webb then releases Paula.
Paula finds her gran is now recovering from the bite. She tells her family who they are up against, but they discover their boat, previously guarded by the spiders, is now gone altogether. And in the bushes, something or someone is watching them. Later they find a chimpanzee in the bushes, which is not native to the island, and they conclude he must have escaped from Mrs Webb’s experiments. But gran is convinced someone else is around and raves about leper ghosts and the previous inhabitants being into voodoo and black magic. Back at the hut, they do find evidence someone else could be around, but it’s in the form of a delicious meal waiting for them.
Back at the ghost ship, the Navy have found the horrors on board and guess who they are up against before Mrs Webb even sends her first message to them on her TV monitor. She informs them she has hostages. They are to return to the mainland and report what her spiders are capable of, and she is going to do the same to the whole world if there is no global submission to her. The Navy radio her message back to HQ and start a search of all the islands in a 30-mile radius for the hostages. However, Mrs Webb is using her helicopter to see whether they are obeying her orders or not, and when she sees they are not, she drops a case of her man-eating spiders on the ship, who are soon doing their deadly work. The Navy hose the spiders off the ship and their radar tracked her helicopter. They are now hot on her trail.
Paula and her family now discover who else is on the island: an ex-leper named Jarvis. He remained on the island after being cured of leprosy and wants to join the fight against Mrs Webb. He shows Paula and grandpa a secret entrance into her lair, and they take advantage of her absence to sneak in. But they discover the entrance is guarded by an enormous killer spider. Jarvis quickly dispatches the spider, and they enter Mrs Webb’s lair to use her equipment to call for help.
Unfortunately it’s at this point that Mrs Webb returns and catches them. Mrs Webb straps Jarvis to a table to be the first test of her latest serum – one that can turn a human being into a spider! She adds that she has not developed an antidote.
Then a bombardment from the Navy shakes the base, causing Mrs Webb to accidentally inject the serum into herself. And like she said, there is no antidote available. Gorza is knocked out by falling debris. Mrs Webb makes a run for her helicopter, but as she prepares to take off, the serum starts to take effect and one of her arms turns into a spider’s leg.
Paula impulsively makes a rush for the helicopter but is captured by Mrs Webb. Mrs Webb uses her remaining arm to get the helicopter into the air and tries to use Paula as a hostage against the Navy. When Paula yells at them not to give in to the threat, Mrs Webb angrily throws her against the controls, causing the helicopter to pitch. Mrs Webb makes another lunge at Paula to kill her with spider venom, causing another pitch that makes her fall out of the helicopter and into the sea. The Navy fail to find her, dead or alive, or in what form. They pick up Paula and her grandparents, but Jarvis wants to stay on the island.
Mrs Webb was the only Misty villain to return for a sequel, and one of the few who could. Misty being Misty, she liked to send her villains to sticky ends (an end Mrs Webb finally meets in this story!). Not all Misty villains met this fate, and Mrs Webb’s first story hinted she escaped and might be back. It’s a bit odd this followup didn’t appear in Misty when there was still time for it to do so before the merger. At IPC, a sequel tended to appear within a year after the original, and the first Mrs Webb story appeared in 1978. Perhaps the sequel had not been written at that stage? Did they decide to save the sequel for the merger? Or did ye Editor trawl through old issues of Misty to see what could be brought into the merger and ordered the sequel?
When I first read this follow-up, I found Mrs Webb way too camp and over the top for my taste, an opinion that has not changed much. Also, she was more into demented grandstanding than menace, which made her even more annoying. In her first story her planning showed shrewdness and cunning despite her insanity, but now her plans don’t seem to be well thought out. She seriously believes she can scare the whole world into submission by threatening them with spiders, even if they are ones capable of eating people alive? All the Navy had to do to stop her man-eating spider attack was bring out the hoses, and the world has insecticides and fumigation as well.
Also showing lack of proper planning is how Mrs Webb wants to make use of Paula. She captures Paula and demands her cooperation, but she does not enslave her or ever make any real use of her as she did with her two slaves Sadie and Freda in her first story. After making her demands she just lets Paula go. She does not even use an enslaving device on Paula, which she did with Sadie and Freda. Doing so would have added even more punch to the plot. Instead, one is left feeling Mrs Webb capturing Paula at all was rather pointless, and the only purpose it serves in the plot is to inform Paula what’s going on. Okay, when comparing Mrs Webb now to what she was like in her first story, it is obvious that her insanity has increased, very likely at the expense of clear thinking. So perhaps it is understandable.
Also coming across as a bit improbable is the amazing recovery gran makes after the spider bite. Her recovery, without any medication, is so miraculous it’s unbelievable. She actually leaves the island looking hale and hearty, as if she had never been bitten at all. Was she lucky and only received a sublethal bite, or did she have some kind of fluke resistance to the poison?
The story could have done with a fuller explanation of who Mrs Webb was for the benefit of readers who had not read her original story, particularly the Tammy readers. We’re given the impression she has struck before and the Navy captain says she’s “the fiend who terrorised England some years back”, but there are no details. Some flashback or explanation would have been welcome by readers who sensed another story here and wanted to know the gist at least, and it would have enhanced the story more.
On the plus side, the story sure is high on the gross-out factor, which is so rare and bold for girls’ comics. Panels showing people being eaten alive by spiders, one being driven mad with pain and throwing himself overboard, and corpses that have been eaten to the bones must have shocked Tammy readers and given them nightmares for days. It’s also high on creepiness and sinister atmosphere, and it’s not just those spiders that are genetically engineered to be dangerous weapons. It’s the setting on the leper island itself. Those sinister-looking, decaying huts that were once home to lepers and the island graveyard full of leper graves creep us out immediately. Mrs Webb and then gran’s delirium set everyone high on anxiety and terror that there could be ghosts lurking around that are every bit as evil and dangerous as Mrs Webb’s spiders. And in a place like that, we’re more than ready to believe there are ghosts or something even more diabolical. Winding us up even more is the buildup to something or someone else on the island who is watching the stranded family. It’s quite a twist to have it turn out to be benign and friendly instead of menacing.
The apex of the horror is definitely the experiment to turn a human being into a spider. A human actually turning into a spider of unknown hybrid? Cor blimey! Having Mrs Webb herself not knowing exactly what the end result will be really adds to it.
It is a great Misty-style comeuppance to have this backfire on Mrs Webb and set her on the path to turning into a spider herself. It is a pity we don’t see the final form of this transformation. It feels like another missed opportunity and we’re rather left dangling as to how it would have turned out. It would have really turned the story up a few notches to have our protagonists up against a totally transformed Mrs Webb. We can just see her as the biggest Black Widow spider you ever saw, but still with a human mind that is totally insane, rampaging like Godzilla, and maybe laying clutches of eggs that hatch into swarms of giant killer spiders. That would have turned it into a really exciting story that would have readers on the edge of their seats while giving them the stuff of nightmares.
Translations/reprints: Misty annual 1985 as “Grandfather’s Clock”
Cluny Jones is a bully. She is the terror of the school where she does not pull her weight and cheats and cribs at classwork and games. Her justification for her conduct is that life is tough and you have to be tough to get what you want, something her orphaning has made her believe in. Also part of the problem is that she is indulged too much by her kind Aunt Mabel, whom she takes advantage of.
An inheritance comes for Cluny from her late grandfather in Scotland. Cluny is chagrined to see it is not money but a grandfather clock he made himself, and she has a good mind to sell it. However, when Cluny opens the clock in search of any hidden money, she soon finds out it is no ordinary grandfather clock. When it strikes thirteen, she suddenly feels as if she’s falling into a void inside the clock. Then she finds everything is different somehow and everyone she knows behaves the opposite of how they were before – including herself. Aunt Mabel is now an abusive tyrant and more rough in appearance. Cluny is forced to go to school in tatty uniform, and her toughness is gone; instead, she is timid. She is also brilliant, the “swot” of the school. The pupils, whom she bullied before, get so jealous at her winning the Craigavon scholarship they start beating her up. Cluny finds herself terrified of this instead of duffing them up as she would back home, and she wonders why the heck she can’t stand up to them.
Thirteen strikes again, Cluny falls back into the void, and then finds everything has gone back to normal. But she’s at school, not in front of her grandfather’s clock where it all started, and realises something is weird about that clock. Cluny checks inside it and finds a message. It reads: “If money you require, step into the mire, if real riches you esteem, slip into my timely stream. The bridge of time is my thirteenth chime.” Cluny can’t figure it out.
After this bizarre experience, you would expect Cluny to steer well clear of that clock and try to get rid of it fast. But greed has taken over and is drawing Cluny back to the clock and the mystery about it. She still hopes there is a fortune inside the clock and thinks the note is promising it. She wonders if there is a connection with that other existence. Fuelled by greed, Cluny forces the clock to strike thirteen. She is back in the other reality, this time with everything flashing past at lightning speed. And the abuse is even worse: Aunt Mabel throws crockery at her and then says she’ll pay for those broken dishes, and at school the bullies attack her with such force they nearly drown her, but the thirteenth chime saves her in time. Inside the clock she finds another rhyming message, and this time she understands it: she rushed time by forcing the clock to strike thirteen and in future please wait for thirteen to strike.
Greed over what “real riches” seems to promise draws Cluny back to the clock. She wants to figure out “timely stream” and decides to seek the “genius” she is in the other universe so she can figure it out at school. But the thirteenth chime has stopped. Cluny soon finds out why: Aunt Mabel sent it for an overhaul, thinking the thirteenth chime must mean it is time to get the clock fixed. Worse, she has sent it to a crooked firm, Manson’s, who swindle Cluny with another clock when she tries to get the clock back. She has to do a bit of breaking and entering to do it. She finds the clock just as it strikes thirteen, and she’s off again. In the other reality she finds Manson’s even worse: it’s a clock factory, and Mr Manson is even more cruel and coarse-looking. Cluny soon finds the abusive Aunt Mabel yanked her out of school to slave in the factory. She is sacked for cutting her finger and bleeding all over the goods. Aunt Mabel kicks her out to find another job, and she’s not to come back until she’s got one.
Instead, Cluny heads to school in search of the science teacher, Miss Jarvis, to help her figure things out. With Miss Jarvis’ help, Cluny soon realises she is stepping in and out of a parallel timestream, one of many that run concurrent with her own.
Cluny’s search for a job is fruitless, leaving her stuck on the streets because Aunt Mabel said not to come back until she had a job. Then, when Aunt Mabel catches up she’s all sweetness and light – and neat as a pin. Cluny soon finds out why: in this timestream grandfather is still alive and he’s paying a visit. Aunt is sucking up to him in the hopes of money from his will, as he’s filthy rich. It’s the cruel Aunt Mabel’s turn to be put out when grandfather’s present for Cluny is…the grandfather clock.
Cluny now realises the notes she got in the grandfather clock were in grandfather’s writing, but Aunt Mabel takes them from her before she can figure them out further. Grandfather is very kind and takes Cluny out on treats, but he makes it clear he knows what she’s like in her own timestream, and if she’s ever like that again – remember him. Before he leaves, he tells Cluny that if things are getting too much she has no need to wait for the thirteenth chime – just touch the pendulum lightly and wish to go the time and place she wants. Cluny can now come and go as she pleases with the two timestreams.
But the nasty Aunt Mabel sells the clock, leaving Cluny stranded in the harsh timestream. She fits Cluny up with a job at the Saracen Hotel, which means more drudgery with another cruel employer, Mr Frinton. On the plus side, it turns out to be where Aunt Mabel sold the clock. Unfortunately Cluny does not use the pendulum correctly and finds herself still stuck in the harsh timestream.
Worse, she is arrested for attempted theft of the clock and assault on Mr Frinton. She soon finds that in this timestream there is no separate legal system for minors – “thank goodness” says the judge. Cluny is tried in an adult court and sentenced to an adult prison for eighteen months. The prison is as harsh as everything else in this world, where the guards and inmates alike bully Cluny. Now Cluny is doubly trapped by the timestream, with no hope of return unless she can escape from the prison and back to the clock, which looks hopeless.
Then escape comes unexpectedly. Cluny’s two bully cellmates break out, and when Cluny discovers this, they drag her along at knifepoint, intending to kill her when they get the chance. But things go wrong with the getaway. When the police give chase, their getaway van goes over a cliff. It looks like the two convict women came a cropper below. Cluny is thrown clear, and it is not long before she realises the police are hunting for her.
Fortunately Cluny ended up where grandfather lives and he helps her. He indeed knows what she is like in the other universe; this was all to teach her a lesson, and show her how horrible things can be if everyone was like her instead of being kinder to one another. Cluny promises to be different if she can return to her own timestream.
Grandfather starts to build a second timestream clock to return Cluny to her timestream, but just as he finishes it, a policeman arrives in search of Cluny. Grandfather hypnotises the policeman into sleep, but the interruption he caused sends them off course, causing them to fail to change timestreams. Fortunately the clock sent them to Saracen Hotel, where the first timestream clock is. They are also facing down a very angry Mr Frinton. Grandfather keeps Mr Frinton hypnotised while Cluny uses the clock to return to her timestream. Grandfather stays behind, unable to go with Cluny, his fate uncertain, saying he can always make another clock.
Back home, Cluny now realises the “riches” the note was on about meant the riches that come from being kind, and that is the course she will pursue from now on. The clock is back as well, and now Cluny wants to keep it. There is some hint from the clock suggesting that grandfather is all right in the other timestream.
“The Clock and Cluny Jones” holds the distinction of being Tammy’s first science fiction story, a genre she used less often than Jinty in her serials, but it became more frequent after Misty and Jinty merged with her. The science fiction elements have been very deftly combined with something the early Tammy was very well known for: dark stories laden with cruelty that is increasingly piled up against ill-used heroines, especially orphans, who remain unbroken by it all but are desperate to find some way to escape their abusive existence and find happiness.
Tammy turns one of her own favourite premises right on its head by starting off this orphan as the opposite of how she is usually set up in the Tammy universe. Instead of being a cruelly abused orphan suffering at the hands of abusive guardians (as Bella Barlow was) and others at school and work, she is a tough, bullying orphan with a kind guardian, and she is the one who makes everyone else’s lives a misery. The irony is, when Cluny is flung into the other timestream, it is the other timestream that is more like the setup that Tammy used for her ill-used orphans: cruel guardians, school bullies, slave-driving employers, everything against the heroine, and any scrap of kindness they find (such as grandfather) is an oasis for them instead of taking it for granted (such as the kind Aunt Mabel) in Cluny’s own timestream. In the harsh timestream, Cluny herself is more like the ill-used victim heroine frequently seen in the early Tammy. This is not only in what she endures but also because her personality, rendered the opposite of what it was before, makes her unable to fight back as she would in her own timestream.
Parallel worlds are commonly used in girls’ serials for “what if?” (The Sentinels from Misty) or dystopias based on out-of-hand extremes (Worlds Apart from Jinty). In this case we have a parallel world ruled by an extreme – extreme bullying. It is so extreme that it often turns ugly, coming close to murder more than once for Cluny in the story. It is a stroke of genius to use a parallel reality where virtually everyone is a bully, with rare exceptions such as grandfather and Miss Jarvis, to show Cluny the bully how terrible the consequences of bullying can be if everyone followed her philosophy and behaved tough to get what they want. The result is harsh, brutal, bullying people who shape a world that follows a very dark path. Nowhere is it more frightening than when Cluny falls foul of its legal system. Kids are treated the same as adults, no separate facilities for them, and everything, from the police to the prison, is brutal, bullying and violent. There are even “nasty penalties” for witchcraft, suggesting the brutality of this reality has made it backward in many ways. Grandfather is threatened with these penalties when a policeman sees the clock paraphernalia and stacks of books in his house, making us hope all the more he managed to get away. Perhaps he used another clock to jump into yet another timestream.
It is most unusual for a bully to be used for a redemption serial. More often girls’ comics went for spoiled brats, snobs, selfish girls and bigheads to put through the mill to transform them into better people, not protagonists who are downright nasty. But using a bully for a redemption story is the case here, which makes a very nice change. Cluny isn’t quite as evil as some bullies we’ve seen in girls’ comics (The Honourable S.J. and Nancy Norden from “Be Nice to Nancy!” from Judy for example), and much of her bullying stems from the wrong attitude, which she needs to learn is wrong. But her bullying needs to be sorted out and straight away we want her to get her comeuppance. It takes a while and a full stranding in the bully timestream for the message to sink in, though. Her initial trips to the timestream do not make her stop to think about her own bullying and she is still doing it at school.
Bullies were used more as antagonists to make life hell for the protagonist until their expected comeuppance at the very end. It’s good to see a bully get her comeuppance through a redemption story for once, and it’s a real twist to do so by turning her into the bully victim. And it begins with stripping Cluny of everything that made her a bully and taking everything for granted to make her appreciate you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone – by giving her the total opposite in another reality.
The pace of the story is really cracking and hard-hitting. For example, Cluny’s time in the prison does not last any more than it needs to. In just one episode Cluny is sent there and left shivering with cold because her cellmates have stolen her blankets; in the very next episode she escapes with those same cellmates. It’s also very frightening and eerie, and it’s disturbing to see Cluny drawn to the harsh timestream as much as she is scared of it because of her greed and mistaken belief that riches await her somewhere if she pursues that timestream. But we can tell straight away what that note about “real riches” means and Cluny’s letting herself in for big trouble by pursuing it instead of keeping away from that clock and its thirteenth chime. Once she learns her lesson we will not be at all surprised if the clock no longer strikes thirteen.
Tammy’s first science fiction story is definitely one of her very best serials, and it’s beautifully rendered by the ever-popular John Armstrong artwork. There is so much in it to make it a firm favourite with readers. It is not only fast-paced, exciting, intriguing and frightening; in many ways it is also atypical of girls’ serials, especially in having a bully being the one to go through the redemption process.
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 a very high rate 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 Misty 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.
Creators: Mario Capaldi (artist); Malcolm Shaw (writer)
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 horror of triumphant 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 or 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.
Creators: Eduardo Feito (artist); Pat Mills (writer)
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.
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”. She traps 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.
Creators: John Armstrong (artist); Pat Mills (writer)
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)
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)
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.