Category Archives: Nikki

Tara’s Terrible Twin / RoseMary

  • Tara’s Terrible Twin – Mandy: #824 (30 October 1982)  – #843 (12 March 1983)
  • Artist: Dudley Wynne
  • RoseMary – Nikki: #52 (15 February 1986) – #72 (5 July 1986)

Plot

Both of these stories involve a troublesome girl moving to a new town and pretending to be good and nice, while inventing a twin to do all the bad things she wants. Tara (in Tara’s Terrible Twin) pretends to be Terry to get back at people she thinks has done her wrong, while Rose (in RoseMary)invents Mary when she wants to cause trouble. They tell people their other twin goes to other school, because their parents want to keep them separated. They also take advantage of being the “nice twin”  and gain sympathy from classmates about having to deal with such a terrible sister. Even the way they change their looks are similar – both wear school uniforms usually, but change to casual clothes and spike up their hair as the bad twin. Although the main plot is the same, the weekly events and different endings make them distinct.

terry       mary

Tara’s Terrible Twin

Tara Young enjoys a lot of aspects of pretending to be nice, with her parents also believing she has changed, they are more lenient with her, such as allowing her to stay out late. It’s not always to her advantage though, as sometimes she ends up in situations where she has to help out, as she is supposed to be sweet and nice. Of course she gets back at the person she helped by venting as Terry, but she still gets annoyed at having to pretend to be nice at times.

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In one instance, Tara has found out a classmate, Sally,  is secretly working at a fish shop. The school does not approve of pupils taking part time jobs, so when a teacher asks Sally to help with the library after school she asks Tara to cover for her. Tara not able to say no, in case she blows her cover, spends her evening working and planning her revenge on Sally.  She later visits the shop as Terry before it closes and orders loads of fish then says she doesn’t want them and thrashes the place

Tara continues to terrorize people she believes have done her wrong even when that person isn’t directly involved, such as the time a prefect scolds Tara and she gets back at her younger sister. But not everyone buys into Tara’s act and one girl, Rosemary, begins to get suspicious; if Terry doesn’t get along with Tara then why is she going after people that may have upset Tara? Rosemary gets solid evidence when she catches Terry changing back to Tara, but before she can act on it her family move suddenly when her father has to start a new job. Even after this Tara’s not in the clear as Rosemary sends a letter to her classmates to tell them what she found out but Tara manages to gets to it first and destroy it.

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This is not the only time Tara nearly gets caught.  She is again annoyed that she has to help with teas/coffees because her classmate, Fiona, has to help with her visiting cousin. She catches up with Fiona as Terry, but when she changes back into Tara she finds the cousin staring at her. She expects a big blowup at school but is surprised when everyone is still acting friendly. Then Fiona introduces Tara to her cousin, who is blind, so Tara has yet another lucky escape! Another classmate Barbara gets suspicious and tries to set up Tara, by telling her about a party and waiting to see if Terry shows up to spoil it. Tara having heard the plan knows she can’t have Terry ruin things but she does get back at Barbara later.

When it comes to class elections, Tara thinks she’s actually in with a chance as she has friends and people like her. She is jealous when Sylvia wins instead, she is so distracted by this jealousy that she ends up burning her self in cooking class. Of course she doesn’t take any responsibility for this and blames Sylvia for her accident. She thinks it is time for Sylvia to meet Terry! She is surprised that Sylvia isn’t scared of Terry and actually tries to befriend and help her. Then Sylvia sees the burn mark on Terry’s arm and knows she is Tara. She tells her to clear off, and goes home trying to think of a story to make up to explain it, it turns out her parents have news for her though – her dad has been offered a new job. Again Tara thinks she has escaped and pleased that her family have to move quickly due to the job transfer(her parents actually think she’ll be sad to leave all her friends – little do they know!).

Unfortunately for her, she doesn’t recognize the name of the town they move to – Tinsford. She immediately sets up her scheme again when meeting her new classmates telling them about her awful twin Terry. When one girl annoys her, she decides she needs to be visited by Terry, she gets a shock when the girl is surrounded by friends and they all laugh at her. Then Rosemary appears, she has told everyone about what Tara did at their last school and she is not going to get away with it here. So Tara ends up friendless and alone – a deserving punishment!

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RoseMary

Rose Bolder also  takes enjoyment of using her “twin” Mary to wreck havoc, while she puts on the innocent act. She also plays up a lot on people’s sympathies with how hard it is dealing with her twin, this way she can get them to do things for her. In one episode she tears up her workbook and tells the others that Mary did it, so a sympathetic classmate allows her to copy her homework. While Rose does like scaring people, she isn’t out to intentionally hurt anyone. When one girl hurts herself running away from Mary, she thinks she didn’t mean for that to happen, but that is the only glimmer of decency we see in Rose, she is soon delighted that it means she gets a place on the hockey team instead.  Sometimes her scheme backfires on her, like her classmates deciding not to tell Rose about party or a picnic in case Mary shows up. Rose is of course very angry when she overhears the plans and makes sure Mary gets revenge, while continuing to pretend to know nothing about it herself!

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Like Tara, Rose also has some close calls with people nearly catching her lies. One girl is not going to tolerate being bullied without doing anything and tells Mary she will be informing her parents. Rose has to convince her parents to go out that evening so she can be there to answer the phone. She disguises her voice and reassures the girls parents that Mary will be punished. Another time all the girls decide to confront Mary, Rose tells them Mary found out about their plan and pushed her into a rockery and her parents have sent Mary away for few days. This also deters the girls from confronting Mary again as they don’t want Rose to get hurt. One girl Helen gets suspicious when Rose and Mary coincidentally get injured in same place, but Rose is too crafty and manages to turns the others against her and Helen ends up transferring schools to get away. Rose does so well at deceiving people that even on a school trip, when they run into her old classmates the others don’t believe the bad things they say about Rose and stick up for her. Another person gets suspicious, Amanda, she does not doesn’t take kindly to bullies and stands up to Mary. She also thinks Rose is very crafty so she wants to make sure she has proof to her theory before she challenges her.

Amanda finds an ally and together they trick Rose into confessing. Rose believe’s Amanda is trying to take a photo of her changing into Mary and tells her she is too smart for that, but in fact it’s a bluff by Amanda as she knew Rose would be looking for camera, she actually records their conversation. Amanda and others, go to confront Rose at  her house, she is dressed up pretending to be Mary when her mother comes home and hears everything. Mrs Bolder is upset that Rose’s attitude change has all been faked. Her parents decide the must send her to special school, where she won’t be able to pull her tricks. A few days later, the girls look on as the family move away, Rose shows no remorse, the girls feel sorry for the Bolders and Amanda also feels sorry for Rose because people like her can never really be happy.

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Thoughts

Certainly there were many stories with two faced girls, pretending to be nice, while really being nasty, but I don’t think there is many that actually went so far to invent a whole other person to do their dirty work! It’s not that uncommon to have similar stories but for this very specific plot to be used twice in 3 years seems a little unusual, although as they were in two different publications this could be justified! From memory, I did at first confuse the two and thought that RoseMary was a reprint of Tara’s Terrible Twin with a different artist, but it was on rereading I saw the different situations.

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The title’s are interesting, “Tara’s Terrible Twin” keeps up the traditional use of alliteration, and I like the “RoseMary” title particularly for it’s clever title card, that distinguishes the two names. Both stories are quite episodic throughout the run, (probably due t their long length 20 and 21 episodes respectively) but have good strong endings. Overall I think Tara’s Terrible Twin has the slight edge,  the use of Rosemary suspecting Tara over several issues is quite effective, especially as she ends up being her downfall in the end, after making the reader think that she was no longer a problem for Tara. Meanwhile Rose has some close calls but the ongoing suspicion from Amanda is only at the end, you get the feeling that Rose’s downfall is close, though there was a nice build up so it wasn’t just wrapped up in the last episode.

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I also like how Tara ends up having to give up her time to help people  because of her nice act. She is a very selfish person and any problems she blames on others, such as being “forced” to help. She shows ambition too and seems to think she is deserving more than she gets, such as when she wants to win student council. She is jealous of Sylvia and doesn’t see why she should win over her. It’s clear to the reader why Sylvia would win as she is a genuine and considerate person, which is proven when she actually tries to reach out to Terry and support her. It could have been interesting if  Tara had accepted her help, even after her secret was revealed. Instead she is happy to escape to a new town, where she ends up alone and the one chance that someone could have taken the time and help redeem her is gone.

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In RoseMary, throughout the story – Rose, while she does get back at people she believes wronged her, she doesn’t seem to be as vindictive as Tara and let her anger fester, she really just seems to get most enjoyment from causing trouble. Like Tara she does show some ambition as she enjoys sport and does want to get onto the hockey team. Not only does she not show any regard for her classmates, she has no sympathy for her parents either. Again she only thinks about what she can get from them and doesn’t care that they are upset and disappointed in her when her lies are revealed.

Both girls get the ending deserving to them, they’ve caused so much trouble the reader must be happy to see the girls get what’s coming to them. Still there can’t be a complete feeling of satisfaction by the endings, as the last panels show reasons the readers should sympathize. In Tara’s Terrible Twin the last panel (along with the closing caption) shows Tara looking dejected and alone, leading us to think she may not be as tough and uncaring as she likes to portray. In contrast, Rose still has an uncaring attitude at the end she believes even in a new school she’s clever enough to outsmart the teachers, the readers must feel bad for her parents at least, but even Amanda expresses that girls like Rose are also deserving of our pity.

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Damian Darke

  • Damian Darke– Spellbound: #01 (25 Sep. 1976) – #68 (07 Jan. 1978) [not in every issue]
  • Damian Darke– Debbie: #258 (21 Jan. 1978) –  (?)
  • Damian Darke– Mandy: #841 (26 Feb. 1983) – (?)
  • Edited reprints as Midnight Mystery – Nikki: #165 (16 April 1988) – #220 (6 May 1989)
  • Artists: Various

Plot

damian darkeDamian Darke is a storyteller of  strange and spooky stories. We don’t get  background on where he came from or how he knows such stories, but they seem to be documented in a large book that he keeps with him. He has a very distinctive look, dressed in old fashioned clothes and always accompanied by a raven. While Damian Darke introduces each story and usually had a closing statement about it, each story had it’s own individual title. The  stories were varied from cursed objects, ghost stories, timeslips and other strange occurrences. A List of stories  can be found  here.

I’m going to discuss ten of my own favourite Damian Darke stories here (listed alphabetically rather than a particular ranking).

1.  A Spoonful of Evil…. [Spellbound: #43] 

Carol loves going to auctions, one of her latest purchases is some old cutlery and her flatmate Sue chides for buying such junk. The next day, Carol and Sue are enjoying soup together when suddenly Sue takes ill. It seems to be some sort of food poisoning but Carol has not been effected. Once Sue has recovered she brushes it off as a bug and even is happy to try some soup again, but then Carol falls ill. The doctor is called again, and surprises the girls by asking if he can bring back a friend of his, an expert on local history. The girls can’t see how that could help but agree. The historian asks to exam their cutlery, his suspicions are confirmed when he finds a spoon with the devil’s head stamped on it.

spoonful-of-evil He then tells Sue the story of a Silversmith who claimed to have seen the devil and made a bargain with him, 12 innocent souls in exchange for his. He made a dozen spoons with the devil head mark and into the silver he mixed a deadly poison so that if the spoons were used twice, it was fatal. After 12 people had died from the poisoning he tried to recover the spoons but only found three. Now that the fourth has been found, Damian Darke ends with a warning that eight of the deadly spoons are still out there and asks the reader have they examined the spoons in their kitchen recently…

I like this story, the girls are lucky to have shared the spoon, although one could say they were unlucky to find it in the first place! It is one of those stories where it is not a person that needs a learn a lesson, but an unfortunate happenstance, which is scarier in a way! I like also in the story of the silversmith, it is left vague to whether he did actually see the Devil – the doctor in telling the story says he “imagined” seeing him. We don’t know whether there was some supernatural instance, and what the Silversmith may have done originally to get the attention of the devil, although it seems he was certainly capable of murder. It could have easily have been just a delusion by the man, with deadly consequences.  That we are still left wondering where the other eight spoons are, is also a troubling and compelling ending. (Although in a Nikki reprint they make it the twelfth spoon, taking away some of the fear)

2. Another Pair of Hands…  [Spellbound: #54]

Abigail Barton and her Aunt Ruth move to a remote cottage which was a long walk to the nearby village. Still they are happy with the cottage, but for some reason they are unable to find a housemaid willing to work at the cottage. When Ruth falls sick, it is up to Abigail to keep things running as she doesn’t want to worry her aunt. The work is taking it’s toll on Abigail though and exhausted she falls asleep in the kitchen. She is woken surprised by a young woman, who introduces herself as Biddy Breen and is there to offer her services. Abigail is delighted by the work Biddy does although she is puzzled by why she is always gone in the morning before she gets up.

When the doctor comes to visit Ruth he is happy to see her recovered and rested. Abigail tells him they have got help from a girl Biddy Breen, which shocks him. He tells them Biddy Breen used to work in the cottage but one dark night wandered off the road and was drowned. Finding out the place is haunted, Ruth immediatly wants to pack up and leave, but Abigail persuades her to stay , she tells her Biddy has been a good friend to them and she believes she can get her to leave. That night she stays up until Biddy appears, she thanks her for her help but tells her she can rest now.  Damian tells us Biddy’s  ghost was never seen again and in time the village people stopped fearing the cottage and the Barton’s lived there happily.

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Not all the stories had to have some evil presence, here Biddy is not a ghost to be feared as she is kind spirit who wants to help. Although people still fear the unknown, the village people don’t want to come near the cottage because of the rumors of it being haunted and even Aunt Ruth knowing the help Biddy has given her first instinct is still to run away. It is only Abigail that acknowledges that Biddy has been a friend to them and she also returns the favor by releasing Biddy so she can rest in peace.

3. Behind the Green Door  [Spellbound:  #15]

In 1850, siblings Grace and John were sent out to sell matchboxes every day by their brutish stepfather, who kept all the money they made for himself. In extra money they do make Grace makes sure to hide it away so they can save up to run away from their stepfather. One day when they are out, John can’t resist taking a look behind  a green door that’s ajar. It opens up to a beautiful garden, even more surprising several well dressed people welcome them to join them for tea. They also seem to know their names and give the children money as they leave and invite them back the next day.

Their stepfather, Sykes, is suspicious of what they have been up to as they seem happy, so he follows them the next day. He catches them at the green door and shoves them aside to enter. He is in for a shock though, as unlike the children he doesn’t come across a garden instead he finds himself in the path of a carriage. Grace and John have no means to follow him as the Green door disappeared as Sykes went through. When they go home, they find out that Sykes was killed after he stepped out in front of a runaway dray horse. They are puzzled and they never find the green door again but they live a happier life with Sykes gone.

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There’s some lovely artwork here (it’s the same artist as recent post Little Dolly Demon). When Grace and John find the garden it is quite exquisite with fountains and peacocks. There is a nice contrast of what the people see as they go through the door, and certainly Sykes, terrified look as the carriage come from the fog is very effective. The mysterious door is not explained but it does seem to judge those that go through it – Grace and John are rewarded, while Sykes meets only death.

4. Day of Vengeance  [Spellbound:  #17]

Many years ago, Old Hannah a clothes cleaner, was an irritable and sharp-tongued woman, only one girl; Margot, befriended her. One day while washing clothes, Old Hannah staring into the water suddenly told Margot to run to the men working in the filed near the mountains and to warn them to run as they were in danger. At first the men don’t listen to Margot but when Old Hannah appears something in her voice makes them listen. They are saved before the a giant rockfall comes crashing down. One man Herr Bauer takes special interest in Old Hannah’s premonition an visits her trying to persuade her that working together they could make a profit with her talents. Hannah tells home she rarely gets visions and only talks of them if there is danger and she has no interest in his greed.

Herr Bauer doesn’t take this well, he soon turns the village against Hannah, saying that having a witch in their midst is the cause of disasters such as crops failing. The villagers riled up and went to attack Hannah and burn her cottage down. Despite Margot’s efforts to save her Hannah is stoned and left on the mountain to die. Even then the villagers aren’t sated, seeing how upset Margot is, they begin to question if she was too close to the witch and should be banished. The elders decide to meet to discuss the matter. That night Margot is surprised to hear Hannah out beating clothes, she rushes to see her but then realises she is a ghost, beating 12 bloody clothes and singing a terrifying song. At the elder’s meeting a few days later, the building collapses killing the 12 men, so Old Hannah has her revenge and protects Margot.

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The greed of one man who was quite willing to use Hannah’s supernatural powers for his own means, quickly turns to a righteousness when he is rejected. That he is able to turn the villagers against a woman who saved their lives, shows who quickly fear and superstition can be aroused particularly in the time period the story it is set. Bad enough the fate of Old Hannah but that they then turn their attentions to Margot for trying to help Hannah is unforgivable. Which Old Hannah obviously thinks too and the very creepy image of her beating the clothes, lets us know that she should never have been crossed.

5. Horror in Haunted Woods  [Debbie: #324]

Sue, Karen and Christy are doing a school project about  local legends and get help from knowledgeable Mrs Rivett. She tells them the legend of how the local wood got the name Dog Wood. In the 17th century, the ashes of a witch who’d been burned at the stake were buried under the tallest tree in the wood along with ashes of her two pet dogs. People believed if anyone was to touch the Witch’s Firtree, the Dog-People, half men and half beasts,would rise from their graves to destroy them. On the way home Karen and Christy make Sue touch the tree. She is not worried, she believes what Mrs Rivett told her superstitious people got hurt because they frightened themselves so much.
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A few nights later Sue sees dogs at the window, she tries to  to shoo them but then sees they only have the head of a dog, she is terrified that the dog-people have come to destroy her. Her parents don’t believe her telling it was a dream. But the next day cycling home she sees them again she falls from her bike and is chased, she ends up at the Witch Fir where she sees a figure beneath the tree. Sue thinks her days are numbered and that it is the witch returned, but then it is revealed to be Mrs Rivett. She calls out to the dog people telling them they should be ashamed of scaring the girl, it is then revealed that it is Karen and Christy in masks. They only meant it as a joke, but Mrs Rivett harshly reprimands them. She helps Sue back to her bike and she reassures her, that she needn’t worry about old wive’s tales and if there were such things as ghosts, she believes they would just be ordinary people who would come back to help anyone in trouble. Sue is comforted by this, she tells her parents when she gets home, but they inform her it couldn’t have been Mrs Rivett that helped her as she died from a heart-attack that morning!

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There is some very frightening imagery with the dog people, even though it turns out to be a prank, it’s easy to see how Sue could be so terrified. Mrs Rivett helping her and telling her that maybe ghost just come back to help people is a bittersweet ending as clearly Sue had great admiration for the woman is upset by her death, very well captured with her expression and the tear in the last panel.

6. Mystery at Howlen Hall  [Spellbound:  #21]

Prudence Vane goes to visit her cousin Marella who had wrote to invite her to spooky house she had bought. Marella a flighty young lady was quite excited at the prospect of a ghost hunt. When Prudence arrives at Howlen Hall, she is told Marella has gone travelling and the housekeeper Dorcas does not seem keen for her to stay. When Prudence mentions the ghost, Dorcas seems surprised, then denies that there is a ghost and says Marella was just having a joke. That night Prudence is woken from her sleep by a moaning noise. She goes to investigate, she finds what appears to be Marella’s room and sees all her jewels are there, she begins to worry something is terribly wrong  as Marella wouldn’t travel without her jewels.

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Prudence investigates the house further and is startled by the sudden appearance of an old white haired woman. Dorcas arrives and tells her the woman is just  an old family dependent and Prudence should go back to bed. Prudence is not happy with whatever is going on, Dorcas swears Marcella is safe and gives her word that the truth will be revealed the next day. The following morning, Prudence confronts Dorcas and asks her if the old woman was a ghost. She was no instead she is revealed to be Marcella. It seems that one night Marcella decided she wanted to raise the ghost of Howlen Hall, when the servants returned they found her looking like an old woman and her mind gone. Being so wealthy Dorcas wanted to make sure Prudence was a real friend before revealing the truth. Damian Darke ends telling us Marella never recovered and serves as a warning to those who would delve into unknown forces.

I like the mystery of this story, the twist at the end was unexpected and although we never see how Marcella came to be the way she is, the warning is clear!

7.  Mystery on the Moors  [Debbie #258]

Sally and Pat were spending time hiking in the Yorkshire moors. On their way back to town, they decide to wait for the last bus so they get back before dark. While their waiting, Pat runs down to the nearby stream to freshen up, meanwhile a hearse pulls up to the bus stop and the driver offers her a lift. Sally goes to fetch Pat, but he is gone by the time they get back, Pat thinks he must have got tired of waiting. Soon the bus comes along and Pat is shocked the driver is the same as the man she saw before. She shoves Sally off the bus and tells him they were mistaken they don’t want that bus. Sally is mad at her telling her she has taken the joke  too far. They set off walking towards town, Sally grumbling along the way when they are passed by police cars and ambulances. They come across the scene of the accident, it seems the bus’s brakes failed coming down the hill. The girls had a lucky escape due to the unusual warning!

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8. Swamp of Evil  [Spellbound:  #7]

Wicked  money-lender Jethro Stern, is delighted to get an invitation to Lady Gladwell’s house. Having heard rumors of her falling on hard times since her her husbands death, he plots to get her house. While dining with Lady Gladwell he also mentally makes inventory of the fine things around him, one painting draws his eye – in it three men drown in a swamp, it makes Jethro’s blood run cold. He tries to concentrate on Lady Gladwell’s conversation as she asks about a possibility of a loan. Noticing his interest in the painting, she invites him to look at the rest of her collection of paintings. He brings him to a room of many strange paintings of Jethro’s victims such as Sammy who was crippled and couldn’t work and Mrs Watson who died in a workhouse.

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Jethro is disturbed by the paintings and Lady Gladwell tells him she is not having money problems but brought him here to ask him to release his hold on the poor town folk and leave forever. But Jethro will not tear up his arrangements, she tells him it’s a pity he has made that choice and leads him to the door. Jethro is eager to get away from Gladwell, but he soon finds himself lost in a fog and slowly realizes he seems to be in the Swamp of Evil painting. The next day a servant Mary is cleaning when she notices that the painting now has four figures one of which looks suspiciously like Jethro Stern.

Again the art is very well done here capturing the creepy atmosphere. Jethro Stern certainly seems to be deserving of his punishment. He also gets more of a chance at mercy than others, but he rejects his chance of redemption.

9. The Cavalier’s Cloak  [Spellbound: #37]

Judy and her family were spending Christmas at an old Quaker Cottage. While exploring Judy finds a portrait, with a man wearing a cavalier cloak which is surprising since they are in a Roundhead area. That night Judy is woken by knocking at the door and someone asking to be let in. She goes out to investigate but can’t see anyone, the door slams behind her and she is left out in the cold. An old man approaches her and offers his cloak to shield her from the cold.  She asks if it was him calling out, he says no but tells her a story of the family that lived in the house.

One evening Prudence and her father hear knocking at the door, they find what they think is a royalist, Prudence wants to help but her father does not. Then it turns out to be his son John who had gone fighting for Cromwell, his father is even more repelled at the thought of his son being a turncoat and shuts the door on him without listening to explanation. Prudence can’t sleep listening to John’s continued feeble knocking. She goes out to John, he explains that  a young Royalist soldier fatally wounded gave him the cloak to protect him from the cold. Prudence says she knew he wasn’t a traitor but when they go to return to the house the door has locked behind them. They knock at the door but their father remains stubborn, ignoring the knocking thinking John must learn the error of his ways. He is horrified the next morning to find both his children dead from the cold.

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The man tells Judy that since that night the cottage has been haunted, he reveals himself to be Issac Bunyan the father (and man from the painting) and he has worn the cavalier’s cloak everyday since as penance for his cruelty. He then disappears as Judy’s father comes to the door wondering what Judy is doing outside wearing a tattered rug.

10. Whisper, Whisper… [Spellbound:  #11]

In 1931, Marcia Walton finds a charming cottage for sale cheaply  due to it’s dreadful history. Marcia is not superstitious and is happy to buy it. She starts redecorating and when she finds a mirror in the attic she cleans it up and hangs it above the fireplace. A few weeks a young squire, Mr Martin, is worried when no-one has seen Marcia in some time. He investigates and finds her on the floor thin and drawn and muttering about voices. It turns out the mirror was made by a poor craftsman for a wicked duke who killed him rather than pay him a fair price. Since then the owners of the mirror had been tormented by endless hateful whispering. Not only that but whoever destroy the mirror will never be free of the curse. Marcia also notes it would be evil to give the mirror to anyone else but Mr Martin thinks he has a solution.

Marcia is upset when she sees Mr Martin give the mirror to an old woman, she tries to take it back as she’d rather live with the curse than let a sweet old woman suffer. But then the woman stops her and asks her to write an explanation as she is completely deaf. Then Marcia understands the squire wasn’t being cruel it is in fact the perfect solution as the old woman would never hear the whispers. Damian Darke does muse that it happened many years ago and the mirror must be out there somewhere maybe in an attic waiting to be found.

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It’s interesting that the cursed object can’t be gotten rid of. Most stories with cursed objects involved some way to break the curse or at least destroying the object would end it. How they solve this problem is a very clever and unexpected.

Final Thoughts

Continuing with the eerie stories for the Halloween season, Damian Darke certainly delivers on the spooky, dark and twisting stories. As discussed before the spooky storyteller was certainly common used to tell short stories. Damian Darke is particularly similar to Diana‘s The Man in Black, which isn’t surprising as Spellbound seemed to be influenced a lot by that comic. Damian Darke proved to be popular enough to survive two mergers, first with Debbie then with Mandy (although the Mandy stories seem to be mostly repeats). Some stories were also reprinted in Nikki, but Damian Darke was edited out and they came under the name Midnight Mystery. Damian Darke also appeared in several Debbie Picture Story Library books. It’s easy to see why it lasted Storytellers were quite a favored story device and the series produced many engaging stories as well as having some terrific artwork.

 

Tara’s Treasure

  • Tara’s Treasure – Nikki: #87 (18 October 1986) – #99 (10 January 1987)
  • Art: Barrie Mitchell (?)

Plot

Tara Fleming is a shy girl, that struggles to make friends, this also isn’t helped by her strict parents insisting she comes home straight after school and concentrate on her schoolwork all the time. Her parents do reward her for doing well at school such as buying her a bike but as Tara hasn’t the courage to ask to bike with the others in her class she ends up going on her own. When she is biking one weekend and it starts to rain, she takes shelter in a old abandoned house and finds money stashed there.  At first she thinks she should take it to police, but then she decides there’s no harm in taking a little to buy some presents to make friends. She buys one of the girls in her class a cassette that she talked about and leaves it on her desk. Unfortunately she’s too shy to say it’s from her, so she decides to continue to buy gifts in secret until she has courage to tell everyone.

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Buying gifts for others doesn’t always work out, such as when she buys a teddy bear to replace the one Emma lost. The other girls tease her for such a babyish gift and Emma blames her friend Lucy, assuming she told people about her original teddy.  When Tara tries to buy a  top for Lee, she gets the last one available.  But Lee’s mother works in the shop and recognizes her so Tara knows she can’t give the top to Lee without revealing her secret. She buys Lee some trousers instead, Lee knows Tara got the top and the other girls have a laugh at her expense wondering where would a quiet, nerdy girl like her wear the top. Tara doesn’t even get to keep the top, as her own mother finds it and dumps it for something sensible (Seems a waste to go straight in the bin she could have at least tried to return it!).  It’s clear Tara’s parents really aren’t helping her, she isn’t allowed things that other girls her age like. When tries to watch pop charts, her father turns the tv off and tells her to read book instead, when she buys magazines to get fashion tips, her mother calls them rubbish and wants to bin them.  This means more topics at school she isn’t confident talking about.

tara-treasure

Tara still justifies her actions, spending the money as she is not spending it on herself. She fully believes when truth comes out everyone will be her friend. Although naive in this thinking, this is the first show of confidence she has had in herself. She is becoming more reliant on her secret gifts, at one point she considers talking to another quiet girl, Jenny, but instead tries to help her with a beauty contest her sister is entering. Two girls, Fern and Doreen decide to catch Ferndale fairy godmother, but ends up in a camera (that was a present) getting broken and they have a falling out. Tara then makes a mistake in trying to impress new sewing teacher getting her a gift, which leads to story of Ferndale Fairy Godmother getting out and this brings the attention of the  head. Now Tara is worried and actually begins to wonder where the money came from and whether it belongs to criminals.

taras-treasure-4

She decides to get rid of rest of money by returning it to the house. But after seeing Mary’s bike being run over by a car, she decides one more gift when she sees a second hand bike for sale. Although the person selling the bike looks familiar to her she doesn’t realize it’s the postman and he recognizes her.  Mary convinces the postman to tell her who paid for the bike and she goes to confronts Tara. Mary turns out to be a good friend to Tara after she breaks down and tells her everything. The money belonged to an old woman who didn’t trust banks. Although Mary would keep her secret, Tara knows its time to own up to everything. Her parents help pay back the money and also take responsibility for Tara’s desperate actions, as they acknowledge they have been too strict with her. Tara becomes sick with worry about going back to school, but Mary rallies the class around her and they also admit they could have made more effort to be friends.

tara-treasure-5

Thoughts

This has a similar lesson to recent post I Wish… in that money doesn’t solve all problems. Each episode show Tara picking a new classmate to buy a gift for, sometimes these work out sometimes they don’t, but what is more interesting is the development of why she is doing these things. Her parents are not intentionally unkind, but we see how overbearing they are for Tara. She hasn’t the confidence to speak up to her parents. When her father turns off tv and tells her to read a book, when her mother insists she will pick out what clothes she can buy, and that she will throw out rubbish magazines she doesn’t really argue back. She is grateful when they buy her bike for her hard work and she does love them and know they want the best for her, which again makes it more difficult for her to rebel.

tara-treasure-2

 

Tara does shows she has a good heart, although her intention is to make friends she is happy when the gifts work out and she makes people happy (equally she is upset when things go wrong for people). When she sees an old man get mugged she doesn’t hesitate to help him, which ends up with her losing the concert ticket she bought for a gift (she does get a new ticket from owner who saw what happened).  When she finds out the money belongs to an old lady that is in a home, she does the right thing and owns up.

taras-treasure-6

Tara can be misguided, naive and lacking confidence but is still a good person, she just needs the right support  She is a sympathetic character and we want things to work out for her in the end.

 

 

Looking for Lucy / Distant Cousin

  • Looking for Lucy – Nikki: #10 (27 April 1985) -#19 (29 June 1985)
  • Artist: Guy Peeters
  • Distant Cousin – Bunty: #1919 (22 October 1994) -#1931 (14 January 1995)
  • Artist: Ron Lumsden

Plots

These are two different stories but have so many similarities I decided to look at them together. Both stories revolve around a protagonist going to a boarding school where her cousin is also meant to attend. Both have not seen their cousins in years and when they arrive they find some mysterious cover-up about said cousin. Everyone is hiding something and they can’t get the truth from staff or pupils, so it’s up to the protagonist to investigate, solve the mystery and find their cousin.

Although there is a common plot thread, there are differences in how the stories are told. In Looking for Lucy, Shirley Wright arrives at the school where everyone claims that there is not and never was, a Lucy at the school. Shirley  tries to find evidence of her cousin’s existence in the school, but every time she finds a clue, someone destroys the evidence.  In Distant Cousin, Jenny Clayton, has kind of the opposite problem as everyone claims the her cousin Claire is at the school but she believes the person who claims to be Claire is not her cousin. So she is out to prove “Claire” is not who she says she is and find her real cousin.

looking for lucy-Distant cousin

Firstly Looking for Lucy  – Shirley is surprised that no one has heard of her cousin, Lucy Semple, but surprise turns to concern when she soon suspects a cover up. She starts hunting down evidence of her cousin, such as trying to find her name on the class register. She finds one register is brand new, with no Lucy in it, in the same classroom she finds a table with L.S. carved into it with hockey sticks.  As this is early in her investigation and the girls in her dorm seem friendly, she tries to enlist their help. She tells one of the girls, Janet, about the desk but when she goes to show her the desk, it is gone. She then decides it’s best to talk to an adult and goes to the headmistress, Mrs Bull, but even she denies Lucy’s existence! Knowing that Lucy liked hockey,  she tries to track her down checking old school magazines, only to find the sport pages have been torn out. She does manage to find an old team list with the name L Semple on it. Again Janet pops up and Shirley suspects she is destroying any evidence she finds, but  but when the list goes missing at a time Janet couldn’t have took it, Shirley realizes she can’t trust anyone!

looking for lucy 2

She writes to her parents for advice, she receives a letter  from them but it seems they didn’t get her letter. On a trip to a place the school have visited before, she finds photo with someone she is sure is her cousin. She confronts the girls that were in the photo and they first claim not to remember the other girl, then later say she was an old school girl Jane Smith, a common name that would be hard to track down.  She tries writing again but with her parents are moving around a lot she doesn’t know when they will receive the letter.  At a hockey match she thinks she has a good opportunity as she can ask opposing team about Lucy.  She also believes she may have found an ally in Ruth, who seems sympathetic. But then during half-time when she wants to talk to  the other team, she is tricked and gets locked in a shed. Knowing that Ruth was the only person with opportunity to lock her up, she decides to be even more careful collecting evidence and keeping it secret.

She tries to throw the girls off by saying she’s lost interest and that her parents have told her not to worry. Late during a party game she is hiding, when she overhears some pupils saying they are glad Shirley stopped asking questions, as they hate lying. While trying to see who is talking. she slips and hits head. She recovers and is more determined then ever to find out what happened to Lucy. She finally finds solid evidence, when she gets one of the girl’s old photo album, she finds a photo of her cousin in front of school with her name on the back. She goes to police only to be stopped by teacher with Lucy! Mrs Bull explains, that Lucy has been sick with an infectious disease and had to be kept quarantined.  They didn’t want people to know about Lucy’s illness in case parents pulled their children from the school and they were afraid of financial disaster. As it is a happy school everyone pulls together to keep it secret and since Lucy is fully recovered they hope Shirley can be happy at the school too.

looking for lucy 6

In Distant Cousin Jenny Clayton is excited to get a scholarship to Larchwood, and her mother calls Aunt Mary, who doesn’t seem enthused about Claire looking out for Jenny. They have never had much to do with that side of the family and Jenny has never met her cousin, so she is unsure of what to expect. Still on the day “Claire” greets her and shows her to the dorm. She seems friendly, but when Jenny talks about other family members, she seems to shut down, Jenny thinks its her snobbery. She begins to suspect, there is something strange about her cousin, and that she is keeping secrets.  “Claire” is secretive about the letters she receives and appears to lie to the school to get a weekend away (She goes home for a grandparents golden anniversary, but Jenny knows there are no family anniversaries happening). Jenny tries to settle into school and does make some other friends. One time down town with some of her new friends, Sandra points out Alison’s gang and Jenny is confused as she doesn’t know anyone named Alison but does see Claire. Then later another girl calls “Claire”,  Alison, she then claims that Alison is her middle name and she uses it a lot. Jenny doesn’t buy this story and quizzes Alison about their family, trying to catch her out but she seems to have brushed up on her information as she is able to answer most of her questions.

distant cousin 2

Later the girls are planning Alison’s birthday, this is further proof for Jenny as she knows Claire’s birthday is close to hers. After  this she does some investigating, she finds an old receipt  of Claire’s for shoe repairs. She collects the shoes and tricks Alison into trying them on.  After this Alison owns up that she is not Claire but won’t tell her why the deception. Jenny tries to talk to the head but she is away at a conference, she then tries the art teachers but she dismisses her. She them rings her Aunt Mary who claims that Claire is at Larchwood and only phoned her yesterday. Jenny thinks maybe Claire has been kidnapped, she wonders if Alison and her friends are too scared to speak out,  but then she overhears them saying they’re glad Claire is gone.

During games she sees someone watching from a window of an isolated part of the building. She sneaks up to see her, thinking that she may be Claire, but she is actually a girl named Sophie with measles, and the matron quickly ushers Jenny away. One evening, when the girls are looking at an old photo, they avoid letting Jenny see it but she manages to sneak a look later. One of the girls Pippa catches her,  but  she tells her she understands, she”d like to help, but she promised not to tell. At least Jenny now knows what Claire looks like. She also gets a hint from a head girl, that Claire got into trouble but is interrupted before she can ask further questions.  When Sophie is released from sick bay, Jenny gets to talk to her and she mentions that no-one liked Claire and she remembered the day she left, but then Alison pulls her away. Jenny finds a letter addressed to Alison from Aunt Mary. Watching her later, she sees Alison read the letter and share out the money that was inside, among friends. Jenny tries to ring Aunt Mary again, but instead gets the housekeeper who tells her Claire’s at school and be home shortly. Jenny confronts Alison telling her what she already knows. Alison fills in the gaps, it turns out Aunt Mary bribed her to pretend to be Claire so Jenny wouldn’t find out she was expelled. Everyone is glad everything is out in the open as they like Jenny and glad they can all be friends now.

distant cousin 5

Thoughts

Both stories are really good at building up the mystery and they are quite engaging. Their downfall is the endings. In both stories it felt like they didn’t know how to end it, Looking for Lucy felt particularly rushed at the end as Lucy appears in the last few panels, just as Shirley is about to enter the police station, then there is a very long expository speech bubble. Despite this I think Looking for Lucy is the stronger story over all. Shirley is really dedicated to her investigation and therefore the tension and urgency can transfer to the reader. Whereas in Distant Cousin Jenny can sometimes be a bit halfhearted, she is annoyed when she messes up her chance with a boy as she goes to ask another boy about her cousin, also she only asks one teacher about Claire and then gives up asking any adult. Although the Headmistress was away first time she wanted to talk to her, she doesn’t attempt to talk to her again after she returns, even when she finds out the only teacher she asked about Claire is new to the school!

distant cousin 3

In Looking for Lucy it is clear that everyone in the school is part of the cover up which makes things more difficult for Shirley and again builds on the mystery and distrust, there seems to be no one she can turn to for help. She does well in her own investigations, tracking down any scrap of information she can, even if the others foil her progress. But all the build up leads to not much in the end.  At least all the school have a combined motivation, but it makes little sense. Why not tell Shirley, Lucy had measles or was spending a term away, anything other than destroying all evidence of her existence! The ending might make more sense if Lucy had an accident at school and they didn’t want to ruin their reputation,  that it turns out the school wasn’t at fault. Really the disease, that she picked up abroad during holidays, seems like a flimsy reason to hide everything from Shirley.

looking for lucy 5

Distant Cousin does a nice job in adding new mystery halfways through the story. At first the mystery seems to be that “Claire” is hiding something and sneaking away from school. When she is revealed to be Alison, this changes to Jenny trying to find out what happened to her cousin. This change is slowly developed as we begin to suspect “Claire” is not who she says she is. Unfortunately the characters here have less motivation to lie then in Looking for Lucy. Nobody liked Claire, Alison wasn’t been blackmailed, her family seem to be well off so it’s not like she needs the money. It does seem that Alison’s friends  seem to encourage her to go along with charade and she does share the money with friends, but it really doesn’t seem to be a big enough reason to go along with it. In fact she’s relieved when the truth finally comes out. This might have worked better if Alison was a scholarship girl and needed the money or if Claire was blackmailing her. Whatever about Alison’s side of things, how long did Aunt Mary think the secret was going to last? None of the teacher’s are in on it, just some girl’s in Claire’s old class, realistically unless the whole school was involved like in the other story, something was going to slip out eventually!

distant cousin 6

While the endings leave too many questions as I’ve said the rest of the stories are well done an the art in both is gorgeous. I like Ron Lumsden’s  art, he does nice close ups of characters, filling the panel and capturing different expressions. Guy Peeters some has great details in some panels, such as when Shirley visits a church, and the light shines through a stained glass window or  nice wide shots of school.

Looking for lucy 4

 

The Comp

  • The Comp–  Nikki:  #01 (23 February 1985) – #237 (02 September 1989)
  • Nikki –  Bunty: #1650 (26 August 1989) – #1651 (02 September 1989)
  • The Comp– Bunty : #1652 (09 September 1989) – #2243 (06 January 2001)
  • Writers: Rhoda Miller
  • Main Artists:  Ron Lumsden , Peter Wilkes
  • Occassional Artists: Guy Peeters

Plot

The Comp was a soap story that followed the lives of a group of friends in the 3rd Form at Redvale Comp. The Comp dealt primarily with  friendships, romances, family drama and school. There was a large cast of characters, including the pupils, their families, and teachers. It took some risks too, as main characters actually left and were replaced throughout it’s run. Initially the story was introduced (in Nikki) with Sam Greene starting her first day at the Comp. Her family had just moved back from Germany, and she soon made close friends with Julie, Lisa, Megan and Marilyn.  Although most stories revolved around those five, there were many other characters that also got the spotlight at times, such as punk Sharon, jokster Sprot and studious Tina. There was also a variety of teachers at the Comp, some loved and some feared, with nicknames like Grim Gertie, Mad Maureen and Sooty.

The Comp - 1st panel

In issue #102 of Nikki, Sam and her friends moved up to 4th form and a new cast of characters were introduced as the 3B form. These were Laura Brady and her friends Becky, Hayley and Nadina. The other various characters in the class included Freddy, Hodge, Jayne the Pain, Claire and Amy. When Nadina moved away, a new character Roz was introduced. She was an American that had moved with her Dad to Redvale. Although Sam and her friends had moved on they still occasionally made appearances, although they became less frequent in later years.

When Nikki was merged with Bunty,  The Comp came to Bunty. For two issues before the merger, in Bunty, there was a story called Nikki, this introduced the character of Nikki, and bullies Pippa and Morag. Due to a factory shutting down, the girls’ families had to relocate and they all start at the Comp.   While Bunty showed things from Nikki’s perspective,  in Nikki (the comic) continued with its own story and showed some of the same events from the regular characters perspectives. After Bunty and Nikki merged, the story was called “Nikki at the Comp” for an issue before changing back to just “The Comp”. While some minor characters came and went, the core four (Laura, Hayley, Becky and Roz) stayed the same until the end, and didn’t move up in the school.

The stories were very character focused, sometimes there was a campaign or event that everyone came together on but mostly it just concentrated on a couple of characters at a time. Typically as a soap story there was many varied plots and they would overlap starting and finishing at different time. The last issue ends when Redvale has to close for safety reasons. It is unknown when and if the school will reopen. The pupils are to go to different schools. At first it looks like the Laura, Becky, Hayley and Roz will be split up, but then luckily they are able to work things out and go to same school. Of course Bunty ended a few issues later, so The Comp didn’t return.

the comp the end

Thoughts

The Comp had an impressive run of 830 episodes (between both Nikki and Bunty), as well as regular annual appearances and picture story library books. Being a soap story, there were more continuous stories and story arcs overlapped, rather than something like The Four Marys or Bobby Dazzler which had separate story arcs – that for the most part reset to the status quo at the end. There were also a lot more characters and while it mostly focused on a core four, there were others that had the spotlight over the years.

What’s most interesting is that Nikki decided to change all the established main characters and have a new cast. I wonder what led to this decision. Did they want to just freshen things up, maybe there was a plan to always move characters on after a while, and introduce new people every few years? If that was the original plan did the Bunty merger put a stop to that or were Laura & Co. so popular they decided to keep them? The original cast were popular enough that they printed a special page of reactions to departure, while there were some sad to see them go, it seemed most were willing to give the new cast a chance.

the comp changes

the comp letters

The second cast do have an advantage of being around longer but in someways their development stalled. While things changed around them, they were stuck in the same class. One clear example of this is the twins stepsister Angie. She starts off as a prefect in the Comp, then later she gets engaged, married, has her own twins who become toddlers while Becky and Hayley never move up the school! So it is a strange mix of some things evolving and a sense of the passage of time  but the class never age! I also found some storylines seemed to repeat with different characters, such as the Nikki and Jacki dynamic, being similar to Sam and Sharon or that Laura fancies a neighbour and is upset when he likes Becky, which also happened to Julie and Sam.

Still these things are only obvious when reading the stories in a large block, and most likely wouldn’t be noticed by readers at the time. Another thing I did notice by reading these stories chronologically, is that there is some good continuity. While the odd time a name or appearance may change (like Amy’s surname being Rodgers, Linton and Lister at different times) there was good use of old characters and storylines. When the twins get an inheritance from their Great Aunt Freda, it is actually 43 issues later that the money comes to them. Lorraine Grover an old bully from issue 1 of Nikki, who had been expelled, pops up 10 years later. Some of the original class are named in passing or pop up briefly, such as Mike Morris winning a dance competition 6 years after he had moved into 4th year, or Kath Watkins getting expelled for stealing. Selena Smith who left the school, reappears bumping into Laura & co. and letting them know why her sister “Mad Maureen”, a teacher at the school, is so grumpy. It’s instances like this that makes me think that it must have been the one writer for a long time.

When Nikki merged with Bunty in 1989, I liked the way the merger was handled for The Comp. Bunty originally had its own school drama School’s Out that ended a few issues before the merger, this gave the comic a chance to introduce a story named Nikki which follows Nicola as she moves to Redvale and joins The Comp. I liked how they had the story was told from 2 different perspectives and the character of Nikki was a good way to introduce the story to readers to those people who hadn’t read Nikki comic. Also the name of the new character was a nice nod to the old comic.

comp last nikki

(Above: The Comp – Nikki #237)

comp - bunty 1651

(Above: Nikki – Bunty#1651)

The stories themselves were entertaining and they had the opportunity to be varied and change things. They could have light moments such as Hodge and Freddy playing tricks, Hayley’s self tan going wrong and often it could be amusing when the girls got the wrong end of the stick by listening to part of conversations of teachers, like when they think Tosh is pregnant! There was also quite a lot of drama, such as dealing with parent’s divorce, a new baby in the house, and even death. While Laura & Co, did not grow up like Sam & Co. there were more permanent changes in their lives that were ongoing and did not reverse back to the status quo. Such as Roz’s father getting remarried and she gains a new stepsister Stancee or Laura’s  family deciding to foster.

As stories focused on different characters, it was more likely a reader could find someone they identified with or maybe just found interesting! My favourite characters when I was growing up, were Roz and Laura.  Roz looked quite distinctive from the other characters and being American also made her different and interesting for me. I also liked Laura as she was a tomboy, artistic and didn’t stand for the boys putting girls down. Rereading I also appreciate how well rounded  a character Jacki was, she had a rougher background, which sometimes led to her looser definitions of right or wrong, like she didn’t see anything wrong with shoplifting, but hated bullies and even saved the caretakers life by performing CPR. Of the original class I quite like Lisa, who was very like Laura but maybe more flawed, I also liked Marilyn because she had one of the most interesting story arcs for me…

Marilyn starts dating Tim, and like a realistic young romance, they believe they will get married after school and be together forever. They break up and get back together a lot, due to Tim moving further away and him cheating on her. Even when “Grim Gertie” tries to advise her that her studies are more important than boys, in typical teenager fashion, Marilyn thinks what would Gertie know about such things. They do split up for good when Tim cheats on her again. Though she has tried to move on she is devastated when he is killed in a motorcycle accident. Lisa also feels bad about this due to a comment she had made about a boy like him being no loss, after he cheated on Marilyn. Their whole relationship lasts about 50 issues, it was not always the main focus but I think it was well written and his death was quite shocking.

the comp gertie vs marilyn

Another storyline that I thought was well done was when Laura’s family foster a teenager, Rachel. Only Laura knows that she isn’t as sweet as she pretends to be and that she seems to have it in for Laura. Although this is the type of story we’ve seen before, the differences here is that this is happening  to a well-established character and we also get to see the aftermath. Laura’s mom takes it particularly hard when the truth comes out, feeling she’s failed as a foster mom and it takes some time for the family to decide if they want to foster again.

Along with the well written stories, I like the art and think it did well making characters distinctive and capturing the different environments, as they weren’t always just focused around the school. Although I do have a preference for the earlier stuff, the designs seemed to get more simpler as time went on. Some characters look quite different from their first appearance such as Jayne Saunders  or  Mad Maureen who looks a lot older in some issues.  While Ron Lumsden and Peter Wilkies were the main artists, there were some artists that took over for short periods of time like Guy Peeters (who would go on to draw another long running soap story “Penny’s Place”). When Bunty changed format The Comp became coloured, the colouring style was as varied  but usually enhanced the art.

the comp different artist

Despite such a large cast there is a lack of diversity. The second class start off well with Nadina but she doesn’t last very long. It’s not until Kiko joins that we get a main character of a different ethnicity again. Even with the teachers, there is only one black student teacher of note that appeared (although I do have some gaps in my collection). It does appear by the late 90s more non-white background characters appeare, but certainly most speaking characters were white, which was actually the norm across these comics, but still interesting to note.

The Comp was a big selling point for both Nikki and Bunty. They even expanded it so that in  Nikki, additional to the picture story, Sam Greene also had a diary,  this was 1 text page placed after the story and filled readers in on extra events. When the new class came Laura took over this slot with her letters to a friend for a for a while.  In Bunty The Comp also spawned a spin off “Carly’s Crowd”, which followed Roz’s younger sister and her friends and their lives in California. This was a text story, in a time when it was quite unusual to see text stories! Of course The Comp was also popular subject for the Picture Story Library Books. For Nikki’s 100th issue there was a competition to win a part in The Comp by answering questions about previous things that had happened in The Comp. Not surprisingly The Comp often took top place in reader polls, they even gave readers a chance to vote on their favourite teacher, while in the story the class were also voting!

the comp 100the comp competition

Over the next few pages I’ve done short character profiles on the main cast, of course it would be far too long to list all events and I have some gaps in my collection, particularly in the later years, but it should show some highlights of the characters.

Quick Links:

Original Class           Second Class           Staff            List of Appearances

Tina Tells

Plot

During a school trip to a local museum, Tina Barnes tried on a ‘gossip’s bridle’ which left her with the uncontrollable urge to spread any secrets she happened to hear. This, and the fact that she always added to her stories to make them more interesting, had resulted in Tina losing all her friends.

tina-tells

Notes

Appeared

  • Tina Tells – Nikki: #90 (8 November 1986) – #99 (10 January 1987)

Cremond Hall / Cremond Castle / Blackwell Hall

Plot

Cremond Hall had been the country seat of the Earls of Cremond for many hundreds of years. Now, it was uninhabited except for its custodian, Miss Hatherleigh, and the echoes of its past. Miss Hatherleigh tells strange stories of about the Cremond Hall (later referred to as Cremond Hall), each story had an individual title.

It was later reprinted in Nikki under the name Blackwell Hall.

cremond

Notes:

  • In it’s first appearance it was referred to as Cremond Hall but later stories called it Cremond Castle.
  • The stories would mostly appear as standalone in sporadic issues although some stories did have 2 parts.
  • Was reprinted in Nikki under the name Blackwell Hall

Appeared:

  • Cremond Castle – First Appearance: Spellbound:  #21 (12 September 1977)
  • Last Appearance: Spellbound – #69 (14 January 1978)

List of Cremond Hall/Castle Stories:

  • The Doves of Sorrow  – Spellbound: #21 / Reprinted – Nikki: #212
  • Night of the Black Swans – Spellbound: #38 / Reprinted – Nikki: #213
  • The Little Crusader – Spellbound: #39
  • For the Love of Marie – Spellbound: #40 / Reprinted – Nikki: #214
  • The Rocking Horse – Spellbound: #41 / Reprinted – Nikki: #215
  • The Forgotten Music Box – Spellbound: #42 / Reprinted – Nikki: #216
  • The Sad-Eyed Princess – Spellbound #43
  • The Queen’s Destiny – Spellbound / Reprinted – Nikki: #217
  • Rosa Never Cries – Spellbound/ Reprinted – Nikki: #218
  • The Lovely Lucinda – Spellbound: #48- #49
  • Mary, Mary…  – Spellbound: #67
  • Night of the Black Archers Spellbound – Spellbound : #68 – #69

Callous Cassie

Plot:

Cassie Brown is a teacher at Morley Grange School, which is run by the cruel and hated Miss Pike. Cassie is just as much hated by the pupils and nicknamed “Callous Cassie”. They do not know Cassie is only pretending to be cruel in order to secretly help them against Miss Pike.

Cassie

Notes:

  • Artist: David Matysiak

Appeared:

  • Callous Cassie Nikki:  #14 (25 May 1985) – #27 (24 August 1985).