Tag Archives: Adventure

The Shop at Shudder Corner (1983)

Shudder Corner cover

Debbie Picture Library: #64

Published: 1983

Artist: Norman Lee

Plot

Jean Marsh and Sheila Hawkins are best friends. Sheila’s uncle runs an antique shop at Shudder Corner, and they earn extra pocket money from cleaning the antiques.

Shudder Corner 2

One day Sheila loses a lens from her torch in the shop and quickly finds a replacement on the floor. She does not realise the lens has a strange, mystical design.

Edited to add: the origin of the lens is slightly different from the original. In the original version, the girls found the lens beside a lightning-struck bush.

But the girls soon find that the lens turns the torch into a time travel device. Whenever it shines on an object that has a strange history attached to it (and in an antique shop, they are surrounded by such objects), the torch transports them to that moment in the past, where they become part of that particular chain of events. They have to stay for the duration, because the torch will not allow them to return – by being switched on again – until the adventure runs its course. Afterwards, Jean’s uncle (who is unaware of the time travel adventures) provides them with context on the object and their adventure.

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Jean is always telling Sheila not to use the torch in the shop in case it shines on something with a history. But of course Sheila always ends up turning the torch on for some reason or other. And then they are off again…

In this story, the girls go on three time travel trips with the torch:

Trip 1: The Danson dog collar

In the 19th century, Sheila and Jean meet Bettina Danson. She is running away because her guardian, Sir Charles Danson, is out to kill her and claim her inheritance. There is a legend in the Danson family about a demon dog known as the Hound of the Dansons. Sir Charles capitalises on the legend to unleash a vicious dog (who is wearing the collar) on Bettina as a fake ghost dog to kill her. The dog and Sir Charles trap Bettina and the girls at the edge of a quarry, but then they find a ledge and start climbing down it. Sheila blinds the dog with the torch, and it gets such a fright that it knocks Sir Charles over and he falls to his death in the quarry.

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Back in the present, Uncle tells the girls that the dog collar belonged to the Danson family. There is some tale about a ghost hound and a wicked guardian who was out to inherit a fortune by killing the rightful heir. But “something went wrong” and he “came to a sticky end”. The girls know what went wrong but can’t tell him.

Trip 2: The rose goblet

Sheila shines the torch on a crystal goblet with a rose motif. They are transported to an 18th century manor called Rose Manor, and roses are everywhere: the garden, the hedges, and even the stonework. But then an unpleasant servant takes them for gypsies and seizes them. The master, Squire Allwood, is just as surly and thinks they are gypsy kids who belong to “Mad Meg”. He is about to lock them in the cellar and send for the magistrate when Mad Meg shows up. The squire had driven the gypsies off and Mad Meg takes revenge by cursing Rose Manor with – roses. Immediately the roses start growing and spreading at terrifying rates that threaten to overwhelm the manor. People start fleeing, but Sheila and Jean are trapped in the manor with the roses threatening to smother them. They escape via a secret passage, but outside the nasty squire is about to recapture them. However, the torch comes back on and they return to the present.

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Uncle tells them the goblet came from an 18th century manor that became overwhelmed with roses; it was the gypsies’ revenge when the squire upset them. Ironically, the site where the manor once stood is now part of a famous rose nursery.

Trip 3: The horse brass

Sheila and Jean are working in the antique shop while pondering over a challenging homework assignment on chimney sweep boys. Jean’s notes go under a chest of drawers, and when Sheila pulls out the torch for them, the light shines on an old horse brass that got lost there.

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The girls arrive at a canal at a time when horses pulled narrow boats. The women of the narrow boat are cordial and offer them some food. The girls offer to sell some pegs in return, and the women suggest the big houses. On the way they encounter a climbing boy and his cruel master. The girls overhear the sweep telling the boy to help him and a man named Hobbs steal from the big house, or else. The girls report back to the women, who say the crooks are taking advantage of the boy being small and nimble to break into the house. They hatch a plan to foil them.

So, when the crooks head to the house that night, the girls distract them, rescue the boy and bring him to the narrow boat. But then the crooks seize the girls and force them to help with the robbery in the boy’s place. The girls strike back by throwing the bags of loot downstairs to knock the crooks down, but it rouses the household. The crooks are captured, and claim the girls are their accomplices. The girls are climbing their way down the wall, but the owner sees them and says the magistrate will decide their fate. Fortunately the torch comes back on and everyone below is stunned to see them just disappear.

Back in the present, Uncle is very pleased that the girls have found his missing horse brass, and they will be rewarded. He tells them it comes from a narrow boat, whose master used to be a climbing boy. “By some miracle he bettered himself” and became “quite famous”. The girls realise that the climbing boy stayed with the narrow boat women and “made good”. And their encounter with a real climbing boy helps their homework assignment so much that the teacher is impressed with the end result.

Thoughts

“The Shop at Shudder Corner” was originally a serial in Spellbound. When Spellbound merged with Debbie, Shudder Corner only lasted a few episodes, which is a bit surprising. However, Shudder Corner later resurfaced in the Debbie Picture Libraries and also scored an appearance in the 1984 Debbie annual.

The picture library completely restarts Shudder Corner at the beginning. The origin of the time travel torch is shown to the reader, rather than its powers being briefly explained with a text box before girls plunge into their latest adventure. This is an excellent move that quickly brings readers up to speed with the concept, and those who are not familiar with the original can just enjoy the time travel adventures in the picture library without even knowing its Spellbound origins. The altered origin is also more effective than the original, because it is much simpler, straightforward, and tying the lens directly with the shop makes more sense.

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Storytelling about objects is not new. M&J’s “Jade Jenkins’ Stall” and “The Button Box” from Tammy both starred narrators who would tell the stories behind various objects, such as the items on Jade’s stall or the buttons in Bev’s box. But instead of narration, we see the story itself as the protagonists not only relive it but also become part of it, shaping the events themselves and the history of the object. This approach turns the concept into an adventure strip that makes it even more exciting. It also avoids the moralising and condescending tones that can permeate the narrative versions of “objects with a history” stories.

Time travelling to the moment in an object’s past is not a new concept. For example, Debbie had “Polly’s Patches”. Polly time travels to a period in the past in accordance with whichever patch she rubs on her trousers, which comes from that period. But while Polly is more of a lightweight story aimed at fun, Shudder Corner is a darker take on the concept, beginning with the shop itself. Its Tudor architecture makes it look creepy with the right atmosphere, and the name of the corner it stands on – Shudder Corner – makes it even more spine chilling.

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When you enter the shop, a lot of those objects – such as a stuffed raven in a cage or a necklace in a goblet – can make the ambiance even creepier, especially when you enter the shop while it is dark. This is not surprising for a story that began in Spellbound, and it also gives Shudder Corner a bit more of an edge as a time travel story. The artwork of Norman Lee also lends itself brilliantly to the spooky vibes and the period settings the girls end up in. Lee has long experience in drawing both supernatural and period stories, so he is a sensible choice to draw Shudder Corner.

The girls always end up in trouble and even risk their lives in whatever period they land in. The torch always rescues them when it’s time to go home – but not before then. Until then, they are in constant danger while they relive the history of the object. It is a shame that Shudder Corner was not carried much further in Debbie.

 

 

Dangerous Days for the Tiny Taylors

  • Dangerous Days for the Tiny Taylors – Spellbound #22 (19 Feb. 1977) – #34 (14 May 1977)
  • Artist: Jesus Redondo

Plot

The Taylors consisting of parents, daughters; Jane and Jennie and dog, Mickey are on holidays on the deserted (fictitious) Scottish island named Mulholm. They only just get out of their boat when they are sprayed by water and find themselves shrunk except for Mickey. The family seem to take it in their stride, reasoning they just need to get to the cottage to phone for help. Only Jennie complains and she has already been established as a complainer. The Taylors come to their first problem when they arrive at the cottage and realise that they are way too small to get in. Luckily they are adventurous and resourceful and Jane suggests they try the window. Her father climbs up to the window sill and breaks the glass with a pebble. The rest of the family climb up and they try to phone for help but their voices aren’t loud enough to be heard by the operator.

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Jane trips and falls off the table, luckily she is uninjured, but unknown to the family the beady eyes of a mouse is watching. The family join Jane on the floor and are attacked by the mouse. Mr Taylor scares it away, but now the situation is beginning to hit the family and they get weary. They figure that the island was once used for secret experiments and they must find out what cause the shrinking in order to cure it. After some adventures in getting food, they go and explore the island. Micky is still out there normal sized and Jane tries to use him as a horse. They find a a fenced off area. The family get through and find spilled canisters in the water, around these are small birds which prove the contamination is coming from there. They make it to a lab where they are attacked but are saved by a now tiny Mickey. In the lab they look at notes that don’t make sense. Mickey drinks from a puddle and grows back to normal size. The family don’t know which puddle he drank from as two bottles have spilled and dead mouse nearby indicates one is poison. Not being able to risk it  they decide they need to get back to mainland and find scientists for help.

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They encounter more problems such as Jeannie getting trapped in a box and Mr Taylor then gets the idea to cut a hole with razor blade to free her. Continuing to be practical they manage to get to the boat and together they are able to steer and direct it. The boat crashes on some rocks but luckily they are unharmed and manage to make it onto the shore. When seagulls attack they are saved by Mickey their protector. They come across some campers but they run away from the tiny “space people”. They figure they can at least shelter in the tent for the night but disaster as gas falls over and Taylors find themselves fleeing from grass fire. Jane falls into a hole and they take the choice to bury down with her, rather than leave her. After a crew comes to clear up the fire, Mickey gets taken in by someone.

They have no more luck in  getting help at the village as a paper boy also thinks they are space invaders. An old lady, Mrs Green, helps them but she thinks they are fairy folk and is expecting them to grant her a wish.  Jeannie spots an old purse that has fallen down the back of a cupboard and gets it for her, in order to play along. They ask her to hide them in a basket and take them to the police station but she brings them to a fairy ring instead.

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Eventually the family manage to get to London and hide out in a toy shop and they have a more comfortable night since their adventures begun, by using doll house to sleep and even getting a change of clothes. The woman that owns the shop faints the next morning at the sight of the dolls coming to life, her daughter chases them away. All this running makes them hungry so the Taylors make their way to a supermarket for food. Jane  gets knocked into an empty carton and nearly gets thrown away. The rest of the family manage to  get to the intercom to stop Jane being tossed into rubbish. They finally get the help they needed as the manager gets them to a  specialist, who is able to return them to normal size in a short time. While they recover in hospital they are even reunited with Micky.

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Thoughts

Shrinking was a popular plot device, from girls in stories like Pinkie, Tiny Tammy, Four Tasks for Tiny Tessa, Microgirl, and also popular subsection of this was specifically shrinking mothers, The Incredible Adventures of Mini-Mum, Mary’s Mini Mum, and simply called Mini-Mum! It was rare to get whole family shrunk together (it did happen in Microgirl, but it was more focused on the girl going on adventure to save her family, rather than the whole family working together).  Of course this is not just common in comics but in other media it was popular to have tiny people using their wits to get around the normal sized world – like The Borrowers (I know no shrinking involved here, but similar situations arise), Honey I Shrunk the Kids and even most recently Antman. But it is still a fun dynamic to play with. It is interesting to have the whole family working together, and it is fun to see them being inventive with how to cope with their size, which is also well captured by Redondo. It must be enjoyable to play around with size and some interesting angles.

One problem I found was Mr Taylor is very dominant, I would like to have seen the females taking the initiative more. The adventure takes precedence so characters don’t get a whole lot of development. The girls are pretty interchangeable,(also not helped in that they look so alike), at first Jeannie is more likely to complain, Jane more quick with ideas but both girls are likely to find themselves in trouble. Mrs Taylor is protective of her family but really gets very little panel time. It is also a bit strange how well the Taylors take in their new situation, no breakdowns or flipping out.

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Other people have a bigger reaction, although it is funny to think how terrified some people get of tiny people. The ending leaves some questions, we never find out why there were people making shrinking chemicals on  the island and who they were and if the island was cleaned up after this incident. Curing the Taylors doesn’t take a lot of effort, it only takes a week to get them back to normal size. It doesn’t say how the specialist did this, if he looked at the notes from the island or contacted the experimenters. It also doesn’t say what he is a specialist of, it seems unlikely that it would be a top specialist for this very specific incident! I suppose the point of the story is not to worry about the why, but enjoy the fun adventure and the journey.

Tiny Taylors 6

Peril on Paradise Island

Plot:

Kay and Marion Digby along with Jean Ritchie, a friend, had set sail to an uncharted area of the Caribbean Sea in search of their father Professor Digby, who was unaccountably missing. After being caught in a tornado, the girls found them-selves on a strange exotic floating island of weeds and flowers.

peril on paradise island

Notes:

  • Art: Jordi Franch

Appeared:

  • Peril on Paradise Island – Spellbound: #61 (19 Nov. 1977) – #69 (14 Jan. 1978)

The Shop at Shudder Corner

Plot:

Sheila Hawkins and Jean Marsh helped in an antique shop called The Shop at Shudder Corner, run by Jean’s uncle. When Sheila replaced a broken lens in her torch with a mysterious piece of glass, she found that when she shone it on certain antique curios, she and Jean were transported back in time . . .

shop at shudder corner

Notes:

  • Art: Norman Lee
  • Art: David Matysiak (Debbie Annual 1984)

Appeared:

  • The Shop at Shudder Corner – Spellbound: #14 (25 Dec. 1976) – #21 (12 Feb. 1977)
  • The Shop at Shudder Corner – Spellbound:  #32 (30 Apr. 1977) – #39 (18 June 1977)
  • The Shop at Shudder Corner – Debbie:  #372 (29 Mar. 1980) – #374 (12  Apr. 1980)

Other Appearances:

  • The Shop at Shudder Corner – Debbie Annual 1984

Goldie and the Three Bears

Plot

When three live bears attached themselves to Goldie Lock, it began an adventure which landed Goldie and her friend, Pat Howard on the island of Sawaki. The Sawakians had a colony of these sacred bears. They believed that as long as the bears lived, valuable osmium mines would continue. But their enemies, the Katolians, made a surprise attack and killed all the bears except Goldie’s three, whom she and her friend managed to hide. Losing heart, the superstitious Sawakians surrendered. Goldie was convinced that if they knew that some of the sacred bears were saved, the Sawakians would rise up again. But first a safer hiding place had to be found for the bears.

goldie three bears

Notes

Appeared

  • Goldie and the Three Bears – Mandy:  circa #246 (02 October 1971) – (?)

 

Fay Fearless

Plot:

Fay Fearless works as an agent for SOS, the code name for a secret Government organisation run by Arthur King, the millionaire owner of Paragon Stores.

Faye

Notes:

  • Artist: Robert MacGillivray

Appeared:

  • Fay Fearless  –  Mandy:  #369  (9 February 1974) – (?)
  • Fay Fearless  –  Mandy:  #384  (25 May 1974) – #389 (29 June 1974)
  • Fay Fearless  –  Mandy:  #396  (17 August 1974) – #402 (28 September 1974)
  • Fay Fearless  –  Mandy:  circa #417 (11 January 1975) – (?)
  • Fay Fearless  –  Mandy:  #500  (14 August 1976)
  • Fay Fearless  –  Mandy:  #570  (17 December 1977) – #573 (07 January 1978)
  • Fay Fearless  –  Mandy:  #587  (15 April 1978)

Other Appearances:

  •  Fay Fearless – Mandy Annual 1976

Angie

  • Angie –  Emma: #01 (26 February 1978) – #09 (29 April 1978)
  • Art: Ian Kennedy

Plot

Angie Martin, a district nurse sets out in the morning to visit patients. She intends to drop her younger sister, Sally, to school along the way. Unknown to her, not too far away, a bullion robbery is taking place as 3 armed men take on a security van. One of the security men goes to raise the alarm and a robber (Lonny) threatens him with a gun. Another robber (Jimmy) intervenes, but gets shot himself. The three men escape but Jimmy needs medical attention. They spot Angie and take her and Sally so she can fix Jimmy up.  They hear on the radio that the police now know Lonny’s name due to Jimmy’s slip up, so they dump their van, and hide out in an empty cottage.  Angie starts to think about how her and her sister can escape, she slips tablets into the men’s tea, but luck isn’t on her side as Lonny spills his drink and she has no more tablets to use. When Jimmy and Vic pass out, Lonny figures she is involved and ties her up.

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Angie takes advantage of every opportunity she has to escape. Lonny is clearly the leader of the gang and is more wary of keeping an eye on Angie. He catches her trying to phone for help and locks her and Sally in the attic nursery. Angie finds a balloon and felt tip pens and uses them to get a message outside. The balloon is found by some kids who give it to the police.  Unfortunately before they get to the cottage,  the arrival of tourists at the cottage has made the gang go on the run again. When the police get to cottage they free the tourists and are soon in pursuit of the gang.

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The cops surround them at a filling station but Lonny threatens Angie and Sally’s lives, so they are able to hijack the police helicopter. Sergeant Smith manages to slip a transmitter to Angie before they get on the helicopter. They plan to fly to France but a storm forces them to land on a ship. They smash all communication devices on the ship, but the captain has a plan – when it gets dark he will turn them around so they get dropped off at Dorset, rather than France. When they land one sailor tries to get gun off Jimmy, but is knocked out by Vic, Angie attends to him. The gang believe they are in France and don’t know that the captain of the ship has managed to contact the police on the helicopter radio.

While Lonny and Vic go to look for transport, Jimmy is told to keep Angie and Sally in a cave, out of sight. As they are so exhausted all three of them fall asleep and they wake up to find the tide has come in and they are trapped. Sally manages to slip out a hole to go for help, only to run into Vic and Lonny. Angie and Jimmy will have to swim for it but Jimmy can’t with his injured arm. Angie swims Jimmy to safety, and he makes note that she has saved his life again.

His gratitude to Angie is seen when after another escape attempt Vic strikes Angie, Jimmy is quick to defend her. The gang figure they are not in France when police catch up with them, but they have stolen a tank and smash up the police car. They hide out in a forest where Vic accidentally starts a fire, Jimmy helps Angie and Sally onto the tank but falls off himself.  Angie is the only one concerned enough to go back and help him. The gang attempt to cross a foot bridge with the tank because they won’t leave the gold behind, the bridge collapses leaving them all in the water. Angie and Sally manage to escape and take a boat but the gang pursue them. Both Vic and Lonny take aim to shoot Angie but Jimmy stops them, jerking the steering wheel. Vic shoves Jimmy out of the boat. They catch up on Angie and grab her, leaving Sally on the boat headed for a weir. Lonny and Vic plan to use Angie as a hostage to get back their gold, that has been found by the police. Meanwhile Jimmy having gotten out of the water sees Sally in trouble and saves her. Knowing she needs to get to a hospital he brings her to the police station and hands himself in.

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With Angie as their hostage, Lonny and Vic get the police to hand over the gold and their uniforms.  Soon after when Angie escapes she doesn’t just run, after all they’ve done to her she is not going to let them get away. Using a crane she catches their boat and the police arrive to arrest them. She meets up with her parents and goes to see Sally in hospital.  They discuss Jimmy’s fate, it turns out he will be let off light due to his good actions and turning himself in and Mr Martin will even give him a job when he gets out of jail.

Thoughts

This is a good action story, the pace doesn’t let up and Ian Kennedy does a great job at showing the action scenes. Like the above car chase shows, Kennedy uses a variety of angles to keep the action interesting and fast paced. Whatever the location, from water to forest, he does a superb job of capturing the place.

The fast pace of the story is set up effectively in the first issue when the time is tracked throughout; 8.35 Angie leaves her house, 8.47 the robbery takes place, 12.30 Mrs Martin is worried and 8.00pm Angie tied up and can’t believe only 12 hours have passed since she got up in the morning. After the first issue the tracking of time stops, but the story doesn’t slow down. Sometimes it seems a bit ridiculous when the gang manage to hijack 2 cars, a helicopter, a ship, a boat and a tank! But really you aren’t given much time to dwell on it.

Angie is clearly a resourceful and determined character. When ever she sees an opportunity to escape, she jumps on it. She smartly hides the tracker she gets from the police in Sally’s bandage. She is also quick thinking in stopping the gang from escaping at the end. Not only is she tough she shows her high morals and why she makes a good nurse when she not only helps the people the gang hurt, but also goes out of her way to save Jimmy several times.

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The gang are easy to characterise, Vic is the tough and mean leader, Lonny is a bit dimmer but equally nasty, while right away Jimmy proves himself to be the most sympathetic of the gang, and shows he has a conscience. Even before Angie earned his gratitude he is shown to be against anyone getting hurt. The only reason he got shot was because he wanted to protect the security guard from Vic. In the end he could have just left Sally at the door of the police station but he does the right thing and hands himself in. Also very charitable of Mr Martin to give him a job, considering he was involved in a kidnap even if he did save his daughter’s life. We don’t get a lot of background on the gang, so we don’t know how Jimmy got involved with Vic and Lonny in the first place, whether he previously had a criminal record or just fell in with a bad crowd, or was really needing the money. Still it’s nice to hear that he will be given a second chance after he gets out and we hope he’ll use the opportunity wisely.

The Emma comic didn’t last too long, which is a pity because I think it had some strong stories (like this one) and had a fresh take on some of the usual formulas.

Harvey

Plot:

The adventures of a dog named Harvey. First story he is looking for a new home. In one story he is trying to get back  home and has many trials along the way such as when he manages to get  on a crab-fishing boat run by a girl called Jenny and her dad but gets knocked over board.

In Harvey’s Hotel – Harvey and his owner Pat are helping Pat’s sister Sara and her husband Greg at the hotel they run.

harvey go home

Notes:

Appeared:

  • A New Home for Harvey – Tracy: #01 (06 October 1979) – (?)
  • Harvey’s Hotel – Tracy:   #151 (21 August 1982) -(?)
  • Harvey – Go Home! – Tracy: circa #255 (18 August 1984) – (?)
  • Harvey – Go Home!  –  Judy and Tracy: #1306 (19 January 1985) – (?)

Ten Tasks for Toni

Plot:

Toni Townsend, a brilliant young gymnast, had been  treated as a slave by her rich Aunt Libby until, on a summer cruise, they were kidnapped by natives who believed Toni to be a white goddess called Artanza. Unless Toni carried out 10 tasks successfully, she and the other cruise passengers would be killed. Then Toni found that the high priestess, Jana, was trying to kill her.

ten tasks for toni

Notes:

Appeared:

  • Ten Tasks for Toni – Judy:  #893 (19 February 1977) – #903 (30 April 1977)