Tag Archives: Carlos Guirado

Misty Short Stories VIII: Ghosts

In our eighth volume on Misty short stories we turn to the subject of ghosts, which, predictably, is huge. Owing to the expanse of the subject, there will be no individual thoughts for each story. However, the stories will be grouped into subthemes in accordance with the role the ghost served in the story, and there will be “closing thoughts” at the end.

1: Revenge from Beyond the Grave

It is no surprise that a lot of ghosts in Misty’s complete stories were there to inflict comeuppances. In many cases the motivation was revenge for causing the death of the person who is now a ghost, by murder, neglect or other means. The ghost’s revenge usually takes the forms of:

  • Punishment fitting the crime, sometimes in a “give them what they want” manner (“The Disembodied”)
  • Ruin them (“Dance of Death”)
  • Ensure they don’t enjoy their ill-gotten gains (“Black Agnes”)

Dance of Death

Misty: #27

Artist: John Richardson

A cruel innkeeper, Joseph Higgins, forces fiddler Peter Price and his daughter Nancy to play and dance for their supper, ignoring their protests that they are too cold and hungry to put on a good performance. Their performance is predictably awful, and the cruel spectators torture Nancy too. Higgins kicks them out into the cold, where they freeze to death, and smashes Price’s fiddle. But their ghosts start haunting the inn, fiddling and dancing, which drives off customers. Higgins tries to sell the inn, but nobody will buy it with those ghosts in “permanent residence”, and he is ruined.

A Room of Her Own

Misty: #69

Artist: Joseph Gual

Lorna Barnes is taken in by the Hennings after her grandmother dies, but their daughter Joan does not want to share her room with Lorna. So Joan tries to get rid of Lorna by playing “haunted house” to scare her away (a trick also used in the Misty short story, “Nightmare!”). It goes too far when Lorna runs away in terror and drowns in a swamp. But Joan soon finds she still doesn’t have the room to herself – she is now sharing it with Lorna’s ghost.

Malice in Wonderland

Misty: #75

Artist: Bob Harvey

Reprint: Best of Misty #8

The ghost of a girl haunts a fairground, Wonderland. She has driven off customers and the once-booming fairground is now deserted. The owner, Richard Hobson, confronts the ghost for ruining him. She says she is making him pay for the negligence of the roller coaster that caused her death, which he bribed his way out of in court. Hobson tries to run her over with the same roller coaster, but forgets she is a ghost, and only sends himself plunging to his death. He in turn becomes the resident ghost of Wonderland, which reopens under more savoury management, and can only watch as its new profits go into the new owner’s pocket.

The Disembodied

Misty: #68

Artist: John Richardson

On a class trip Olivia rips a page out of a book of spells that was once owned by an baron who practised black magic She uses the spell to summon the spirits of three of her teachers to give her all the answers to a school test. But she gets greedy and demands more and more information from them, which keeps them up past dawn, despite their protests. When Olivia learns the three teachers have died, she discovers too late she overlooked something: if the spirits do not return to their bodies before dawn they will become disembodied and cling to the person responsible for their deaths until the day their true deaths should have occurred. The disembodied spirits take revenge by giving Olivia more and more answers until she gets information overload – literally – and her head is ready to burst.

Black Agnes

Misty: #59

Artist: Josep Gual

In 1665–6 London, Agnes Barton takes up a position as a servant in the wealthy Patterson household. She poisons the family, taking steps to ensure everyone puts it down to plague, so she can steal their moneybox. But she soon finds the Pattersons’ ghosts are following her around. At Pudding Lane the haunting drives her to breaking point and she throws the stolen money back at the ghosts: “Take your gold! Begone I say!”, but knocks over a candle while doing so. This starts the Great Fire of London, and she perishes in the blaze.

Lead Kindly Light

Misty: #57

Artist: Maria Barrera

Ruth’s stepfather Jabez Penallen is a shipwrecker and he whips her into being his accomplice. Ruth sees no way to escape. Running away is hopeless because Jabez will only find her again. Reporting him is no use because he has everyone believe he is a devout, respectful churchgoer. An old friend, Sybilla, arrives and helps Ruth escape on a ship, but Jabez wrecks it while not knowing she was on board. Ruth returns as a ghost, but Jabez does not realise she is one. She uses his own false light and takes advantage of his blind rage towards her to lure him to his doom over the cliff. She then extinguishes the wrecker’s lantern forever.

Misty Short Stories IV: The Devil

In this volume of Misty short stories we turn to the complete Misty stories that featured the Devil. The volume will focus on the roles the Devil played in the short stories, and how these compare to his role in Misty’s most famous Devil serial: “Winner Loses All!”.

Welcome Home

Misty: #68

Artist: Jorge Badia Romero

Linda is a pyromaniac and has burned down a number of buildings. Her life has become a string of doctors, criminal convictions, time served etc., but nothing changes her setting fire to everything – including the borstal she was sent to. She escapes from her latest detention centre and sets fire to a warehouse. The fire gets out of control and, for the first time in Linda’s life, fire makes her afraid when she becomes trapped in the blaze. A dog rescues Linda and leads her to a cave. In the cave Linda meets the Devil and the dog is revealed as Cerberus. The Devil throws Linda into the fires of Hell, saying someone with a passion for fire like her should call it home.

Cold Comfort

Misty: #57

Artist: Carlos Guirado

Molly Grimshaw is selfish and a shoplifter, which causes trouble on a school trip. Her misbehaviour delayed their return, and as a result they get caught in a blizzard. The bus breaks down, and the teacher takes off in search of help. He tells the pupils to stay in the bus and together, and share what food they have. Molly has no intention of doing any of those things, though she does have food. Fed up with how cold it is on the bus, Molly takes off in search of someplace warmer, but soon realises just how cold and dangerous it is. She stumbles across a house, which is occupied by a hooded figure. When he lowers his hood, he reveals himself as the Devil. He tells Molly she will never be cold again. Guess why.

Thoughts

Here we have two delinquent girls who thought they had escaped death when their misdeeds backfired. Then they find they really had died because of this, and the Devil is waiting to cast them into the fires of Hell. In both these stories the Devil is the ultimate nemesis of the story, inflicting a Misty-style punishment for being bad. But he takes no part in the action of the story itself, and does not set up the punishment that is to be inflicted. He is just there at the end, waiting for the bad girl to arrive. It is the girl who brings about her own destruction, through her own crimes.

It’s funny how one girl is blowing hot and the other cold when they come up to him. This makes the fires of Hell punish them in totally different, but fitting ways. In the case of Linda, she is being punished and tormented by fire, which she used to commit arson all the time. In Molly’s case, she finds a warm spot from the cold, but it brings her everlasting torment instead of comfort.

A third Misty story, “Room for One More”, follows a similar line of destruction for a young criminal. But it has been excluded from discussion here because the Devil himself does not appear in the story.

The Nightwatchman

Misty: #73

Artist: Maria Barrera

Mandy Siddons is a bad girl at school and a shoplifter. She meets a creepy old nightwatchman who keeps his face concealed. He says he will see her soon, but she dismisses this. The police turn up on Mandy’s doorstep about the shoplifting. While running away from them, Mandy nearly gets hit by a car. She is then surprised to find nobody seems to see her, not even when she’s shoplifting. In the evening she meets the nightwatchman again. In his fire, she sees that she really did get run over. And there is no sign of the things she stole that day. The nightwatchman says that if she’s ready, they’ll be moving on, and reveals himself as the Devil. Mandy begs for another chance. The last panel, in a hospital, shows a doctor saying Mandy will live. A policeman says this sort of thing might have her behave from now on.

Thoughts

It is not often Misty gives a bad girl a second chance in her short stories. But she does so in this case. And it is handled so effectively, with a near death experience. We have heard stories like these: people undergoing near death experiences in hospital, and some of them have included experiences of Hell.

In the story, the Devil seems to be more like the Angel of Death than the Prince of Darkness. Instead of being all ready to throw her into Hell, he seems to be holding the Grimreaper’s scythe in abeyance, and is allowing scope for one last chance before Mandy even begged for it. We presume this is because she is not actually dead yet, she’s at the halfway point in hospital, and could go either way. If she really had died, the last panel would definitely show her going the way of Linda and Molly.

The Love and the Laughter

Misty: #10

Artist: Maria Barrera

Reprint: Best of Misty #4

Molly Wright wants to help her Uncle Billy’s ailing circus, ignoring his assurances that she helps by just being his “pretty Molly”. She takes a book on dark magic from Scrodini the Magician’s caravan and summons the Devil. She makes a pact with the Devil for him to help Uncle’s ailing circus, for the usual fee. Performers arrive from nowhere to help Uncle’s circus and its business is soon booming. Molly can’t forget the pact she made because she sees the Devil everywhere. The Devil comes to Molly to collect his due. At this point Scrodini and Uncle Billy come up. They have worked out what happened, but see a way out of the pact – destroy the book, which will destroy the spell. It works, and all the evil vanishes. Afterwards, Uncle tells Molly that please, please, she helps him by just being his pretty Molly.

Thoughts

This was the only complete Misty story to use the theme of a pact with the Devil, which was later used in “Winner Loses All!”. The story appeared early on in Misty’s run and could have been an inspiration for “Winner Loses All!” It may even be the same writer. After all, like the protagonist in that story, Sandy Morton, Molly makes the pact out of love, in a desperate but misguided bid to help her guardian. But unlike Sandy, there is an easy but credible way out of it, and without anybody’s soul being taken.

Birds of a Feather

Misty: #41

Artist: J. Garcia Pizzaro

A girl finds a small girl being bullied and rescues her. The child is not grateful, saying the bullies are her kind of people. The girl warns of a devil cult on a hill and to stay away. Actually the child welcomes the information and heads straight up there. The devil cult is sacrificing a chicken to the Devil. The child stops them, saying it’s useless because the chicken has no soul for the Devil to claim. They attempt to sacrifice the child instead but she warns her Uncle will be angry. Her Uncle turns out to be the Devil. He opens up a hole in the ground, and the devil worshippers get swallowed up. The child takes the chicken to the girl, saying: “She is too good and kind to be my friend but I feel she will ever be yours.”

Thoughts

Here we have a twist where the Devil actually reaches out to punish wrongdoers – and they are Devil worshippers, who were worshipping the very entity that destroyed them! We have heard that evil gets destroyed by evil, but that’s a real twist on that old adage. It’s quite a surprise twist too, having the girl turn out to be the Devil’s niece. We didn’t know the Devil had family. It’s also nice to see that although the Devil’s niece can’t show gratitude to the girl who tried to help her, the girl will still get a reward for her kindness. And we are very pleased to see that the chicken will be safe.

Don’t Look Now!

Misty: #34

Artist: Eduardo Feito

Jan Parker is nicknamed “nosy” because she sticks her nose into everyone’s business. A man comes into pawn shop where she works and leaves a pair of glasses. Nosy Jan can’t resist trying them, but when she does, she sees everyone’s heads as the animal that reflects their characters (sly man is a fox, a timid woman a mouse, etc.). This is driving her to distraction, but she can’t remove the glasses. When the man returns, the glasses enable Jan to see what he really is: a goat figure. She realises he is the Chief of Tempters i.e. the Devil. The Devil left the glasses deliberately because he knew Miss Nosy would be tempted to try them on. He says that if he tells her how to remove the glasses he will claim her soul instantly. If she decides against it he will leave her alone, but she will be stuck with the glasses forever. To help Jan decide, he holds a mirror up to her face, and the glasses make her see herself as an ass.

Thoughts

The story has already been discussed in another list of Misty short stories on this website, so this discussion on it will concentrate on the Devil’s role. Unlike the other devil-themed complete Misty stories the Devil plays a proactive role in the story. He sets the story in motion by putting temptation in Jan’s path. Instead of waiting for her to hang herself with her misdeeds before claiming her soul, as he did so often in the other stories above, he plays on her weakness to set a trap for her, and force her to choose between her sanity and her soul.

Closing Thoughts

In Misty’s short stories, the Devil, although evil, was not used as a villain. He was used most often to illustrate the everlasting punishment Christianity warns against those who sinned in their lifetime, not to mention the damnation the complete Misty stories themselves loved to wreak against wrongdoers. Some of the stories also used the Devil as a warning against temptation, crime, and dabbling in the dark arts. It may be for this reason that some ended on a happier note than others.

Misty Short Stories III: Witches

For the third volume of Misty Short stories I have selected Misty stories with a corresponding theme: witchcraft and how Misty portrayed witches in her complete stories. As many of the stories have a similar theme, they have been grouped together under subheadings, with “thoughts” attached. I have also included closing thoughts at the end of the overview. Text stories have been omitted from this list. So witch-themed text stories such as “The Story of Little Wytching” have been excluded.

1: The Wise Woman

The true definition of “witch” is wise woman, a person who would use folk magic and herbal knowledge to help people. But witch-believers did not always see it that way and wise women were always vulnerable to being persecuted as agents of Satan. As the following stories show, Misty had the sense to frequently show the witch as she really was: a wise woman. However, they also show that how the wise woman’s help was received, or even understood, depended very much on how much the protagonist needed – or deserved – her help.

Bookworm

Misty: #99

Artist: Jordi Badia Romero

Reprints: Scream & Misty Halloween Special #2

Joanie Preston is a bookworm, but also a selfish, lazy girl. She wants to live the life of Lady Agatha in a book she is reading, where she can live in ease and comfort and never have to work. She finds a spellbook in Professor Margolis’ collection of forbidden books. She bullies Old Nell, who has a reputation for witchcraft, into helping her cast one of the spells to transport her into the Lady Agatha book. She ignores Old Nell’s warnings that it is evil black magic and can only bring disaster. While Joanie is casting the spell the Professor finds out and tries to intervene. This causes Joanie to take the wrong book into the magic circle – and its title is “Dracula”.

Thoughts

It is curious that although Old Nell warns Joanie that using the black magic will lead to catastrophe, what really causes Joanie’s undoing is her accidentally taking the wrong book into the magic circle. The danger of using black magic might have been more effective if Joanie had gone into  the Lady Agatha book after all, only to find it’s not what she expected – a monkey’s paw sort of thing.

If Only…

Misty: #51

Artist: Carlos Guirado

Poor girl Lois is jealous of rich, spoiled girl Kora, so she visits a witch, Widow Farley. Farley agrees to help because Kora is a girl after her own black heart and Lois deserves the spell.  The spell has Lois and Kora switch bodies. Then Lois finds out too late what Farley really meant by her deserving the spell: Kora was dying, and this is why she was spoiled.

Thoughts

We are told that Widow Farley is a more black-hearted wise woman than the other examples below, but it gets no development. The story would have been fine to leave that part out and have Widow Farley give Lois the spell just to punish her for her jealousy.

Aunt Mary’s Blessing

Misty: #21

Artist: Uncertain

Dying – and creepy – Aunt Mary tells Melody that she has Romany powers, which include precognition, and Melody is to inherit the art. Melody does not want any part of it. After her death, Aunt Mary appears as a ghost to Melody and tells her where to find the box that contains her inheritance. Sensing what is happening, Mum gives Melody a crucifix for protection but a teacher confiscates it. Aunt Mary draws Melody to her house and directs her to dig up a box, which contains a hand. As the hand touches Mary left hand, it crumbles into dust, and Aunt Mary tells Melody she will not see her again. Later, Melody has a premonition that her hospitalised father will be okay, but inwardly adds, while looking at her left hand: “But will I?”

Thoughts

So Melody is fated to inherit Aunt Mary’s powers. But are these powers really evil or is it just a case of people being afraid of something they don’t understand? Aunt Mary sure is creepy, but is she evil? And would Melody inheriting the powers make her evil? Or will Melody find it a great gift that she learns to accept and love? The title does say Aunt Mary’s inheritance is a “blessing” after all.

A Girl’s Best Friend

Misty: #48

Artist: John Richardson

Reprint: as Carla’s Best Friend in Tammy 15 January 1983

Blind Carla and her guide dog meet Old Greta. They are kind to Greta while others avoid her because she says she is a witch. That night Belle slips out to Greta’s house, and Greta realises why Belle has come. Next morning, Carla is astonished and overjoyed to find she has suddenly regained her sight, but then realises Belle is missing. Greta explains that she did use a spell to restore Carla’s sight, but for it to work, someone else has to give up his or her sight in return. Belle made the choice to do so, and now she is blind. Shocked to see Belle blind in her stead, Carla begs Greta to reverse the spell. Greta says Belle will still have a good life as long as Carla reciprocates the love and affection Belle showed her when she was blind. Carla hugs Belle and promises her all the love in the world forever.

Thoughts

This is one of Misty’s most brilliant and moving short stories. Carla regains her sight with the help of the witch, but it’s not a happy ending. It’s a bittersweet ending that leaves us all in tears when we learn the price that has been paid for Carla’s new sight. We cry even more when we learn Belle will stay blind, and will need all the love and help she can get.

The Queen’s Hair

Misty: #43

Artist: Jaume Rumeu

Reprint: Best of Misty 4

Tyrannical Queen Elida administers cruel justice to her subjects and throws them in her dungeons. The real reason for this is that she blames them for an illness that caused her hair to fall out and she has to wear wigs. Elida strikes a bargain with a witch for a spell for new hair. The witch gives Elida a headband that will make her hair grow again, but she must not wear it for more than 24 hours. Elida reneges on the deal and throws the witch into her infamous dungeon.

Although Elida does grow new hair she does not forgive, and she leaves her prisoners in the dungeons to rot while she throws a celebration. But then Elida’s hair starts growing crazily and uncontrollably. She realises it’s because she forgot to remove the headband after 24 hours (we thought that might happen). Elida soon finds there is no way of stopping the super-growing hair or removing the headband. The witch can’t help as she died in Elida’s freezing dungeons. Elida’s angry subjects seize the moment to storm the castle, rescue the prisoners, and exact revenge on Elida. But they find there is no need for revenge because the hair is now engulfing the whole castle and bringing Elida down with it.

Thoughts

As with Old Greta, the witch is the helper. But the witch would have really been able to help Elida if she hadn’t been beyond helping. Growing her hair back was not enough to help Elida. She had grown so cruel and selfish that she was totally beyond redemption, and she was given a chance to redeem herself. Plus she reneged on her bargain with the witch, which was really asking for trouble. We can’t help but wonder if the witch caused Elida to forget to remove the headband in time and it was she who engineered her own death in the dungeons, rather than the cold.