Tag Archives: Deception

Sister in Secret

Plot

In a desperate attempt to obtain a better life for her delicate younger brother, Johnny,  Betsy Smith, a Victorian waif, convinced Sir Charles and Lady Ashleigh that he was their long lost grandson. To reward her they gave her employment as a kitchen maid, but Mrs Barton the bullying housekeeper had taken a dislike to her.

Notes

  • Artist: Carlos Freixas

Appeared

  • Sister in Secret – Tracy: #226 (28 January 1984) – #235 (31 March 1984)

Fay’s Forgotten Years

Plot

Fay Jones had always taken second place to her talented sister, Pat. One day, Fay fell knocked her head and lost her memory. It soon returned, but when she realised she was getting all the family’s attention for a change, Fay decided to pretend she still remembered nothing.

Notes

Appeared

  • Fay’s Forgotten Years Tracy: #183 (2 April 1983) – #190 (21 May 1983)

Ashamed of Her Mum [1986]

Published: Debbie PSL #100

Reprint: Bunty PSL #418 as “Trapped!”

Artists: Norman Lee (cover); Ron Lumsden (story)

Writer: Unknown

Plot

Thirteen-year-old Meg Ferns and her widowed mother have just moved to Redport. At her new school, Meg is impressed with the looks of Arlene Ainsley and her gang and wants to be friends with them. But when she tries, she finds out they are snobs and they don’t think she’s good enough for them.

Moira Samson does offer to be friends with Meg, but Meg declines as she still wants to get in with the Ainsley gang and they wouldn’t like Moira, whose background is not good enough for them either. When Meg sees Arlene’s glamorous mother she wishes her mother were like that instead of being in a factory job and doing nothing but housework when she comes home.

In town, Meg sees a glamorous model at a shoot and learns her name is Lillian Ferns – the same surname as hers. She thinks it would be so marvellous if Lillian were her mother. The snobs come along, talking about the same model. Before she knows what she is saying, Meg brags to them that the model is her mother. The snobs fall for it – except one, Priscilla. The other snobs are all over Meg now, but Priscilla means to investigate Meg’s claims.

So the double life of deception and its complications begin for Meg. And although she does not know it (yet) she has the added handicap of one girl being on to her from the start and determined to catch her out. Priscilla starts by checking out Lillian’s address (and Meg realises that’s more than she did) and having Meg invite them over to her “mum’s” house. At the house she convinces them that “Mum’s” not in, but she sees Priscilla hanging around to see if she does enter the house and realises Priscilla is suspicious. Seeing a key in the door, Meg takes advantage to enter the house, pretend she’s coming home, and hopefully throw Priscilla off the scent.

At this point Lillian catches Meg. Meg blurts out the whole story. Realising how desperate Meg is to keep those snobs from finding out, Lillian proceeds to take full advantage. She agrees to help with the pretence – on one condition. As Lillian has no housekeeper at the moment, Meg is to become her housekeeping slave, and without one penny in payment. It also means getting up extra early, dashing twelve miles to serve breakfast and back to school, back again at four for chores, back at any time Lillian wants her, do any catering she wants, etc, etc, … otherwise, she will tell those snobs the truth. And there is a verbal earbashing whenever Meg doesn’t do the job right. Er, what was that you said about it being so marvellous if Lillian were your Mum, Meg?

Of course this is soon causing difficulties, such as Meg getting lines for being late for school. But Meg is gaining in confidence because she is getting it so good for the Arlene gang and thinks she is real friends with them now. She throws a scare into Priscilla to hopefully throw her off, but Priscilla only pretends that it worked. Moira also warns Meg to be careful about getting on the wrong side of that snobby lot, but Meg doesn’t listen.

As Lillian has given Meg her house key for the chores, Meg has full access to the house to show it off to the snobs while Lillian is out. They lap up all the luxuries it offers. Priscilla takes advantage to do some snooping. As she suspected, she finds no photographs of Meg in the house or any bedroom that looks like hers. She also helps herself to the food Lillian laid out for the party she is going to hold that night. When Lillian finds out about the food, she is absolutely furious with Meg.

At the party Meg has to do all the waitressing. Ironically, one guest, Mr Tolman, comments that she looks photogenic and should consider modelling herself. Meg also spots Priscilla spying outside and rushes to close the curtains in an awful hurry. The trouble is, Lillian pulls them in the opposite direction, which causes the whole thing to come crashing down. Lillian really blows her top at Meg because she wanted to impress Mr Tolman as he owns the advertising company she wants to work for. Meg is also worried about what Priscilla will say the following day.

Next day at school, Priscilla laughs at Meg for dressing as a waitress and “curtain calls”. Meg manages to pass off the waitressing as a punishment for the food Priscilla scoffed, and kindly stop snooping. This makes Priscilla unpopular with the other snobs and Meg thinks she is now safe from her. Meg’s an even bigger hero than ever with them now, especially with Arlene. It now looks like all that slaving for Lillian is worthwhile. However, Priscilla is not only still suspicious but also upset that Meg has pushed her out and wants revenge.

Meg has another close call when Mum waves to her across the street and the Arlene gang comment on how common she looks. They buy Meg’s cover story that she’s the cleaning lady – except Priscilla, who notices that “the char” bears a strong resemblance to Meg and begins to put two and two together.

The same incident has Meg beginning to feel ashamed of the way she is treating her mother because of this deception. For the same reason she begins to get closer to Moira. But the gang warn Meg they will no longer be friends with her if she continues with “peasants” like Moira. At this, Meg realises how wrong she had been to bother with those snobs at all.

So Meg decides to end her deception, starting with revenge on Lillian. Meg tells Lillian she’s had enough of her and then heaves a bucket of dirty scrubbing water all over her. She hears with great satisfaction that she has ruined Lillian’s new Paris outfit, and then walks out.

Next day at school, Meg finds out she ended her deception at just the right time – the game is up anyway. Priscilla snooped into the school records, found Meg’s real address and her mother’s occupation, and has now informed the others. They are ready to confront her, but Meg stands up to them. Moira sees the commotion and rouses a prefect, who tells the snobs to clear off. Meg explains how it was really her fault to start with, but what makes her really ashamed over it all was how she let her mother down. The prefect tells Meg not to worry about that; she’s learned her lesson. Moira’s offer for friendship is still open, and this time Meg accepts.

Remembering how photogenic Meg looked, Mr Tolman tracks her down and gives her a job in TV adverts. Everyone is pleased for Meg – except for certain snobs who are green with envy.

Thoughts

There have been plenty of stories where protagonists run a double life, pretending their backgrounds are grander than they really are, all because of a bunch of snobs. Inevitably the deception gets complicated and there is no way they can keep it up indefinitely. The question is what will happen when the inevitable does happen. “Pop Starr” from Bunty is one example.

It’s unusual to have one girl suspicious of the deception from the start. Usually in these types of stories someone grows suspicious over time. That or the protagonist just gets caught right out. Perhaps it was the 62-page limit, which did not allow for one of the snobs to become suspicious over time. However, it does make the story even more exciting and different, having someone onto the protagonist from the very start. And Meg is quick to realise Priscilla suspects her, which sets a very exciting premise for keeping one step ahead. Meg soon proves she can do it very aptly, and is very deft at thinking quickly to get out things if those snobs get too close and foiling Priscilla’s attempts to catch her out. Unfortunately for Meg, she cannot get Priscilla off her back entirely, especially when Priscilla gets vengeful.

This deception story has the Cinderella and blackmail themes thrown into the mix as well, which makes it even more striking and interesting than a mere string of lies, close calls and complications as the deception snowballs and the protagonist falls deeper and deeper into a sticky web of deceit. The true real-life personality of the glamorous model Lillian Ferns is there to teach Meg to appreciate what she’s got in her own mother and being rich and famous does not necessarily mean an improvement. The lesson is slow in coming, though. It takes Meg’s treatment of her mother as part of her deception to make the lesson sink in.

There are always prices the protagonist has to pay while carrying out her deception. Meg’s biggest one is becoming an unpaid slave to Lillian Ferns. Lillian Ferns comes from another popular theme in girls’ comics: a famous celebrity who is in fact a nasty piece of work in real life. “Aunt Aggie” (Tammy) and “Everyone’s Perfect Mum” (Mandy) are other examples. Not to mention using blackmail to turn the protagonist into their slave, and there are countless examples of that in girls’ comics. It is obvious that Lillian’s treatment of Meg stems from her being tight-fisted, not to mention being a bully and bad employer. She can well afford a housekeeper instead of using Meg as unpaid help, and pay Meg well for what she’s doing. But she does neither. We bet the reason Lillian doesn’t have a housekeeper is that the last one quit because Lillian was just as horrible to her. It would not be surprising if quite a few housekeepers had quit Lillian’s employment already and she’s now on a number of blacklists at employment agencies. With any luck the real-life Lillian will be found out and it won’t just be her new outfit that gets ruined. Lillian’s treatment of Meg has already ruined her chances with Mr Tolman and even got the job in Lillian’s place. Lillian will be absolutely fuming when she finds out. And the irony is, it’s all her own fault because of the way she treated Meg.

There are a few ironies too, in the way Meg develops through her deception. For example, Meg becomes accepted by the snob gang she finds her confidence growing, but in the wrong way. Her true confidence comes when she decides she’s had enough of Lillian and stands up to her. And heaving that bucket of water in Lillian’s face is absolutely priceless! We don’t often see protagonists in blackmail stories turning around and getting their own back on their blackmailers, so we just love seeing it here. Meg also develops quick wits and thinking on her feet in the way she can pull herself out of those sticky situations she get herself into.

We reckon that if the snobs had not found Meg out she would have told them anyway, and tell them to sod their stuck-up ways too. Which is of course what she should have done in the first place when the Arlene gang turned her down because they were so stuck up. But instead she wants to continue pursuing them despite their snobby rudeness to her. Even then she can see there is a good friend waiting in Moira, but keeps throwing it away because she is wasting time and energy trying to get in good with those snobs.

Silver linings do come out of the clouds in this story. As well as becoming more mature, confident and learning what true friends are made of, Meg also gets a glamorous job and possible future career out of it all. So life will become a lot better for Meg and her mother. And we can just see Lillian’s face when she finds out about Meg’s job.

The Secret Skater of St. Kit’s [1987]

 

Christmas and the winter season are coming. So here is a Mandy picture story library with a winter setting and plenty of snow, skating, toboggans, skiing and snowmen (but regrettably, no Christmas).

Published: Mandy Picture Story Library #116

Artist: cover – unknown; story – Ana Rodriguez

Writer: Unknown

Plot

A heavy spell of snow has brought out the winter sports at St Catherine’s (boarding) School for Girls (St Kit’s for short) of Harbury. Among the winter sports players is Kerry Richards, a promising skater whose mother was an amateur champion. Kerry’s talent is spotted and she is advised to enter the skating contest at the Winter Garden in town.

Unfortunately, the headmistress puts the town out of bounds to all junior school after the unpleasant Hilda Stark and her gang go there without permission, which is the latest in a series of abusing town privileges. There will be no exceptions, she says, so it looks like Kerry is out of the contest. However, Kerry’s friend Maureen Tait comes up with the idea of Kerry donning a disguise and using a false name, Sonia Dalton, in order to enter the contest in secret. Under the guise of Sonia Dalton, Kerry is soon soaring high in the contest heats. But if she is discovered she will be expelled for breaking bounds.

Moreover, they have to constantly find dodges to get past Hilda as much as the school authorities in order to get to the contest and back. From the beginning Hilda suspects something is going on here, and as she is jealous of Kerry she is determined to get to the bottom of it. There are some hijinks as they strive to stay one head of her, such as Kerry skiing while disguised as a snowman. However, Hilda is too sharp and soon suspects a link between Kerry and Sonia. This mysterious skater, Sonia Dalton is also raising intrigue and suspicion from others, including the press. They comment on how secretive she seems to be, which draws even more attention to Kerry that jeopardises her secret.

By the time Kerry has made it to the semi-final, Hilda has completely discovered her secret. But she has to prove it. She lets Kerry and Maureen think she has given up the ghost while she tries to decide what to do next. On the day of the semi-final, Hilda sees Kerry sneak off to the contest. While Kerry skates so brilliantly she makes it to the finals, Hilda goes to the headmistress about it. The headmistress is unavailable, so she reports the matter to a prefect, Deacon.

Deacon sets off on skis to check the matter out, but when she tries to catch up with Kerry she has a bad accident. Kerry cannot leave her, and the school has brought out search parties for them as they have both been reported missing. Eventually an injured Deacon is brought in on a toboggan with Kerry’s help.

Kerry and Maureen have now been found out, of course. They are on tenterhooks while the school decides what to do with them. Complicating things is that the press have gotten hold of Kerry’s secret as well, and it’s made a news sensation. Fortunately the school governors take it all in good part and are quite pleased with the publicity for the school too. Going back for Deacon also counts in Kerry’s favour. So in the end they let Kerry and Maureen off the hook. But the headmistress says that Kerry better win the contest or she might reconsider.

Kerry is still wearing the disguise as she skates in the finals. Nobody says anything about her entering under false pretences (maybe they decided to overlook it considering the circumstances?). The whole school is allowed to come and cheer her on. Even Hilda applauds when Kerry wins the contest, as she has admitted defeat.

Thoughts

The enchanting winter setting and the beautiful skating rendered by Ana Rodriguez add to the charm of the picture library. The story itself follows the common format of a girl trying to compete in a contest against obstacles of some sort (cruel guardians, jealous rivals etc). In this case it is being forced to break bounds after the school issues the harsh ban on town visits, and she risks expulsion if discovered. Added to that, Kerry is up against the jealous Hilda who is responsible for that ban in the first place and is now out to destroy her with it. We are not sure if Kerry is going to get away with it, especially as she does not even realise how close Hilda is on her the whole time. Hilda is way too clever to be thrown off the scent and Kerry and Maureen’s efforts to fool her only serve to reinforce her suspicions. Hilda’s motive for destroying Kerry is that she is simply jealous of her talent. Hilda does not have any of her own and therefore can hardly a serious skating rival, which must add to her jealousy. It is to Hilda’s credit, though, that she accepts defeat gracefully: “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!”

In the end it comes down to the old format of extenuating circumstances (rescuing the prefect). Plus the school would not want egg on their faces once the press get hold of the story. After all, it would look very bad for them if they did expel Kerry. We really laud the school governors for taking it in good part and looking on it all as pluck and good publicity for the school. One gets the suspicion that the governors are taking it better than the headmistress is.

Ironically, the double life and the publicity generated once it is discovered would really catapult Kerry’s career as a skater far more than if she had simply competed in the contest and won. There is nothing like a huge sensation to jump-start your career.

 

Selfish Susan [1991]

Published: Mandy: #1261 (16 March 1991) – #1269 (11 May 1991) (final issue)

Episodes: 9

Artist: Dudley Wynne

Writer: Unknown

Reprints: None known

Plot

Susan Smith is a selfish girl. Not surprisingly, she is not popular at school. Then Susan contracts an illness that leaves her temporarily deaf. All of a sudden, Susan enjoys a swell in popularity because the girls are sympathetic and make a big fuss over her and give her treats. The school staff also give Susan special privileges and allowances because of her deafness, and her parents spoil her too. Susan loves every minute of it, so when her hearing returns she keeps it a secret so she can continue with the gains she’s made and take advantage of everyone.

Being able to hear in secret also enables Susan to pull tricks to get extras she wants, and she does not care if it hurts someone. For example, she wants a tape recorder (easier to switch off her music quickly with when someone approaches), but not just any tape recorder. She wants the most expensive one in the catalogue. When her parents say they can’t afford it, Susan pulls at their heartstrings and sympathy until they give in and buy it for her. She has no thought whatsoever about how hard financially it must have been on them. In another episode Susan wants to go on a school trip, but all the places are filled. So she gets the girl on the list ahead of her into trouble with a teacher so the girl gets crossed off the list. The poor girl’s in tears, but all Susan cares about is being on the trip after all.

Susan’s thinking resembles that of a spoiled brat. When it looks like she is not going to get her own way she thinks, “Oh, it’s not fair!” She thinks this so much it could be her tagline.

Then new girl Sonia arrives. Sonia has had the same illness, which diverts some of the big fuss over Susan away from her. Susan feels threatened by Sonia, especially where Sonia’s suggestions threaten to cramp her privileges at school, such as being excused note-taking in class and copying the notes off the girls later. However, Sonia suggests something she did when she did when she was deaf: tape-record the lessons and have her parents recite them to her later so she can lip-read from them. Susan, who never got the hang of lip-reading like Sonia and prefers to crib notes off the girls, has the tape-recorder cause such a nuisance in class that Sonia gets into trouble because of it. And so it becomes one of the dirty tricks Susan has been pulling on Sonia to make her unpopular and neutralise the threat she poses.

However, Susan’s lack of ability with lip-reading becomes the beginning of the end for her. During another lesson Sonia realises Susan can’t lip-read at all. Therefore she can’t be reading her classmates’ lips, so how come she understands them? It is then that Sonia begins to suspect the truth. But when she tackles Susan, Susan deals with her by feigning the waterworks. As planned, this turns the other girls against Sonia.

Sonia has her suspicions about Susan, though. While they are working in the school stockroom, Sonia pulls a trick to test her suspicions. Susan manages to wriggle her way out of that trick. But then there is a fire in the school and Sonia realises Susan can hear what’s going on all right. However, proving that Susan can hear is not that easy. Once they pupils evacuate from the school and get sent home because of the fire, Susan really pulls at the girls’ sympathy to forestall any attempt Sonia makes to convince them of her discovery. It works, and Susan is confident that Sonia will now give up.

But Susan is wrong. When the girls go to the park, Sonia makes one more attempt to catch Susan out, with a phoney “wet paint” warning. This time, she succeeds. Susan’s initial reaction is to arrogantly say what fools she’s made of them, how it’s been great fun, and she’s come out the winner. This just fuels the girls’ indignation at how Susan took advantage of them and they stalk off, saying they won’t have anything to do with her again. This has Susan realising she is not such a winner because there are going to be no more of the friendships, special privileges etc that she had enjoyed so much; “Oh, it’s not fair!” And she soon finds she is definitely not the winner because nobody ever trusts her again.

Thoughts

This was one of Mandy’s very last stories. It has the distinction of being the last-ever story Dudley Wynne drew for Mandy before she was cancelled. It is a somewhat cruel irony that this story was running cheek-by-jowl with a reprint of another Dudley Wynne Mandy story, “Angel”, because Angel is everything that the scheming Susan is not. It was also the last in Mandy’s long line of stories where a schemer fakes disability.

Stories where girls fake disability were a common staple in girls’ comics. Usually this was to take advantage of people as Susan did, but there have been other motives such as revenge, being blackmailed, or misguided bids to keep the family together. It was more frequent for them to fake blindness, lameness or paralysis rather than deafness, but feigned deafness has appeared elsewhere too, such as Tracy’s “Sheila the Sham”.

Deafness must have been a more difficult disability to fake, though. Imagine if there was a sudden, unbearable noise right in your ear! Faking deafness also means Susan has to miss out on some things such as not being able to laugh at a hilarious television show and the gossip she used to enjoy so much while she could hear. It also leads to difficulties such as Susan having to play her pop music in secret.

Susan isn’t as evil or despicable as some schemers such as Bettina / Linda from “The Dark Secret of Blind Bettina” aka “The Lying Eyes of Linda Lee”. Still, Susan is not a sympathetic character, even when she is genuinely deaf, and she remains unsympathetic throughout. The parents and schoolmates all sympathise with her, but we don’t when we see how opportunistic Susan is being about the big fuss over her. The deafness has done nothing to humble Susan or help cure her of her selfish nature. Instead, it’s made her even more selfish once she realises the advantages she is gaining from it, which far outweigh the disadvantages. She has no remorse or compunction about how she takes advantage of everyone and is not at all grateful for the extra-nice things they do for her. There are no second thoughts or twinges of guilt when she hurts others just to get what she wants. There is no quitting while she’s ahead, but these schemers in girls’ comics never do. She isn’t at all remorseful either when she is finally caught out. It’s just bitterness, horror, and thinking “Oh, it’s not fair!” The final page does not say whether the ensuing ostracism and distrust once Susan is caught out did change her for the better or just reinforced her “Oh, it’s not fair!” thinking. It’s all left to our imaginations. As it is, Susan remaining totally selfish throughout the story is realistic and believable, if regrettable.

It is fitting that the one to catch Susan out is one who had the same illness, which gave her the insight to see through Susan. Sonia is also a contrast to Susan in how she dealt with her illness. While Susan used it to take advantage of people, Sonia took the opportunity to learn and grow from it, such as learning to lip-read.

Some endings to serials can be rushed and crammed at times. So it is good to see the ending built up over a three-episode story arc instead of one episode. The final episodes of “Selfish Susan” do give the impression that Mandy was finishing off the story quickly because of the merger; the penultimate episode is a six-pager and the final one a four-pager, while Mandy’s usual format was three-page episodes. Still, readers always loved extra story spreads.

I’ll Only Walk Alone! [1980]

Plot

Jenny Brent is recovering the use of her legs after a car crash. Then she overhears her father making a phone call to an unknown woman named Daphne that he will join her once Jenny recovers. To keep her father at home, Jenny decides to pretend she is still disabled.

The family find Jenny out when a runaway pram rolls down into the sea and she has to get out of her wheelchair in order to rescue the baby. Dad demands to know how long Jenny has been deceiving her family and why. When Jenny says it was because of Daphne, Dad tells her she jumped to the wrong conclusion; the phone call was about a job offer and Daphne was his employer’s wife.

Notes

  • “The Living Lie of Linda” in Mandy annual 1981 had the same plot.

Appeared

  • I’ll Only Walk Alone! – Tracy: #24 (15 March 1980) – #34 (24 May 1980)

 

They Call her Tuesday Twelfth [1980]

Plot

Kathy Gregg lives a hard life slaving for her uncaring aunt and uncle in their cafe. They head off to Spain on a high-paying job, leaving Kathy to fend for herself with no money or food. While trying to think what to do, Kathy has a road accident. Her dazed state has everyone think she has lost her memory and they call her “Tuesday Twelfth” in lieu of a name, after the date of the accident. Kathy ends up in a home, and decides to go on pretending to be amnesiac for as long as she can so as not to go back to her old life.

Tuesday

Notes

Appeared

  • They Call Her Tuesday Twelfth – Tracy: #47 (August 23 1980) – #57 (2 October 1982)

Deceived! (1995)

Deceived logo

Published: M&J #233 (28 October 1995) – #240 (16 December 1995)

Artist: J. Badesa

Plot

Amy Davis and Diane Carlton are best friends. Amy has a boyfriend called Gary. Diane has always fancied Gary too because she thinks he looks really nice. One day Amy and her family go away for a while because grandmother is ill. Amy asks Diane to deliver a message that she cannot meet Gary for their date that night because of this. Diane goes to tell Gary, while wishing it was a date with him instead. But it’s a dream come true for Diane when Gary offers to take her to the disco in Amy’s place, so as not to waste the tickets. Afterwards, she takes Gary for a treat in return.

Deceived 1

Okay, so that’s innocent and reasonable enough – but then it leads to things that aren’t. Now Gary tells Diane he has gotten to like her and wants to go out with her properly. Diane is horrified because he is currently Amy’s boyfriend, and she does not want to hurt her best friend. But Gary gets around her with that nice smile of his, which she can’t say “no” to. She agrees to it, so long as Amy never gets hurt. Gary says Amy won’t get hurt because he will not dump her so he can go out with Diane freely; rather, he will carry on with Amy to keep her happy. In other words, he will two-time Amy by going out with her best friend behind her back. Diane knows it’s wrong, but she can’t help herself because “Gary’s just so nice!” (hmm, would a really nice boy suggest a thing like that?).

So while Amy is away, Diane goes out with Gary. Predictably, she gets herself more and more entangled in a horrible two-timing trap and webs of deceit and dishonesty towards her best friend. She cannot escape her guilty conscience, and there are constant reminders about the wrongs of what she is doing. For example, Diane finds an old toy that was a present from Amy for her 10th birthday, and it was at that time that they swore to remain best friends forever. This makes Diane feel so guilty that she stands Gary up. Diane’s sister Marcie also gives her a hard time when she finds out (their parents don’t know).

And of course there is the constant fear of being found out; she knows Amy would never forgive her. Marcie knows and makes her disapproval clear, but she does not sneak. However, Diane has several close calls when seen with Gary, but fortunately for her she can explain them away.

Deceived 2

However, stopping it is not easy. Several times Diane resolves to stop seeing Gary because it isn’t right while he is Amy’s boyfriend. But Gary always sweet talks her into continuing. Or something else occurs that stops Diane from speaking to Gary. Eventually, Gary suggests another way out of the mess: he will dump Amy and then he and Diane go out freely once Amy gets over it.

Then Amy returns early, and all of a sudden Gary says he cannot dump her. Amy is grieving because her grandmother died, and Diane assumes this is the reason Gary refused to dump Amy.

Deceived 3

Amy goes away again, for the funeral. Diane resolves that this time she will not go out with Gary until he has finished with Amy. But Gary works his way around Diane again; she agrees to go out with him while Amy is absent, and he will finish with Amy upon her return so they can date freely.

However, while Diane is at Gary’s house, Amy phones him. Gary gets rid of her quickly, but Diane gets pangs of guilt and leaves, and decides not to go out with him again while Amy is away. But then Amy phones Diane, saying she suspects that Gary is two-timing her after she phoned him earlier. She asks Diane to keep an eye on Gary. So Diane decides she might as well carry on with Gary after all. She also informs Gary of what Amy suspects and instructed her to do.

Deceived 4

Gary now dumps Amy. She is devastated of course, and she suspects it is because he is seeing another girl. Gary is now a free man, but Diane tells him to allow some time before they start dating freely. But she can’t resist phoning him, and he agrees to meet her in the coffee bar after seeing his mates.

Next day, Amy tells Diane that she saw Gary with another girl last night. Thinking Amy means her and Gary, Diane panics and blurts out an apology over what she did – which reveals her transgression! But it was not Diane that Amy saw with Gary – it was Tracey in the bowling alley, when Gary was seeing his ‘mates’. Diane now realises Gary has two-timed her as well!

But this does not make Amy forgive Diane. No, they are not “in the same boat” – Diane (and Tracey) had only been deceived by Gary; she, Amy, had been deceived by them both. Ah, so Diane could not help herself because Gary was so nice? It doesn’t sound like she tried. Diane loses her best friend forever, and knows she only has herself to blame.

Thoughts

There must have been a lot of readers wincing when they read this story; so many of them would have encountered a similar situation one way or other, or read about one in an agony aunt column or real-life story in a teen magazine. I myself once read a real-life story in a magazine where the correspondent did exactly the same thing as Diane and ended up the same way. Readers must have been screaming at Diane not to date her best friend’s boyfriend and, once things got sticky for Diane, to get the hell out of there before it’s too late. No doubt they would have followed the story in the hope that Diane would see the light and stop what she is doing in the nick of time.

Deceived 5

From the start there are warning signs about Gary. To begin with, asking Diane to go out with him while he is already going out with her best friend is despicable. He does not express any guilt over it either, nor does he respect Diane’s bad feelings about going through with it. That nice smile and smooth talk of his that keep getting around Diane are ominous signs of a master manipulator. Diane thinks he is so nice, but does not stop to think that a really nice boy would never do a thing like that to his girlfriend. It does not help that she has always fancied Gary herself; no doubt it would have been a factor in her not trying hard enough to say no to Gary. It is no surprise at all that Gary two-times Diane as well; all the red flags have been there that Gary is a creep and a love rat in the making. He probably makes a regular habit of stringing several girls along at once.

Deceived 6

The ending is strong and realistic. There are no deux ex machina resolutions that extricate Diane from the whole ghastly mess she has gotten herself into without losing Amy’s friendship and give her a happy ending to her story. It could have ended with Diane finding out about the two-timing herself, chucking Gary, and she carries on with Amy. It could have ended with Diane finally putting her foot down with Gary. Or it could have ended with Diane falling for another boy and dumping Gary to go out with him instead. But it does nothing of the sort.

Diane does not get away with it, nor does she receive the glib forgiveness that so many serials have ended with. Nor does she get out of the situation with her friend never finding out and they carry on being best friends. No, the friend finds out and is so hurt and betrayed that she never wants to see her again – just as it would have been (and is) in real life. This is what makes the story so effective, and a sterling warning to any readers who might be tempted to go out with their best friend’s boyfriend.

Angela Black – She’s No Angel!

Plot

After a fall, orphan  Angela Black seemed to lose the use of her legs. Even doctors and specialists were fooled by Angela, who had discovered that being “cripple” had advantages. Now, she had been given a home with the young film star, Karen Sands, and had managed to wangle a small film part for herself.

angela black

Notes

Appeared

  • Angela Black – She’s No Angel! – Debbie: #86 (5 Oct 1974) – #97 (21 Dec 1974)

Amber All-Alone

Plot

Amber Taylor is all alone after her best friend moves away. Then her classmates mistakenly think her family has won the pools when they move to a bigger house, which is in fact due to Dad’s promotion. Amber finds herself the centre of attention and is taking advantage of it.

amber all alone

Notes

  • Artist: Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)

Appeared

  • Amber All-Alone –  Bunty: #1988 (17 February 1996) – (?)