Tag Archives: Devil

Misty Short Stories IX: Evil Objects

Girls’ comics have always abounded with stories about evil objects: artefacts, tools, jewellery, toys, dolls, clothes, books, mirrors, paintings etc. In many cases the object forces the girl to act nasty and do horrible things. Alternatively, the object forces her to act out of character, sometimes in a backhand humorous manner. In other cases the object causes mayhem, misery and chaos, which the protagonist often gets the blame for.

In our ninth instalment of Misty Short Stories, we turn to the theme of evil objects, and how Misty used the subject for her short stories.

1: Locked up for a Reason

The protagonists find an object that was locked away, hidden or disabled. They discover too late that it was locked away for a reason, often ignoring or forgetting warnings to leave it well alone. The evil is unleashed, usually causing mayhem, destruction or trying to trap the protagonist. Does the evil get destroyed or contained again, or is there no stopping it this time? In the examples below it’s usually the former, but not always.

Pot Luck

Misty: #57

Artist: John Richardson

Gloria is a regular visitor to Old Hazel, a woman shunned and called a witch by many. When Hazel dies, Gloria finds a beautiful cauldron in her chest and keeps it as a memento. Hazel appears in a dream and says the cauldron is evil and cursed; she could not destroy the curse, only hide the pot away. Gloria forgets the dream but is soon reminded of it when she cooks jam in the pot. She soon discovers that anything put in the pot turns into a vicious killing monster. Fortunately Gloria manages to destroy the jam monster. Gloria puts the pot in the loft, confident nothing will get in it. But she overlooked a gap in the roof above the cauldron. A snowflake enters the cauldron and next morning an ice monster is coming down from the loft.

The Secret of Lan-Shi

Misty: #6

Artist: John Richardson

Petra Harris buys her brother Paul a broken mechanical lion from a junk shop for his birthday. The store owner says Lan-Shi broke the mechanism to stop the lion from prowling. Paul also finds a note inside saying: “Beware the lion’s roar. His teeth are sharp.” Despite this, Paul gets it roaring and prowling again. But Petra finds the lion’s roars extremely loud and terrifying, and there are reports on the news about something attacking and killing animals. Then the lion goes for Petra herself – but something stops it dead in its tracks. They find a spider slipped inside the lion and its webbing gummed up the works. Petra says she will have the lion destroyed.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall…

Misty: #61

Artist: Ken Houghton

Sally and her family move into a new house. There is a locked room with a mirror inside and Sally has a bad feeling about it. It grows worse when her dog Toby dies while locked in that room, and it looks like he died in a terrible fight. Then Sally’s reflection in the mirror comes alive, grabs her, and tries to switch places with her, saying Toby’s reflection tried the same with him and Toby fought until he died. Sally manages to smash the mirror and escape, but does not think she will ever be able to look into a mirror again without wondering if that reflection is waiting.

Mask of Fear

Misty: #39

Artist: Jose Canovas

Sue is looking for a suitable mask to win first prize again at a Halloween costume party. When she and her mother have to go and look after their sick (but rude) Uncle Henry, she steals a key to his locked room. Sue is unnerved to find it filled with all sorts of creepy occult paraphernalia, but is thrilled to find a super-creepy mask, which is just what she is looking for. She dismisses the note attached to the mask, which says it was found in Tibet on a dying man and only Uncle Henry knows its “terrible secret”. The mask wins Sue first prize hands down. But when Sue tries to remove it, she finds she can’t; each time she tries, there is another, and another, and another. Recalling Uncle Henry’s note, she calls his house for help, only to learn he has died.

The Choice of Silence

Misty: #62

Artist: John Richardson

Amy has always been sad at being deaf. She visits an exhibition on ancient Egypt. The mummy of an evil sorcerer, Tut Ank Nohman, offers to give Amy the power of hearing in exchange for freeing him. Amy resists as she was warned he was evil, but eventually the temptation of being able to hear is too strong. Amy frees the mummy. But then she chooses public safety over being able to hear and throws a lantern at the mummy, destroying him. Amy goes back to being deaf, but now feels a sense of pride instead of sadness because of the sacrifice she made.

The Devil’s Pipe

Misty: #76

Artist: Isidre Mones

Debbie Sinden, while on holiday in Cornwall, learns the legend of wrecker Heggy Trevallen, who made a pact with the Devil for a pipe that had the power to conjure up storms. The Devil claimed the souls of Heggy and his fellow wreckers. Then Debbie finds an old pipe with metal detector and despite warnings it is the Devil’s pipe, she blows it. In the night she blows the pipe while in a hypnotic state, and it calls up the spirits of the wreckers. Cousin Liz, who has followed, grabs the pipe and throws it into the sea, stopping the menace.

The Devil’s Dummy

Misty: #69

Artist: Blas Gallego

Deirdre and Pam go to a ventriloquist’s (Golgo) show. Golgo is also a hypnotist, and Deidre is not amused afterwards to hear the hilarious things Golgo had her do while she was in a hypnotic state. Months later Golgo announces his retirement and buries the dummy, Montague. Deidre goes to dig up Montague in revenge and thinking there are valuables too; Pam has misgivings but tags along. Once unearthed, Montague shouts “Thief!” at them and grips Deidre’s hand, drawing blood. They escape but Pam goes back, where she meets Golgo. He tells her Montague is possessed by a vampire’s soul, which is why he buried him. When Pam finds Deidre, Deidre is in a strange hypnotic state and says she loves Montague and please bring him to her…

Hands of Nefri

Misty: #82

Artist: Ramon Escolano

Jodi’s dying grandfather tells her to return the gold-covered mummified hands of Nefri to her tomb in Egypt, saying there is a curse on them. But Jodi gets greedy and keeps them for herself, along with everything else she inherited from her grandfather. Jodi has terrible dreams of her uncle and aunt fading away, and when she wakes up, the gold casing has shattered and the mummified hands inside have vanished. Then she discovers where they are – in the place of her own hands. Outside, she can hear the mummy of Nefri coming for her hands…

2: The Collecting Machines

Machines/objects that collect people as you collect coins are really freaky, which naturally made them terrifying in horror stories. The most terrifying example Misty produced in this category has to be the typewriter in “Prize Possession”. This is not only because it throws a lot of scares into the protagonist before she disappears. It’s because the full extent of what the typewriter actually does is not actually shown and we do not see what happens to its victims, as we do with the other stories here.

The theme was probably at its best when the machine/object had a purpose in collecting people. In “Take the Money!” it was to trap the greedy. In “The Collector”, it’s because the post box has grown bored and miserable from long-standing disuse and neglect. Hmm, could we feel a pang of sympathy for the post box there? On the other hand, the postbox does look kind of like a Dalek in the story panel below.

The Collector

Misty: #68
Artist: Mario Capaldi

Reprint: Misty annual 1984

A crumbling, disused postbox has turned to collecting people, trapping them inside it, because it has grown bored and evil from neglect and doesn’t get letters anymore. It gets excited when it hears a new post office development is starting nearby and thinks happy days are here again. But instead the redevelopment demolishes the postbox. This releases its victims, who can’t really explain or remember what happened.

Take the Money!

Misty: #90

Artist: Jose Canovas

Two strangers offer Anna and her friend Mary a strange deal: press a button on a black box to kill an old Chinese lady who is in great pain, and they will receive a million pounds. Mary is repulsed and rejects the offer, but greed induces Anna to accept it, and she presses the button. That night, Anna finds her room filled with banknotes, but then she becomes trapped in the box, along with everyone else who pressed the button, including the Chinese lady. Everyone says they fell for the same line as Anna: press the button and receive a huge sum of money in exchange for putting someone out of pain and misery (actually, the sucker who pressed the button before them). When the next sucker presses the button they die and end up in the box before they can enjoy the money. Now some sucker in Japan has fallen for the same line and pressed the button to kill Anna.

Smile

Misty: #100

Artist: John Richardson

Gail buys a second-hand instant camera and uses it to take pictures at a party. But terror strikes when they discover that whatever – or whoever – the camera photographs will vanish. Fortunately Gail took note of how many shots the camera had left, so when she approaches it with a hammer to smash it, it desperately tries to “photograph” her, but she knows it is out of film. Once she destroys the camera, everything and everyone who had disappeared is restored.

Prize Possession

Misty: #19

Artist: Ken Houghton

In 1947, Annie West is given a typewriter for winning a school competition, but she discovers there is something sinister about it. It makes her type terrifying horror stories and creepy notes about the typewriter’s previous owners, whose names are engraved on the nameplate on side of the typewriter. Their figures appear in a mirror, trying to warn Annie of something. There is a scream, and when Annie’s parents come, they find she has vanished, leaving an unfinished typed message for help: “Father…help me…I am trapped in the”. Annie is never seen again. Her name is mysteriously added to the nameplate. In 1978, another girl acquires the typewriter and is surprised to find herself typing a creepy message about Annie West.

Closing Thoughts

Objects exerting evil influences over people and making them act bad/out of character are completely absent from this category (except for a hint in “The Devil’s Pipe”). This is a very curious omission on Misty’s part, considering how the theme appeared so frequently in girls’ comics. In fact, this is what girls comics used evil objects most frequently for. But only once did Misty use the theme of an evil object exerting an evil influence, and that was in her serial “Journey into Fear…”

Both Gypsy Rose (Jinty) and The Storyteller (June/Tammy) had their share of stories about evil objects exerting an evil influence over the protagonist. So why didn’t Misty do the same with her short stories? The evil objects in these stories are used to inflict mayhem and destruction, inflict comeuppances, or make people disappear. Was it some preference on Misty’s part or was it a side effect of her huge emphasis on comeuppance stories?

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.