Tag Archives: disability

The Hateful Heart of Limp-Along Lindy

Plot

Lindy Farrar’s  family were all  sympathetic to her, because of a leg injury from road accident. Her cousin Marion Waddell, was especially kind to her. What they didn’t know  was that swimming therapy had cured her limp  but she still pretended to have it so she could give herself unfair advantage over kind hearted Marion.

Notes

Appeared

  • The Hateful Heart of Limp-Along Lindy – Tracy: #233 (17 March 1984) – #238 (21 April 1984)

The Blind Ballerina [1963]

  • The Blind Ballerina – Judy:  #187 (10 August 1963) – #202 (23 November 1963)
  • Reprinted – Judy:  #786 (01 February 1975) – #801 (17 May 1975)
  • Reprinted – Judy:  #1064 (31 May 1981) – #1079 (13 September 1981)
  • Reprinted (as Judy classic) – M&J: #103 (1 May 1993) – #118 (14 August 1993)
  • Artist: Paddy Brennan

Plot:

Carol Scott, a promising young dancer, gets a prominent role in a ballet “The Enchanted King” produced by the Del Solta Ballet Company. Her friend Alison Taylor, has a smaller part in the production. On opening night, tragedy strikes when a chandelier breaks loose and injures Carol. She is heartbroken when the accident leaves her blind but Alison, is determined to help Carol dance again — even if it means giving up her own chance in ballet.  When the Del Solta Ballet Company are to go on tour, Alison chooses to leave the company, so she can stay with Carol.  She gets a job in a coffee shop and finds herself and Carol lodgings. Carol is still despondent after the accident, so Alison knows she must soon put her plan in action, to get Carol dancing again.  By volunteering to give ballet lessons at  a youth club she is given permission to use the hall when it is free. After a first failed attempt of blocking out the stage in boxes and trying to get Carol to memorize the steps, Alison get the better idea to make the markings in tape and have Carol dance barefoot so she can feel the stage, this is more successful.

Carol soon gains confidence and can can dance without the tape aids. When a chance arises with a small ballet company, the Beaumont Ballet Company, the girls plan for Carol to audition before revealing her sight loss.  As the stage will be a different size to what they have practiced on,  they have to sneak in to practice before the audition.Unknown to them, a reporter, Peter Gough, sees them practicing and wants to investigate further and find out what their secret is. At the audition Carol succeeds in getting the soloist part, with no one suspecting her disability. Another ballerina, Freda Winters, is not happy as she wanted her friend, Gladys Payne, to get the part. There is more trouble brewing, as Peter is reporting on the audition and he notices Carol doesn’t blink at bright flash of a camera and he figures out she is blind. This is a big story for him and Carol’s secret makes  the front page of the newspaper the next day. Simon Sands, the company manager, calls Carol in and tells her he will have to let her go as the company can’t afford a flop. But his mind is quickly changed when a large queue forms to see the show with the blind ballerina. Everyone helps out with Carol and the show is a great success, but not everything is rosy as now Carol  has a secret enemy in Freda.

At a very important show, Freda sets out to make a fool of Carol by standing out of place. Luckily Carol hears her new position, due to a creak on the floor and is able to adjust accordingly. Freda gets a talking to by Madame Richter, but nobody suspects it was anything other than an accident. Next, Mr Sands has big news about their next production “The Peasant Prince”, an American film maker will be coming to watch and may include the ballet in his film about British life, which would be great publicity for the small company. He tells only Carol and Alison about this and he wants to keep it quiet, so he is not happy with the news is leaked. He blames, Carol and Alison, when in fact Freda is at fault as she had overheard their conversation and made an anonymous call to reporter. Alison find out when the call was made and luckily her and Carol are cleared as they have an alibi for that time. The leak turns out to be in their favour when Olga Merrova, a prima ballerina that had danced Carol’s part in “The Peasant Prince”, is touched by the story of the blind ballerina and comes to help.

After this, Jack Weston, the American film maker wants to film the company and takes them to big house in the country where he is staying. In one room all his film is left hanging, where nobody is allowed enter.. Freda tricks Carol taking down the sign, so she can’t feel it but once inside Carol notices her mistake and knows she’ll have to move very carefully to avoid damaging the film. Then she notices a leak and ends up saving the film from more damage. Freda knows that Gladys caused the leak by leaving the taps on and while Gladys has not stopped Freda’s tricks before this, now Freda uses this to blackmail her into being more active in getting rid of Carol. Freda tries to change tactics and become friendly with Carol, so she can spot opportunities to get rid of her. On a warm day she suggests they have lunch on the roof and then has Gladys call Alison away. She then leaves the fire escape gate open and pretends to tie her shoe lace, with the intention that Carol will fall down the steps, which she would have done if not for Alison returning just in time. Her next trick can’t be passed off as an accident, as pretending to be Alison she does Carol’s makeup for a serious production, making her a clown. Again luckily Alison finds her and fixes her makeup in time, but now they both know, Carol has a secret enemy and they have a clue as Freda was wearing a strong perfume. After tracking down the perfume brand, they cleverly figure out it is Freda. Carol thinks back on the other incidents and realises what she thought were accidents, were actually planned.

They need evidence to bring to Mr Sands, in the meantime Carol’s confidence is shaken as she can’t trust Freda and still has to work with her. Soon after Freda ends up outing herself, after another trick she plays.  After locking Carol in her dressing room, Carol accidentally brushes against electric fire, setting her costume on fire. Everyone rushes to help, after hearing her shouts for help and Mr Sands finds a flower from Freda’s costume in the room. Confronted Freda admits locking but denies having anything to do with the fire. She is of course dismissed from the production but that is not the end, as now she’s even more determined to get back at Carol. Gladys is still friendly with Freda and let’s her know what is going on in the production, including Carol taking over Freda’s part. Freda wants Gladys to give her access to backstage but she is reluctant to be involved in the vendetta she only agrees after Freda blackmails her. Freda loosens a platform that Carol has to leap from, causing her to fall on opening night, but it has an unexpected side affect of bringing back her sight. While this is wonderful news for Carol, it does leave Alison wondering what her place is, she was never as good a dancer as Carol and without practice all her work is lost. Meanwhile Mr Sands has been investigating what happened to the platform and Gladys confesses and apologies to Carol for her part in it. After this Carol finally gets Alison to confess her unhappiness, but it turns out Mr Sands does still have a part for her in company. All her work with Carol has led her to become a good choreographer and arranger, so they both can stay with the company and embark on their new ballet careers.

Thoughts

The Blind Ballerina‘s popularity probably led to the many stories with girls facing similar obstacles. It is a set -up that is ripe for drama, as an underdog story, a girl pursuing what she loves and not letting her disability stop her from succeeding, not to mention other obstacles such as jealous rivals or prejudiced people.  Jinty had it’s own “Blind Ballerina” story, but there were also blind girls wanting to compete in ice-skating, running and tennis such as in “The Courage of  Wendy Evans” (Diana), “Running Blind” (Tracy), and “Becky Never Saw the Ball” (Tammy) and there were many other similar stories with other disabilities. While the premise might seem unbelievable, The Blind Ballerina is well plotted and the inventive ways Carol learns to dance in this new situation is inspiring, as are those who support her. We want to see Carol succeed and are happy when she does, so it’s pity the positivity of that message is a bit undermined when Carol gets her sight back (after a convenient bump to the head, cure of all illnesses in  these comics!). It seems the only way she could be truly successful, is for her to get her sight back and yes, realistically her dancing would be limited if she stayed blind but as the story  had already showed, she could still have success and happiness, with the support of those around her. Still the reader would be glad that Carol (and Alison) got a happy ending.

While Carol is the” blind ballerina” of the title, there are really two protagonists in this story and Alison is actually the more active character at times, particularly at the start of the story. She is the one to take the initiative to get Carol dancing again and coming up with solutions to make it work. There is sort of parallel between there stories, as Carol believes after the accident she will never dance again until Alison helps her, then when Carol gets her sight back it seems Alison won’t be able to have a dancing career. It is quite devastating blow for Alison as she has sacrificed so much for Carol, and she is realistically upset that it has left her with no future. Luckily she finds another satisfying career path in ballet, thanks to her work with Carol (and arguably a more suited career for her).

Both Carol and Alison are smart characters, but even they take some time to figure out someone is against Carol, but that is more due to being Freda being very crafty, at least in the start. By deliberately messing up Carol’s make up, Freda slips up as now it is obvious that Carol has an enemy, which leads to her downfall, whereas the first tricks could have been dismissed as accidents. It’s funny that initially Freda’s vendetta against Carol is on behalf of her friend Gladys. It is later that her own jealousy grows and she starts feeling threatened by Carol and of course after Freda is dismissed, Carol does get her part.  Gladys doesn’t seem as upset about Carol getting her part in the first audition, though she has no interest in being friendly with her, she is not plotting revenge. She  does nothing to stop Freda’s tricks, but she does have to be blackmailed into participating in them. It’s a wonder how she stays friends with Freda, though she seems to be a more easily led and doesn’t have a lot of sense. While she has to be coerced into confessing at the end she is genuinely remorseful for her part, unlike Freda.

This is an enjoyable read, the story is well plotted and paced, it doesn’t rush the ending and the main characters are all pretty well developed. The art is also gorgeous (I think it’s Paddy Brennan? if anyone can confirm) and I particularly like the title boxes that depict the main characters and hints at events in the story. It’s unsurprising that it had several reprints, one of which was as a Judy classic in M&J, the only ballet story to appear in that comic.

No Love for Laura [1978]

Plot

Nurse Anne Howard gets a job caring for Laura Trenent, who has been blinded in the accident that killed her parents. But Anne soon finds that Laura’s guardians, Mr and Mrs Willis, only pretend to care for Laura when in fact they don’t care for her at all. They take advantage of her blindness to make her life a misery and keep her a virtual prisoner. The Willises dismiss Anne once they realise Anne will take sides with Laura. But Anne is still determined to help Laura and find out why the Willises are treating her this way, as she senses there is a mystery behind it that needs to be solved. Investigation soon points to cheques that Laura always has to sign for the Willises and the terms of Mr Trenent’s will.

Notes

  • Artist: Ana Rodriguez

Appeared

  • No Love for Laura – Debbie: #281 (1 July 1978) – #289 (26 August 1978)

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)

 

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)

Blind Belinda

Plot

Belinda Stewart is blind, but also a talented singer. Her managers are Gloria and Keith Foxton, who promise her she will make enough money to receive a cure from a  famous American doctor. But in fact the Foxtons are out to pocket any money Belinda makes for themselves.

Belinda

Notes

  • Writer: Benita Brown
  • Artist: Andrew Wilson
  • Issue #438 had a 6-page double episode, which is split  in the reprint between issues #1131 and 1#132

Appeared

  • Blind Belinda – Mandy: #428 (29 March 1975) – #444 (19 July 1975)
  • Reprinted – Mandy: #1121 (Jul. 9 1988) – #1138 (05 November 1988)

 

The Sorrows of Sally / The Sorrows of Sarah

Plot

In the early 20th century, Sally Smith (named Sarah in the reprint) is a music-hall conjurer and juggler. She had been looked after by Maggie Miller, but now Maggie is crippled and unable to speak after a stroke. Welfare authorities of the period force them to run away together, but music-hall work is hard to find. This forces Sarah to resort to third-rate halls, which are proving undesirable.

Sorrows

Notes

Appeared

  • The Sorrows of Sally – Mandy: #156 (10 January 1970) – #168 (4 April 1970)
  • Reprinted – Mandy:  #569 (10 December 1977) – #581 (4 March 1978)
  • Reprinted as The Sorrows of Sarah – Mandy: circa #922 (15 September 1984) – (?)