Tag Archives: Injustice

Blackmailed! [1987]

Published: Suzy 236 (March 14 1987) – 249 (June 13 1987)

Episodes: 14

Artist: Barrie Mitchell (unconfirmed)

Writer: Unknown

Special thanks to “Phoenix” for help with the episodes

Plot

Anne Smith’s father had taken a job that turned out to be a terrible mistake for the entire family. The company has been exposed as fraudulent one that swindled pensioners, and the swindlers have disappeared with the money. Mr Smith knew nothing about the fraud and took the job in good faith. Although nothing has been proven against him, the press reports associate him with the crimes. Consequently everyone in town has turned against the Smiths and all the girls at school are bullying Anne over it.

So the Smiths change their names to Brown and Anne changes her name to Lorna. They move to Kelbury, a town over 300 miles away, and Mr Brown’s new moustache is really effective at disassociating him from the press photos.

The family settle very happily into their new life and Lorna is enjoying her new school. But they can never fully escape the fear that the past will catch up one way or other.

It happens when Janet Dawson, a horrible girl from Lorna’s old school, transfers to her new one and is placed in her class. Janet’s parents couldn’t control her and sent her to live with her aunt in the hope that a fresh start would turn her around. Some hopes! Once Janet recognises “Lorna” as Anne Smith she starts to blackmail her. Initially Lorna tries to stand up to Janet, but gives in when Janet flourishes a copy of the newspaper with the headline “Pensioners Robbed Of Savings” and a photograph of Lorna’s father, and says: “So you’re not taking me seriously, eh? Maybe this will change your mind!”

Janet uses the blackmail to have Lorna take the blame for all the sneaky things she does so everyone will think she has become a sweet, reformed person, while Lorna is made to look increasingly untrustworthy and troublesome in the eyes of her classmates, school staff and, eventually, her parents. For example, Janet blackmails Lorna into buying a magazine that is so expensive that it leaves her with insufficient money for a present for a hospitalised classmate. Janet astonishes and impresses the class by offering to pay on Lorna’s behalf. Later, Lorna has to turn a blind eye to Janet stealing from the tuck shop and ends looking unreliable when the teacher finds the stock sold isn’t adding up with the day’s sales. On another occasion, Janet blackmails Lorna out of the money she earned from a babysitting job. When Lorna’s mother insists that Lorna give Janet half of the babysitting fee, Janet makes it look like she being absolutely gracious because she refuses to take the half (as she already has it all!). Janet certainly has people fooled in this way. For example, during tea at Janet’s aunt’s place, the aunt says she is so pleased with Janet’s behaviour these days after the Dawson parents sent her over for being such a problem child at home.

Janet’s blackmail also makes Lorna increasingly unpopular in class. For example, she blackmails Lorna to lend her PE blouse although if anyone is without kit, the whole class will end up doing maths instead. Eventually the whole class turns against Lorna because of Janet.

Janet also starts wangling her way into Lorna’s home, on pretext of being invited to tea, in order to exert more blackmail. Janet drops hints that she has recognised Lorna’s father. She blackmails Lorna into handing over her prized belongings. Among them is a Sunday School prize book that has Lorna’s real name in it – and which Janet can use for more blackmail. She tells Lorna that she is going to sell it at the school book fair; Lorna ends up having to give Janet £5 to give the book back. Janet blackmails Lorna out of chocolate, cassettes and clothes. She copies Lorna’s answers in a school exam and claims it was Lorna who was copying. This has Lorna’s parents convinced that Lorna is turning into a delinquent and Lorna won’t tell them what’s going on.

Janet’s blackmail now has Lorna looking a thief. Janet blackmails her way into a weekend trip with Lorna’s family. She blackmails Lorna into shoplifting a necklace. When Lorna puts it back, the manager thinks she was trying to steal it, but fortunately he does not press charges. But Lorna isn’t so lucky at a schoolfriend’s party. Janet blackmails her into stealing a moneybox, and if caught she must take the blame. The schoolfriend catches Lorna in the act and throws her out. When Lorna’s parents hear about the incident they check Lorna’s bank account and discover there is nothing left (all gone on Janet’s blackmail of course). They stop Lorna’s pocket money, so now Janet can’t blackmail Lorna out of that.

Lorna decides things can’t get any worse, so when Janet tries to blackmail her again she just tells her to get lost. But Lorna soon finds that things can indeed get worse – Janet vandalises the cloakroom and frames her for it. Lorna is suspended. Lorna’s mother demands to know why she is acting in this way and Lorna won’t tell her the truth.

Then the police arrive and say they have caught the swindlers, who made a full confession that clears Lorna’s father. It will be all over the newspapers the following day. Now Lorna is free of Janet’s blackmail she can explain everything when she and her mother go to see the headmistress. Janet is expelled, and while she leaves, she tells her classmates: “I had a good run before I was expelled. And I took you other mugs in, didn’t I? You thought I was really nice.” The classmates realise Lorna was being blackmailed and become friends with her again. The story does not say whether or not Lorna changes her name back to Anne.

Thoughts

The story comes from a long line of blackmail serials where a girl gets blackmailed because of a family secret. Most often it is an unjustified disgrace that always gets cleared up by the end of the story, which is the case here. Other means of blackmail have included jobs, false information, and incriminating diaries.

The concept of a nasty girl who pretends to be a reformed character or pulls some other sort of deception in order to continue her dirty ways in secret is not new either. Stories that have used this include The Quiet One from M&J and RoseMary from Nikki. But here it is combined with the blackmail theme in which the problem girl orchestrates her evil ways through the girl she is blackmailing and using her as the scapegoat for when things go wrong. In this way she can continue her nasty ways while presenting a reformed face to her aunt and parents without fear of being caught out. She isn’t just using the blackmail for the usual demands (money, favours, cheating etc), though she does that too, of course. And what enables Janet’s blackmail to continue in this way is Lorna not telling her parents what is going on. Instead, she just suffers in silence and takes the blame for all the things Janet is responsible for. And when Lorna finally stands up to Janet (or Janet realises she can’t get anything more out of the blackmail), she sets out to destroy Lorna altogether. Again, not an uncommon thing with spiteful girls in girls’ serials.

Part of the blackmail can be attributed to the miscalculation on the part of the Dawson parents. As they could not control their daughter they mistakenly hoped a new start might be the answer and sent Janet to her aunt’s. Of course they wouldn’t have known about a potential blackmail victim being there for Janet to take advantage of. But did it not occur to them that Janet might simply transfer her nasty behaviour to Kelbury? Clearly, what they should have done was send their uncontrollable daughter to a special school or similar institution for problem children before setting her out on any fresh starts.

Another source of blame is how the papers treated Mr Smith in the first place and turning the whole town against him and his family. Nothing had been proven against Mr Smith. No charges had been laid against him. As far as we can tell, the police aren’t bothering with Mr Smith and are trying to find the swindlers who vanished with the money. In law, Mr Smith is still innocent. So why has The Daily Times got Mr Smith’s photo plastered all over the front page like he was the mastermind of the swindle, and blackening his name and reputation when there was no proof against him? Why isn’t it the faces of those swindlers who have skedaddled with all the money and are now fugitives that must be found? Are the press making a scapegoat out of Mr Smith or something? Or is it guilt by association? Certainly, once Mr Smith was cleared he would have a case for a lawsuit against The Daily Times.

Captain Carol (1997)

Captain Carol logo.jpg

Published: Bunty #2045 (22 March 1997) – #2054 (24 May 1997)

Artist: Unknown

Plot

At St Jade’s Boarding School, Carol Davies and Fiona Mathieson are best friends. One day voting forms go out for School Captain. Fiona wins the post, which gives her privileges such as a whole study to herself. Carol, who was runner-up, is appointed Fiona’s deputy. On parents’ day, Mrs Davies finds her watch has been stolen and then it falls out of Fiona’s pocket. Fiona says she does not know how it got there, but is expelled for theft and Carol takes her place as School Captain.

Before Fiona leaves, she proclaims her innocence to Carol and her other friends. They believe that someone framed her and agree to help her prove her innocence. To this end, Fiona is going to a local boarding school, Hallcote Lawn, which will enable her to stay close by so she can check up on progress, any potential developments in the investigation, and exchange clues.

Captain Carol 1

It turns out that it was Carol who had framed Fiona because, of course, she wanted the School Captain’s job. However, this is not revealed to the reader for several episodes. Still, there were small clues in the first episode, such as Carol not looking happy when the girls say they expected she voted for Fiona. In the meantime we see Carol do subtle things that, after the revelation, we realise were attempts to derail and misdirect the investigation.

First, Carol has word about Fiona’s expulsion spread to Hallcote Lawn by telling another St. Jade’s girl who is transferring there. As planned, Fiona becomes an outcast at her new school. But instead leaving Hallcote Lawn as Carol suggests, Fiona bravely stays on in order to stay close to the girls’ investigation. Then Carol drops a suggestion to the girls that Fiona had actually committed the theft in order to go to Hallcote Lawn, where fees are cheaper, but the girls don’t buy it. She drops another hint that a teacher did it because she was jealous of Fiona’s aunt getting a job she wanted, but the teacher is soon cleared of suspicion.

Then, a mention of pickpockets in Fiona’s English class has her realise that the culprit acted like a pickpocket in reverse – slipping the watch into her pocket instead of taking something out of it. So the culprit has to be someone who got close enough to her for that. Fiona draws up a list of people who would have gotten close enough to her to plant the watch on her and passes it over to the girls. It is this point that it is revealed to the reader that Carol is the culprit. Once this is established, the story puts full focus on her. It openly shows Carol trying to sabotage the investigation, her ruthlessness and underlying desperation in holding onto her position, and also shows her thought bubbles.

Captain Carol 2.jpg

The girls begin to realise that Carol had the strongest motive for getting Fiona expelled – getting the captaincy. Carol deflects suspicion by faking her study being wrecked by an unknown enemy. As planned, this leads the girls to think that the same person is after Carol now. Later, Carol tries to plant evidence for it on another girl. Fortunately it founders and the girl is soon cleared of framing Fiona.

Fiona sneaks back to school, telling Carol she wants to speak to a girl who may be a potential witness. But when they try to hide from the headmistress, she discovers Fiona when Carol “sneezes”. The headmistress throws Fiona out, but is so furious with Carol that her captaincy is put on the line. Carol soon finds a way to get back into the headmistress’ good books; there is no way she is going to lose her captaincy.

Carol has another close call when the girls discover a father made a video of the parents’ day. But when they review the tape they discover it got accidentally taped over. Carol is safe again.

But not for long – a new girl, Kirsty MacPherson arrives, and she happens to have seen Carol slip the watch on Fiona when she and her parents visited on the parents’ day. Once Kirsty discovers why Carol did it, she starts blackmailing her. Carol gives in to Kirsty because she just has to hold onto her captaincy.

Captain Carol 4

The blackmail does not last long because the next episode is the final one. Carol comes to realise that as long as Fiona persists with the other girls in proving her innocence, they will keep investigating and her secret will never be safe. If Fiona was removed altogether, the girls will soon give up. So at a chess tournament with Hallcote Lawn Carol tries to get Fiona expelled from her new school by using the same trick as before. But when the alarm is raised, the search does not find the stolen item in Fiona’s pocket where Carol planted it. Instead, it is found in Carol’s bag! Carol is so astonished that she openly declares it is impossible because she planted it on Fiona – OOOPS!

Fiona then explains she put the item in Carol’s bag after feeling Carol slip it into her pocket and tells Carol that she is too heavy-handed for tricks like that. Carol retorts that she is not, saying that was precisely what she did with the watch on that fateful parents’ day and Fiona did not notice.

Now the truth is well and truly out, Carol is expelled and Fiona is reinstated to her old school and position as School Captain.

Thoughts

There have been many stories where a best friend becomes a secret worst enemy when the heroine is promoted at school. Stories where this has happened include “The Captain’s Friend” (Tracy) and “In Petra’s Place” (Bunty). In most cases they just try to make the heroine look too irresponsible to have the promotion and don’t go as far as trying to get her expelled. But getting her own best friend expelled for a crime she did not commit is precisely what Carol does. This puts on her on a low that far exceeds the depravity of most schemers. We have seen other girls try to get another expelled, such as “’I’ll Take Care of Tina!’” (Mandy) but they are usually either just out for misguided revenge or are already nasty schemers whom we cannot expect much of. But a best friend? That is beyond the pale. So Carol Davies must rank as one of the most despicable schemers in the history of girls’ comics. Moreover, there is no hint of remorse or shame that could redeem her in any way. Sure, Carol says (to herself) that she did not like to do what she did to Fiona, but she had to because she wanted the job so much and this was the only way to get it. It may or may not be her self-reasoning to ease a guilty conscience, but she never gives any real impression that she is feeling in any way guilty about what she did. Furthermore, she has no compunction in trying it again (which is her undoing) or in trying to shift the blame onto others in the course of the girls’ investigations.

Captain Carol 3.jpg

Having another girl discovering Carol’s secret and start blackmailing her is a surprise twist that is left so underdeveloped. It had the potential to be spun out for more episodes and add more turns and twists that would have made the story even more exciting. And it would have been really interesting to see where Kirsty’s blackmail would lead if it had been developed more. Would it have ended in Carol being discovered? Or would Carol try a frame-up on Kirsty to get her expelled and out of the way? The possibilities are so tantalising. Instead, the blackmail only lasted one episode and left on a thread that was not tied up before the final episode, which is really annoying. Maybe the writer intended to take the blackmail angle further but then the editor gave the order to end the story.

Captain Carol 5

When considering Fiona and her quest to prove her innocence, we get the impression that there is an untold story that would have made a brilliant and popular serial if told in its entirety. In the brief glimpses we see of Fiona as she pops back to check on progress we can see her courage and persistence shine through. There are also hints and mentions of mental anguish as she tells the detective team she is going through hell at her new school because they think she’s a thief. In the final episode a girl reports back that Fiona is now really desperate, and most likely this is because she has reached breaking point. Just imagine what a powerful and emotional serial this would have made if the story had been told from Fiona’s point of view and we could see it all for ourselves.

School for the Expelled

Plot

While trying to shield her cousin, Amanda,  Trudy Timms was wrongly accused of stealing money from the Headmistress’s study. Her father, shocked to think his daughter had forgotten the family motto, “Honesty Above All”, sent her away from Meadowlands School to Grimstock Grange—the School for the Expelled!

school for the expelled

Notes

  • Artist: Hugh Thornton-Jones

Appeared

  • School for the Expelled – Judy: circa #507 (27 September 1969) – (?)
  • Reprinted – Judy: #998 (24 February 1979) – #1009 (12 May 1979)

 

The Magic Mirror [1981]

Plot:

Something strange happens with the old mirror in Angie Durrant’s room. Angie finds herself in a different age, as a little slavey called Abigail. Another servant, Milton, cheats Lady Mirabel, the daughter of the house, and Angie gets blamed. Angie realises she is reliving the life of the real Abigail, who was blamed for Milton’s crime.

Mirror

Notes:

Photo story

Appeared:

  • The Magic Mirror  –  Debbie (?) – #435 (13 June 1981)

My Father’s No Cheat

Plot

Jenny Mortimer is an expert fencer. Her father has been training her, but he is forced to go on the run when he is charged with fraud at the bank where he is manager. He is trying to prove his innocence while finding ways to continue help Jenny with her fencing. But the police are watching the family and trying to flush Mr Mortimer out with tactics such as freezing his assets.

Father

Notes

Appeared

  • My Father’s No Cheat –  Debbie: circa  #257 (14 January 1978) – (?)

Rosie’s Revenge

Plot:

When maidservant Emily Carter is wrongly accused of theft, she runs away in a terrible state and drowns. Emily’s sister Rosie goes into service in the household to unmask the real thief and clear Emily’s name. But the thief rumbles Rosie and starts sending her death threats.

Rosie

Notes:

Artist: Bert Hill

Appeared:

  • Rosie’s Revenge Judy: (?) – #1495 (3 September 1988)

 

Amy Beckett Says…

Plot:

Fay Davis and Karen Green see strange things happening after a bulldozer knocks down the old archway at their school. It unleashes a supernatural force that has the juniors singing a strange skipping rhyme that starts with “Amy Beckett”, and whatever they are singing in rhyme foreshadows something ominous. Fay and Karen eventually discover that Amy Beckett is the ghost of a pupil who wants revenge because she was wrongly accused of a fire at the school.

Amy Beckett.jpg

Notes:

  • Artist: Guy Peeters

Appeared:

  • Amy Beckett Says… –  M&J:  #104 (8 May 1993) – #112 (10 July 1993)