Tag Archives: Isidre Mones

Misty Short Stories VII: The Little People

The Little People: pixies, fairies, elves, gnomes and brownies, which used to abound so much in Enid Blyton. When thinking of stories of the Little People we are more accustomed to pots of gold, wishes, pixie dust, fairy mushrooms, shamrocks, and Irish expressions like “Top o’ the morning!” than horror and Goth. All the same, Misty had her share of Little People short stories, but how did they go? Did the subject matter inject more lightweight supernatural stories into Misty? Or did Misty prefer to use the other side of the Little People – snatching people away, playing mischievous tricks, and inflicting impish punishments – to portray darker tales of the Little People?

1: Sprig of Heather

Misty: #81

Artist: Blas Gallego

Polly Masters sells lucky heather (from a secret fairy place, she says). Everyone believes it works and Polly’s always sold out. However, Polly’s abusive stepfather takes all the money to spend at the tavern. The stepfather goes for his usual booze-up and makes Polly go collect more heather. While doing so she moans how the heather is lucky for everyone but her. Fairies appear to Polly (for the first time) and demand to know what she’s moping about. After Polly explains, they say they will see what they can do. Polly wakes up and thinks it must have been a dream. But then her delighted family come up and say they’ve just been freed from the monster – he got press-ganged at the tavern: “Come on, me hearty, a few years in a king’s ship will do you a power of good!” The family are surprised too, because they have not had a press gang in the village before. But Polly has a pretty good idea as to how it happened.

Thoughts

What makes this story one of my favourites is the brisk, no-nonsense yet witty dialogue of the fairy leader, Manikin. “Come along girl, we haven’t got all day – state your business or we’ll be off!” and afterwards: “Well, we don’t usually take a hand in such matters, but in this case we’ll see what can be done!” It also makes a nice change for Misty to inflict a comeuppance that might actually be the making of the antagonist instead of the usual condemnatory dark fate.

2: At the End of the Rainbow

Misty: #64

Artist: Maria Barrera

Sisters Karen and Lisa are always squabbling. Mum has had enough and sends them out of the house. They are astonished to see a rainbow being reflected in a stream, but there is no rainbow to make the reflection. They see a strange girl (let’s call her a fairy) by the stream, who tells them rainbows can be found anywhere if you care to look. Soon Karen and Lisa see rainbows and beauty in everything. Then they find themselves at the end of the rainbow. But instead of the crock of gold they find everything is golden, and then they find each other. This makes them forget about their quarrels and they go home peacefully. The fairy is told she has passed the test and is worthy to paint a rainbow.

Thoughts

This is a very nice, gentle, even romantic change from the usual Goth and comeuppances in Misty. Instead of getting a comeuppance for quarrelling the two sisters learn to live together and discover the meaning of beauty. But it’s the fairy we feel happiest for, when she passes the test and earns the right to paint a rainbow.

3: Girl Who Knew the Fairies

Misty: #93

Artist: Jose Ariza

Lana McMahon believes in fairies; everyone thinks she is nuts. Lana takes Carol Marks to the fairy ball, and Carol is astonished to see it unfold under her very eyes. Forgetting Lana’s warning not to let the fairies see her, Carol bursts in on them. The fairies say those who see them must never return to tell the tale, so they take Carol away forever. Carol realises all those fairy tales over the centuries were based on sightings of an actual race of little people who live like cavemen underground. Carol hopes rescue comes when Lana tells people what happened. She does, but everyone just laughs at the girl who believes in fairies.

4: Fairy Gold

Misty: #37

Artist: Isidres Mones

In medieval England, unpleasant Agnes wants to steal fairy gold, ignoring warnings that nobody outwits the fairies like that – they’re too cunning. At first she manages to avoid their tricks, but ignores their warning that for every hour she spends in Fairyland a year passes outside. They finally catch Agnes by making her fall asleep. When she wakes she finds the gold and steals it. The fairy chief urges Agnes to remain because she slept for a month in Fairyland, so the world she knew is no more (doing the math, roughly 720–744 years have passed, so that would make it about the…20thcentury?). Agnes ignores this and goes outside, but finds herself aging rapidly. She is forced to go back into Fairyland before she dies, and crumbles into a skeleton. The fairy chief says he did warn her that nobody can steal fairy gold.

Thoughts

Both these stories show that you are better to stay away from the fairies’ home turf and don’t trespass. Even if you only intend to go sightseeing, be very cautious. And if you’re greedy, they will win out in the end, no matter how wise you are to their games.

5: Stone Cold Revenge

Misty: #14

Artist: John Richardson

Lesley is angry and upset her father spent his bonus on garden gnomes, just because all their neighbours have them. She was hoping for a record player, and she does not even like garden gnomes: “They’re ugly…”. She snaps and kicks one of the gnomes. But she kicks it too hard and it breaks, which gets her into trouble with Dad.

Then weird things start happening with all the other gnomes in the street: disappearing and reappearing under a window on Dad’s property, appearing on the stairs for Dad to trip over, and the family’s goldfish lying dead beside the remaining gnome (which has a fishing rod). Dad blames Lesley for the incidents and won’t listen to her pleas of innocence.

One evening the parents ground Lesley while they go out. While alone in the house, Lesley hears a loud tapping at the window, and then sees a whole army of garden gnomes outside. They smash their way in and attack her, and she faints. When the parents come home they find Lesley in a state of catatonic shock. The doctor says Lesley must have been scared right out of her mind, but can only wonder what caused it. Outside, the fisherman garden gnome seems to be listening and casting a menacing look.

Thoughts

The panels of Lesley hearing something tapping at the window and then seeing the gnomes outside still stick with me; they really made me shudder when I first read the story. The panels of the gnomes attacking Lesley must have been as frightening for readers as it was for Lesley.

Admittedly, Lesley does start the trouble by breaking the gnome, and is too angry to feel sorry about it. But we can sympathise with her feelings. It must have been very disappointing not getting the record player, and she was not even consulted on what she thought the bonus could go on. And we definitely share her anger against Dad for spending the bonus on something that was totally petty. Dad really was selfish for squandering his bonus on garden gnomes, just to keep up with the neighbours. Surely there must have been better things for the money than garden gnomes; from the sound of it, they can’t afford much. We are left with the feeling that Dad deserved a comeuppance more than Lesley, for not being more thoughtful about the bonus.

6: Spend, Spend, Spend!

Misty: #45

Artist: Jaume Raumeu

Reprint: Best of Misty #2

Goldie is upset at not having loads of money to spend. She makes a deal with two goblins (who call themselves collectors). They say they will give her money in exchange for her becoming part of their collection once she spends it all. Goldie tries to cheat the goblins by not spending the last 10p, but her parents use it for parking money. Now the money is spent, the goblins come after Goldie, who tries to lock them out of the house. Furious at how Goldie is not keeping her end of the bargain, they transport her, house and all, to their realm.

Thoughts

You should definitely think twice before you make bargains with little people. You can’t cheat them, no matter how hard you try.

Closing Thoughts

Misty only had six stories that used the subject of The Little People. It could be that this is because (apart from the gnomes), they were too whimsical and cute for the horror and Goth that Misty was known for. All the same, when you got on the wrong side of them, they could be as dangerous as any vampire, and Misty did not hesitate to express this.

Misty Short Stories V: Aliens

In our fifth volume of Misty Short Stories we turn to the theme of aliens.

Would you believe that throughout her two-year run, Misty did not have one single serial that featured aliens? This meant serials on space invasions, dystopia, alien worlds, body snatchers from outer space, alien visitors trying to blend into Earth society, and alien companions, which we were so accustomed to seeing in other girls’ titles, were completely absent from Misty.

So how did the aliens fare in Misty’s complete stories? As shown below, they did appear more often there. But what roles did they play in the complete stories as opposed to how they were portrayed in serials?

1: Reversed Roles

A popular theme in the Misty short stories was to have aliens put the protagonists in reversed roles, in allegories to how they treat animals on Earth. In the stories below we see people being fished, eaten, experimented on and played with by aliens. On occasion it was to wreak the Misty-style punishment on an unsavoury person, but more often this was not the case. The alien was often anthropomorphised, which in some cases was to inject humour into the story.

The Experiment

Misty: #100

Artist: Ramon Escolano

Fleur wakes up feeling like she has been asleep for ages. She is bewildered when her father says she is to remain permanently confined to the house and not go beyond the front gate. As she explores the house and surroundings she discovers everything is a fake, including her father, who is just a machine. Terror overwhelms her and she runs off, forgetting not to go beyond the gate. Outside the gate a giant rat kills her. It was an experiment conducted by giant aliens, and they express annoyance at yet another failure. Because humans are so small in comparison to them, they won’t accept that the reason for the constantly failing experiments is that humans are capable of thinking and feeling the way they do.

Food for Thought

Misty: #91

Artist: Ramon Escolano

Jill and Betty are at end of their holiday and looking forward to a BBQ. But then they get netted by aliens and taken across the galaxy to be eaten. The aliens decide to eat them raw, dipped in garlic sauce. As the aliens prepare to tuck in, one thinks it is immoral to eat other creatures; they may not be as intelligent, but they do have feelings and can feel pain and terror. They also have environmentalists who want a ban on such fishing and hunting of these endangered species. Back on Earth, people wonder what happened to Betty and Jill as they prepare to tuck into the BBQ.

Titch’s Tale

Misty: #26

Artist: John Richardson

Reprint: Best of Misty Monthly #5

Tina “Titch” is teased and left out of things because she is small. To cheer herself up she goes kite flying, and finds others are flying kites too. She starts seeing them being pulled up one by one into the clouds, but nobody notices except her. Then she gets pulled up too. On an alien spaceship, an alien boy shows his mother the missing people. He was fishing them for his father’s tea. But Tina was so small he threw her back. Tina wakes up on Earth, little realising how her small size just saved her life.

2: Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes was huge at the time of Misty’s publication. As these stories show, it made its impact on Misty too. In fact it could be called a direct steal, as the aliens appearing in these stories are straight out of Planet of the Apes.

Madhouse!

Misty: #90

Artist: Jorge Badia Romero

Sally Bishop and four strangers disappear from home and find themselves in a creepy house, the “madhouse”, with no idea as to how they got there. As they try to escape the madhouse they disappear one by one through all the horrors and traps in the madhouse. Sally is the only one to make it outside. It is then revealed that “Madhouse” is a board game and the players are giant apes. The giant ape who won three rounds in a row with Sally as his playing piece says: “These humans make such wonderful little playing pieces.”

The Pet Shop

Misty: #24

Artist: Martin Puigagut

Obnoxious Vivien and Steve Martin get a mouse from a pet shop. The shop staff have misgivings when the children say they are going to use it for an experiment (they have already mistreated another animal in the shop). They allow the sale on condition the children take good care of the mouse, and bring it back if anything goes wrong. Of course Vivien and Steve don’t take good care of the mouse in their (maze) experiment, and it dies from exhaustion. As instructed, they return the mouse to the pet shop, and they demand a refund. The shop staff and owners remove their human disguises, revealing themselves as giant talking apes. They have a very special policy for customers like Vivien and Steve who mistreat the animals they buy from their shop: lock them up. For what purpose exactly is not clear, so no allegory can be drawn there.

3: Close Encounters

As these stories show, Misty tended to go for crash landings when it came to UFOs landing on Earth.

The Visitors

Misty: #28

Artist: Ramon Escolano

Feeling she’s a burden and money drain on her low-income aunt and uncle, Susan runs away. She throws a coin into a wishing well and wishes her aunt and uncle would have enough money for them all to live in contentment. Aliens appear and tell her they have been on Earth ever since their ship crashed 600 years ago. They live in the well because it is similar to their home environment, but they find coins and stones being dropped on their heads all the time and hear these stupid wishes, which they can’t grant as “we no magicians”. But at least it breaks the monotony of living in the well. Susan wakes up by the well, and the police pick her up. Susan thinks it was all a dream, but back home she finds a huge box of ancient coins on her bed, which enables her family to become rich. Susan buys a chess set for the aliens to help relieve the monotony, which they enjoy very much.

Thoughts

A wishing well that can grant something, but it’s not the well – it’s what resides inside it. The aliens are very funny in the way they speak English and what residing in a well means when everyone thinks it is a wishing well. At the end of the story, we are glad to see Susan express her gratitude by giving something in return for the wish.

Last Encounters

Misty: #32

Artist: Ramon Escolano

A family on a spaceship have a recurring dream of landing on a monstrous planet, a giant mountain, a giant quake and being thrown into air by something outside their drive units. They get marooned on a planet, and then the nightmare begins to happen for real. But the quake throws them into the air and enables them to escape the planet. The reveal is that they are tiny aliens, the mountain was a sleeping man, and the man, upon waking up, throws the spaceship into the air, thinking it’s a kid’s toy: “…not all spaceships are gigantic!” They fly happily through the stars again.

Thoughts

Someone definitely had “Land of the Giants” on the brain with this one. It’s a twist though, having the Earth people as the giants and the aliens as the little people, a complete reversal of the show. And unlike the show, the little people do escape.

4: Space Seeds

Here we have two stories about seeds that arrive from alien worlds and start sprouting in Earth soil. Naturally, they soon prove that on Earth, they are very dangerous weeds.

Alien Seed

Misty: #20

Artist: Isidre Mones

Libby Regan has to stay with her boring botanist Uncle Marcus during the holidays. She is repulsed and frightened at the hideous Venus fly-trap type of plant he is growing, which seems to be growing at abnormal speed, and at times seems to be reaching out to her and her cat with its tendrils. He says it was grown from a seed that was millions of years old, but from the looks of it, that seed definitely did not come from Earth (and the title says Alien Seed after all). He won’t listen to Libby’s protests about the plant or heed warning signs it could be dangerous. To him, it’s a valuable scientific discovery. But Libby is right – the planet is carnivorous, and is capable of growing big enough to consume humans. It flowers, and the scent from the flower renders Uncle unconscious. Seeing the plant attempting to eat him, Libby saves him and destroys the plant. But he doesn’t believe her explanation and thinks she just took advantage to destroy his precious plant. He sends her home. Libby is relieved she at least managed to destroy the plant. But unknown to her, in the days ahead, its seeds start growing…

Thoughts

There are plenty of stories about mad scientists who get destroyed by their own experiments because they did not listen to warnings about dangers. Uncle Marcus nearly fell victim to it. He escaped this time but he still did not listen, so the odds of him getting a second chance are not good. And this time, his rescuer will not be around to save him. It would have been interesting to see how this story went if it had been expanded into a serial.

Jorum is Coming

Misty: #86

Artist: Jose Ariza

Heather finds a space egg that fell from outer space. She plants it in a wood while in a trance. She becomes increasingly detached to it and is sure that “Jorum is coming”. When her parents ask her about Jorum, she lashes out at them. Her behaviour changes for the worse and they grow increasingly worried. The egg grows to an enormous size, and Jorum, the creature incubating inside it, tells Heather to kill her parents because they must not interfere with his birth and conquest, so she gets an axe. The parents unknowingly break the spell when they say they love Heather, and she smashes the egg instead. Afterwards Heather can’t remember what happened and does not know what she means when she says: “Jorum is not coming now – not ever.”

Thoughts

This was the only time Misty touched on the subject of alien invasion, or an alien exerting an evil force over a girl. It’s a bit frustrating that Jorum gets destroyed before we see just what he is once he’s hatched and what he can do. Frankly, this story is crying out to be a serial. It would have been really exciting for Misty to fully develop Jorum, his powers, his plans for conquest, and the fight against him, and a serial would have done that. Just destroying Jorum by the end of a complete story feels a waste of potential.

5: Stuff of Nightmares

 Just Another Day

Misty: #98

Artist: Jose Ariza

Julia and Liz arrive at school and see it vanish. The rest of the street follows, and then the rest of the world. Last to go are Liz and Julia. Then it is revealed an alien dreamed the whole thing. He says it’s a pity Earth never really existed: “…so beautiful and the people were interesting too – not very bright, but full of vitality.”

A Scream in the Night!

Misty: #47

Artist: Ken Houghton

Jan Peters wakes at 3am to see a shadowy man outside her third floor window. He enters, revealing himself as a hideous alien who has come to collect specimens. He traps her in a specimen box and takes her to his spaceship, with her screaming all the way. But it turns out the alien was the one who was having the nightmare. He tells his comrade he dreamed they had already reached Earth and were collecting specimens, but the hideous screams this one kept making were torture to his ears.

Thoughts

Here we have horrible things happening to people on Earth, which turns out to be a dream. Having it all a dream can come off as a bit of a copout. It’s a matter of opinion and how it’s handled. The twist is, it’s not the protagonist’s dream but that of an alien.

Closing Thoughts

In the short stories, aliens were used most often as allegories to make a statement about humans and human behaviour/misbehaviour, particularly in regard to the treatment of animals/environment. They were not used the way they were in girls’ serials (alien invasions, alien worlds etc) though a few stories touched on some of those subjects. Aside from a few exceptions, Misty did not draw on popular culture or movies for her short stories featuring aliens, and what she did draw upon was very limited. Heck, Misty did not even have Martians!

Misty Short Stories III: Witches

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

1: The Wise Woman

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

Bookworm

Misty: #99

Artist: Jordi Badia Romero

Reprints: Scream & Misty Halloween Special #2

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

Thoughts

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

If Only…

Misty: #51

Artist: Carlos Guirado

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

Thoughts

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

Aunt Mary’s Blessing

Misty: #21

Artist: Uncertain

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

Thoughts

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

A Girl’s Best Friend

Misty: #48

Artist: John Richardson

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

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

Thoughts

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

The Queen’s Hair

Misty: #43

Artist: Jaume Rumeu

Reprint: Best of Misty 4

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

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

Thoughts

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