Tag Archives: Ken Houghton

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 VIII: Ghosts

In our eighth volume on Misty short stories we turn to the subject of ghosts, which, predictably, is huge. Owing to the expanse of the subject, there will be no individual thoughts for each story. However, the stories will be grouped into subthemes in accordance with the role the ghost served in the story, and there will be “closing thoughts” at the end.

1: Revenge from Beyond the Grave

It is no surprise that a lot of ghosts in Misty’s complete stories were there to inflict comeuppances. In many cases the motivation was revenge for causing the death of the person who is now a ghost, by murder, neglect or other means. The ghost’s revenge usually takes the forms of:

  • Punishment fitting the crime, sometimes in a “give them what they want” manner (“The Disembodied”)
  • Ruin them (“Dance of Death”)
  • Ensure they don’t enjoy their ill-gotten gains (“Black Agnes”)

Dance of Death

Misty: #27

Artist: John Richardson

A cruel innkeeper, Joseph Higgins, forces fiddler Peter Price and his daughter Nancy to play and dance for their supper, ignoring their protests that they are too cold and hungry to put on a good performance. Their performance is predictably awful, and the cruel spectators torture Nancy too. Higgins kicks them out into the cold, where they freeze to death, and smashes Price’s fiddle. But their ghosts start haunting the inn, fiddling and dancing, which drives off customers. Higgins tries to sell the inn, but nobody will buy it with those ghosts in “permanent residence”, and he is ruined.

A Room of Her Own

Misty: #69

Artist: Joseph Gual

Lorna Barnes is taken in by the Hennings after her grandmother dies, but their daughter Joan does not want to share her room with Lorna. So Joan tries to get rid of Lorna by playing “haunted house” to scare her away (a trick also used in the Misty short story, “Nightmare!”). It goes too far when Lorna runs away in terror and drowns in a swamp. But Joan soon finds she still doesn’t have the room to herself – she is now sharing it with Lorna’s ghost.

Malice in Wonderland

Misty: #75

Artist: Bob Harvey

Reprint: Best of Misty #8

The ghost of a girl haunts a fairground, Wonderland. She has driven off customers and the once-booming fairground is now deserted. The owner, Richard Hobson, confronts the ghost for ruining him. She says she is making him pay for the negligence of the roller coaster that caused her death, which he bribed his way out of in court. Hobson tries to run her over with the same roller coaster, but forgets she is a ghost, and only sends himself plunging to his death. He in turn becomes the resident ghost of Wonderland, which reopens under more savoury management, and can only watch as its new profits go into the new owner’s pocket.

The Disembodied

Misty: #68

Artist: John Richardson

On a class trip Olivia rips a page out of a book of spells that was once owned by an baron who practised black magic She uses the spell to summon the spirits of three of her teachers to give her all the answers to a school test. But she gets greedy and demands more and more information from them, which keeps them up past dawn, despite their protests. When Olivia learns the three teachers have died, she discovers too late she overlooked something: if the spirits do not return to their bodies before dawn they will become disembodied and cling to the person responsible for their deaths until the day their true deaths should have occurred. The disembodied spirits take revenge by giving Olivia more and more answers until she gets information overload – literally – and her head is ready to burst.

Black Agnes

Misty: #59

Artist: Josep Gual

In 1665–6 London, Agnes Barton takes up a position as a servant in the wealthy Patterson household. She poisons the family, taking steps to ensure everyone puts it down to plague, so she can steal their moneybox. But she soon finds the Pattersons’ ghosts are following her around. At Pudding Lane the haunting drives her to breaking point and she throws the stolen money back at the ghosts: “Take your gold! Begone I say!”, but knocks over a candle while doing so. This starts the Great Fire of London, and she perishes in the blaze.

Lead Kindly Light

Misty: #57

Artist: Maria Barrera

Ruth’s stepfather Jabez Penallen is a shipwrecker and he whips her into being his accomplice. Ruth sees no way to escape. Running away is hopeless because Jabez will only find her again. Reporting him is no use because he has everyone believe he is a devout, respectful churchgoer. An old friend, Sybilla, arrives and helps Ruth escape on a ship, but Jabez wrecks it while not knowing she was on board. Ruth returns as a ghost, but Jabez does not realise she is one. She uses his own false light and takes advantage of his blind rage towards her to lure him to his doom over the cliff. She then extinguishes the wrecker’s lantern forever.

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!

Judy 1984

In this annual there are 22 picture stories, 2 text stories and 23 features. That’s a lot of entertainment for one book.

While annuals like Mandy often had long picture stories, commonly split in 4 parts throughout the annual, Judy seemed to favour shorter stories and therefore more of them. Comic strips ranged from 2 to 6 pages.

There are a nice variety of stories, some humorous strips, and regular characters such as Wee Slavey and Cora Cupid in new adventures and then there are new complete stories especially for the annual. Stories with twist endings seemed to be a favourite, perhaps because these fitted better with telling a story in a few pages.  For more details on the featured stories read on… (For just a list of contents click here)

Picture Stories

Silver Star    (Pages: 5-9)

This story seems to start out as any other average horse story, an untameable horse and the only person who ever could ride him in a coma after an unnamed tragic accident. But it quickly turns to the more bizarre side when it the next panel states the story really starts a year ago with an alien scouting ship. While the alien, Captain Zoros’, ship is on a collision course to Earth, we see the stable owner’s daughter Megan, being a spoilt brat (though it’s clear she will get her comeuppance as a year later she’s in coma).

That evening a meteorite crashes near the stables of a pregnant horse. The horse’s foal is born and Megan names him Silver Star and claims him as her own. The other stable workers notice something unusual about the horse, after a few months he looks like a 2 year old, and he seems too intelligent.

Finally Zoros fellow aliens track him down and bring Megan and the horse to their ship. They extract Zoros but accidently put Megan’s personality into Silver Star. So the comatose Megan is empty and the spirited horse is actually Megan, though it’s decided that a lifetime of punishment as a horse is a bit much for being a spoilt brat, so the aliens realise their mistake (how they realise it a whole year later isn’t explained!) and come back and fix it, so happy ending for Megan who becomes a nicer person after that.

 

Bobby Dazzler   (Pages: 12-15)

Artist: Matías Alonso

This was a regular strip in Judy, though it isn’t drawn by the regular artist. This strip like all the artist’s work  is lovely looking.  The only flaw I find is that Bobby a bit too pretty and girly then I’m used to.

J84 bobby dazzler

Basically Bobby is the only girl at an all-boys boarding school where her mother works. She usually ends up having to prove that she can do anything the boys can (and she usually does it better!). This story follows a typical set up  where her main antagonists, Mike and Don, sign up for a model plane building competition and laugh at Bobby when she says she’ll enter.  They tell her she should stick to flower arranging (this piece of dialogue will be a set up for the end punchline).

Of course when they realise she’s actually good at making model planes they decide to interfere as they can’t lose to a girl!  So when Bobby volunteers to do the flower display for the hall, the boys decide to lock her into the room so she hasn’t time to finish her model. Of course quick thinking Bobby uses the flowers and some wire to make a unique model plane and ends up winning the competition.

I liked Bobby Dazzler, she could always hold her own with the boys and the boys while sounding a bit chauvinistic were usually aware that Bobby could beat them at most things.

 

The Time Machine    (Pages: 17-21)

Artist: Ken Houghton

Ann lives with her brilliant inventor uncle, who of course has no money, still waiting for the invention that will make them millions. He thinks he finally has it when he makes a time machine. Ann isn’t too convinced. Later she sees a paper headline about a painting that sold for a million pounds by Leonardo.  (Presumably Da Vinci though they never say his second name specifically for some reason, they just leave it at Leonardo, Italian painter from 1498). So when she sees that the painting was part of a pair she decides to try out her uncle’s time machine.

Somehow the vague location of Milan lands her right in his studio. We also get the classic swirling numbers when travelling back in time (this is also where this site’s banner comes from).  So Ann does a deal with Leonardo, through gestures as he’s Italian and doesn’t speak English.

So she takes the painting back  and then goes to contact an art dealer. Straight away the dealer tells her it can’t be the original painting as the paint’s too fresh, he gives her £50 for it anyway for its curiosity value. Of course time as a loop means that she was the cause of the painting being “lost”.

 

Simple Simon   (Pages: 23-25)

Artist: Sean Phillips      Inker: Ken Houghton

As this is only 3 pages long the set-up, conflict and resolution all come pretty quick. Sandra Brown and her horse, Simon,  are accepted into a riding club and she delighted. She has a great time on the outings with the club and seems oblivious that the girls are annoyed that her horse is too slow to keep up with the rest of them.

j84 simple simon

So she is surprised and disappointed a few weeks later when one of the girls, Moira, tells her she has been voted out of the club. She is still loyal to Simon telling him he’s better than any of the faster ponies and then the next day he gets to prove himself when Moira’s horse gets in trouble. Simon helps pull Moira’s horse out of the bog and Moira is so grateful she and the rest of the club vote for Sandra and Simon to join again. Sandra accepts it enthusiastically with no conflict about been kicked out 2 days before.

Schoolgirl Vet  (Pages: 27-31)

This was another regular Judy feature about a girl Kay Burrows who wanted to be a vet and helped her vet brother David a lot of the time. In this story the set-up is that Constable Clark’s dog Rex who is trained to protect him and not accept anything from strangers, gets poisoned.  They don’t know what could have happened but Kay figures out that the stick Clark has being using to play fetch with Rex is Laburnum, a poisonous plant.

So Rex is cured, but a mere poisoning doesn’t make for enough of a thrilling story, so a runaway truck has to be added. Constable Clark performs an impressive and improbable bit of policing.

j84 schoolgirl vet

But wouldn’t you know it after that amazing feat, the brakes have failed so all Clark and Rex can do is steer it clear of the populated area and use their amazing reflexes to jump clear of the truck

Clark is hurt and needs to be gotten clear of the truck before it explodes but Rex won’t let anyone near him. While some guy gets ready to shoot the dog, Kay and David arrive. Kay convinces the police to let her try and get the dog and Rex recognises her and lets her put a lead on him so everyone’s okay.

 

A Year and a Day   (Pages: 33-37)

The year is 1738 and a Squire Jonas and his new wife Althea, are heading home when the coach nearly hits an old woman.  Now the Squire doesn’t seem like a bad guy he had told his driver to go slower and shows concern about the old woman though he does mention that people call her a witch. Woodtrope (the witch) decides to place a curse on him, which seems somewhat unfair after all it was his driver’s fault not his, unless she was more pissed off by being called a witch, in which instance she doesn’t help her case by cursing his first born child.

j84 year and a day

So for those of you who are history buffs you might spot a flaw in her curse, for everyone else prepare for the twist ending.

So the couple have a daughter, Alona, and pretty much forget about the curse until Woodthorpe  turns up to remind them on Alona’s 13th birthday. While Jonas is sceptical about Woodthorpe’s powers, Althea decides she should spend the night of the 2nd with her daughter. Just as midnight approaches Death appears. Looking like the stereotypical Death with a cloak and scythe, and also wings and a horse and lots of smoke. Then the clock strikes midnight and he just disappears. The next day Alona’s tutor comes with the news that Woodthorpe was heard to be carried off screaming in the night and also provides the reason for Death’s disappearance.

j84 year and a day 2

Apparently Death follows the Gregorian calendar too.

 

A Fast Learner   (Pages: 40-44)

  • Art: Rodney Sutton

Marie Reagan is part of a travelling community and is told she will have to go to school by the government. She insists on bringing her parrot to school and of course she runs into some bullies the first day. The bullies leave the parrot out of the cage and she flies away. For someone that was so insistent that she couldn’t be parted from her bird she isn’t too upset about her flying off.  She doesn’t even look for her; she just leaves the cage open at school and goes home to study. Meanwhile the bullies decide to set Marie up by stealing stuff and put it in Marie’s locker.

So the police arrive and Marie is happy to see Polly has returned to the locker room. She is surprised when the police search the lockers and find the stolen stuff in her locker. Luckily there is a witness to the crime, as Polly quotes the bullies.

Fast_Learner_02_J84

The policeman takes the word of the parrot. The bullies get taken to the station to meet their parents and Marie does well on her first test, so everything works out.

 

The Hero   (Pages 49-51)

Two sisters, Susan and Rachel, decide to avoid any more dates with two boys who bored them by talking about cowboys and rock climbing respectively. The perfect distraction comes in the form of a film star who is part of film being shot in their town. A big crowd gathers around and Jason James the film star chooses the girls to go on a boat with him for publicity shots. Of course when things go wrong,  it’s the boys to the rescue with their skills of rock climbing and ah… cowboy related lassoing.

j84 the hero

Of course Jason James makes a complete idiot of himself. The boys are enjoying attention from some girls when Susan and Rachel come over to set them straight, that it’s theirboyfriends the girls are hitting on.  So being fickle girls, they are now fascinated by their boyfriends interests the minute some other girls show and interest in them.

 

Cora Cupid   (Pages: 55-57)

Another regular Judy story about a girl, Cora’s, attempts to play matchmaker. As she is an already established character with Judy fans, other than a small caption box there is no need for a big story set up. This also means that a short 3 page story works better here than the previously mentioned “Simple Simon”. In this story she tries to matchmaker an overzealous first aider with a guy who wants to be a doctor. It doesn’t quite work as she hoped.

Romance and boyfriends became a more common story plot in the 70s/80s/90s then when these comics first started.

Rain   (Pages: 62-63)

Art: Oliver Passingham

Marie Patin and her father a doctor live in a log cabin where there neighbours are a tribe of “Red Indians”.  Anuak, one of the neighbours apparently has interest in becoming a doctor but thinks his elders wouldn’t approve as they are set in their ways. He is disparaging of their plans for a ritual to the rain god to stop the recent flooding. That night Marie awakens to find an old man outside in the rain. She invites him in gives him shelter. The next morning he has gone and so has the rain. Anuak has a quick change of opinion about his elders with these revelations.

Junior Nanny   (Pages: 65-67)

Junior Nanny, Chris Johnson, works in a residential nursery, solving little kids problems.  Donny one of the recent additions is having problems settling in. His father’s dead, his mother’s in hospital and he can’t talk well. Presumably in frustration with the way his life is going so far, he starts tearing the legs off kid’s teddies.  Chris’s boyfriend, Andrew, decides terrifying the kid will help…

j84 junior nanny 1

…it doesn’t.

j84 junior nanny 2

Apparently honey was a high commodity 1984, was there a shortage in the 80s or something?  I definitely remember having honey at home in the 80s.

So they get the “precious” honey but Donny smashes it. That night one of the kids asks to be read a story about the bear who really likes honey (wonder who that refers to!). Donny gets upset. Chris figures out that Donny’s missing his teddy bear named Honey. So Donny and Honey are reunited and Andrew gets to slip in some suggestive comments to Chris about having his own honey to cuddle.

 

The Girl in the Looking Glass   (Pages: 69-73)

Jane Martin is on holidays with her parents but is very bored. She is interested in the local Chateau, but it is closed to public. She decides to take a closer look anyway, so she hops over the wall and is found by the caretaker’s son

I think she needs to look up definition trespassing, jumping the wall for a closer look at the chateau still constitutes trespassing. So it turns out the Chateau was originally owned by the LaMartins and Jane’s last name being Martin thinks they might be ancestors of hers, and the boy Jean also thinks this is remarkable (because you know Martin being such an unusual name to have!)

Years ago  a curse placed on the Chateau, that if intruders ever stole anything from the chateau and went un-punished, the whole place would be destroyed. It seems like an odd curse, was the old woman who placed the curse a really vigilant law keeper that wanted to ensure thieves did not go unpunished? Or was it that she hoped that the place would not only get robbed but get destroyed in the process? Why the old woman placed the curse in the first place is never explained either.

So while Jean is  checking on one of the burglary alarm he lets Jane into one of the rooms for a few minutes. Jane admires one of the pictures but then as she turns to leave she sees the portrait in the mirror but it reflects her own face. She panics trips over a stool, knocks herself unconcious and sets off an alarm. This turns out to be a lucky thing as burglers had broken in and captured Jean and tried to get him to turn off the alarms. Later her seeing herself in the mirror is explained away.

j84 girl in looking glass 2

You know those old trick mirrors, set a precise angles to old paintings, that every rich person keeps in their house.

The owner are so grateful to Jane that they invite her and her family to stay. Jane looks in the mirror again and sees the portrait is smiling so is not convinced that it’s just a trick of the mirror. There is a bit of ambiguity to whether she’s just over imaginative or whether the Lamartins were actually her ancestors.

 

Big ‘n’ Bertha   (Pages: 74-75)

Judy also had humorous regular features that were more in the style of Beono/Dandy type comic. Bertha is a young girl and Big is her dog and that usually end up being a source of irritation of her father. The father looks a lot like teacher from Bash street kids, I’m not entirely sure if it was the same artist.  Of course artists and writers hardly ever got credited for their work with these comics so it can be hard to track down who drew what.

In this strip Bertha sets up a paddle pool but Dad ties Big up so he won’t splash around and dirty Mum’s washing. When Dad tries to show off his diving skills of course it ends in disaster for him when he trips over Big.

j84 bignbertha

 

Wee Slavey   (Pages: 78-79)

This was a popular feature in Judy. It was about a young Victorian maid, Nellie Perks. While often stories about maids in Victorian times showed a hard life of drudgery, this was a more light-hearted funny strip.  In this short story on her afternoon off she tries to help out a struggling artist, to sell his paintings. He doesn’t have much luck but he paints a portrait of Nellie and signs it for her. Later when Nellie is working she drops the picture in front of some of the family’s guests. In a big coincidence style, it turns out the guests are the parents of the artist.

j84 wee slavey

It is never explained did Ian actually go to Australia and come back or just take the fare money to do his own thing. Either way the parents are so happy to be reunited with him that they help him get famous and he has an exhibition to a crowded galley which includes Nellie’s picture.

 

For All to See  (Pages: 82-85)

Lucy Weston’s estranged rich Uncle is dying. He emigrated from England to Canada in the 40s.  Now that he’s dying, he is feeling bad about disowning his sister after her marriage. So he wants to make it up to his sister and niece Lucy by leaving them an inheritance. He is afraid that his family would contest a legacy so his sends something open for “all to see”. Sure enough after his death, his pompous son, Alan, comes to check what his father sent his aunt and cousin. The document Uncle Charles sent them is deeds to a property in Canada. Alan informs them it’s worthless, it was flooded in 1973 by the government to make a reservoir.  So Alan throws the paper back at them and leaves. They are disappointed, but Lucy refuses to believe it was some joke. While in a newsagents she figures out what the document is all about. She shows the document to the newsagent a keen stamp collector. Turns out the document has a rare stamp attached to it worth nearly 50,000.

The Helpers   (Pages: 88-93)

Artist: Ian Kennedy

A new take on the history of Britain, two aliens Petra and Anya land on Earth during the early Stone Age. Their mission is to help primitive people. They begin to show the people how to make fire, tools, wheels, and apparently teach them English.

j84 the helpers 1

So the people are amazed by this “teknajee” and want the “Gods” to stay with them. Anya and Petra decide its time to leave before they become to dependent on them. So the tribe name the land after them; Petranya.

Then centuries later the Romans come to conquer them. I guess the tribe could have used their alien helpers then!

j84 the helpers 2

So after some kind of chinese whispers like hijinks Petranya become Britannia.  Not exactly the most historical accurate depiction of Britain, but the last panel asks anyway “Just a story. But could it be how Britain and London got their names?”

The Theatre   (Pages: 97-101)

Artist: Russ Nicholson

I just love the artwork in this story particularly the opening panel.  Often I think these stories benefited from not being in colour, the simple green/black/white works beautifully here.

So the set up is Grace has time to kill before getting her train and seeks shelter in a theatre. Often short stories with a twist, used the situation of the protagonist hanging out with ghosts without realising it. This story has the good double bluff, where Grace freaks out as she thinks the theatre people are  ghosts when she sees they are dressed in old fashioned clothes. She runs away but some of the people catch up to her.

j84 the theatre 2

So this is explained away, and Grace ends up staying until the second half, then goes to get her train. She forgets her gloves though, so she runs back to get them, only to find…

j84 the theatre 3

 

Danger, Min at Work!   (Pages: 104-105)

Another humour strip, this involves a girl Min who can never keep a job. Her story-lines had her trying out a variety of jobs, that always end in disaster. Here she gets a job on a farm and typical mayhem ensues. She decides the quickest way to weed turnips is to use a tractor. She ends up losing control of the tractor and crashing into a milk tanker.

 

Betty’s Bloodhound Butler   (Pages: 107-109)

  • Art: Georgio Letteri

Betty has a dog that is called Butler and is also dressed liked one. He also talks like a butler, but only Betty can understand him (or else she is completely delusional!).  Kind of reminds me of the recent Australian/US TV show Wilfred, only Butler is more dignified than Wilfred and Betty was never suicidal.

Betty is out getting a birthday present for her Neighbour’s little girl, Susie. She buys her a stuffed dog, but Susie the ungrateful brat decides she wants Butler instead. Since she’s told she can’t have Butler she goes into a pet shop to get a puppy. The owner understands as he has a daughter who is similar to Susie. The daughter proves this by demanding to have Susie’s stuffed dog.

Butler’s suggestion to Betty is that the pet shop owner may accept the stuffed dog as payment for the puppy. The owner apparently is all for the bartering system agrees to this.

 

The Black Dog   (Pages: 110-111)

Linda Llyod has a sixth sense and helps her uncle out whom as a member of Society for Psychical Research, investigates ghosts and haunted houses. A new client is upset that her son, Toby, has invented an imaginary dog and more upsetting for her is that she saw it herself go into his room before disappearing. Linda goes to talk to Toby and he is able to summon the dog at will. Linda figures out that Toby is very lonely, so she solves the problem by getting him a puppy. (Puppies, they solve all kids’ problems!).  She also persuades him to let the ghost dog  go back to where he belongs.

 

Photo Finish    (Pages:112-117)

Artist: Claude Berridge

June Simons finds an old instant camera in a local junk shop.But it turns out the camera is cursed; June soon figures out that anything she takes a picture of gets destroyed.  A vase breaks, her dad’s new car crashes etc. Presumably the camera was always doing this so I’ve got to wonder why the previous owner would pass it on to a junk shop.

So, while babysitting the little kid Jimmy goes to take a photo of Jane. She panics and decides to get rid of it but instead of just smashing she decides to run in the rain to throw it over the junk dealer’s wall

j84 photo finish

So that could have ended in a disaster but luckily  the last photo taken was not of Jane but of the mirror, so as it took a photo of itself it had to destroy itself. Which is pretty lucky as if she had just tossed it away presumably there’d be some kind of “jumanji” situation, where the junk dealer would just sell it on to some unsuspecting person again.

 

Reluctant Heroine   (Pages: 120-125)

This is another romance type story. While on holiday with parents Fran meets a boy Keith. She is happy to spend time with him at first but she isn’t too happy when he suggests they go diving.

She confesses that she has been scared of being underwater since a bad experience as a toddler. (Although she has no problem with swimming). Keith offers to help her with her phobia, but she declines. Later they go exploring some caves but they are trapped when the tide starts to come in. Keith decides to climb up to an opening at the top of the cave. He slips and hurts himself. Fran decides to the only way to get help is to swim out the entrance. So she ignores her fears, swims out and gets help to rescue Keith. This is a nice contrast to the earlier story “The Hero”; it means that both sexes have had a chance to save their love interests.