Tag Archives: Mystery story

Just One Leading Lady! [1982]

Published: Debbie #501 (18 September 1982) – #505 (16 October 1982)

Episodes: 5

Artist: Photo story

Writer: Unknown

Special thanks to Lorrsadmin and Phoenix for scans

Plot

Cathy Collins wants to play the lead in Dormy Drama Club’s next production. Two other girls, Sonya and Gail, are her rivals for it. Cathy’s friend, backstage girl Connie, keeps telling Cathy stories about a ghost haunting the theatre. The ghost is said to be of an actress who was so jealous of her rivals that she killed them. Cathy rubbishes such stories, but it’s not long before she sees the ghost in her nightmares. It does not help that the production they are putting on is a spooky one either.

It becomes apparent that someone is out to eliminate the rivals for the leading role, but it’s clearly no ghost. It’s a flesh-and-blood person whose maxim is that there’s only room for “just one leading lady!”, hence the title of the story.

Strike one comes when Sonya falls off the stage and claims she was pushed. The others accuse Cathy of pushing Sonya to get the leading role. Connie is the only one to stay friendly with her.

After accusing Cathy too, Gail storms off into a dressing room. The troublemaker strikes again by locking Gail in the dressing room overnight to make her ill from the freezing temperatures in there.

When this trick is discovered, everyone believes Cathy did it to get rid of both rivals. Mrs Shaw the drama club teacher tells Cathy to leave the club, pending investigation. Cathy’s protests of innocence are futile.

However, Cathy loves the theatre too much to just walk away, so she quietly watches the production from a distance. Mrs Shaw tries out various girls for the lead, none of whom are suitable. Cathy is surprised to see Connie try out for it too; she always thought Connie was happy being the backstage girl. Mrs Shaw gives Connie a minor role, saying she does not have enough experience for the lead. Cathy secretly sympathises, recalling her own experience of having to build up for a long time in the club before being allowed any major roles.

Afterwards Cathy overhears Connie practising all the lines for the lead. Connie sees her and asks her what she thought. When Cathy tries to say, in a very tactful manner, that it was wooden, Connie goes off into a big brag that she is a better actress than Cathy and the other rivals. Moreover, she gloats, she was the one who hurt Sonya and Gail and she was trying to wind Cathy up with phony stories about the ghost. She was out to get rid of all three rivals so she could grab the lead from backstage. Connie says it’s no use Cathy telling anyone because they won’t believe her. But Connie has miscalculated: Graham the SFX guy has not only overheard but also recorded everything!

A few days later, Connie has left the club permanently, everything is patched up, and Mrs Shaw is trying to work out who will play the lead. It’s not shown who gets it in the end, but Cathy doesn’t mind. She knows she will be a leading lady someday.

Thoughts

This is clearly a whodunit story, despite all the attempts of the antagonist to turn it into a ghost story. We can see that is no ghostly hand locking the dressing room door on Gail; it’s someone who is trying to take advantage of that rumour. And it is obvious from Cathy’s thought balloons that she is not guilty. Readers must have concluded that it is a third party in the group who is out for the role, and some may even have suspected it was Connie.

When Connie reveals her guilt to Cathy, readers were probably shaking their heads and thinking “poor fool”. Connie was so naïve and deluded that she could just leap into a starring role from backstage, and by playing dirty tricks instead of speaking out that she wanted to act too. The reality, which Cathy knew all too well, was that one had to build up experience on smaller roles before attempting a big one. Connie got a taste of that when Mrs Shaw said she did not have enough experience for the lead and gave her a minor role. So Connie hurt two girls and discredited a third for nothing. Yet she still has the delusion that she can play the lead far better than the other three girls.

Perversely, although Connie’s acting of the role was wooden, Cathy realises that in “a horrible way” Connie is indeed a much better actress – in the way she had fooled everyone into thinking she was content being a backstage girl when in fact she was using it as a springboard to grab the lead. To say nothing of fooling Cathy into thinking that she was her one and only friend. So did Connie have a talent for acting after all, which could have led her into starring roles with proper training and experience? Maybe it would have if she’d gone about things the right way, but she ruined whatever chance she had with nasty tricks.

Donna’s Double

Plot

Sophie Benson and Donna West are best friends. When Donna moves away, she loses touch with Sophie with no explanation. Then Sophie and her family move. At her new school, Sophie encounters Wendy Smith, whom she soon realises is really Donna. But Donna is acting very strangely – she is behaving in a timid, frightened manner and does not acknowledge Sophie. When Sophie tackles Donna, she admits she is Donna but begs Sophie to keep calling her Wendy. Sophie agrees, but is determined to find out what is going on.

donna'sdouble

Notes

  • Artist: Eduardo Feito

Appeared

  • Donna’s Double –  Bunty: #2168  (31 July 1999) – #2175 (18 September 1999)

No Joy for Jenny / “Is Bob My Brother?”

Plot:

Jenny Selby (Ruth in the reprint) is overjoyed when her brother John (Bob in the reprint) returns after being considered lost on a climbing expedition in the Himalayas. Then she begins to suspect the man is an impostor who is after the money John/Bob is set to inherit on his 21st birthday. When her suspicions become apparent, the man sends her away to boarding school. Jenny/Ruth returns secretly and, with the help of her dog Dirk, finds a sick man in a dingy room whom she is sure is her real brother. But the man does not claim to be John/Bob or recognise Jenny/Ruth.

Bob

Notes:

  • Artist: Julio Vivas (Also referenced elsewhere as Julian)
  • The story first appeared in Emma with the title “No Joy for Jenny” later it was reprinted with both Jenny and her brother renamed and a new title “Is Bob My Brother?”.

Appeared:

  • No Joy for Jenny – Emma: #56 (17 March 1979) – #65 (19 May 1979)
  • Reprinted as “Is Bob My Brother?” –  Mandy: #927 (20 Oct. 1984) – #936 (22 Dec. 1984)

 

Who is ‘J’?

Plot

Vicky Brown’s sister Mary is emotionally upset by someone with the initial ‘J’, and then has an road accident that leaves her comatose. Vicky turns detective to track down ‘J’, believing ‘J’ to be responsible for Mary’s accident. But this has her hurting a lot of innocent people whose names begin with J because she has wrongly assumed they are ‘J’.

J

Notes

  • Artist: Barrie Mitchell

Appeared

  • Who is ‘J’? –  Mandy: #919 (25 August 1984) – #932 (24 November 1984)