Tag Archives: Evil dolls

Beware the Mystery Dolls [1977]

  • Beware the Mystery Dolls – Spellbound #22 (19 February 1977) – #32 (30 April 1977)
  • Art: Adolfo Usero


In Victorian times, Vicky Martin is sent from an orphanage to stay with a distant relative Madame Venner who runs a doll shop and waxworks museum. It seems everyone she meets on the way is nervous of Madame Venner and her shop. She does at least make the acquaintance of Paul Cook a delivery boy who works nearby. She arrives at the shop and finds it quite creepy. A man suddenly grabs her telling her to go. Then Madame Venner appears, she tells Vicky not to take any notice of Franz, telling her he is a foreigner who lacks intelligence. Madame Venner looks as creepy as her shop, Vicky noting her waxy like appearance.  Madame Venner says she will do her duty and Vicky can stay and work for her and she thinks her pretty face will be useful. That first night Vicky has bad dreams and is awoken by noises. She goes to investigate and in the shop she is surprised to see the dolls walking about, as she falls in the doorway, the dolls seem to move to attack. Luckily they stop suddenly and Madame Venner tells her, she has an over active imagination the dolls are just clockwork. She asks Franz to show Vicky back to her room and he once again warns her to leave.

The next morning things seem brighter and Vicky thinks she was being silly to be scared the night before, even Madame Veneer acts friendlier to her and she asks Vicky to deliver a package, with one of the clockwork dolls, a soldier, to a Colonel Maltby. The package is left in his study and when all alone the soldier doll breaks out. When the Colonel arrives home he is surprised to see the doll in his old regiment uniform, then suddenly it attacks! After its attack the doll quickly escapes and heads back to the shop. Vicky is shocked when she spots the doll covered in blood returning to the shop, although she doesn’t see Madame Venner greeting its return. Vicky wonders if she imagined it, but when she finds out from Paul that the Colonel has mysteriously died she fears that it was the doll responsible.

Vicky arranges to meet Paul that night so she can tell him her suspicions but  Madame Venner catches her sneaking out. She makes up an excuse but Madame Venner is now distrustful of her and will be keeping a closer eye on her. That night she gives Vicky some food and locks her in her room. Vicky suspects food might be drugged and doesn’t eat it, instead she  sneaks out window to spy on the doll shop workshop, there she sees Madame Venner and Franz working with some strange machinery. Madame Venner declares with the wax from a pharaoh’s tomb and Franz’s genius she can take her vengeance as they bring a shepherdess doll to life. Then Vicky slips and hearing a noise outside the two go to investigate. Paul happens to see Vicky in trouble and startles a cat to distract Madame Venner and Franz.  Madame Venner not entirely convinced it was just the cat making noise, goes to check on Vicky just in case. Luckily Vicky has managed to get back to her room just in time.

The next day Madame Venner has another delivery for Vicky to make, this time to Lia Morgan, an actress. She is still suspicious of Vicky so she hypnotises her to make sure she does what she is told, but on the way Paul snaps her out of it. Vicky tells him about the dolls and what she saw but it sounds too fantastical that he doesn’t believe her, then they see Madame Venner is following them, and they have to go their separate ways. Vicky has no choice but to look like she has delivered the package, she instead hides it in a bush outside the house. She wants to go back to retrieve the doll but she isn’t able to escape Venner’s watchful eye until later, by which point the Shepherdess doll has woken and is on its mission finding a way into the house and slipping poison into Lia’s drink. Paul meets Vicky and witnessing the doll leaving Lia’s house he now believes her story. Vicky tries to catch the doll, but she leads her in front of a horse and carriage. Luckily it swerves and Vicky is unharmed and the doll is crushed.

Vicky takes an opportunity to switch around wires in the machine in the workshop, in the hopes of stopping Madame Venner’s plans. That night while trying to bring an archer doll to life the mixed up wires cause a fire. Although they get the fire under control quickly, Madame Venner, is very angry as she says flames almost destroyed her once and she goes to confront Vicky. Franz tries to persuade her that Vicky wouldn’t have anything to do with it. Vicky is saved from interrogation as Paul has brought a police constable after seeing the flames. She quickly gets rid of them and Madame Venner fixes the archer doll. Then she has one more job for Vicky and a plan to make sure Vicky won’t cause her anymore trouble! Madame Venner goes with Vicky to deliver the package to Sir John Bradley. Vicky escapes and later goes back to try and warn Sir Bradley only to find Madame Venner with him waiting for her. She has convinced him that Vicky is delusional, although things don’t go entirely to plan, when Sir Bradley insists Vicky stays the night to show her, her fears are unfounded and he will have the doctor see her in the morning.

Madame Venner rushes home to get her things, she thinks Vicky and Sir Bradley will be destroyed by the archer doll, while her and Franz are on the train out of town. Indeed the archer has begun his attack and with flaming arrow sets drapes on fire. Luckily with Vicky watching she is able to warn Sir Bradley and they stop the fire from spreading and destroy the doll. They then rush to Madame Venner’s place where they meet Paul who has been keeping eye on the place, but the museum is on fire, destroying all the evidence. They rush to catch Venner and Franz but they have already escaped on the train. Then the train crashes and they think fate has intervened to serve justice, Sir Bradley muses about a Miss Ventriss who was badly burned in a hunt ball, but now thinking they are safe Sir Bradley moves onto happier topics, offering both Vicky and Paul jobs in is household. Unknown to them Franz and Venner escaped the train wreckage and we see Madame Venner cover her scarred face with new mask.No one aware that Madame Venner still plans to have her revenge!


A perfect story for Halloween. This is a story that when it finishes still has readers asking questions, such as how did Franz come to work for Madame Venner and what exactly happened at the Hunt Ball where she was scarred? Even though we don’t get answers to our questions, the story never feels incomplete, or badly plotted, just an intriguing mystery.  It is one of the more darker stories in Spellbound as we see Madame Venner is quite successful with her revenge to start with, we see bodies in the aftermath of the dolls actions, and an ending where the villain, unknown to protagonists, is still at large.

From the start the setting in a waxworks museum and dolls toy shop creates a very creepy atmosphere, with a feeling of eyes watching all the time. Along with Madame Venner’s waxy appearance (which we only later find out is actually a mask covering her scarred face) she fits right in with her surroundings. The mysterious Franz who looks tall and intimidating, shows a compassionate side, trying to warn Vicky away and dissuading Madame Venner that she has been spying.  Because of his foreign accent, Madame Venner can pass him  off as simpleminded, which again contrasts to appearances, he is actually very intelligent having built the machinery that brings the dolls to life. Then there are the dolls that carry out Venner’s plan, the use of innocent looking toy dolls that carry out deadly actions is very effective. It is disturbing for Vicky (and the reader) when she sees the blood stained toy soldier return. When the Shepherdess doll is sent on her mission, we wonder how that victim will meet their end, to have poison hidden in her crook is quite inventive. The final archer doll using a flaming arrow, is fitting as Venner says it was fire that destroyed her life. Having the different types of dolls  keeps the story more interesting.

Vicky proves herself to be a resourceful protagonist, trying to stop the dolls being delivered, spying on Venner and messing with the equipment, all the while trying to not rouse Madame Venner’s suspicions. Although Paul doesn’t believe her at first he does become a good ally and it is good to have for her to have a confidant. Despite her efforts Madame Venner does become more suspicious of Vicky and we know the situation is becoming more dangerous for her. While she seems to be safe for now, with a good job and allies, the reader must have finished the story with some unease, knowing Madame Venner and Franz are still out there and Vicky must now be on the list of people that Venner wants vengeance against.



Little Dolly Demon (1981)


Published: Judy Picture Story Library #220

Artist: Stanley Houghton


Alison Kirby and Denise Vale are best friends. Right now they are in a bit of trouble with their teacher over an essay on why they like where they live, which in their case is Halbury Tower apartment block. Although Alison is having trouble putting it to paper for the essay, she does like to live at Halbury Tower. It’s not grotty as some apartment blocks are, there’s no vandalism, the lifts always work (makes a change!), the caretaker Mr Teal is nice and cheerful, and the tenants are always friendly to each other.

But all that is about to change with the arrival of Little Dolly Demon!

LDD’s arrival certainly lacks for nothing that night. There’s a violent storm, and Alison is surprised to see a ball of light in the sky. There’s a clap of thunder, and Alison thinks she heard something crash on the roof. That something is LDD, landing on the roof in a flash of light, and it can move on its own.

Next morning Alison and Denise are on the roof and find LDD. They are surprised to find the doll bone dry despite all the rain and take it in, thinking it must be lost. As they do so, the cat ring on Alison’s finger (a present her dad picked up in Malta) starts to burn hot and Alison can’t take it off. They leave LDD in Denise’s room, and once LDD is alone it gets to work with Denise’s satchel and the exercise book Alison left in it. Then, Alison is surprised to see Denise acting as though she is hypnotised (by LDD of course), but the pain from the ring forces her back. Under LDD’s influence, Denise throws Alison’s exercise book down the rubbish chute. Later, Denise finds her exercise book has gone too. As a result, they get into trouble with teacher and have their first-ever row. Later the caretaker finds Alison’s now-ruined exercise book in the garbage and then Denise finds her room has been mysteriously vandalised and her own exercise book ripped to shreds. Of course it’s LDD’s handiwork, but Mum blames Denise.


Later, Denise gives LDD to Mr Teal, and then his cupboard suddenly falls into chaos without explanation. Later, a ball is thrown through his window – from the inside – but Mr Teal becomes uncharacteristically bad tempered and he wrongly blames some boys who were playing a ball game. He doesn’t listen to the girls when they try to defend the boys either. Then he finds his own flat is flooded.

Alison and Denise have noticed that the trouble seemed to start when the doll arrived. Alison’s ring tingles again and it seems to be drawing her attention. Following its lead, she discovers the doll walking on its own and there are lightning bolts of some sort coming from its eyes. LDD runs after Alison and soon has her trapped. When she tries to use the lift, the doll uses its powers to sabotage it – which also traps Mr Teal in the lift! He is rescued, but the lift is now out of order for the first time ever.

Everyone blames Alison for putting it out of action. Their committee is lodging complaints against her and for the inconvenience the out-of-order lift is causing. The formerly friendly apartment block is now becoming increasingly acrimonious and everyone is at each other’s throats.

At school things are not much better. Teacher is getting fed up with the girls not producing the essays she set (because of LDD’s interference) and is constantly punishing them.


The doll has disappeared, but soon the girls see it on the roof again. It throws a ball down, which smashes a car windscreen below. Mr Teal blames the girls as they were the nearest to the car, and the tenants join in as they all think the worst of her now, despite pleas from the boys that the ball came from the roof. The girls head for the roof after LDD, which has been committing more vandalism on the roof. Unfortunately it gets away. Mr Teal and the tenants blame the girls for the vandalism, and they even call the police over the matter. This leads to a tenants’ meeting, which is very stormy. The policeman has to urge everyone to keep calm and there is no real evidence against anyone, and he personally believes the girls’ claims of innocence. The rancour at Halbury Tower is now so bad the policeman comments that he is so glad he does not live there.

Meanwhile, a little girl at the apartment block picks up LDD. The girls see her with it and try to take it away. LDD strikes with more powers, which eventually ends up with the tenants irrationally blaming Denise and Alison for a washing machine going haywire (LDD again) and accusing them of bullying kiddies. Now they are even more hostile towards the girls.

Alison has now realised her ring is acting as some kind of LDD detector and protector, and the girls use it to go in search of LDD. Sensing Alison’s approach, LDD starts a fire and uses its powers to make sure the fire spreads quickly. Denise and Alison help people evacuate, but they themselves get trapped on the roof. In the distance they can see LDD dancing and cackling, and using its powers to turn the flames into an inferno and directing them wherever it pleases. In the smoke, they see LDD’s face and realise it does not intend them to escape.


But then LDD gets squashed flat under the wheels of a reversing fire engine and is destroyed. Without LDD, the flames die down and the fire is soon under control. The girls are rescued, and are hailed as heroines for their work in evacuating others. Later they find an imprint in the street where LDD was crushed and realise what happened.

Two months later repairs are finished at Halbury Tower, and the tenants are back to their old friendly selves. The acrimony and nastiness disappeared with the destruction of LDD, and the girls are resigned to never unravelling the mystery of LDD. Alison still has to write her essay on why she likes living in an apartment block (two months on and she still hasn’t written it?!). The girls reiterate how they like living in an apartment block.


It is October and Halloween time, so it is fitting to focus on some of the spooky, scary stories from girls’ comics this month. I think you will agree they don’t come much more scary than Little Dolly Demon. The cover itself says it all in just how terrifying LDD is. That expression of LDD on the cover breaks the fourth wall, for it seems to be staring right at the reader, which makes it even more unnerving. For those who think LDD was inspired by Chucky, the answer is no. LDD precedes Chucky by seven years, which means LDD is original and ahead of its time.

It is not just the powers of LDD – walking on its own, laughing, shooting rays out of its eyes, and possessing the ability to manipulate things, people, and even fire – that make it so frightening. It is also LDD’s very appearance, particularly its hairstyle and the expressions on its face when its malignance manifests. And it is all brilliantly rendered by the Stanley Houghton artwork. Houghton’s style is a perfect match to terror and spookiness and has been seen elsewhere in spooky stories, such as Mandy’s “Teddy”.

Adding to the terror is the total mystery on the origins of LDD or why it acts in the way it does. LDD could have been possessed by an evil spirit. Perhaps LDD was the product of black magic. LDD could even have been some sort of demon in the form of a doll. Or perhaps there was some other reason. But there is no way of knowing. LDD does not actually speak either, which means the doll itself never offers any explanation. It just pops out of nowhere in a violent thunderstorm – probably created by more of its powers – and gets to work. It probably makes a regular habit of travelling from place to place, spreading mayhem and discord wherever it goes. Except that in this case LDD met its match in the girls who were armed with a protective ring. Like LDD, the reasons how or why the ring acted in the way it did are left a mystery, which further adds to the paranormal effect of the story. Hollywood could easily make a movie with LDD.


There is also an insidious element to LDD that adds to its creepiness. The girls note that its very size, which is small, enables it to escape and hide very easily. And being a doll, LDD can just sit and pose as an ordinary doll, where an unsuspecting child could pick it up and lavish love on its, not realising the danger. And this is precisely what happens with the little girl who picks up LDD.

Further adding to the creepiness and mystery of LDD is that it has no known name, unlike most evil dolls/puppets in girls’ serials. It is not given one either, except at one point where the girls nickname it “Kookie” before they realise the threat. But the nickname does not stick. It is just “the doll”.

The story takes the opportunity to comment on the merits of living in an apartment block – provided it is a nice apartment block where the tenants are friendly, the lifts work, and everything goes smoothly. There are other apartment blocks that aren’t. In some girls’ comics stories there are even apartment blocks that possess terrifying secrets/powers of their own, such as “The Sentinels” from Misty. This particular apartment block degenerates into one of the grotty apartment blocks once LDD arrives. Sometimes things do go wrong just when everything seems perfect, even without an evil doll to cause it all. The girls emerge even more appreciative of living in an apartment block once the baleful influence of LDD is lifted from it.



Miss Danby’s Dolls


Liz Miller has taken a job as companion and help to Miss Danby. Her sole companions are eight dolls: tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich-man, poor-man, beggar-man and thief. Liz thinks Miss Danby is fantasising when she talks about the dolls as if they were alive – but then strange things start happening that suggest they are.


  • Artist: Norman Lee


  • Miss Danby’s Dolls –  Bunty: #1616 (31 December 1988)  –  #1623 (18 February 1989)

Sally and the Sinister Sisters


Sally James’ grandfather buys a set of dolls that belonged to a Victorian witch. He is trying to mend them so as to make enough money to repair his shop. Sally is making new dresses for the dolls, but is finding that each doll is taking over her mind, which causes a lot of trouble for her.



  • Artist: Barrie Mitchell? (unconfirmed)


  • Sally and the Sinister Sisters –  Mandy: #628 (27 January 1979) – #638 (07 April 1979) 

The Trouble with Emmeline


Nicky Jones is delighted to receive a Victorian doll named Emmeline for her 13th birthday. Then Nicky realises Emmeline is evil and causing accidents around the place, but cannot convince her parents.

Eventually, Nicky discovers Emmeline had been sent to her by mistake; there was confusion with an elderly Miss Jones. When Nicky takes Emmeline to the correct address, she discovers Miss Jones has a male Victorian doll, Emmeline’s partner. Once the dolls are reunited, Emmeline is at peace and the trouble ceases. Emmeline


  • Artist: Len Potts


  • The Trouble with Emmeline –  Mandy:  #471 (24 January 1976) – #484 (24 April 1976)


Sally’s Little Sister


Ann Graham was trying to save her little sister from an antique doll, Bettina. Bettina had once been one of a pair of sister dolls—but the dolls had been parted and only Ann guessed that Bettina was trying to turn Sally into a doll to replace her own big sister. Ann had stolen Bettina’s “sister” from a museum in order to reunite the dolls, but, under the influence of Bettina, Sally had gone missing from hospital.




  • Sally’s Little Sister – Tracy: #16 (19 January 1980) – #28 (12 April 1980)
  • Reprinted – Judy and Tracy:  #1399 (01 November 1986) – #1411 (24 January 1987)

The Eyes of Hate


Janet Bolton has been pleasant and popular. Then a mysterious teacher, Miss Mallison, gives her Belinda, an evil rag doll. Janet is soon under Belinda’s power and is forced to do Miss Mallison’s bidding, which has a connection with the Atomic Research Station. But Janet’s friend Carole has become suspicious, and is following them.




  • The Eyes of Hate –  Debbie: #250 (26 November 1977) – #262 (18 February 1978)

The Haunted One


Strange things began to happen to Lynn Weston, when her family came to live at 23, Woodland Way. It started when she found an old rag doll which seemed to influence her behaviour. Whenever she tried to get rid of the doll, something always stopped her.

haunted one



  • The Haunted One  – Judy:  893 (19 February 1977) –  (?)


  • Codey – Bunty Picture Story Library #343 (1991)


B343_codeyAmy inherits her Great Uncle Harry’s ventriloquist dummy, which surprises her as she didn’t know him that well. What surprises her more though, is when Codey (the dummy) starts talking to her. He gets her in trouble when people think she is throwing her voice, saying nasty things. He wants to make it big, but Amy tries to refuse. He  threatens her family, so she has to go along with things.

She unsuccessfully tries to get rid of him a few times, which doesn’t make Codey to happy. It seems he is getting stronger, and has the power to get inside her head and make her say things like she was the Dummy!  At a show, she runs into an old man, Mr Morton, who claims Harry stole Codey from him years ago. Codey says horrible things to Morton and the old man collapses. Later Amy goes to visit Mr Morton in hospital, she talks to his daughter who tells her that Codey is a jinx and she should get rid of him. Amy decides to donate him to a museum, but Codey doesn’t want that. Amy puts him down stairs so she won’t have to listen to him all night. The living room catches on fire that night. Luckily Amy and her family escape but Codey is burnt up.



Evil dolls/ventriloquist dummies another common theme for these comics. As I’ve mentioned before, the picture story libraries were more limited in what they could compared to ongoing weekly issues . So a story like Charlie Chatterbox, had more depth to his character and the story had more of a build up to his motivations. Codey is simply evil and there is a lot of unanswered questions in the story.

It is unclear why Uncle Harry left the dummy to Amy in the first place, although it could be because he was still under the influence of  Codey. How Codey could not only talk but also make Amy say things and influence her dreams is a mystery. The idea of a dummy making words coming out of someone else, is interesting but it is only used once, so it’s hardly developed. It seems to be a  just a throwaway power for the convenience of one scene.

The parents are a bit pushy, they do relent in the end when Amy says she doesn’t want to do ventriloquism anymore, but first they just sign her up for talent contests and don’t even listen to her. So Amy has a hard time, with being scared by Codey and pushed by her parents. She does try to stand up for herself at times and she is concerned about keeping her family safe, but a lot of time she just seems helpless.


Codey’s motives just seem to be to get famous, but he doesn’t help himself by being rude and sometimes nasty to  everyone including the agents that are there to help him. There is no potential nice side to him. He is just nasty and evil. His act usually involves him being cruel. He doesn’t want to end up in a museum, but you’d think if he was that powerful he could find some way around it, he sat up in Harry’s attic for so long, you’d thing he had patience. Somehow he throws himself on to the electric fire, so he can avoid going to museum and probably hopes to take whole family with him.


I quite like the cover art, it is not crowded and looks interesting, the dummy looks mean and creepy. The art inside isn’t bad but again, I think “Charlie Chatterbox” made better use of shadows and angles to make a dummy seem bigger and more threatening.  Codey is a menacing character and the story isn’t bad but it is a story that has been done better before.