Tag Archives: Marion Turner

Marion Turner – DCT writer

Another prolific DCT writer, that I am happy to be able to give credit to – Marion Turner (née Eadie)  under the pen name Fiona Turner, submitted over 500 scripts to various DC Thomson magazines/ comics, from 1973 to her retirement in 1994.  Stories that will be well remembered by many people including Supercats (Spellbound) Madame Marlova Remembers (Debbie) , The Double Life of Sad Sarah (Mandy) and Cybela (Judy).

List of stories on next page

(Supercats : Wings of Fear – Spellbound #67)

As she begin her career editing Urania (Journal of the Junior Astronomical Association) and later contributed stories and editorial experience to science fiction fanzine Zenith, it’s then no surprise that she many of the girls comics stories she wrote were science fiction stories. Her Supercats scripts combined with Badia’s artwork must make it one of the most well regarded stories (although she didn’t write all the scripts for that serial). She wasn’t limited to just science fiction though, she should she could write variety of styles successfully such as historical emotional stories like Cold as Charity (Judy) or mystery stories like Where is Melanie Forbes? (Judy) . My personal favourite story of hers has to be The Double Life of Sad Sarah. In the story the protagonist, Debbie’s father writes a comic strip “Sad Sarah” which had the character Sarah endure many hardships but was always patient. When the Sarah character comes to life, she is not as nice as she is written and causes trouble for Debbie! It is very cleverly written and for anyone with familiarity of these comics will appreciate the meta commentary!

(The Double Life of Sad Sarah – Mandy)

It’s interesting to see a glimpse of some of the working before the finished product, many of the stories submitted had their names changed, such as Madame Marlova originally being Madam Zaza and Marsali-Girl of Mystery becoming Nola -Girl From Nowhere. Supercats had an editorial note to “do a kind of female Star Trek” but to avoid being over technical considering the readership. It was editorial that suggested having a dark-skinned protagonist for Cybela, which is nice that they were pushing for more diverse protagonists in these comics.

(Cybela – Judy)

Sadly Marion has since passed away , but her on Phillip (who got in contact with me) is keeping her memory alive with a site dedicated to her, which is a good read as she led an interesting life and has lots of information on her writings – http://www.htspweb.co.uk/fandf/romart/mft/mftidx.htm

Susan and the Sea People

Plot

Susan Craig made friends with seagirl, Thana, who possessed bracelet so they could breathe on land or in water. When the sea people had an uprising and captured Thana’s parents, Susan had to help her new friend.

Notes

  • Writer: Marion Turner (under pen-name: Fiona Turner)

Appeared

  • Susan and the Sea People – Tracy: #268 (17 November 1984) – #277 (19 January 1985)

Shadow of Doom

Plot

Linda and Carol Milne, twelve year old twins, discovered that because of a witch’s curse laid on an ancestor, one of every pair of twins born in the family, was doomed to die before their thirteenth birthday. The curse could only be undone by a strange witch’s necklace made up of thirteen linking pieces. To spare their family the girls kept their discovery a secret and set out to track down the 12 medallions and the chain.

Notes

  • Writer: Marion Turner (under pen-name: Fiona Turner)

Appeared

  • Shadow of Doom – Tracy: #215 (12 November 1983) – #227 (4 February 1984)

Slave to her Sister

Plot

After the tragic death of their archaeologist parents, Candy and Jill decided to start a small cattery to enable them to keep their home. Then Jill fell victim to a strange delusion believing herself to be the Princess Nefren of Ancient Egypt. Fearing they would lose their home if Jill’s state of mind became known, Candy resolved to keep quiet, even though it meant acting as her slave.

Notes

  • Writer: Marion Turner (under pen-name: Fiona Turner)

Appeared

  • Slave to her Sister – Tracy: #106 (10 October 1981) – #115 (12 December 1981)

The Secret of the Ice Maiden

Plot

Crystal Starr had the strange ability to project freezing power from her fingertips! She made friends with Gwen Jackson, whose parents had recently opened a small cafe—but Crystal suspected they had a secret enemy in Joe Hardman, a local business man.

Notes

  • Writer: Marion Turner (under pen-name: Fiona Turner)
  • Script submitted had the title The Ice Maiden but was changed to The Secret of the Ice Maiden for publication.

Appeared

  • The Secret of the Ice Maiden – Tracy: #16 (19 January 1980) – #31 (3 May 1980)

Girls on Film

Plot

Jill Jackson had found holiday work as a photo story model for a girls magazine. Jill was unaware that the other model Shaney Travers was really an older girl pretending to be a schoolgirl, but she did suspect that Shaney was out to cause difficulties for Rob Harper the young photographer

Notes

  • From notes have received most likely Writer: Marion Turner (under pen-name: Fiona Turner)
  • Photo story

Appeared

  • Girls on Film – Suzy: #65 (3 December 1983) – #70 (7 January 1984)

The Grimthorpe Secret

Plot

In Victorian times, Paulina Grimthorpe was turned out of her home, Grimthorpe Hall, along with all the servants when her uncle Darley claimed the estate after the sudden death of her father. In order to search for the will she felt sure her father must have left, Paulina took a job as a scullery maid in her own home under the name Polly Ford.

Notes

  • Art: Paddy Brennan
  • From notes received most likely writer is Marion Turner (under pen name Fiona Turner)

Appeared

  • The Grimthorpe Secret – Suzy: #55 (24 September 1983) – #66 (10 December 1983)

I Don’t Want to Be a Model! [1984]

Plot

Roslyn Grant is taken in by Gerda Grayson, a (so-called) friend of her mother’s while her mother is away. Grayson abuses Rosyln into becoming a model and holds her prisoner by removing her glasses so Roslyn can’t see properly, and takes her out of school. When Roslyn tries to run away, she is caught, and the label of runaway gives Grayson even more blackmail power over Roslyn. Eventually Roslyn learns that Grayson’s cruelty is due to a long-standing jealousy she has held against her mother ever since their school days, and Grayson has a long record of bullying.

Notes

  • Artist: Rodney Sutton
  • Writer: Marion Turner (under pen-name: Fiona Turner)

Appeared

  • I Don’t Want to Be a Model! – Tracy: #235 (31 March 1984) – #243 (26 May 1984)

 

Damian Darke

  • Damian Darke– Spellbound: #01 (25 September 1976) – #54 (1 October 1977) [no episodes in issues; #28, #33, #34, #39, #40, #45, #47]
  • Damian Darke – Spellbound: #57 (22 Oct 1977),  #66 (24 Dec 1977), #68 (07 Jan 1978)
  • Damian Darke – Debbie: #258 (21 January 1978) – #274 (13 May 1978)
  • Damian Darke – Debbie: #278 (10 June 1978) – #287 (12 August 1978), [no episode in #286]
  • Damian Darke – Debbie:  #313 (10 February 1979), #317 (10 March 1979) – #325 (5 May 1979), [no episode #321]
  • Damian Darke – Debbie: #342 (1 September 1979) – #355 (1 December 1979)
  • Damian Darke – Debbie: #375 (19 April 1980) – #394 (30 August 1980)
  • Damian Darke – Debbie: #412 (3 January 1981)
  • Damian Darke – Debbie: #420 (28 February 1981) – #421 (7 March 1981)
  • Damian Darke – Debbie: #431 (16 May 1981) – #447 (5 September 1981)
  • Damian Darke – Debbie: #478 (10 Apr. 1982), #482 (8 May 1982), #518 (15 Jan. 1983)
  • Damian Darke – Mandy: #841 (26 February 1983) – (?)
  • Edited reprints as Midnight Mystery – Nikki: #165 (16 April 1988) – #220 (6 May 1989)
  • Artists: Various, including Brian Lewis, Ernesto Luis García Durán, David Matysiak
  • Writers: Marion Turner (at least 5 scripts)

Plot

damian darkeDamian Darke is a storyteller of  strange and spooky stories. We don’t get  background on where he came from or how he knows such stories, but they seem to be documented in a large book that he keeps with him. He has a very distinctive look, dressed in old fashioned clothes and always accompanied by a raven. While Damian Darke introduces each story and usually had a closing statement about it, each story had it’s own individual title. The  stories were varied from cursed objects, ghost stories, timeslips and other strange occurrences. A List of stories  can be found  here.

I’m going to discuss ten of my own favourite Damian Darke stories here (listed alphabetically rather than a particular ranking). There were many Damian Darke stories that appeared in Debbie that I have not read, so there are probably other worthy stories that could have made the list too.

1.  A Spoonful of Evil…. [Spellbound: #43] 

Carol loves going to auctions, one of her latest purchases is some old cutlery and her flatmate Sue chides for buying such junk. The next day, Carol and Sue are enjoying soup together when suddenly Sue takes ill. It seems to be some sort of food poisoning but Carol has not been effected. Once Sue has recovered she brushes it off as a bug and even is happy to try some soup again, but then Carol falls ill. The doctor is called again, and surprises the girls by asking if he can bring back a friend of his, an expert on local history. The girls can’t see how that could help but agree. The historian asks to exam their cutlery, his suspicions are confirmed when he finds a spoon with the devil’s head stamped on it.

spoonful-of-evil He then tells Sue the story of a Silversmith who claimed to have seen the devil and made a bargain with him, 12 innocent souls in exchange for his. He made a dozen spoons with the devil head mark and into the silver he mixed a deadly poison so that if the spoons were used twice, it was fatal. After 12 people had died from the poisoning he tried to recover the spoons but only found three. Now that the fourth has been found, Damian Darke ends with a warning that eight of the deadly spoons are still out there and asks the reader have they examined the spoons in their kitchen recently…

I like this story, the girls are lucky to have shared the spoon, although one could say they were unlucky to find it in the first place! It is one of those stories where it is not a person that needs a learn a lesson, but an unfortunate happenstance, which is scarier in a way! I like also in the story of the silversmith, it is left vague to whether he did actually see the Devil – the doctor in telling the story says he “imagined” seeing him. We don’t know whether there was some supernatural instance, and what the Silversmith may have done originally to get the attention of the devil, although it seems he was certainly capable of murder. It could have easily have been just a delusion by the man, with deadly consequences.  That we are still left wondering where the other eight spoons are, is also a troubling and compelling ending. (Although in a Nikki reprint they make it the twelfth spoon, taking away some of the fear)

2. Another Pair of Hands…  [Spellbound: #54]

Abigail Barton and her Aunt Ruth move to a remote cottage which was a long walk to the nearby village. Still they are happy with the cottage, but for some reason they are unable to find a housemaid willing to work at the cottage. When Ruth falls sick, it is up to Abigail to keep things running as she doesn’t want to worry her aunt. The work is taking it’s toll on Abigail though and exhausted she falls asleep in the kitchen. She is woken surprised by a young woman, who introduces herself as Biddy Breen and is there to offer her services. Abigail is delighted by the work Biddy does although she is puzzled by why she is always gone in the morning before she gets up.

When the doctor comes to visit Ruth he is happy to see her recovered and rested. Abigail tells him they have got help from a girl Biddy Breen, which shocks him. He tells them Biddy Breen used to work in the cottage but one dark night wandered off the road and was drowned. Finding out the place is haunted, Ruth immediately wants to pack up and leave, but Abigail persuades her to stay , she tells her Biddy has been a good friend to them and she believes she can get her to leave. That night she stays up until Biddy appears, she thanks her for her help but tells her she can rest now.  Damian tells us Biddy’s  ghost was never seen again and in time the village people stopped fearing the cottage and the Barton’s lived there happily.

another-pair-of-hands

Not all the stories had to have some evil presence, here Biddy is not a ghost to be feared as she is kind spirit who wants to help. Although people still fear the unknown, the village people don’t want to come near the cottage because of the rumors of it being haunted and even Aunt Ruth knowing the help Biddy has given her first instinct is still to run away. It is only Abigail that acknowledges that Biddy has been a friend to them and she also returns the favor by releasing Biddy so she can rest in peace.

3. Behind the Green Door  [Spellbound:  #15]

In 1850, siblings Grace and John were sent out to sell matchboxes every day by their brutish stepfather, who kept all the money they made for himself. In extra money they do make Grace makes sure to hide it away so they can save up to run away from their stepfather. One day when they are out, John can’t resist taking a look behind  a green door that’s ajar. It opens up to a beautiful garden, even more surprising several well dressed people welcome them to join them for tea. They also seem to know their names and give the children money as they leave and invite them back the next day.

Their stepfather, Sykes, is suspicious of what they have been up to as they seem happy, so he follows them the next day. He catches them at the green door and shoves them aside to enter. He is in for a shock though, as unlike the children he doesn’t come across a garden instead he finds himself in the path of a carriage. Grace and John have no means to follow him as the Green door disappeared as Sykes went through. When they go home, they find out that Sykes was killed after he stepped out in front of a runaway dray horse. They are puzzled and they never find the green door again but they live a happier life with Sykes gone.

green-door

There’s some lovely artwork here (it’s the same artist as recent post Little Dolly Demon). When Grace and John find the garden it is quite exquisite with fountains and peacocks. There is a nice contrast of what the people see as they go through the door, and certainly Sykes, terrified look as the carriage come from the fog is very effective. The mysterious door is not explained but it does seem to judge those that go through it – Grace and John are rewarded, while Sykes meets only death.

4. Day of Vengeance  [Spellbound:  #17]

Many years ago, Old Hannah a clothes cleaner, was an irritable and sharp-tongued woman, only one girl; Margot, befriended her. One day while washing clothes, Old Hannah staring into the water suddenly told Margot to run to the men working in the filed near the mountains and to warn them to run as they were in danger. At first the men don’t listen to Margot but when Old Hannah appears something in her voice makes them listen. They are saved before the a giant rockfall comes crashing down. One man Herr Bauer takes special interest in Old Hannah’s premonition an visits her trying to persuade her that working together they could make a profit with her talents. Hannah tells home she rarely gets visions and only talks of them if there is danger and she has no interest in his greed.

Herr Bauer doesn’t take this well, he soon turns the village against Hannah, saying that having a witch in their midst is the cause of disasters such as crops failing. The villagers riled up and went to attack Hannah and burn her cottage down. Despite Margot’s efforts to save her Hannah is stoned and left on the mountain to die. Even then the villagers aren’t sated, seeing how upset Margot is, they begin to question if she was too close to the witch and should be banished. The elders decide to meet to discuss the matter. That night Margot is surprised to hear Hannah out beating clothes, she rushes to see her but then realises she is a ghost, beating 12 bloody clothes and singing a terrifying song. At the elder’s meeting a few days later, the building collapses killing the 12 men, so Old Hannah has her revenge and protects Margot.

day-of-vengeance

The greed of one man who was quite willing to use Hannah’s supernatural powers for his own means, quickly turns to a righteousness when he is rejected. That he is able to turn the villagers against a woman who saved their lives, shows who quickly fear and superstition can be aroused particularly in the time period the story it is set. Bad enough the fate of Old Hannah but that they then turn their attentions to Margot for trying to help Hannah is unforgivable. Which Old Hannah obviously thinks too and the very creepy image of her beating the clothes, lets us know that she should never have been crossed.

5. Horror in Haunted Woods  [Debbie: #324]

Sue, Karen and Christy are doing a school project about  local legends and get help from knowledgeable Mrs Rivett. She tells them the legend of how the local wood got the name Dog Wood. In the 17th century, the ashes of a witch who’d been burned at the stake were buried under the tallest tree in the wood along with ashes of her two pet dogs. People believed if anyone was to touch the Witch’s Firtree, the Dog-People, half men and half beasts,would rise from their graves to destroy them. On the way home Karen and Christy make Sue touch the tree. She is not worried, she believes what Mrs Rivett told her superstitious people got hurt because they frightened themselves so much.
horror-in-haunted-woods

A few nights later Sue sees dogs at the window, she tries to  to shoo them but then sees they only have the head of a dog, she is terrified that the dog-people have come to destroy her. Her parents don’t believe her telling it was a dream. But the next day cycling home she sees them again she falls from her bike and is chased, she ends up at the Witch Fir where she sees a figure beneath the tree. Sue thinks her days are numbered and that it is the witch returned, but then it is revealed to be Mrs Rivett. She calls out to the dog people telling them they should be ashamed of scaring the girl, it is then revealed that it is Karen and Christy in masks. They only meant it as a joke, but Mrs Rivett harshly reprimands them. She helps Sue back to her bike and she reassures her, that she needn’t worry about old wive’s tales and if there were such things as ghosts, she believes they would just be ordinary people who would come back to help anyone in trouble. Sue is comforted by this, she tells her parents when she gets home, but they inform her it couldn’t have been Mrs Rivett that helped her as she died from a heart-attack that morning!

horror-in-haunted-woods-2

There is some very frightening imagery with the dog people, even though it turns out to be a prank, it’s easy to see how Sue could be so terrified. Mrs Rivett helping her and telling her that maybe ghost just come back to help people is a bittersweet ending as clearly Sue had great admiration for the woman is upset by her death, very well captured with her expression and the tear in the last panel.

6. Mystery at Howlen Hall  [Spellbound:  #21]

Prudence Vane goes to visit her cousin Marella who had wrote to invite her to spooky house she had bought. Marella a flighty young lady was quite excited at the prospect of a ghost hunt. When Prudence arrives at Howlen Hall, she is told Marella has gone travelling and the housekeeper Dorcas does not seem keen for her to stay. When Prudence mentions the ghost, Dorcas seems surprised, then denies that there is a ghost and says Marella was just having a joke. That night Prudence is woken from her sleep by a moaning noise. She goes to investigate, she finds what appears to be Marella’s room and sees all her jewels are there, she begins to worry something is terribly wrong  as Marella wouldn’t travel without her jewels.

mystery-at-howlen-hall

Prudence investigates the house further and is startled by the sudden appearance of an old white haired woman. Dorcas arrives and tells her the woman is just  an old family dependent and Prudence should go back to bed. Prudence is not happy with whatever is going on, Dorcas swears Marcella is safe and gives her word that the truth will be revealed the next day. The following morning, Prudence confronts Dorcas and asks her if the old woman was a ghost. She was no instead she is revealed to be Marcella. It seems that one night Marcella decided she wanted to raise the ghost of Howlen Hall, when the servants returned they found her looking like an old woman and her mind gone. Being so wealthy Dorcas wanted to make sure Prudence was a real friend before revealing the truth. Damian Darke ends telling us Marella never recovered and serves as a warning to those who would delve into unknown forces.

I like the mystery of this story, the twist at the end was unexpected and although we never see how Marcella came to be the way she is, the warning is clear!

7.  Mystery on the Moors  [Debbie #258]

Sally and Pat were spending time hiking in the Yorkshire moors. On their way back to town, they decide to wait for the last bus so they get back before dark. While their waiting, Pat runs down to the nearby stream to freshen up, meanwhile a hearse pulls up to the bus stop and the driver offers her a lift. Sally goes to fetch Pat, but he is gone by the time they get back, Pat thinks he must have got tired of waiting. Soon the bus comes along and Pat is shocked the driver is the same as the man she saw before. She shoves Sally off the bus and tells him they were mistaken they don’t want that bus. Sally is mad at her telling her she has taken the joke  too far. They set off walking towards town, Sally grumbling along the way when they are passed by police cars and ambulances. They come across the scene of the accident, it seems the bus’s brakes failed coming down the hill. The girls had a lucky escape due to the unusual warning!

mystery-on-moors

8. Swamp of Evil  [Spellbound:  #7]

Wicked  money-lender Jethro Stern, is delighted to get an invitation to Lady Gladwell’s house. Having heard rumors of her falling on hard times since her her husbands death, he plots to get her house. While dining with Lady Gladwell he also mentally makes inventory of the fine things around him, one painting draws his eye – in it three men drown in a swamp, it makes Jethro’s blood run cold. He tries to concentrate on Lady Gladwell’s conversation as she asks about a possibility of a loan. Noticing his interest in the painting, she invites him to look at the rest of her collection of paintings. He brings him to a room of many strange paintings of Jethro’s victims such as Sammy who was crippled and couldn’t work and Mrs Watson who died in a workhouse.

swamp-of-evil

Jethro is disturbed by the paintings and Lady Gladwell tells him she is not having money problems but brought him here to ask him to release his hold on the poor town folk and leave forever. But Jethro will not tear up his arrangements, she tells him it’s a pity he has made that choice and leads him to the door. Jethro is eager to get away from Gladwell, but he soon finds himself lost in a fog and slowly realizes he seems to be in the Swamp of Evil painting. The next day a servant Mary is cleaning when she notices that the painting now has four figures one of which looks suspiciously like Jethro Stern.

Again the art is very well done here capturing the creepy atmosphere. Jethro Stern certainly seems to be deserving of his punishment. He also gets more of a chance at mercy than others, but he rejects his chance of redemption.

9. The Cavalier’s Cloak  [Spellbound: #37]

Judy and her family were spending Christmas at an old Quaker Cottage. While exploring Judy finds a portrait, with a man wearing a cavalier cloak which is surprising since they are in a Roundhead area. That night Judy is woken by knocking at the door and someone asking to be let in. She goes out to investigate but can’t see anyone, the door slams behind her and she is left out in the cold. An old man approaches her and offers his cloak to shield her from the cold.  She asks if it was him calling out, he says no but tells her a story of the family that lived in the house.

One evening Prudence and her father hear knocking at the door, they find what they think is a royalist, Prudence wants to help but her father does not. Then it turns out to be his son John who had gone fighting for Cromwell, his father is even more repelled at the thought of his son being a turncoat and shuts the door on him without listening to explanation. Prudence can’t sleep listening to John’s continued feeble knocking. She goes out to John, he explains that  a young Royalist soldier fatally wounded gave him the cloak to protect him from the cold. Prudence says she knew he wasn’t a traitor but when they go to return to the house the door has locked behind them. They knock at the door but their father remains stubborn, ignoring the knocking thinking John must learn the error of his ways. He is horrified the next morning to find both his children dead from the cold.

cloak

The man tells Judy that since that night the cottage has been haunted, he reveals himself to be Issac Bunyan the father (and man from the painting) and he has worn the cavalier’s cloak everyday since as penance for his cruelty. He then disappears as Judy’s father comes to the door wondering what Judy is doing outside wearing a tattered rug.

10. Whisper, Whisper… [Spellbound:  #11]

In 1931, Marcia Walton finds a charming cottage for sale cheaply  due to it’s dreadful history. Marcia is not superstitious and is happy to buy it. She starts redecorating and when she finds a mirror in the attic she cleans it up and hangs it above the fireplace. A few weeks a young squire, Mr Martin, is worried when no-one has seen Marcia in some time. He investigates and finds her on the floor thin and drawn and muttering about voices. It turns out the mirror was made by a poor craftsman for a wicked duke who killed him rather than pay him a fair price. Since then the owners of the mirror had been tormented by endless hateful whispering. Not only that but whoever destroy the mirror will never be free of the curse. Marcia also notes it would be evil to give the mirror to anyone else but Mr Martin thinks he has a solution.

Marcia is upset when she sees Mr Martin give the mirror to an old woman, she tries to take it back as she’d rather live with the curse than let a sweet old woman suffer. But then the woman stops her and asks her to write an explanation as she is completely deaf. Then Marcia understands the squire wasn’t being cruel it is in fact the perfect solution as the old woman would never hear the whispers. Damian Darke does muse that it happened many years ago and the mirror must be out there somewhere maybe in an attic waiting to be found.

whisper-whisper

It’s interesting that the cursed object can’t be gotten rid of. Most stories with cursed objects involved some way to break the curse or at least destroying the object would end it. How they solve this problem is a very clever and unexpected.

Final Thoughts

Continuing with the eerie stories for the Halloween season, Damian Darke certainly delivers on the spooky, dark and twisting stories. As discussed before the spooky storyteller was certainly common used to tell short stories. Damian Darke is particularly similar to Diana‘s The Man in Black, which isn’t surprising as Spellbound seemed to be influenced a lot by that comic. Damian Darke proved to be popular enough to survive two mergers, first with Debbie then with Mandy (although the Mandy stories seem to be mostly repeats). Some stories were also reprinted in Nikki, but Damian Darke was edited out and they came under the name Midnight Mystery. Damian Darke also appeared in several Debbie Picture Story Library books. It’s easy to see why it lasted Storytellers were quite a favored story device and the series produced many engaging stories as well as having some terrific artwork.

Added Note:

Marion Turner wrote at least 5 Damian Darke stories, in 1978, no scripts survive but some notes have, one was noted as protagonist Becky (sold in June) another Strange Rescue synopsis (Dog) (approved in August)

 

 

Diana’s Dark Secret

Plot

Diana Sefton is an excellent gymnast at Linwood School despite being completely blind. When she regains her sight after an accident, she keeps it a secret because she cannot bear to part with Goldie, her guide dog. But her conscience keeps niggling.

Notes

  • Writer: Marion Turner (under pen-name: Fiona Turner)
  • Artist: Keith Robson

Appeared

  • Diana’s Dark Secret – Mandy: #786 (6 February 1982) – #798 (1 May 1982)