Tag Archives: short story

Ride Into Danger [1983]

  • Ride Into Danger and other gripping stories – Bunty PSL: #243 [1983]


This book consists of 4 short stories, while not officially tied together, I would say there is a common theme of bravery in each story

Ride Into Danger

Kelly Johnson is out riding with her horse King, during stormy weather. She dismounts to try and navigate him along a narrow path, but suddenly it gives way and King falls down the steep incline into the bank below. Kelly manages to grab onto a root to stop herself falling in with him and she sees King is temporarily stopped from being swept away by a fallen tree. She will need to act quickly to help get him out, and she is hopeful when it turns out a surly neighbour Jim Selby, is nearby.  But when she asks for help, he tells her that he doesn’t have a rope and turns away. Kelly naturally is upset but she gathers herself and has an idea. She orders Selby to follow her lead and surprisingly he does They manage to dislodge some stones into the river making a temporary dam, so Kelly can wade in and fetch King. When she asks Jim what made him change his mind and help, he tells her he admired her pluck.

Night of Fear

Susan Martin is woken by storm. Her father, a police doctor, has to go out on an emergency call, leaving Susan in charge of her young sister, Althea. She has not settled back to bed yet when she sees a car crash just outside the house, and she goes to see if she can help. One of the men is unconscious in the car but his friend says it is best not to move him an asks to use her phone.  Susan agrees but she begins to suspect that all is not right. When he rings a friend rather than ambulance, she knows he is not to be trusted, but Althea has come downstair and she has to make sure she is safe.  He tells Susan to get any money they have in the house while Althea will stay with him. While getting the housekeeping money, Susan seea her dad arriving home, so she flicks on and off the kitchen lights to warn him, then  she locks the front house door. When she gives the man the money and he leaves room. she blocks the room  so he will be trapped on the hallway. The police who have arrived with Dr Martin arrest him It seems the call Dr Martin was called out to was a jewellery robbery and the police were following the car. The Sergeant  tells Susan she could think of police force as possible career, due to her quick thinking.

The Courage of Candy

Candy Scott’s mother was always fussing over her as she assumed she was delicate. She would give Candy medicine “just in case”, insist on her wearing a sun hat and says she shouldn’t run about too much. While they had a temporary house guest, a dog, Terry, Candy was enjoying some freedom, when she took him out for walks. On one of these occasions, Candy is enjoying having a lie down in the park, but she falls asleep and Terry is missing when she wakes up. Early the next morning Candy leaves home determined to find him. After a big trek she finds Terry being  being pushed into dog fighting for a gang of boys entertainment. Candy saves Terry and sprays the gang with water. After her adventure she returns home deciding she is no longer going to go along with mothers over protectiveness. A month later their relationship has much improved, and Candy has more freedom.

Bad News for Nancy

Sixteen year old, Nancy Clements, was minding her parents shop and her siblings, while her parents were away on holiday. Then she hears news on the radio that  her parents’ plane was missing and may have crashed. While her Aunt Mary is also helping out at the shop while they are away, Nancy begins to think of the future if her parents are dead. Her Aunt Mary would not be able to help out permanently and her youngest brother Alec, is only five so she would have to stay with him until he grows up. While she keeps the news from Alec, she does tell her other 2 siblings. Her other siblings also put on brave and practical faces, saying they will help around the house. Then their Dad rings! The plane only had a small crash with no major injuries. Nancy is so happy, she also thinks after a day like this,  in the future she’d be able to cope with anything.


Considering that these small booklets were only 64 pages and usually just had 2 panels per page, splitting that into 4 stories really means they have to get to point quickly and still tell an interesting story. There were many picture story library that had this short story format, and despite the limited space they usually were successful in telling a good story. A bit more unusual for this book, is the theme isn’t very apparent and the title comes from the first story rather than an anthology name to encompass all stories (unlike something like Scream! or Dolwyn’s Dolls). With only the small sub title “and other gripping stories” it doesn’t hint at what else to expect. At first glance of the cover, I thought they may all be horse stories, then when the second story also involved storm, I thought it might be the common thread  but after reading all four stories it does seem like “bravery” is the thing tying the stories together. Which can appear in different ways, whether it is bravery and quick thinking in perilous situations like Kelly and Susan, standing up for yourself like Candy or bravery in the face of terrible news like Nancy.

I think the stories worked pretty well, if I was to pick on the weakest it would probably be The Courage of Candy. It’s not a bad story but could have been expanded, to see more of Candy’s mother’s fussing and would have liked to see Candy’s actual confrontation with her at the end, instead it has one panel of Candy outside the house ready to talk to her mother and the next panel is one month later. There can be a reliance of “tell not show” in some of the stories but with limited space this is expected to a degree. Bad News for Nancy is quite dialogue/thought heavy but works for the story as Nancy tries to figure out what to do and still shows the weight of the news in her expressions. Night of Fear wraps up quite quickly but does what it needs to do.  Ride Into Danger has the most interesting visuals with the storm and horse in danger, so it is good choice to start of the book. It’s a quick, fun, read and I think the two strongest stories start and finish the book.

Broken Hearts


A series of short stories, each had an individual title. It would start each story asking the question “Ever suffered from a broken heart? It can happen in a lot of ways.” Some of the stories included: a girl’s jealousy of her sister causes an accident, a girl gets the part in a play stolen from her, a girl’s dog dies after she has to move away and a girl is tricked into thinking a boy she likes wants to go on a date with her.


  • When the series started in Suzy, it was a photo story, after the merger with Bunty it became a picture story.
  • It did appear in a Bunty annual as a photo story.
  • Art: Mario Capaldi


  • Broken Hearts (photo story) – Suzy: #246 (23 May 1987) – #249 (13 June 1987)
  • Broken Hearts – Bunty & Suzy: #1536 (20 June 1987) – #1542 (1 August 1987)
  • Broken Hearts – Bunty: #1627 (18 March 1989) – #1633 (29 April 1989)

Other Appearances:

  • Second Fiddle Sarah  (photo story)  – Bunty Annual 1991

Misty Short Stories

Misty had a lot of short stories, an average of 3 per issue. Being a horror and mystery comic, there was lots of chilling imagery, twists, frights and often a story came with a moral. Regularly a greedy girl would get a fitting punishment, like the girl who takes joy in hunting down and pinning rare butterflies, only to be hunted by aliens and added to their collection. Although it could just as easily be an innocent just be in the wrong place at the wrong time, there was stories of ghosts, evil djinn, vampires and werewolves. There was also some notable influences from classic stories such as a Jekyll and Hyde like story “The Shop at Crooked Corner” (#14) and a variation of Button, Button by Matheson “Take the Money!” (#90).  Stories could also touch on more serious issues and it was clearly a product of its time passing commentary on the state of 70s Britain.

There was lots of great stories but I’m going to talk about my personal top 15 short stories in Misty. It’s completely subjective and also to note there are some stories I haven’t read. It was quite hard to narrow down (I couldn’t get it down to 10!) but here it goes:

15.  Titch’s Tale (#26) [Art: John Richardson]

A small girl nicknamed Titch is always being left out of things and picked on because of her height. To cheer herself up she goes flying her kite. There are some other people on the hill with the same idea. Titch is enjoying herself until strange things began happening, people dissappear into the clouds. Noone else notices, then she’s all alone and suddenly finds herself lifted into the sky. We cut to an alien returning home after a day of “fishing”. His mother comments that 5 is hardly enough to feed his father. He says he caught another one but it was so small he threw it back. Back on Earth, Titch wakes up on the hill.

Maybe being short myself I identify with the main character. There’s also some nice art and colours used. Its a fun little story, often we see aliens with human traits, in this case a kid “fishing”.  While what has happened to the other people is a horrifying thought, it can be taken in a more lighthearted way especially when being small actually helps the protagonist.

titchs tale

14.  Master Stroke (#23) [Art: Peter Wilkes]

A peasant girl seeks the Queen in order to serve her. There are terrible things happening in the land and there are talks of masters controlling the King. The people in the land are living in fear of a black knight, and the girl is surprised when the knight choses not to kill her. He tells her she would be dead if the choice was his. She makes it to the palace and finds even more terrible things happen as a Bishop drags away a boy. The Queen tells her she is a fool for not continuing on she could have been a queen herself. She asks them to stop the bad things happening but the King says their fate is at the hands of the masters. She is killed only for the reader to be shown its all a chess match. Some schoolgirls watching comment on how boring it is.

It’s a nice set up that it was all a game, if you’ve any knowledge of chess it’s easy to see where this is going, but it is still done well with some great visuals. The layouts are really good, with the looming Black Knight taking up the majority of the first page and the use of smaller circular panel as a close up of the girl eye as she wants to cover it.masterstroke

13. Poor Jenny (#17) [Art: Peter Wilkes]

In Victorian London a young amnesic girl is being chased by some men. She runs in front of a horse and carriage she isn’t injured but she does faint. The couple from the carriage take her home, she knows her name is Jenny but can’t remember anything else. That night she has a nightmare of turning into a beast and men with no mercy chasing her. She is comforted by the couple, she tells them of her dream and the large gaps in her memory. She fears she is a werewolf. James shows her the full moon and assures her it was just a nightmare and she sleeps soundly for the rest of the night. The next morning Jenny is gone. Jenny now knows it wasn’t a dream and she can feel her self changing. It turns out she is a wolf who turns into a girl during the full moon. Now in her wolf form she is captured and taken back to London Zoo.

This is a good twist on werewolf story, it also plays around with the common tropes of girl’s comics stories, with the amnesic girl with mysterious past and the Victorian London setting.

poor jenny

12. Dead End (#34) / Room for One More (#39) [Art: John Armstrong]

I know it’s a cheat to have 2 for one entry but both stories are quite similar in premise and are drawn by the same artist. In “Dead End” tough girl Cath is nasty and a bully, she has a weaker friend Jane who is unhappy when Cath mugs an old lady especially when the victim runs away scared and is knocked down by a bus. Julie in “Room For One More” is a similarly nasty character, causing trouble around the town and then robbing an eldery shopkeeper. Both girls meet the same demise being hit by traffic, but  how we get to the ending is what differentiates the stories from each other.

In “Dead End” Cath’s friend Jane is feeling terribly guilty about what happened keeps saying she sees the old lady that died, Cath gets a bit paranoid but brushes it off until she gets a part time job as house help. She is frightened when it is the old woman that opens the door, she runs away and gets hit by a bus. The old lady tells a police officer how strange it was that Cath got so frightened and how her twin sister had been killed by the same bus recently. In “Room for One More”  After robbing the shop, Julie  is chased by a police officer and she runs away and catches a bus. She is rude to the bus conductor who looking at her list, knows where Julie is heading. Julie finds it strange that the bus is empty but when she passes through town and sees her dead body on the road she panics wondering where they are taking her and the last panel shows the bus is going to hell driven by a skeleton.

room for one more

It’s an effective last shot and definitely creepy, but I think Dead End has a bit more of an edge in that there is not any supernatural element just Cath’s fear and paranoia that kills her. I’m surprised two similar stories appeared so close together but I still like both of them.

dead end

11. The Evil Djinn (#65) [Art: John Armstrong]

Kitty is a young nurse who looks after her mother and sister. On her way home from work she stops in a fish and chip shop where a woman is choking on a fishbone. She saves the woman who promptly leaves without a word of gratitude. She soon meets with Kitty again, and tells her she is a djinn and has been ordered by the chief djinn to reward her for saving her life. Kitty is sceptical but she feels the woman has a presence, so not being greedy she wishes for £5000 but it must be legal. The djinn tells her it is granted but she’ll be sorry. She arrives home to her mother crying, her younger sister fell down the stairs and died. She feels terrible that she may have jinxed her by taking out life assurance on her. Kitty makes her 2nd wish for her sister to be alive again, but the djinn twists it again and Beth is alive but she is paralysed. Kitty makes her 3rd wish – that she never met the djinn. So we see she never goes into the fish shop and the djinn chokes.

The genie that twists the wishes is another common theme, but is still a good one. I also like that the djinn is a woman which I think is less common to see. Her threat of “you’ll be sorry” after she grants the wish is very foreboding. Kitty outsmarting the djinn in the end is very satisfying. Whereas if Kitty had been greedy with her wishes, I’m sure her fate would have been less favourable.

the evil djinn

10.  Queen’s Weather (#18)  [Art: Josep Gual]

Gina and Sally are sunbathing, enjoying the hot weather while Sally muses that if she was a queen or princess she’d spend all day lazing around and getting a tan. A bee flies nearby and she kills it,  continuing the conversation with Gina and not knowing not far away insect eyes are watching. Over the next few days, the girls notice there seems to be more bees around lately. Sally is starting to be creeped out by them, it’s like they are watching her. Meanwhile the bees are plotting and gathering pollen from exotic plants. Sally and Gina are out sunbathing again, when a bee stings Sally, then more and more bees land on her and sting her. Gina runs to the house to get help. When they return Sally seems to be gone. It turns out she is now the size of a bee and has been taken to the hive to be the new queen, to replace the one she killed.

While greedy girls get horrible punishments, Sally’s only crime is to offhandedly wish to be a queen and killing a bee. The rest of the story shows Sally to be nice,  she gets on well with her parents and she’s not even particularly lazy as she plays tennis and goes out with her friend. Which is why this is quite terrifying as the reader can’t even feel that there is some justification for her fate. Also quite horrific is the bees plotting, their attack and the final panel of them crowded around her.

queens weather

9.  The Bell Jar (#17)  [Art: Isidro Mones]

Katie’s father has to attend the reading of his Great Aunt Mathilde’s will. It turns out her mother and Mathilde never got along, Mathilde resented her marrying her young nephew  and moving away. She even made a threat at their wedding that they’d be left alone too. The family aren’t expecting anything from the will, but she does leave Kate a house and garden in a bell jar. On examining it closer Katie believes there’s a little figure at the door. Soon she keeps having dreams where she is on the path that leads to the house, each night she gets closer to the house. One day she goes out for some fresh air but falls asleep, she wakes up to a storm. She rushes for shelter to a nearby house, she is scared when she realises it’s the house from her dreams. Then she sees the figure in the doorway is Aunt Mathilde. She senses her loneliness and that she just wants company. A few days later the police are talking to her father about her disappearance when her mother screams, she has found Katie she points to the bell jar, Kate is now a 2nd figure in the doorway.

This is another story where people are punished for a minor grievance. I’m sure Aunt Mathilde was a lonely old lady, but she was also controlling and demanding, and Katie’s family don’t deserve this ending. It has a nice build up as Katie’s dreams bring her closer to the house and her anxiety to wake up and get away. It seems Aunt Mathilde has more powers as when Katie does actually see her, she becomes calm and accepting of the situation.

the bell jar

8.  Heart’s Desire (#56) [Art: Ramon Escolano]

Sisters, Miss Vicky and Miss Mary arrive at a rag and bone yard where they see two poor worker girls being mistreated by the owner. Effie is a cheeky outspoken girl and Dot a quieter girl. The sisters want to help the poor girls but say they can only take one. They invite both girls to their house that evening. Dot is more nervous when they go to visit the house as she thinks there is something strange about the sisters. While at the house the sisters ask them what is their heart’s desire. Dot says she wouldn’t want much, just a place to sleep and one meal a day would keep her happy. Effie is more greedy she wants to be spoiled with the finest things, feather beds and the richest food. The sisters are delighted they’ve found the perfect child, they tell Dot their sorry they could only help one and show her to the door while Effie gets to go to the dining room and gets her fill of food. Effie goes to her warm bed after that, but quickly things become sour as they insist she eats more food and she can’t open the window to get some air, as she must be kept warm as toast. She is horrified that they are killing her with kindness!

A very creepy story, the sisters are eerie with a habit of addressing each other rather than the girls directly. The idea of being killed with kindness is pretty twisted also.

Heart's Desire

7.  Shadow of Doubt (#58)  [Art: José/Juan Ariza]

Mary goes to investigate a noise that woke her up and hears voices in the barn. They talk about taking over the village and then the world. She thinks maybe she’s just having a crazy dream but she can’t get it out of her head, so the next night she goes down to the barn again. She sees shadows and hears them talking about killing people, she recognises them as a shop owner, Mr Webster, and her neighbour, Mr Jones. The next day she tells her dad what she heard, he thinks she’s imagining things but he does ask Mr Webster was he up at their farm, which he denies and her dad believes him. Mary continues to investigate each night, she even gets her dad to come along one time, but the barn is empty when he arrives.  Then she gets a surprise another night when she recognises her dad’s voice in the barn, she now thinks she knows why he was dismissive of her stories. She hears them talking about how the girl knows and something must be done.  So she hides and locks her bedroom. Only she can’t escape as she is confronted by her own shadow, who tells her all the shadows will soon rise up. She faints from the shock, when she comes around she tells everyone about the Shadows but no one believes her. It ends with “She’s scared of her own shadow they say…One day they’ll learn how true that is” and an image of a shadow rising above an oblivious Mr Webster.

This has a great title, build up and ending. The fact that she only ever hears voices and  sees shadows and that they seem to disappear quickly, gives a nice mystery element. The twist that the person she has trusted to tell may actually be in on the plot is a shock, but of course then the actual reveal is even more shocking. The shadows know that after revealing their plan to her, no-one would believe her, everyone just thinks she’s crazy, which is very hard ending for our protagonist, knowing what she knows and being helpless to do anything about it.

shadow of doubt

6.   Hunt the Ripper (#54) [Art: J. Badia Romero]

London, 1888, a man comes to the house of the Bristows. While young Alison thinks there is something sinister about the man, her mother offers him room as they have to make a living. Alison suspects he may be Jack the Ripper, who has been terrorising the streets of London. She starts to do some investigating, starting with the trunks he has in his room. She finds what she thinks is a body at first, the man returns catching her snooping and points out the “body”  is actually a ventriloquist dummy.  Her relief is short lived when he asks her to check the other trunk. She is confused as there is only layer of earth in the other trunk. The man using his dummy, Marianne, explains who he really is –  if he doesn’t sleep on the earth from his homeland during the day, he will turn to dust, for he is Count Dracula. Alison knows too much now, so she must join him now. Alison runs away only to bump into Jack the Ripper, who is on the run after killing his last victim. Dracula catches up to them and tells the Ripper that the girl is his. The two men begin to fight, Alison escapes. After that night there was no more Ripper murders and Dracula never made it back to his native soil and must have been left as dust on the streets.

It’s quite a long story taking 8 pages, the art is great throughout, and creates a very eerie atmosphere. Alison is very brave and shows good investigation skills. The story has some strange twists, while Alison suspects the man is the Ripper, the ventriloquist dummy, is a red herring, to make us think she may have been mistaken in her suspicions. Of course he turns out to be just as bad – the infamous vampire. Dracula’s conversation with his dummy Marianne is very strange and creepy and then the ending of  Dracula vs. Jack the Ripper, is great – what’s not to love in this story!

hunt the ripper

5. Don’t Look Now (#34) [Art: Eduardo Feito]

Jan Parker is always butting her nose into other people’s business. While her parents are away for the weekend, Jan runs their pawn shop. A man comes in and sells her gold rimmed glasses telling her he’ll be back tomorrow for them. She can’t resist trying them on, only for the next customer to terrify her, as she has the head of a mouse. Then another customer comes in with the head of a fox, obviously a sly character as he tries to pawn some dodgy watches. Jan begins to realise the glasses let her see people as the animal that represents their character. She finds she can’t get the glasses off and is horrified by seeing everyone with animal heads. The next day she waits for the man to return. He returns and not only has he the head of a goat but the feet too and then she knows who he is, the great tempter. He gives her the choice of letting him take off the glasses in which case her soul will be his, or she can leave them on forever and he’ll leave her alone. He gives her something else to reflect on, showing her the image in a mirror and she realises she’s an ass!

Although it is horrifying that she will have to see everyone as animals which could possibly drive her crazy and will clearly affect her relationships in life, it is probably better than giving up her soul. Still either choice is not desirable, but despite being horrific the ending does amuse me greatly, that last panel realisation is perfect!

don't look now

4. Fancy Another Jelly Baby? (#71) [Art: Bob Harvey]

Gillian is addicted to jelly babys. Her parents are not happy when she skips breakfast because she’s full from jelly babies. Her father stops her pocket money until she starts eating properly. Gillian still has enough money left to buy some more sweets from Mr Black the sweet shop owner. She quizzes him on how his sweets are better than everyone else’s, but he tells her that’s his secret. At school she is persuaded to share some of her sweets, and her friends comment that the jelly babies look like two missing girls, something Gillian hadn’t noticed before. Disturbed by this she goes to investigate Mr Black’s shop. She is caught by Mr Black who tells her it’s just as well as he was about to run out of raw material for his sweets. Then he ties her to a conveyor belt and out of the machine comes thousands of jelly babies looking just like Gillian! Suddenly Gillian wakes up in her bed, relieved that it was all a nightmare but it turns out she has eaten too many jelly babies and has turned into one!

This is a bizarre little story with some strange images. I wonder how much of the dream was just that. Did eating too many sweets cause the nightmare, or is there some truths in it, like – are there girls missing, is there something in Mr Black’s sweets that would cause her to turn into one …or should we all just be cautious of eating too much of one thing!

jelly baby

3. Prisoner in the Attic (#61) [Art: John Armstrong]

An old woman is sorting out her attic, when she is confronted by  someone in the shadows. She thinks the person is a thief,  but the person claims that some of the items in the attic are hers, such as the trophy that the old woman is holding. She knows what the inscription says “Connie Michaels, Sports Champion of the year 1909”. A flashback shows that Connie was a natural leader.  Old Connie is going to go for help, but the person stops her,  she thinks there is something familiar about her, but the light in the attic doesn’t let her see properly. The young stranger talks more about Connie’s life, her time as a suffragette and helping wounded men during World War I. Old Connie holds a medal for her service in the war, but the stranger says it belongs to her and that old Connie is the one that went to London. More of Connie’s past is shown as she became a member of parliament her future looked bright but she she gets corrupted, instead of leading she is led by people. She claims no war will come to Britain after meeting with Hitler and when war does come she continues to further her own career, with no thought of the people she originally fought for. Old Connie thinks the young woman is blackmailing her, but the young woman is surprised she hasn’t guessed yet that they are actually the same person. Young Connie is what she was before she forgot her ideals, and it is revealed that old Connie died a week ago in the attic. As the two Connie’s walk away, young Connie wonders which one of them will be remembered, old Connie thinks perhaps it will be her younger self now that she is no longer locked away in the attic.

This is one of the times that Misty addresses a more serious topic. It’s a very interesting story, it’s a feminist story as well as a warning to not losing yourself and how even those with the best of intentions can be corrupted. Connie as two people is used well, and the art keeping young Connie in shadow or just partially in panel is effective. The  woman being haunted by a ghost of her past, who turns out to be a ghost herself is a satisfying ending, as is the thought about what person do we want to be remembered as, when we’re gone.

Prisoner in the attic

2.  The Jukebox (#28) [Art: John Armstrong]

Starting with some social commentary, we are introduced to Fiskfield a ghost town since the coal mine closed down, with little to do for those remaining particularly the youngsters. They hang around a cafe listening to the jukebox, as they lack youth club in the area. One of the girls Stacey invites Ned Buckley, a gypsy boy, along but the gang aren’t happy. Stacey thinks Ned is just as bored as the rest of them and he’s an okay guy, but the gang are prejudice against him and Ned ends up storming out, threatening to teach them a lesson.  Later the jukebox start playing music for free and everyone gets up to dance, but the record goes on and on and everyone is in a a trance and can’t stop. Stacey manages to break free and tries to get through to the others, but even pulling the plug on the jukebox doesn’t stop it. Then she sees Ned’s face in the jukebox and realises he’s made good on his threat. She finds him in his grandmother’s caravan, the old woman staring into a crystal ball, which show the people dancing in the cafe. Stacey asks Ned to stop her but he says they must pay for all the cruel tricks they’ve done to him over the years. Stacey takes matters into her own hands grabbing the ball and smashing it. Ned unsuccessfully tries to stop her, telling her she doesn’t realise what she has done. The last panel shows the cafe wrecked in what bystanders presume to be the result of a gas explosion.

This is another story of people being paid back for being cruel to a particular person, and the one person who was nice, escaping. The twist here is that even though Ned was teaching them a lesson, he wasn’t wanting to go as far to actually hurt them permanently. It is Stacy while trying to help, ends up killing everyone. Quite a dark ending.


1. Mr Walenski’s Secret… (#64) [Art: John Armstrong]

Molly Sinclair is curious about her new neighbour, she wonders with a foreign name Walenski if he is Russian, possibly a spy. Her mother quickly dismisses the thought and tells Molly to go around and offer tea. He declines and then he gets worked up about an old box the moving men are carrying, asking them to be careful. Molly thinks he is a nut and when she sees him heading to the park with an envelope, she follows him. She sees him hand the envelope to another man but as they aren’t speaking English she doesn’t know what they are talking about. She tells her mother about her continuing suspicions, that he’s a spy. Her mother says she has an over active imagination and she should mind her own business. Mr Walenski doesn’t leave the house much, but  when he does she finally gets an opportunity to snoop around. She just finds the box Mr. Walenski was so cautious about, when he arrives home, catching her. He tells her to look in it, he knows she’s been following him and about her suspicions and that she won’t be satisfied until she knows. Molly isn’t triumphant about finding out his secret instead she is upset to find the box contains all that he has left of his old life; a concentration camp uniform and photos of his family. He tells her his wife died in the concentration camps but he doesn’t know what happened to his daughter, so the man Molly saw him with is a private detective that is helping him look for his daughter. He asks Molly to leave him alone to find whatever peace he can.

mr walenski 1 mr walenskis secret 2

The last page is coloured and I think the black and white pages are better showing detail such as Mr Walenski’s gaunt and haunted look (lot of John Armstrong art on this list!).  This is a powerful short story and  it’s ending is even more effective considering the comic that it appears in. Usually a set up like this would have a dark twist, like instead of a spy he’s a mythical creature, but instead this has no supernatural element, it just addresses a dark time in history and averts the reader’s expectations.

Short Stories & Storytellers

Short stories were a popular feature in girls comics, most likely because it was quicker to plot out a  2-4 page story, a variety of artists and writers could work on a series of short stories with no pressure on developing a big plot. Also it was a good way to fill up space, complete stories also could be used as stand in, before a new serial started or to acknowledge a special occasion, such as a special Christmas story (e.g. Stir It Up- M&J). If there was a long running series of short stories, there was usually a theme or storyteller to tie the stories together. Often the story would still have their own individual title but would have the logo or storyteller introducing the story so we can have more of a  connection with it.


First looking at some of the regular short stories that were linked by a theme rather than a storyteller. The most loosely connected theme was in Nikki  where the logo of  Short Story is what linked the stories. This series continued in Bunty for a while after the comics  merged. Although these stories didn’t have a particular theme they were usually set in present day and based on school girls and often involved boys. A story with a more definite theme was; Broken Hearts (Suzy/Bunty) not surprisingly these stories often involved romance but not always as hearts can be broken in many ways. Such as a girl’s jealousy of her sister goes too far when her sister ends up in hospital and she regrets her actions. More stories that related to heart issues but focused solely on romance were Judy’s It Must Be Luv and later in M&J was The Boy Zone, the latter reprinted a lot of Nikki’s Short Story. Also in Judy was  Zodiac  where each story represented a star sign, like the Gemini story about twins who can’t agree about anything. An Emma short series focused on dogs in The Dog Next Door. In Debbie the fabled origin stories of flowers were told in old time setting in Flower Story. Misty had lots of short stories some of which came under the heading of  Beasts / Nightmares. More on the mystery and spooky side was A Turn of the Key in Spellbound, where hidden secrets were often uncovered. M&J  reprinted some of these under the slightly revised heading The Key Turns.

boyzoneit must be luvzodiac2Misty 001 28


As well as having a theme a Storyteller was a popular way to tie things together. While still telling a variety of stories there was also a character that you could identify with the stories making it more connected and  maybe you could have your favourite storyteller. There was two frequent inspirations for storytellers either a special item, or those that were inspired by the mysterious and spooky.

Examples of the  item Storytellers include  Dolwyn’s Dolls (Bunty)  A Tale from the Toy Museum (Bunty) Mother Goose (Judy), The Silver Saddle (Mandy), Madame Marlova Remembers (Debbie) The Button Box (Tammy) and Jade Jenkins Stall (M&J).

Dolwyn’s Dolls took place in a small doll shop, where the owner sold and repaired dolls and told her customers many stories about dolls, sometimes the stories had a magical element. Very similar was  A Tale from the Toy Museum but it had a bit of wider scope with more toys rather than just dolls. Also the storyteller herself had more background development as she was a grandmother telling her bored granddaughter tales when she comes to stay with her over the holidays.  Mother Goose from Judy had another shop owner specialising in nursery and fairytale items. Once Upon a Rhyme in Mandy also dealt with fairy tales but was more magical as the stories were told by a fairy godmother. A more updated version of this theme was Jade Jenkins Stall, although it was not actually titled as such as each story Jade told had it’s own title. Jade stories came from items she sold at her second hand charity stall and she introduced each story. Jade addressed the reader the directly and also interacted with the characters in her tales, often they would return the item they bought at the stall. It was a good modernisation of item storyteller also Jade’s second hand stall meant stories were very much in the present. The Button Box has a more family theme, as a family heirloom is a box filled with buttons from all across history and social classes. Unusually it is not a wise older person telling the tales but a young girl Bev who was confined to a wheelchair. In Mandy’s The Silver Saddle Janet’s aunt Helen, tells her the stories of the girl riders and their mounts who have done notable deeds and earned an inscription on the silver saddle. Another story where we learn more about the storyteller is  Madame Marlova Remembers  from Debbie. Marlova didn’t collect a particular item but had many stories about the ballerinas she taught over the years. She went onto have a prequel serial about how she became a ballerina.

dolwyns-dolls    madame marlova

(Left to Right: Dolwyn’s Dolls,Madame Marlova Remembers)

The spooky storyteller was a popular choice, the stories were not so tied to one particular storyteller so could be used again, for example Tammy’s Storyteller’s Strange Stories were reprinted with Jinty’s Gypsy Rose now telling the tale (read more  about Gypsy Rose here). Two very similar looking character’s were The Man in Black, from Diana and Damian Darke from Spellbound. This is not surprising considering that Spellbound seemed to feature other stories that originated in Diana (i.e. Supercats, The Strange Ones).  Damian Darke proved to be popular enough to survive two mergers, first with Debbie then Mandy (He also appeared in some Debbie Picture Story Library books). Spellbound also had Miss Hatherleigh a custodian of Cremond Hall, who told strange stories of the Cremond family that date from the 12th century. Judy had She of the Shadows a mysterious veiled woman telling stories, but more notable was the later character Bones, a skeleton in Skeleton Corner  that also continued on in M&J. While other spooky storytellers may be mysterious a special otherworldly, having a skeleton truly passed it into supernatural.

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(Left to Right: Damian Darke, She of the Shadows, Skeleton Corner [Bones])


Clearly with the amount of stories that fall under the heading these were popular themes. As well as regular writers and artists, I suspect similar to 2000AD’s Future Shocks it could be a good way to test out new talents. While I liked some of the complete stories that had a theme, I found those linked with a storytellers as well were better, probably because I can more easily associate a particular story with a character. Also in some cases like The Button Box and Madame Marlova we got more insight into the storyteller and their lives. In some cases particularly the spooky stories the length constraints can affect the story, and sometimes the endings become predictable and rely on familiar twists. Still clearly a big advantage of these complete stories was you get a great variety in one serial, so you were sure to find a story that works for you.