BUNTY, TWINKLE THEN THE DEVIL ARRIVED WITH MISTY. MY LOVE OF GIRLS COMICS.

24 Nov

One of my first memories is sitting on the bus with my grandmother on the way to Woolston in Southampton.  Gran had given me my pocket money early that week and I knew exactly what I was going to spend it on, I clutched that pre-decimal coinage in my tiny hand, it was big and it smelt of a thousand other palms but to me it meant just one thing  this week’s edition of the Twinkle comic.

The bus stopped on the other side of the road to the newsagents, but all I had to do was run across the road and I would be there in a jiffy and that is exactly what I did.  I never saw the car, but thank goodness the driver saw me, there was a screeching of brakes, the car stopped with one good old imperial inch to spare.  At that age, I wasn’t really aware of how close to death I had come, but I was aware of the stares from the people who were walking along the street and how they had now all stopped dead in their tracks.

I was also very much aware of how fuming my grandmother was, this lady who was already in her eighties looked extremely upset and very, very angry and she was never angry, especially not with me.  She started to shout at me, and tell me what a “naughty girl” I had been.  Gran’s thick Toxteth accent sliced through the hushed Hampshire air and just resulted in making it more of a ‘scene’ than it already was.

I knew I shouldn’t have left my grandmother’s side, I also knew I had been extremely lucky, all the bystanders kept telling me and my grandmother this whilst giving her disapproving looks.  But throughout all this shock, angst and kerfuffle, around me, my head was still full of one overarching desire, I wanted my Twinkle comic and this was delaying me.

Twinkle was absolutely brilliant and they had free gifts too.  I still have an old black and white photo of me sitting on a rug in the garden in my Nurse Nancy (she was one of the best characters) nurse’s hat and apron tending to a broken doll, I had probably disabled it for the photograph.

After the car ‘incident’ Twinkle was delivered to the house, it was obviously deemed far safer.  So every week, Twinkle would arrive, rolled up through the door, with our name and address written in pencil at the top.  This made me feel extremely special, this copy was just for me, I was an important reader.

As I grew a little older I started to experiment with other comics, Bunty was fabulous, it had a wonderful strip called ‘The Four Marys’.  This was about four girls named Mary from across the social divide all at the same ‘girls only ‘ boarding school and all their marvellous adventures, through thick and thin they stuck together and were the most tremendous chums.  I was determined I would go to a boarding school just like them one day, maybe I could find three other girls there named Angela who would all be my extra special chums.  Image

Every Christmas there would be an annual to look forward to this would be packed with extra feature lengths stories of all my favourite characters.  There were other comics I loved too, it was jolly hard on my meagre pocket money keeping up with them all and not having a young sister to swap comics with, I had to rely on my grandparents being generous benefactors which they always were.  Their generosity ensured I could buy Mandy, Jinty and Judy, which were very similar to Bunty.  On reflection, I think it was probably self-perservation, rather than an act of loving kindness that prompted my grandparents to support my comic habit.  Just like doting grandparents today who buy their grandchildren a film or a video game to occupy them thus giving the donator a short window of peace and quiet.  One thing was definitely true, I was never happier than when I had a brand new shiny copy of one of my favourite comics in my hand.

Then just as I reached that age when you are too old for Bunty and having briefly dabbled with Look-In magazine which was okay, but didn’t possess the drama I yearned for, arrived the queen or should I say evil black queen of all girls comics.  Sent to us from the darkside, the very Lucifer of girls comics –  MISTY.

Misty was first published on the 4th February 1978 and from the first edition I was hooked.  This was a comic packed with stories of ghosts, witches, nether worlds, spells, aliens, demons and anything supernatural.  The supernatural was presented as a reality and this comic was literally terrifying.  The tagline read “stories NOT to be read at night”.  Basically it should have been stories not to be read by children.  It was one of the most bizarre publications aimed at children to ever see the light of day.

I could not miss an issue, just like Twinkle there were often free gifts, but unlike Twinkle these usually had a creepy element to them; a black cat ring, a wheel of fortune that would predict your future “day by day”, a lucky charm bracelet.  It was breeding a nation of terrified and superstitious young girls.

“The old gypsy couldn’t believe her eyes when the young girl stepped out of the fire completely unharmed, who was she?  What was her secret”?  This was dialogue from a typical cover of Misty with the girl engulfed in flames and behind her stands a woman with red eyes in a hood looking like a dead and  dug-up ‘Grotbags’ the witch.  All this for 8 pence every Monday which ensured you had a terrible week at school because you would start the week with insomnia.

I myself had many a sleepless night over Misty, I remember one particular incident, not sure what the actual story I had been reading was but it had traumatised me to the point I could take no more.

Knocking on my parent’s bedroom door I told them in agitated gasp.  “I can’t sleep”.  “Why, what’s the matter?” enquired my sleepy and obviously irritated mother.  “Not sure, I replied, I just can’t sleep”.  There was no hiding the reason though, mum knew why “it’s that bloody comic isn’t it!”, I paused before replying knowing what the consequences of my acquiescence  would be, but always having been far too honest for my own good I answered “yes” in a resigned tone.   “ I knew it, I bloody knew it, if you don’t get back to bed this instant you are never having that ruddy comic in this house again!”

I slunk back to bed, still terrified, but also now worried my parents would deprive me of Misty  and I wouldn’t be able to get my weekly fix of all things occult.

I now know that I was far from being the only girl of my generation who experienced this. There was a legion of females who had experienced the terror and insomnia that was Misty.  My partner Dawn was another one who suffered through her love of Misty;

Dawn and her sister had been given a Misty annual each by their cherubic grandmother on Boxing Day, Dawn being a few years younger than me she was only eight years old at the time, Dawn and her younger sister both decided to read their annuals in bed before they went to sleep.  Dawn’s sister’s story was about a girl who got trapped in a mirror and the story ended with her stuck for eternity in the mirror and her friends walked pass as she tried to cry for help but to no avail.  The final frame showed her screaming in silence and sheer terror.

Meanwhile, Dawn was reading a lovely story about a boy and girl whose grandmother (who curiously had more than a passing cartoon resemblance to dawn’s own grandmother) had been killed by an alien/monster and replaced with an alien/monster in the guise of their grandmother.  The children only found out their grandmother was actually a monster/alien (after much suspicion) when they took a photograph of her and she was totally invisible.  This resulted in Dawn then assuming that her grandmother had given her this annual as some sort of subliminal message and was trying to tell Dawn that she was really a monster/alien.  Dawn and her sister then swapped annuals and which made each other worse, resulting in them both crying on their bunk beds and then being told off for reading the annuals when they should have been in bed. This has left an indelible mark on both Dawn and her sister.

Misty was a more than a comic, it was was a potential ‘life ruiner’.  Ironically  Misty is now a highly sought after publication.  I sold an annual that I found in a box of books at my store recently for £55.  People obviously treasure a magazine that was so unique and incredibly memorable.

So where does this leave girls comics in 2012?  Boys have always been the major market when it comes to selling comics and they always will be, action heroes, Marvel, DC, Manga and a plethora of ever more exotic publications continue to thrive.  I note with sadness though that D.C. Thompson is to end their print run of the Dandy and just maintain an online presence.  So I ask again, where does this leave girls comics and can there ever be a revival?   They have been pretty non-existent in recent years, but surely there has to be a market out there!  Young girls are avid readers, given the right opportunity and inspiration, look at the success over the last decade of the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises.

I would love to think there is still room out there in the publishing world for girls’ comics.  This would give young girls something to look forward to buying every week, the free gifts, the annuals, the stories, the fun of sharing the same stories with your compatriots, looking forward every week to that publication day.  I am not sure how I ever gave all that up.

Think I might just pop up the loft and see if I can find where my copies of Misty went, unless mum threw them out.  Ruddy hell I bet she did!

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10 Responses to “BUNTY, TWINKLE THEN THE DEVIL ARRIVED WITH MISTY. MY LOVE OF GIRLS COMICS.”

  1. hockeyjules November 24, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    oh I loved Misty especially the free gifts but have to admit I was a Look-In gal

    • angelacollings November 24, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

      Remember the Worzul Gummidge strip on Look-In it was more creepy than the show if it could be possible. x

  2. Jeyna Grace November 25, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    I’ve never heard of Misty before.. then again.. comics are not sold widely in my country.

    • angelacollings November 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

      Which country Jeyna? Misty was incredibly scary for kids, wouldn’t get away with selling it now x

      • Jeyna Grace November 26, 2012 at 3:14 am #

        Malaysia. We only had Archie. LOL.

  3. Tracey. November 25, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    It says on the cover, ‘Australia 30c’ but I’ve never hear of it! My brother used to get Whizzer and Chips and then progressed to Viz, wot a larf!

  4. Lesley Keech November 27, 2012 at 1:38 am #

    I have no memory of Misty at all, but I was a huge Bunty fan. In fact, I really miss the stories! Jackie magazine actually had stories that I can still remember xmumble years later. Good stuff. I have no idea what the current crop of young teens are reading. Probably Twilight fan magazines *shudders*

  5. optionsmd review August 4, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    I was suggested this web site by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such
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    • Trisha Morris October 11, 2013 at 5:59 am #

      I just want to let you know that I am launching a new online, page turning magazine in the style and spirit of Twinkle. It is called Hilda Matilda and friends, and is filling the wide gap in the market between pre-school magazines and teen magazines. My characters are resourceful, imaginative girls who climb trees, rescue hedgehogs, play imaginary games and solve mysteries. There are other features, such as a club page, nature table and a Katie Clewes, girl detective quiz page. There will be PDF pro tables, including colouring pages and a dress up doll to cut out.. If things go well, we plan to do a printed version, but are definitely planning a 2014 printed Christmas annual. The website will launch in November 2013. Please tell as many people as you can. The website address is: http://www.hildamatilda.com

      Trisha Morris

  6. Nienna May 27, 2015 at 12:42 am #

    This is so strange – as someone just bought me an electronic Misty as a gift, and not only am I about to read a story out of it, but I was thinking of writing a post about Misty – Andy hen I just stumble across this blog post after following a link someone sent me to your haunted shop post. I too was and still am the greatest fan of Misty!

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