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Sci-Fi strips in girls comics 
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That's what their parents said at any rate. Personally I have my doubts...! :roll:

British comics tended to be especially good at coming up with SF stories where a strange, unearthly phenomenon suddenly turns the familiar world upside down. Here's another example of this genre from Diana - the intriguing 'Secret in the Sky'.

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- Phil Rushton


Sat Jul 27, 2013 9:07 am
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That's a cool story Phil, the colours are great! What about the next "exciting instalment" do we get to see that?
Once we find out who they are we can congratulate them for interupting parliament!


Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:07 pm
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To be honest I'm not sure how many more episodes of 'Secret in the Sky' I've got Matrix - though, as was so often the case, I doubt if the eventual resolution turned out to be quite as cool as initial setup!

As for the Cosmic Raspberry's success in closing Parliament (a distinction it shared with the 'Great Stink' of 1858!) I can't help noticing that it simultaneously seems to have rendered our Lords and Masters incapable of distinguishing between Prime Minister Harold Wilson and an obvious imposter. :)

- Phil Rushton


Sat Jul 27, 2013 2:06 pm
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The serial Secret In The Sky ran in Diana 158 (Feb. 26 1966) - 166 (Apr. 23 1966). The instalment posted by Phil is in 161. Here is a summary of what happened afterwards.

a. The plane dives steeply to avoid the bird, which, tricked by the plane's manoeuvre, crashes to the ground and shatters in a violent explosion.
b. Big Ben begins to glow red.
c. An engine fire causes the plane to land in a field, where Tessa and her father stop some poachers from killing grouse on the grounds that eating affected birds might be fatal.
d. Their train from Birmingham to London nearly crashes when an unbelievable number of barn owls fall into the driver's cab, and prevent him from reaching the brake. Tessa has the presence of mind to pull the communication cord.
e. As the birds can't eat, insects and field mice are free to destroy the nation's grain harvest.
f. While the Professor goes to see the Prime Minister, the girls return to the Wilkins family flat, but as they are getting into bed they hear a funny noise at the front door.
g. It is caused by a couple of vultures that escaped earlier from Regent's Park Zoo when their keeper felt his head was splitting from the screaming noise, and simply didn't shut the cage door. They have been guided to the flat.
h. The girls get away via the fire escape but the red glow from Big Ben is stronger than ever, and hypnotises them to take two blackbirds from the deep purple interior of the Big Ben building, and take them to their father. He realises just in time that their bright red beaks have been treated to turn them into killers.
i. Fortunately, Professor Wilkins has had some soundproof suits made for himself and his daughters, and assuming that the answer to the mystery will be found in Big Ben, they go there.
j. When the clock chimes 10.45, the glow disappears temporarily. Dad clambers out onto the clock face and with wire he prevents the hands from moving past 11.00. This gives them time to get to the mysterious box that had told the girls to set the blackbirds on their father.
k. Dad picks up the currently inert box, and the three leg it down to the ground floor. As the clock's hands are about to break the wire, the box starts to throb and then glow red again. He just has time to hurl it against Westminster Bridge, where it explodes.
l. The birds start flying again. When the girls ask what the secret of the sky was, Dad says he doesn't know but someone out in space wanted to upset life on Earth for reasons we will never know. The final panel informs us that the Professor was right. Evil schemers on the far-off planet of Tyrantus had been thwarted - at least for the time being.


Sat Jul 27, 2013 6:55 pm
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Secret in the Sky is another blast from my past. It is good to see this old friend from childhood. A couple of other sci-fi titles from the 60s have emerged from the fog of memory. The City Under (beneath?) the Sea which had female guards wearing metal suits and helmets; and The Isle of a Million Wings set in the then future year of 1980 when pollinating insects were almost extinct, the heroine of the story travels to an island where bees and insects proliferate. Can't remember any more of the plot. Possibly not Diana stories, more likely Bunty or Judy but definitely DCT stories anyway.


Sun Jul 28, 2013 6:11 am
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The serial The City Under The Sea appeared in Bunty in 1961. I don't have any record of The Isle Of A Million Wings.


Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:41 am
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Your memory is firing on all cylinders Bunty Girl! 'The Isle of a Million Wings' (great title!) appeared in Judy during 1965.

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Given the recent worrying decline in our own bee population this story seems remarkably prophetic. :shock:

- Phil Rushton


Mon Jul 29, 2013 1:12 am
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philcom55 wrote:
'The Isle of a Million Wings' (great title!) appeared in Judy during 1965.
Do you know the starting and finishing issue numbers of this serial, Phil? I only have eleven missing from 1965, but that includes a run from 303 to 310. If it doesn't fall between those numbers, I must have most of it but without having catalogued it.


Mon Jul 29, 2013 2:34 am
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Some serials did prove disturbingly prophetic. Jinty's Fran of the Floods anticipated global warming.


Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:06 am
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Is it my imagination or does Borg look uncannily similar to Robert Morley?

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Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:45 am
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It is Robert Morley isn't it? Maybe he got assimilated into the Borg collective! :)

I'm afraid I've only got that one episode of 'Isle' Phoenix. It was scanned from Judy no.290 (July 31st 1965). Maybe it's my imagination but the storyline reads as though it might have been based on an earlier text serial - did DC Thomson ever feature SF themes like this in their girls' story papers?

Thanks also for your excellent précis of 'Secret in the Sky'. I can't help wishing there was a book or website that provided similar outlines of all the serials that ran in the major story papers.

Having said that I do get the feeling that, after starting with an intriguing premise, the writer of 'Secret' rather lost his way half way through - culminating in a rushed and unsatisfactory conclusion. To my mind this tends to be a common danger with all serial fiction where scripts are made up from week to week - something that is particularly noticeable in TV shows like 'Lost'.

By contrast it seems to me that the plot of 'Pink Peril' hung together far better, even though it's resolution also depended on a deus ex machina in the form of green aliens.

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The doomed butterfly in the final panel is an especially nice touch. If John Wyndham ever moonlighted as a comics scripter this is just the sort of story he might have come up with.

- Phil Rushton


Mon Jul 29, 2013 11:39 am
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philcom55 wrote:
I'm afraid I've only got that one episode of 'Isle' Phoenix. It was scanned from Judy no.290 (July 31st 1965). Maybe it's my imagination but the storyline reads as though it might have been based on an earlier text serial - did DC Thomson ever feature SF themes like this in their girls' story papers?
Right, thank you, Phil. I do have issues 290-302 so I must have some of the story. I have to admit that I have been acquiring Thomsons' girls' papers so regularly over the last three or four years that I have really only had time to slot them into their rightful positions in the numerical order of whichever titles they belong to, but without adding the information about their serials to my database. I do intend to do so one day!

philcom55 wrote:
did DC Thomson ever feature SF themes like this in their girls' story papers?
Given that Judy is a girls' story paper, I think I need you to clarify this question, please, before I can really answer it properly. If you mean in text serials in girls' story papers, then the answer is No because there were hardly any serials of any theme in text form. If you simply mean assorted SF themes across the Thomson range of titles for girls or boys, then the answer is Yes, frequently. Over to you.


Mon Jul 29, 2013 1:21 pm
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Sorry for any confusion Phoenix. Whenever I say 'story papers' it refers to periodicals which featured a preponderance of text stories. For me weeklies which specialized in picture strips have always been 'comics' rather than story papers (even though they weren't always comic and contained plenty of stories!). Of course I know that there are alternative views on this - my dad, for example, always referred to them all as comics - but I do think that the distinction between story papers and comics has come to be accepted by most modern collectors.

I must confess to being quite ignorant of the text papers which DC Thomson and other publishers produced for girls: were there really no equivalents to the original Wizard, etc?

- Phil R.


Mon Jul 29, 2013 2:35 pm
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philcom55 wrote:
I must confess to being quite ignorant of the text papers which DC Thomson and other publishers produced for girls: were there really no equivalents to the original Wizard, etc?
My position on this is quite clear. If the printed item is essentially made up of stories, whether serials or completes, whether in text form or picture strip form, I call it a story paper. The only story paper for girls in text form ever produced by Thomsons was The Blue Bird, which ran from 1 (Oct. 28 1922) - 100 (Sept. 20 1924), in which issue her readers were given the fatal exciting news, and advised that the following week they should ask their newsagent for My Weekly And Blue Bird. Those girls, and their daughters, had to wait until August 31st 1957 before Thomsons launched Romeo, their second story paper for girls, this one, obviously, in picture strip format. Bunty appeared the following January, and the rest, as they say, is history. There were a number of text story papers for girls produced by other companies throughout the twentieth century, some stand-out titles being Girls' Own Paper, Peg's Paper, School Friend, Schoolgirls' Own and Girls' Crystal.


Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:46 pm
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It's interesting that Thomsons published no papers aimed exclusively at girls for such a long time - especially as they printed so many text stories for boys and older women; presumably a lot of girls read the latter instead. Also it's worth noting that titles such as Family Star did occasionally concentrate on younger protogonists in place of the usual romantic entanglements so maybe they tried out the odd SF setting from time to time as well?

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- Phil R.


Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:55 pm
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