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The ways in which both comics exploit other visual markers of Gothic will now be discussed. A comparison reveals that Spellbound is much more conservative in its use of visuals than Misty.


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While there are many instances of acute angles, borderless and broken panels, circular borders and so forth, the pages of Spellbound still conform in the main to a grid-type structure generally of 3—4 rows and 2—3 columns. Each story averages 26 panels spread over 3 pages. So while Spellbound offers more space for its panels than the average, its writers are following a similar scripting practice, where the page divisions are left to the artist as also confirmed by AD artist David Roach.

Footnote 5. The typography of the comics is also different. Spellbound has a neat typewritten look to its font, with the majority of speech and narration appearing in lower-case. The typewritten aesthetic is precise and regimented, as lines are completely level and letter size and position systematic. This, together with the shorter segments, means that events often seem summarized rather than dramatized. By contrast, and although Misty uses a similar style of typewritten font, all of its dialogue and narration are capitalized, giving a more casual feel.

Although rows of text are clearly typeset at regular intervals, italics are used to emphasize long sections and these strategies bring it closer to the aesthetic of American comics. Its story pacing is also different: almost all the Misty stories and instalments are four pages long and a few stretch to five or six pages. However, like Spellbound , they also average 26 panels, as they often open with a large splash page. The extra page allowed for each story means that the panels are much more varied in size and allow for an increased use of splash pages and overlarge panels to open and close the stories.

Art editor Jack Cunningham also reveals he would annotate some scripts for the artists to suggest ways of keeping the action moving by using strategies such as borderless panels. As a result of all these factors, Misty is able to depart almost completely from a conventional or implied grid layout by varying panel sizes so dramatically that on many pages it is impossible to identify panels by row or column. Applying his framework to the figure above is revealing. Darkness dominates the final panel which has a privileged space due to its position , wherein our protagonist Mary discovers she has nearly fallen over a cliff edge but has been saved by the spirit of her grandmother.

However the absence of a vertical border including a white gutter between this and the penultimate panel sustains the high contrast between light and dark that has characterized this narrative by giving the appearance that the entire bottom row is part of a single panel.

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Given this, they benefit from further exploration. In previous work Round, I argue that the comics page can be read using three key Gothic tropes: haunting, excess, and the crypt. Rather than separating out the compositional elements on the page, we should approach it holistically and reflect on its strategies. Effectively, I am saying that each comic is unique and will use a selection of the formal strategies available to it to best convey its intended meaning. Within this, haunting might refer to intertextual or paratextual echoes found in page content or layout; intersections between the priorities of ornamentation, functioning and scaffolding; mirroring and doubling of content or layout; temporal disruption through repetition or flattening of time, and so forth.

In Fig. This tension creates an uncanny feeling as the reader is simultaneously both aligned with Mary, and not. This uncanny position of the reader is also emphasized through the notion of the crypt, which refers to the unseen elements of the story in the gaps gutters between panels. We know what is in them based on the surrounding panels, and yet these elements remain unseen. The gutters are consistently invaded by various characters in this story and the hidden events are not significant: in fact the arrangement of panels looks more like the borders of photographs thrown down on top of each other something that the static-looking art further reinforces.

By contrast, looking closely at a double page from Spellbound Fig. The silhouettes on the first page are all clearly identifiable as a tree, and Beryl herself.


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While the panel borders are irregular and angled at points for example, the first row of the second page , they nonetheless conform to an implied grid on both pages and the overall effect is thus not one that unsettles the audience. Art by Ken Houghton, writer unknown. The angles used do change radically, however, and, to return to my critical model, switch between various points of view.

For example as Emily breaks the fourth wall to shout directly at us on the second page the perspective changes from disembodied unassigned point of view to embodied where we are given the point of view of a story character. Including a formal transgression like this only when normality has been restored to the narrative seems an odd fit for the story.

Its position as the first panel, a privileged location also reinforces this, although it does not come after a page turn, which would have increased the impact. This suggests that the artist did his work well by situating this panel on a new page but the publisher undermined this by not including a page turn here. So while both comics depart from convention, the aesthetics of Spellbound are less Gothic and transgressive than the layouts and visuals used in Misty. By way of conclusion, I would like to explore the thematic ways in which Gothic tropes are adapted for a child audience.

For example, the Taylor family are shrunk to a small size and must negotiate their way across a strange and dangerous island they have landed on. Marginalized or ignored concerns and the limitations of physical strength or other skills are fears that seem well-suited to literature for young girls, who are becoming aware of their changing position and clashing with their parents and other authority figures.

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Keep out of my head. These Misty stories can therefore be read as bildungsroman tales of self-growth in which characters ultimately learn to either control or accept themselves.

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These stories explore identity, and Misty in particular is both conservative and transgressive by combining Manichaean morals with uncertain outcomes and fantastic scenarios. However, in its stories transformation is often linked to puberty, uncertainty and hidden pasts arouse parental doubt, and Gothic others and doubles are reframed as infantile personality traits or secrets to be hidden or conquered through journeys of self-acceptance. Although established horror and Gothic archetypes appear in both comics they are seldom the main focus and figures such as the witch take on a variety of plot functions and cannot be clearly delineated as evil or good.

One-shot stories in particular often end on an offbeat note and without narrative closure. Spellbound offers on-going mystery and the potential if not the actuality of magical and supernatural happenings, but it is in Misty that the Gothic themes of transgression, excess and inversion are most apparent. But it also uses its serials to interrogate issues of control, authority, and self-value and offers a strongly subversive message that celebrates female power and openness as brave girls are enabled to defeat a host of evils.

Some of the datasets generated analysed during the current study are available in the form of a searchable database of story titles, content, writer, artist and so forth at www. They are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. Palgrave Communications. Footnote 6 Footnote 7 Footnote 8 Footnote 9 Footnote It should however be noted that the majority of the prose pieces contained ghosts or other supernatural figures. There are also many stories in Misty that deal with social issues, please see Round for a full discussion. See my Misty database at www. My Misty project includes a database at www.

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This lists every story published in Misty , along with writer and artist details and a short story summary, and can be used to search for patterns and common motifs. It should be noted that this relatively low number does not include stories that deal with a discovered magical item or anonymous curse. Barker M A Haunt of Fears. Compiled by Jones, S. Harper Collins: New York. Beattie J Dissertations Moral and Critical. Printed for W. Strahan: London, T.

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W Creech: Edinburgh. Routledge: London. Botting F Gothic culture. The Routledge Companion to Gothic. Routledge: London, pp 19— Castricano J Cryptomimesis. Reaktion Books: London. Collings A Bunty Twinkle then the devil arrived with Misty. Comics Code Authority. Coote B ndat The Button Box. Farber S The new American gothic. Focus on the Horror Film. Fenwick L Periodicals and adolescent girls.


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  8. Studies in Education ; 2 1 : 27— Freeman N Witchcraft. In: Punter D ed. The Encyclopaedia of the Gothic. Wiley-Blackwell: Oxford, pp — Gibson M Remembered Reading. Leuven University Press: Leuven, Belgium. Picador: London. Heiland D Gothic and Gender. Wiley Blackwell: Oxford. Hogle JE The ghost of the counterfeit in the genesis of the gothic. Gothick Origins and Innovations. Rodolphi: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, pp 23— In: Hogle JE ed. The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction.

    Jancovich M Horror. Batsford: London. King S Danse Macabre. Berkeley Publishing: New York. The H.