Who remembers “Spellbound”, DC Thomson’s mystery comic? New database launched

Comics archivist Julia Round has created a guide to DC Thomson’s fondly-remembered girls “mystery-thriller” comic of the 1970s, Spellbound, complementing her ongoing research into gothic comics, which also includes Misty.

Launched in September 1976, DC Thomson’s weekly fantasy comic Spellbound preceded the better known Fleetway title Misty, launched in 1978. It ran for just 69 issues, before merging with sister paper, Debbie.

Despite its relatively short run, the comic featured some memorable strips, most with a supernatural or paranormal twist.

These included “Marina”, about a young gipsy girl who could see the future, who had been adopted as the mascot of a motor racing team, and “The Mask of Menace”, in which a girl discovers a sinister artifact in the geography room of her boarding school.

Spellbound Issue 49, featuring “Marina” on the cover

Also part of the mix were short stories, mostly centring on tragic romances, introduced by one Damian Darke and Miss Hatherleigh, custodian of Cremond Castle.

Another Spellbound strip of particular note is “Supercats”, a science fiction strip drawn by Spanish comics artist Enrique Badia Romero, centring an all-female team of spacefaring superheroes who crewed the spaceship Lynx.

The Supercats on the cover of Spellbound Issue 17

Most of its striking covers were by Norman Lee, who freelanced for DC Thomson for some 20 years. (Norman Lee’s father was a lifetime DC Thomson comic artist, who was in charge of the Dundee-based publisher’s art department at one point).

Predating Misty, published by IPC between 1978 and 1980, Spellbound clearly influenced the latter title in terms of tone.

For those who remember reading the title, but who perhaps can’t remember how their favourite story went, the searchable database includes story summaries of the title’s many series, plus credits for their anonymous artists, where known, and any reprint details – and is searchable by any keyword.

“I’m hoping that it introduces new readers to the types of stories that these comics told, helps old readers locate the stories they can’t quite remember and find out more about the ones they love, and that it’s generally a useful resource for fans and scholars,” says Julia, who’s also author of Gothic for Girls: Misty and British Girls’ Comics.

“My thanks to David Roach for his incredible knowledge of artists, to all the creators and scholars I spoke with, to Mark Round for the tech, and to Bournemouth University’s Women’s Academic Network for supporting this project,” Julia acknowledges.

Information still welcomed

Art from “Supercats”, originally published in Spellbound, issue cover dated 23rd April 1977

While Julia, helped by artist and fellow comic archivist David Roach have, as ever, created a fantastic guide to the comic, complementing Julia’s Misty comic database, the writers involved on Spellbound remain elusive, since, as with other comics of the time, no creators were credited in its pages.

“I only know a little about the Spellbound editorial team, editor Ken Gordon, and chief sub David Donaldson,” Julia has noted. “This is very much a work in progress.

“I hope one day we can name all the artists and writers and give them the credit they deserve.”

If you wrote any of the Spellbound strips, or provide additional information, perhaps you’d like to let Julia know?

The Spellbound revival that never was

Promotional art for the cancelled Spellbound revival, circulated on social media in 2019

Back in 2019, DC Thomson prepared the ground for a digital revival of Spellbound, launching various social media accounts to tease its impending launch – but the project was suddenly cancelled, and we were asked to put a hold on planned coverage.

Although this has never been confirmed by anyone involved, despite asking, my suspicion is that as with the suddenly-abandoned revival of some boys comics heroes by DC Thomson through Commando, any planned comics were pulled when the publisher started promoting their library to film and TV executives through Beano Studios, which has spun off into the recently-unveiled Emanata Studios.

Creators involved on the new Spellbound comic were Daniel McGachey, working with artist Lauren Knight, setting the scene for the title, which then delved into a selection of the strangest, most sinister tales told by the enigmatic Damian Darke – Spellbound’s “Master of Mystery”, which include stories featuring art by Brian Lewis, among others.

Also included was the serial “I Don’t Want to be a Witch”, the story of Celia Winters, a reluctant teen spell-caster, collected in its entirety for the first time ever – which was followed by the launch of an all-new story starring Sophia Winters, her daughter, a story written by Commando writer Georgia Standen Battle, with art by Anna Morozova.

Sadly, the planned title was pulled and any related social media accounts were pulled. Perhaps, if Emanata Studios plans are a success, which include Spellbound-related projects, it may one day see the light of day.

Check out the Spellbound database compiled by Julia Round and David Roach here

If you wrote any of the Spellbound strips, or provide additional information, perhaps you’d like to let Julia know?

Check out the Misty database compiled by Julia Round here

Check out the Misty cover gallery compiled by Chris Lillyman here

Read our news story, “DC Thomson, Beano Studios, announce “Emanata Studios” – and a raft of TV shows based on classic British comic characters”

Gothic for Girls: Misty and British Girls’ Comics (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)

Spellbound (TM) DC THOMSON LTD, COPYRIGHT © DC THOMSON LTD, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: British Comics, Classic British Comics, Comics, Creating Comics, Digital Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. Despite Spellbound being for girls, I bought the early issues with the excuse I was buying it for my sister. Most memorable strip for me was the Supercats with gorgeous art by Romero. Supercats is one of my most wanted series that needs to be collected, surprised it hasn’t happened yet.

  2. I loved Spellbound too. Dare I say, I think it was better at times than Misty! The Supercats were also featured in a number of Diana annuals in the 1970s under the title The Fabulous Four (there was also a Damian Darke clone called The Man In Black who introduced similarly spooky stories). It was a brilliant comic and way ahead of its time.

  3. While doing research on the origins of Dutch girl comics, I frequently come across stories from Spellbound. Great stuff! Hope some attention to the title encourages DCT to reprint some of the stories.

    • This is really interesting, I didn’t know that! I always want to find out more about international reprints as there are basically no records – please do drop me a line via the contact page on my website juliaround.com if you’re able to tell me more about what stories and where!

%d bloggers like this: