‘There’s no room for demons when you’re self-possessed’: Supernatural Possession in British Girls’ Comics

Authors: Round, J.

Publisher: Edinburgh University Press


This chapter explores the theme of possession in 1970s British girls’ comics, with a particular focus on the titles Spellbound (DC Thomson, 1967-78) and Misty (IPC, 1978-80). I begin by giving a brief critical background to the evolution of British girls’ comics (1950 onwards) and the back-and-forth between publishing giants DC Thomson and Fleetway (IPC). I trace a timeline of early instances of possession in stories (dating from 1964) and discuss the visual markers and qualities that are associated with this.

I then examine Spellbound and Misty more closely, using archival research and case studies to analyse how these titles depict supernatural possession. This reveals that possession isn’t shown simply as a negative thing, or as mere indoctrination. Although it does sometimes appear as a means of controlling females who are disobedient, badly behaved, or perhaps just too powerful, characters’ struggles against control and influence simultaneously present strong willpower, personal strength, and even rebellion as important and desirable traits. Possession also appears as a means for characters to address or negotiate historical trauma, especially relating to gender.

I argue that the treatment of this theme exemplifies the contradictory line that the girls’ comics had to tread, balancing thrills and adventure against conservatism and propriety. As my title quote (from the late great Carrie Fisher) suggests, possession of various types is used in these comics to comment on ‘approved’ female qualities, but also demonstrates female power.

Source: Manual