Slave of the Mirror (Jinty)
20 parts, 9/11/74- 12/4/75 (Issues 27-46) – you may spot that these figures don’t add up. That’s because there was a three-issue break due to ‘Production Troubles’ and so no issues on 28/12/74, 4/1/75 or 11/1/75.
I was so tempted to do Worlds Apart today. It is my favourite story ever. But I’m hanging on to my faves cos I want to do them justice. Anyway, talking to a friend yesterday made me think I just have to do a mirror story.
Mirror stories. Now I haven’t counted (although maybe I will one day), but I wouldn’t be surprised if mirrors were only beaten by ballet, ponies and tragic Victorians in number of girls’ comic appearances. (Here’s a confession: when I was asked to write a comic strip for Doctor Who Adventures comic back when it started, I did mirrors. It was pretty much a mix of a dozen girls’ comic stories squeezed into a couple of pages. Because, to me, comic strips and mirrors go together like apples and pie or Fry and Laurie – they’re fine on their own, but it always feels right when they’re together. Also, I didn’t think the mainly male readership of DWA would want a story in which the Doctor does ballet on a pony, or similar.)
Ahem. A mirror story. We’re going right back to the beginning of Jinty, to its very first year (1974), for Slave of the Mirror. Let’s assume the main characters in this story are orphans – their father has died, and although a mother is never mentioned it’s a girls’ comic so orphan status is practically obligatory. Mia Blake is now helping her elder sister Janet to run a Cornish boarding house. But (NO NO NO!) – the house was built 200 years ago and some of it is still shut up. Girls! You poor fools. You even have a portrait of the original owner on your wall, don’t you think that’s just asking for trouble?
Anyway, Mia finds an old mirror in the attic, and sees a strange girl’s face in it. The strange girl then hypnotises her into doing awful things! Interesting that she manages to break free of the control when ordered to drown a dog in a well because that is beyond the pale, but seems to have no such scruples when it comes to drowning a young couple by scuttling their boat. (They survive, she rescues them a bit later. Didn’t want you to worry.)
The mirror can’t be destroyed! It makes Mia do more bad stuff! She tells her sister she sees a face in her mirror and is sent to hospital! The medical authorities seem willing to admit Mia indefinitely because she seems a bit worried. (Now if that was a criterion for hospital admission, I’d probably have been locked up with the key thrown away ages ago.) But poor Mia can’t escape the mirror. ‘I don’t understand it! Why have I got to go to the admin office, dressed as a nurse? What am I being hypnotised into doing?’ she wonders as the sinister influence exerts itself once more…
Oh yes, and it’s while Mia’s in hospital that she’s spotted by two men who want her to become a top model. They later start stalking her, because they really really want her to become a top model. But it turns out that they want her to pay large fees to attend their ‘model school’. Now these days, girls, that would be called a scam. In fact, it might be called something worse. Just a little piece of advice: if strange men keep turning up telling you how pretty you are and please would you go to their model school, DON’T GO. Yes, OK, Mia turns out to be a top model at the end of the story, but I think we have to conclude that she was just very, very lucky.
Now, back near the beginning of the story, Janet – despite being unable to make ends meet and losing most of her guests thanks to Mia – hires Spanish student Inez to help them run the guesthouse. This turns out to be extremely lucky. By a staggering coincidence, Inez is a descendant of the girl in the mirror, one Isabella who had been a servant in that very house 200 years ago. And Inez easily discovers that Isabella was left to die in the attic by the heartless owner whose portrait still hangs on the wall (even more luckily, Isabella had left a letter detailing all of this hidden inside the mirror). The poor servant girl decided to return from the grave to get revenge and drive visitors away from the house she hated. She was dying of fever at the time, so possibly wasn’t thinking clearly, because I don’t quite get why not letting paying guests have their holidays there is really revenge. Maybe she just didn’t want to risk them dying in the attic like she did, she just went about it in a funny way by, you know, drowning them and stuff.
Mia sets the house on fire, but is rescued in the nick of time and shortly afterwards discovers Isabella’s grave in the churchyard. Having people feel sorry for her and visit her grave stops Isabella wanting vengeance and she vanishes from the mirror. Why she didn’t just hypnotise Mia into feeling sorry for her and visiting her grave in the first place, I’m not sure. But as we decided earlier, she probably wasn’t thinking straight when she did the whole curse thing.
Mind you, I’m not entirely convinced that any of this really happened. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if it was just an elaborate excuse in illustrated comic-strip form as told to Mia’s probation officer. ‘So, you caused a car crash, wrote poison-pen letters, stole money and set light to your house – oh the mirror made you do it. Well, that’s all right then. Although possibly you ought to go to hospital for a few months. Because you seem worried.’
Tragic car crash: 2
Mysterious cursed object: 2 (Subsection ‘Mirror’: 1)
Girl in a wheelchair: 2
Time travel: 1