This talk explores the Gothic qualities of the 1970s British girls’ comics Spellbound (DC Thomson, 1976-77) and Misty (IPC, 1978-80). It asks how Gothic works in a visual medium like comics and analyses the ways in which these titles rework Gothic themes and tropes into metaphors for the real-life experiences of young female readers. It opens by giving some background to the presence of horror and the supernatural in 1970s children’s media, and the emergence of Spellbound and Misty as the part of the ‘third wave’ (or dark wave) of British girls’ comics. It then moves to explore the content of both titles, considering Gothic aesthetics (Farber 1972, Spooner 2017), the presence of horror and terror (Radcliffe 1826) and Gothic tropes (such as mirrors, masks, veils, transformation and so forth). It points towards the ways that these qualities are adapted in these stories to fit the concerns of young female readers, and concludes by suggesting that these adaptations form the basis of a ‘Gothic for Girls’ that can be recognised across many other texts and media.
Julia Round is Associate Professor of English and Comics Studies at Bournemouth University, UK. Her books include Gothic in Comics and Graphic Novels (2014), Comics and Graphic Novels (2022), and the award-winning Gothic for Girls (2019). She is one of the founders and editors of Studies in Comics journal and the Encapsulations book series. She shares her work at www.juliaround.com.