Gothic for Girls
Misty and British Comics
The first book-length study of the beloved British girls’ comic
Winner of the 2019 Broken Frontier Award for Best Book on Comics
Today fans still remember and love the British girls’ comic Misty for its bold visuals and narrative complexities. Yet its unique history has drawn little critical attention. Bridging this scholarly gap, Julia Round presents a comprehensive cultural history and detailed discussion of the comic, preserving both the inception and development of this important publication as well as its stories.
Misty ran for 101 issues as a stand-alone publication between 1978 and 1980 and then four more years as part of Tammy. It was a hugely successful anthology comic containing one-shot and serialized stories of supernatural horror and fantasy aimed at girls and young women and featuring work by writers and artists who dominated British comics such as Pat Mills, Malcolm Shaw, and John Armstrong, as well as celebrated European artists. To this day, Misty remains notable for its daring and sophisticated stories, strong female characters, innovative page layouts, and big visuals.
In the first book on this topic, Round closely analyzes Misty’s content, including its creation and production, its cultural and historical context, key influences, and the comic itself. Largely based on Round’s own archival research, the study also draws on interviews with many of the key creators involved in this comic, including Pat Mills, Wilf Prigmore, and its art editorial team Jack Cunningham and Ted Andrews, who have never previously spoken about their work. Richly illustrated with previously unpublished photos, scripts, and letters, this book uses Misty as a lens to explore the use of Gothic themes and symbols in girls’ comics and other media. It surveys existing work on childhood and Gothic and offers a working definition of Gothic for Girls, a subgenre which challenges and instructs readers in a number of ways.
Overall, however, I found Round’s work to be a fascinating and absolutely essential read, for it let me into a misty world that I had not yet discovered, but which many readers will want to explore.- Catherine E. Corder, International Journal of Comic Art, Fall/Winter 2019
An important and unique account of Misty and the long-lost world of girls' comics.- Pat Mills, “Godfather of British Comics” and cocreator of Misty
As a writer and herstorian, and as a reader and fan, I’ve long been aware of the trivialization of American girls’ comics by male critics and fans, so I’m hardly surprised to find that the same situation existed in the UK. In the male-dominated world of comics, stories of a guy who dons a bat costume in order to skulk about in the dark and beat up a guy with a white face and red painted-on grin are considered to be of utmost importance while stories of the romances, angst, and anguish of young girls are trifling and inferior. It had always seemed to me that in America, girls’ comics of the late 1940s through the early 1960s were better written, more sophisticated, and better drawn than the boys’ superhero comics of the same time period. But the British girls’ comics were even better written, even more sophisticated than their American counterparts, and the art is absolutely smashing! So, I’m very happy to see that Julia Round has written Gothic for Girls, exploring every aspect of the best of the bunch, the goth/horror/romance series Misty.- Trina Robbins, author of Pretty in Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1896–2013; Last Girl Standing; and Gladys Parker: A Life in Comics, A Passion for Fashion
Misty captivated readers week by week with its horror serials and short stories, more psychological than physical, yet compelling and chilling, nonetheless. Its innovative approach heralded what could have been a revolution in girls’ comics in the UK, and although Misty ended too soon, its appreciation has only increased since through fandom, reprints, and a recent revival. In Gothic for Girls: ‘Misty’ and British Comics, Julia Round finally gives this landmark in British comics the in-depth analysis and insightful commentary it deserves.- Paul Gravett, coauthor of Great British Comics: Celebrating a Century of Ripping Yarns and Wizard Wheezes and Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK