The Spellbinder

Real Name: Sylvester Turville

Identity/Class: Human magic user

Occupation: Alchemist

Affiliations: Tom Turville, Roger Bacon, John Dee, Grimalkin

Enemies: Count Grimm, Silas Manson, Crabtree

Known Relatives: Thomas Turville (descendant), Tom's father (descendant, deceased), Cedric Turville (descendant, deceased)

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Turville Hall, Suffolk

First Appearance: Lion and Eagle (I.P.C., 3rd May 1969 - 18th May 1974)

Powers/Abilities: An alchemist of great skill, Sylvester Turville had discovered the Philosophers' Stone (Turville's Touchstone), and could cast a wide variety of spells, including shrinking himself and his ancestor to the size of marionettes, reversing or halting aging, entering the worlds within a painting, animating shoes to walk without their wearers or creating a time clock capable of sending someone back into the past. The stone could sustain life in suspended animation, change base metals into gold, and detect evil.

History: In 1458, Sir Hugh Turville built Turville Hall in the remote heart of the Suffolk countryside. Over the centuries the family made various alterations and additions to the hall, but during the Industrial Revolution the family fell on hard times, and despite the Turvilles making their best efforts to keep the estate in good order, the building was in disrepair. The family (seemingly) abandoned it, and it became the haunt of owls and bats, and according to village gossip, haunted. Legend had it that a great secret was hidden somewhere within - the key to a fortune.

Over time the family tree mostly died out, leaving two remaining branches descended from a pair of brothers (see Comments). The elder brother's grandson, Cedric, eventually inherited the hall, but never even visited the old house. Meanwhile the younger brother's son ended up living in South East London with his wife and son, Tom, with Tom at least unaware of the family's once proud history. When the childless Cedric died in the late 1960s, it took his solicitors, Crabtree and Crabtree, a couple of months to process the will and track down Tom's branch of the family. During this interval, Tom's parents died in a car crash, leaving him the sole heir and last known surviving member of the Turville family. Tom had just been forced to sell the family home when he learned of his second cousin and that he had inherited the estate. Upon investigating his new property he discovered that a man covered in cobwebs, sitting at a table in lab within a long forgotten cellar. Wondering if the unmoving figure was a real person or just an exceptionally lifelike waxwork, Tom picked up the book the man was pointing at, and found it to be the journal of Sylvester Turville. Correctly concluding that the figure was Sylvester and his ancestor, Tom read that Sylvester had discovered the Philosophers' Stone (Turville's Touchstone), which could give or take life. Noticing Sylvester was clutching a glowing red gemstone in his left hand, Tom prised Sylvester's fingers free, careful not to touch the stone itself, and to his amazement Sylvester immediately began to move and speak, revealing he had accidentally entrapped himself with a spell and thanking Tom for freeing him after four centuries. Seeing the family resemblance after Tom introduced himself, the two bonded, and for several years thereafter they battled villainy and injustice.

Comments: Debuting in the first issue of the merged Lion and Eagle, the strip was originally called Turville's Touchstone, before changing to The Spellbinder after a little while.

Tom was Cedric Turville's second cousin, which means they shared great-grandparents. Since both had the Turville name, that presumably means it was Tom's father who was related to Sylvester, not his mother, and that Tom and Cedric's grandfathers were siblings.

Turville HallOne of the more dangerous foes the two Turville's faced was Count Grimm, a vampiric looking sorcerer. They also had an extensive adventure when Sylvester's Time Clock accidentally sent one Quantin Goddard into the past, where he stumbled through history accidentally altering history as he went - for instance he caused Columbus to turn back before discovering the New World, so that by the 1970's the Aztec Empire had crossed the ocean eastwards instead and was busy conquering Europe. Then he disturbed Leonardo Da Vinci during the painting of the Mona Lisa. With his masterpiece ruined, Leonardo gave up that line of work and instead went back to his science experiments, discovering flight 400 years early, so that by the modern era man had interstellar flight. An excellent and inventive strip.

Geoff Campion was the artist responsible for Spellbinder. Thanks to Jim Croasdale for this additional information.


Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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