“Miss No-Name” has got her fighting spirit back in this issue. An athlete who has lost her memory and been enslaved by Ma Crabb, she is resisting: told to steal things from the market, she pinches an alarm clock all set to go off and plants it on one of the thieves; as a punishment she’s told to keep running round the yard but of course this is no hardship for her.
“Friends of the Forest”, by the same unknown artist who drew “Merry At Misery House” and “Hettie High-and-Mighty”, is particularly beautifully drawn this issue. “Merry” and other earlier stories were drawn with figures small and as part of a whole scene; in this episode the artist has drawn large, dramatic headshots and varied the composition more. (I will scan and post this soon as part of a feature on this artist.)
“Fran of the Floods” is poignant: Fran has escaped the destruction of her school but is wandering the flooded landscape unsure if she will ever find anyone else left alive. It’s quite reminiscent of John Wyndham; though like his ‘cosy catastrophes’ things never get too bad for the protagonist, the strong feelings of someone in such an apocalyptic situation are well-explored.
There are two stories finishing in this issue: “Too Old To Cry!” and “Wanda Whiter Than White“. In both there are reconciliations and friendships re-affirmed: in the former, orphan Nell finds a family despite the episode starting off pretty harshly, and in the latter there is an exciting horse race that ends in good news for the protagonist and her rival Wanda both. (This is not the only story where a horse race between rivals is used in the denouement: “Mark of the Witch!” features this element too.)
The story for which I picked this issue, not yet featured in earlier posts, is “Save Old Smokey!”. The protagonist here is trying to get the local townsfolk to continue using the trainline rather than driving in cars: not for environmental reasons but because she and her grandfather live in an old steam train and want the train station to continue to be viable so that they can stay there. The rival force in the town is a local councillor who wants to encourage car use because he owns a petrol station – naked greed at work. It’s a workaday story but quite nicely illustrates the move to car usage that was happening more and more at this time.
Stories in this issue:
- Miss No-Name (artist Jim Baikie)
- Dora Dogsbody (artist José Casanovas)
- Friends of the Forest
- Fran of the Floods (artist Phil Gascoine)
- The Jinx From St Jonah’s (artist Mario Capaldi)
- Too Old To Cry! (artist Trini Tinturé)
- Wanda Whiter Than White (artist Ana Rodriguez)
- Bound for Botany Bay (artist Roy Newby)
- Save Old Smokey! (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
- Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)