Tag Archives: environmentalism

Fancy Free! (1981)

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Published: 28 March 1981 – 30 May 1981 (10 episodes)

Artist: Phil Townsend

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: none known


Fancy Cole is the most difficult pupil in her school. She is slovenly, unmanageable, uncooperative, and a bully. What Fancy wants more than anything else is freedom – which she thinks just means doing anything she likes – so she hates school authority and rebels against it in any way she can. As for bullying, well, when you’re free you make your own rules. To underline her point about freedom she turns all the school pets loose in class to give them freedom, much to the consternation of the teacher and classmates.

When we see Fancy’s home life, however, she becomes a more sympathetic character. We begin to understand why Fancy is the way she is and we suspect that what Fancy really wants is someone to care about her. Her home is a tip and nobody  cleans it up. Goodness knows what the bacteria count is like. Her mother, though not downright cruel or abusive as some parents/guardians are in girls’ stories, does not show Fancy any love or caring. In fact, Mum cares far more for bingo than she does for Fancy. They just argue all the time. It seems Fancy’s home life has been that way for years; when she was younger she used to pretend she was switched by the fairies and did not really belong to that family at all. As for the father, he has been absent for twelve years for some unknown reason. Fancy yearns for him and wants to know more about him, but doesn’t even know what he looks like.

Mum steals the money Dad sent for Fancy’s birthday for her bingo. This is the last straw for Fancy. She runs away, determined to find somewhere where she can enjoy freedom. On the moor, however, she meets Ben Harrington, who cares for the wildlife on the moor and has converted an old double decker bus into a hospital for them. Fancy becomes fascinated with Ben and caring for wildlife and wants to learn all about it. They are particularly concerned with a sick purple heron, and Ben can’t quite figure out what’s wrong. Ben agrees to teach her, but there is one condition – she must stop running away from whatever she is running from. Eventually Fancy agrees to do so, figuring that what she does with Ben will make it all worthwhile.

Ben also keeps telling Fancy that her views on freedom – being able to do anything she likes – are unrealistic. Nobody, not even wildlife, is completely free, for there are always restraints and regulations in one form or other. Ben has views on his own freedom too, which seem to be a bit touchy. For example, he can’t stand the word “prison”. He doesn’t like snoopers either and initially drew a gun on Fancy because he thought she was snooping.

Fancy is now reconsidering her bullying as she does not want Ben hearing bad things about her. However, she finds herself hauled up before the headmistress for the school pets she let loose and bullying a girl out of dinner money. Fortunately the headmistress is now dealing with a more thoughtful Fancy. Fancy says her action with the school pets was not the best thing for them, which she realised during her encounter with Ben. She also promises to repay the girl’s dinner money. The girl’s mother says it must be repaid by Monday or it’s the police. The headmistress gives Fancy three Saturday detentions, which will cut into her time for seeing Ben.

When Fancy finally gets to Ben, she finds a strange man asking questions about the place, but she tells him nothing. Ben gets extremely agitated when he hears about the man snooping. Following this, Fancy realises there is more to Ben than meets the eye. However, when Ben gets all strict about conditions needing to be met if Fancy is to continue with him, Fancy leaves in a huff, saying Ben’s just one more stuffy grown up who cramps her freedom.

Fancy arrives home in such a rage that she picks a fight with her mother and starts smashing wall ornaments. When Mum tries to stop Fancy, she says she had the same thing from her father and doesn’t want it with her. At this, Fancy really demands to know just what it is about her father.

Mum explains the father was a good-for-nothing who ended up in prison. She refuses to say what the charge was, though she does say the father pleaded innocent but neither she nor the jury believed him. He then escaped from prison and has not been seen since, much less bothered with his wife or child (then how did he send birthday money for Fancy, as mentioned in part 1?). Mum says that if she knew where he was she would turn him in. Clearly, she is very bitter and angry towards him and blames him for the life she leads with Fancy.

After this, Fancy becomes less centred on herself as she wants to go back and help the birds. She cleans up the broken ornaments and then goes back to Ben to apologise (for the first time in her life, she wants to apologise to someone). She never helps around the house at home, but is really enjoying cleaning up at Ben’s. While working, Fancy mentions the story of her father, and Ben hints he may know something. However, Fancy doesn’t know enough details for them to really make a headstart and Ben still seems a bit evasive on the matter anyway. Meantime, they turn their attention back to the purple heron. Fancy is really honoured when Ben trusts it to her care. He also gives her ten pounds as a payment. So Fancy can now repay the dinner money she stole with her bullying.

Unfortunately Mum finds the money and takes it to the police, thinking Fancy stole it (though it is implied that Mum takes it to bingo instead!). It turns out Mum isn’t too far wrong, as a check of the serial numbers confirms that the money came from a bank robbery years ago – and this is what Fancy’s father was jailed for! Fancy manages to talk her way out of it with the police and shift suspicion to her mother. So while Mum is now down at the police station facing awkward questions, Fancy goes to see Ben about the money.

It was a bad miscalculation on Ben’s part – he thought it wouldn’t matter as so much time had passed since the crime. Fancy now realises that Ben is an escaped convict. Ben is getting worried that the police might come, so he takes off and leaves Fancy in charge of the birds. Fancy is honoured, because nobody has ever trusted her so much before, and nobody ever needed her so much before either. She wants to stay there forever and never go back.

However, this has made Fancy absent from school and the headmistress and Mum call the police in. Mum finds the police asking her some hard questions about how she has treated Fancy and they say they will be keeping an eye on her after that stolen money. Before long, Fancy sees a police copter flying around. The weather turns against the police chopper, but it also causes Ben to have an accident. Ben decides to struggle back to the bus, deciding his place is with the birds, and never mind the police. He makes it back but he is dying. Still, he arrives in time to see the purple heron return to the wild.

Just before Ben dies, he says the money was stolen, but not by him – it was planted to frame him after the bank robbery. They then discuss the possibility that Ben is Fancy’s father. Their surnames don’t match, but Mum could have changed her name, and everything else seems to fit. So they decide it’s feasible and Fancy says she would like it that way anyway. Ben then dies and Fancy vows to carry on his work as the bird girl.


One of the definite strengths of this story is how Fancy’s behaviour is rooted in realism. All too often the reason why so many kids are problem is kids stems from the parenting they have received and their home lives. In this case it is Fancy being raised by a solo mother because the father is absent, and the mother is completely uncaring. The conditions under which they live make things worse. They live in squalor and there are constant money and even food shortages because Mum squanders money on bingo and uses Fancy to get welfare. There is no evidence of Mum having a job or bothering with one.

Of course Fancy is just as much the architect of her own misfortunes with her own selfishness and bad attitudes, particularly her bullying and her naïve notions of what freedom is. She does not understand that if she wasn’t so difficult at school it would be so much better for her and she’d have some friends. But the real root of it all definitely comes from the mother. Fortunately Fancy is not beyond redemption. Once she finds her vocation in caring for the birds and deciding the moors are made for her, that’s it. She wants to change and be different in future. Of course her bad temper still erupts with Ben and Mum, but there is no going back to her bullying ways. Under all that difficult behaviour lies a heroine with a lot of courage and balls. Nobody is going to push this protagonist around – she’s going to stand up for herself and the birds. And she always wants to be free. However, she is still being unrealistic in wanting to care for the birds and never return home. By law she is still a minor and needs a guardian and has to attend school. Hopefully they came to some sort of arrangement where Fancy could still care for the birds while still a minor.

Mum is clearly consumed with bitterness towards the father and blaming him for how she and Fancy have ended up. But just how much is the father at fault? Before Mum reveals the father was jailed and then escaped, both we and Fancy get a strong impression that old trout drove him off. The story cries out to have the full story of just how the father ended up in prison so readers would be able to judge how much blame the mother and father should take for everything. We only have the mother’s side of things, but she is hardly an objective observer, and she did not give the full details on what happened. After all, suppose the father’s claims of innocence were genuine? On the other hand, it could well be that the father was indeed a less than admirable character. Or he could have just made a mistake and got mixed up in something he shouldn’t have. Or he could have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. We just don’t know because we don’t have the full story.

There are a couple of oddities that need to be explained. If the father was absent and had no contact with his family, how did he manage to send Fancy birthday money in part one of the story? How did Ben come to be in possession of the money that was used to frame him after the robbery? And just who framed him with the stolen money after the robbery anyway? Was it the real criminals or the police?

Assuming the father and Ben were the same person, he definitely is a far better person than Mum gives him credit for. It could well be that he started off less so, but became a changed person when he started caring for the wild birds on the moor – just like his daughter. Or perhaps he was the kinder of the two parents who chose to use his time in hiding to care for wild birds in lieu of his family.

The Goose Girl (1977)

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Goose Girl 1

Goose Girl 2

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Goose Girl 3

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Publication: 20/8/77-5/11/77

Artist: Keith Robson

Writer: Alison Christie (now Fitt)

Translations/reprints: not translated directly, but the storyline was probably used for Maartje, het ganzenmeisje (Marge, the Goose Girl) in Tina 1979, art by Piet Wijn; Tina Topstrip 40, 1982.


Ever since she can remember, Glenda Noble and her mother have been fighting over birds. Glenda just loves birds and is a born naturalist. But for some reason Glenda’s mother has a pathological hatred of birds and tries to crush Glenda’s love for them wherever she sees it. She keeps pushing Glenda into fashion design, which Glenda hates and rebels against. The war between them is further compounded by the fact that they are opposites: Mum lives for fashion, the high life, social climbing and the city, while Glenda is clearly the country girl who loves the great outdoors.

When Glenda is fifteen, she and her mother have to move out of their posh Edinburgh flat and into a country lodge left by Mr Noble in Solway Firth. This suits Glenda, who has always hated city life, and she takes to her new home immediately. But Mum hates the move as she is a city person, and it seems to strike a raw nerve with her too.

Glenda is horrified to find it is goose-hunting season. She finds an injured goose, which she names Brodie. She tries to nurse Brodie back to health, but the bird-hating mother means Glenda has to keep Brodie hidden. This causes a lot of difficulties. And when Mum finds out, she tries to stop Glenda seeing Brodie by taking Glenda out of school and giving her private lessons in order to keep her at home. It’s also part of Mum’s design to have Glenda give up her ornithology and push her into fashion design. Her ambition is to open a fashion boutique with the money Glenda inherits when she turns eighteen (but that is in three years!). She even locks Brodie in the shed to turn him over to one Colonel Graham to be disposed of. This is all part of her social climbing as well – getting in with the gentry and the high life. But Glenda finds the key and saves Brodie, so Mum faces nothing but embarrassment at the hands of the angry Colonel.

Mum reveals that the reason she hates birds (and why Glenda loves them) is because her husband, a naturalist, was shot while defending the geese against the goose hunters. And it is these same goose hunters that Mum is now supporting against Brodie and the other geese!

Glenda starts campaigning against the hunt, but meets with little success and popularity. The locals say they want the hunt because it is good for trade when the nobility comes for the shoot. She also makes an enemy out of Chrissie Milne, who is only too happy to sneak on Brodie to Mrs Noble, which she does several times. However, it’s not long before Glenda has a whole flock of wild geese following her around! And she soon has dreams of opening a nature reserve in Solway Firth for them. But her goose demo not only meets more hostility from the locals but gets Mum into more trouble with the Colonel she is trying to get in with. After this, Mum watches Glenda like a hawk and even shams illness to keep Glenda close to her.

Mum is now trying to set up a clothes shop back in Edinburgh and also move back there to get away from the “backwater” she hates. Of course she has done this without consulting Glenda and does not care for Glenda’s feelings, which are the complete opposite. Also, Glenda has her doubts about the sincerity of the couple who are putting them up. She is soon proved right – the couple soon tire of them when Mum can’t find a job in fashion selling because she is too old and they think the Nobles are presuming on their kindness. To make things more complicated, Brodie has tagged along. When he flies into the flat, the couple reach their limit and Glenda has another bust-up with her mother. Glenda and Brodie head off back to the lodge – in a snowstorm!

Mum returns (the couple have thrown her out) and tracks them down. She says she has fixed Glenda up with an interview at Edinburg Art College for fashion design. Glenda uses it as a pretext to get to Edinburgh because she has spotted a job going for a year’s contract on an African nature reserve. But the interviewer for the art college meets her off the train, thus preventing her from skipping off to her own interview. Glenda makes sure she fails the art college interview but arrives too late for her own. She leaves in tears, not realising she has dropped the photographs she took of Brodie that show the progress of his recovery and her aptitude for the job.

The interviewer, Mr Donald, sees the photographs at reception. He is far more impressed with them than with anyone he had interviewed that day. He also happens to be an old friend of Glenda’s father. Glenda’s address was written on the back of the photos, so Mr Donald tracks her down and offers her the job. But the possessive, bird-hating Mrs Noble refuses to let Glenda go. However, Mum changes her mind when Mr Donald gives them a tape recording made by Dad, which reveals that he had wanted to open a nature reserve in Solway Firth – the same dream Glenda has! Glenda is off to Africa, but first they use the money Dad left in trust to open the Solway Firth reserve. So the now-recovered Brodie and the other geese are now safe from the hunters.


Jinty was known for her environmental stories and we can see the environmental theme underlying this one too. In this case it is the issue of hunting and both sides of it: people who care more for profit and consumerism than nature, and the naturalists who want to protect the environment and the animals and birds who live in it. But naturalists often have a hard time being heard against hard-line attitudes towards environmentalism, as Glenda discovers when her campaign to protect the geese meets animosity and even threats of mob violence.

The environmental themes in this story are given a brilliant atmosphere with the artwork. Keith Robson’s artwork is ideal to the ruggedness of the Scottish countryside and the wildness of nature. His depiction of the grotesque looks on Mrs Noble’s face when she gets on her high horse about Glenda almost seem a well-deserved caricature of her and her unhealthy, possessive attitudes.

When we find out why Mrs Noble has such a bad attitude towards birds, we are even more outraged by it because she is doing things that would have her husband spinning in his grave: hating birds, helping bird hunters, denying injured birds care, handing birds over to be destroyed, and not respecting the things that he loved and lived his life for. As Glenda herself points out to her mother, she should hate the hunters. After all, they are the ones who fired the fatal shots and are the ones responsible for his death, not the birds. We might (grudgingly) understand Mrs Noble’s hatred of birds if, say, a bird caused her husband to fall off the roof and break his neck. But, really – Mrs Noble hating birds because her husband was shot while defending them makes about as much sense as hating victims of mugging because someone you love was killed while defending a mugging victim.

And we have to wonder why the Nobles ever got married in the first place because they were clearly polar opposites. She loves everything the city has to offer and the high life while he was a naturalist who loved the country and its isolation; we can see this in Glenda, who is obviously her father’s daughter. He loved living in the lodge while she hated it because country life was not for her. Perhaps it was a case of opposites attracting. But if he had lived, we wonder if the marriage would be similar to the stormy relationship Glenda has with her mother. Still, at least Glenda would have had her father on her side and encouraging her love of birds, and a much happier home life.

When we see the war between Glenda and her mother, we admire Glenda for being the rebel who refuses to bend to her possessive mother who keeps trying to crush her love of birds and push her into undesirable fashion designing. Glenda flouts her mother wherever possible. This is one girl who is not going to take things in silent resentment and we like a heroine who does not take things lying down. But Glenda doesn’t always win, such as when Mum tears up her sketches of birds in the first episode. And the odds stack up against her even when she moves to the lodge because the locals are hostile to her ideas about birds and endorse the goose hunting because it is good for business. It must have been the same for her father all those years ago. It is ironic that in the end it is Mrs Noble who saves the birds by agreeing to open a nature reserve for them with the trust money once she learns it was her husband’s wish. In so doing, she not only redeems herself but also adopts a much healthier attitude towards nature. She tells Glenda that she has finally learned to let go. This includes letting go her pathological hatred of birds, and letting Glenda go instead of being so possessive about her and forcing her into her mould.

The Forbidden Garden (1979)

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Garden 1

Garden 2

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Garden 3

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Publication: 24/3/79-28/7/79

Repeat: Tammy 1984 – unfinished due to Tammy’s cancellation

Artist: Jim Baikie

Writer: Unknown

Plot: Mankind has polluted the atmosphere, causing plants to become extinct and soils incapable of growing any. The plants that do survive are protected in laboratories while public places are filled with plastic substitutes. The pollution and lack of plants also means water and food are strictly rationed, and punishments for transgressors are harsh, such as imprisonment for water stealing. Other harsh measures are taken as well, such as imprisonment for breaking curfew and destroying pets because they are a strain on food supplies. People start dumping them in the Forbidden Zone (a ruined part of old London) instead.

Laika Severn’s sister Valli is extremely ill, but her parents cannot afford hospital care, which is for rich people only. Valli wishes to see a real flower, but where to get one? Then, one day Laika trespasses into the Forbidden Zone. To her astonishment, she finds a patch of earth with grass growing in it. As she explores further, she discovers evidence that the patch once belonged to a gardener. She finds seed packets and immediately sees her chance to grow a flower for Valli.

But the seeds need water, and that poses a problem in this water-rationed society. Eventually Laika is driven to the imprisonable offence of stealing water from school. Her transgression is photographed by “the meanest prefect in the school”, Gladvis Clampp. But instead of reporting Laika, Gladvis starts blackmailing her into doing dirty, exhausting work at her Uncle Maxwell’s food processing factory in the industrial zone, in exchange for more water. He is only too pleased to have cheap labour that he can pay just with water and does not care that it is illegal because Laika is underage. And in return, he gives Gladvis off-ration food.

Nonetheless, the seeds start sprouting, and they start with the tears Laika sheds. Then Laika finds a water source in an old washroom because the authorities forgot to turn off the pipes. Now Laika has no need for her water wages from Gladvis’ uncle, but she is still being blackmailed. Then, when Gladvis orders Laika to clean up to her room, Laika manages to break into Gladvis’s safe for the blackmail evidence. She discovers she is in good company – the safe is full of evidence that Gladvis has been using to blackmail people. Laika destroys everything to free her fellow victims as well as herself. Her act also sets off sprinkler systems and sends Gladvis running!

Later that evening, Laika finds that her plants seem to be growing at an unusually fast rate that seems abnormal for plant life. Another problem are the animals that have been dumped in the zone – they have grown ferocious and dangerous, and could kill people. The authorities are taking drastic measures to cull them.

Laika knows Gladvis will take revenge, but she does not anticipate how far Gladvis goes. Gladvis contrives to have her father (Mr Severn’s manager) demote Mr Severn to “C” Worker, which forces the family to relocate to the dreaded industrial zone. However, before she leaves for the industrial zone, Laika tells her friend Kara Stayn about Gladvis and urges her to pass the word around. In earshot is Miss Karvell, a teacher with a reputation for favouring Gladvis.

The industrial zone is a depressing, dreadful place to live in. It is so seriously polluted that people have to live in “horrid” shabby flats located underground. School is a dump with no lessons at all and filled with rough kids who are pale from never seeing the sun. Mr Severn is even more depressed at his new job because Grade C workers get “all the awful jobs” (something Laika herself experienced during her brief stint at the food processing plant in the industrial zone). And there is no way out of the industrial zone; once you are there, you are there for life. Not surprisingly, Mrs Severn is overwhelmed with depression and despair. Only Valli remains cheerful and hopeful because Laika promised her a flower. But Laika cannot even wangle a pass to get to her plants.

Then, Laika is surprised when the Child Protection Force arrives. They take her away and put her in with Kara’s family. They have received information that she is brilliant; brilliant children are placed in the care of the force and given privileges. This means a forced, heart-breaking separation from her family. On the other hand, it also means a return to her old school, a chance to bone up on horticulture in the library for the sake of her plants, and to see them again. When she does, she finds they are growing at a phenomenal rate and wonders if there is something odd about them. She is also puzzled as to how she got into the protection of the force; she is intelligent but not brilliant. She begins to wonder if she has a secret friend.

The rainfall (programmed so water can be collected) is advanced, and Laika goes into the Forbidden Zone as she fears her plants will be damaged. But Kara follows and suffers a head injury in a flooded underground passage, while Laika lets it slip about her garden. When they get out, they are caught by the police for curfew-breaking (also an imprisonable offence). But Miss Karvell comes and, to Laika’s surprise, gets them off the hook. However, Kara’s parents are furious with Laika over what happened.

Next day, Laika finds out that Miss Karvell is her secret friend. It turns out that Miss Karvell and other staff members were among the victims that Laika freed from Gladvis (but Gladvis looks like she is still in business and finding new victims to blackmail). In return, Miss Karvell falsified Laika’s school records to get her out of the industrial zone and into the Child Protection Force. She asks Laika to confide in her as she suspects a problem; Laika asks to keep things secret a little longer. Miss Karvell also says that Valli has worsened and nearing death. This prompts Laika to go to her garden to see if her plants have bloomed in time for Valli.

They have, but they are hideous mutants. Shocked, Laika smashes them, then tears up the seed packets and throws the seed around in a fit of pique. She heads back to Kara’s, where another shock awaits. In a state of delirium, Kara rambles about “Laika’s garden”. Fearing the police will soon arrest her for trespass in the Forbidden Zone, Laika heads back to it, collecting food rations on the way. But the rats eat her rations and the wild animals force her to barricade herself into the washroom. Hunger drives her out in search of more rations, but she gets lost in dense fog. Meanwhile, the police force things out of the weakened Kara and head to the zone to look for Laika.

Back in the Forbidden Zone, Laika suddenly smells a heady perfume. It is so powerful she can follow it, even in the fog. It leads straight back to her garden. Laika is astonished to find her garden is now suddenly a tropical paradise!

Laika realises the plants must have grown from the seed she threw about when she had her tantrum, but cannot understand why they have grown so fast or huge. Then she discovers an old notebook left by the gardener. He was conducting experiments to reverse the environmental damage to his garden. At the time his efforts failed, but now they are paying off. However, the garden is producing mutant flowers, hence the abnormalities Laika has noticed.

Laika then gets a most daring idea – trade the notebook with the scientific community in exchange for the best hospital care for her sister. She enlists the help of Miss Karvell for this, while running the gauntlet with the police and turning the heads of the townsfolk with armfuls of real flowers in the process. Laika’s plan works and help arrives in the nick of time for the dying Valli. By the time Valli has recovered enough, her flower is waiting for her. And there is a butterfly to go with it. Nobody has seen a butterfly for ages, and they take it for a sign that Earth’s ecology will be restored.


Jinty was known for her environmental stories, and The Forbidden Garden is another of her most endearing classics on this theme. Its message of what we can do to our environment through pollution and other careless acts seems even more real now in an era of increasing mass extinctions and even bees under threat. Even if we survive, the society we could create for ourselves may be even grimmer than the one depicted in the story, which was grim enough. The drive to preserve the existing food and water has produced harsh measures, which can be seen in every inch of society, and not just in laws governing water-stealing and killing pets because they are a drain on food supplies. And the Forbidden Zone, which gives Laika indications of how life used to be, contrasts so wistfully with the life she has to lead because there are no plants. For example, Laika sees old advertisements for sweets and vegetable seeds, and reflects ruefully on how she cannot have either; sweets are banned and nobody can grow fresh vegetables except in laboratories.

We also see the bleakness in the uncle’s food processing factory, where work is done by hand because machines are a drain on the country’s dwindling power supply. The monotonous, repetitive, boring work makes the factory a grim place to work in; “the workers look like robots” and “bored stiff”. The work Laika is forced to do is even worse – the gruelling job of cleaning out vats with cleaning chemicals that choke her. It exemplifies what is meant by the “awful jobs” that the Grade C workers are lumbered with in the industrial zone, and what Mr Severn must go through at work when he is demoted to C Grade. And the uncle makes it even grimmer for the factory because he is a mean man who is capable of underhand tactics such as exploiting underage workers and giving his niece off-ration food in exchange for providing him with Laika’s cheap labour. It would not be surprising if he and Gladvis make a regular habit out of exploiting her blackmail victims in this way.

The caste system that Laika seems to live under makes it even grimmer. From what we gather, the worker system is graded A, B and C. A is the top, where the Clampp family is, B is the middle, where Laika’s family are, and C is the very bottom, where the worst jobs are reserved for people, and no way out of the depressing, polluted and clearly underfunded and uncared-for industrial zone. And the pollution of the industrial zone, which forces its people to live in dilapidated underground flats, shows just how many lessons have been learned about the dangers of pollution after the mass plant extinction it has caused. Even brilliance (presumably driven by a desperate need to preserve the best) causes more oppression, with authorities granting special privileges to brilliant children, but also forcing their removal from their families and into the protection of the child protection force. And money, as always, defines the class distinctions even further; hospital care, for example, is for the rich only.

Nobody seems to speak out against the severity of this society, nor do we see what happens to anyone who does. Demotion to the industrial zone seems a punishment in itself, and its use against the Severns indicates that it can be used – and abused – to get rid of people. It would not be surprising if the industrial zone is used in this manner regularly.

The heroine herself is not quite a rebel against the system either. Unlike Cassy Shaw of Land of No Tears, who rebels outright to change the oppressive Alpha-Gamma system, Laika is no crusader who wants to change the inequities and harsh measures of her society. Sure, she hates the destruction of the planet’s ecology, defies the law to break into the Forbidden Zone and in obtaining water, and fumes at how her sister is dying because they cannot afford hospital care. But the liberties she takes are driven by her love for her sister, and to fulfil her sister’s dying wish to have a real flower. Nonetheless she too ends up changing her society – not through rebellion and overthrowing the system, but by taking the first step to reverse the ecological damage that led to its creation.

Some things do stretch a point. It is never explained how mankind actually survived the extinction of the plants or the atmospheric pollution, or how they manage to survive without plants – except in a very oppressive manner. For that matter, it is not explained how Earth itself manages to keep going without plants. And even if the flowers in Laika’s garden are mutants, it is stretching credibility that they can start growing from Laika’s tears or grow so fast and huge after a deluge of water. They could have not had more than a week to do so.

Still, this story stands the test of time, and the issues it explored then are perhaps even more relevant today. It is a well-written story, filled with drama, emotion, and hope and love against desperate odds, a race against time, and an oppressive system. And the artwork of Jim Baikie lends itself brilliantly to the depiction of this harsh society with his cross hatching and powerful line work. A stalwart of science fiction stories in 2000AD, Baikie was right at home here with The Forbidden Garden. It is small wonder that The Forbidden Garden was one of Jinty’s most popular and best-remembered stories. It is a real shame that its reprint in Tammy (possibly prompted by Pam’s Poll in 1980) was cut off so abruptly by Tammy’s sudden disappearance.