Tag Archives: fugitive

Friends of the Forest (1976)

Published: Jinty 27 December 1975 – 10 April 1976

Episodes: 16

Artist: “B. Jackson”

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: None known

Published: Jinty 27 December 1975 – 10 April 1976

Episodes: 16

Artist: “B. Jackson”

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: Published as ‘Vrienden door dik en dun’ (Friends through thick and thin) in Tina in the Netherlands in 1988.

Plot

Sally Harris and her mother live in the New Forest. Sally has made a special bond with a deer named Star and taught Star tricks. Unfortunately, the grasping Walkers have spotted this and inform Josh Green, a circus boss who badly needs a new attraction for his ailing circus. When Green tries to buy Star off Sally, she tells him to shove off and runs away into the forest with Star. But Green isn’t giving up so easily, and now he and the Walkers are working together to capture Star.  

Sally returns, hoping Green has cleared off, but finds her mother has had a bad accident. Mum is now in hospital with a damaged spine, and she will be there for a while. To avoid being taken into care and separated from Star, Sally accepts the Walkers’ offer to take her in while Mum is in hospital. She is a bit surprised at this, as the Walkers have always been so rough and unfriendly. But she soon finds out that they are not only in league with Green to get hold of Star but also working her to the bone as an unpaid slave. Miss Knight, Sally’s teacher, soon suspects something’s wrong. Sally realises this, but doesn’t confide in Miss Knight because she doesn’t want to go into a home and be cut off from Star. 

The Walkers capture Star, but there’s surprise help from a strange girl, who helps Star escape. Her name’s Maya Lee, and she is a gypsy girl who is hiding from the forest to avoid a children’s home, which is prison to her. Sally soon discovers Maya has her own cosy little homemade setup in the forest. She also has the gypsy gift of communicating with animals, which gives her a rapport with the New Forest animals. They are able to warn Maya when danger’s coming. In this case, it’s two men, Ramsden and Blakeley, presumably from social welfare. They grab Sally in mistake for Maya, and they say living wild in the forest is not good for her. Maya uses her special talents to get the New Forest ponies to scare them off, and it throws a scare into the Walkers as well.

The Walkers hatch another plan to get hold of Star: lock Sally in her room, to lure Star in search of her. To make sure she has no opportunities to slip away at school, they escort her to and from school (which makes Miss Knight even more suspicious). Then Leaper, Maya’s pet squirrel, appears at the classroom window. Sally uses the squirrel to smuggle a note to Maya about what’s going on and warn her and Star to stay away. Sally also sees Blakeley and Ramsden making queries at the Walker farm about Maya. They blow the stunt Maya pulled on them out of proportion, calling her a savage who attacked them. 

Then Mrs Viney from social welfare calls, and through her Sally finds out Ramsden and Blakeley are not from social welfare as she assumed. So, who are they, and what do they want with Maya? Sally listens in on them and finds out some old man is paying them to find Maya. Mrs Viney hears about these imposters and is now making serious queries with the Walkers about it. This distraction enables Sally to slip away to warn Maya.

But when Sally reaches Maya’s treehouse, she discovers Green is there too. Maya manages to scare him off with her animal friends. Maya knows about Ramsden and Blakeley, who have been trying to find her since she was young, and her parents instructed her to run like hell from them, fearing they were trying to take her away from them. 

At the Walker farm, Green discovers the Walkers have failed in their latest plan with Sally, and angrily tells them he’ll get Star without their help. The Walkers talk him around, telling him about Ramsden and Blakeley being after something in the forest, which has given them a new plan. This involves their suddenly being nice to Sally, saying they are through with Green, and Sally is free to see Star. Sally isn’t fooled by their phony niceness and suspects a trap. 

Meanwhile, Ramsden and Blakely have gotten Sergeant Parker and Mrs Viney involved in getting hold of Maya and putting her in care. They organise a posse, beater-style through the woods, to search for her. Mrs Viney’s son Billy tells Sally he’s a long-standing friend of Maya who has been smuggling food to her, and he warns her about the posse. Sally realises the Walkers will be part of it to catch Star. They hit on a plan to hide Maya and Star in Mrs Viney’s attic (the last place she’ll look!). Another gypsy, Old Bella, helps them. Sally also drops a hint to Miss Knight, the only other person she trusts, about Maya.

But Blakeley and Ramsden are watching outside the Viney house and suspect what’s happening. The Walkers, recalling Billy’s fondness of the New Forest, also suspect he is helping Maya and advise Mrs Viney to watch him. 

When the posse is assembled next morning, Bella tells Sally the crystal ball has sent a warning for Maya. She says she saw a house like a prison and an angry old man, then Ramsden and Blakeley, who will capture Maya because of Star. 

Sally bumps into Miss Knight, and this time tells her the whole story (minus where Maya and Star are hiding). But Sally and Billy find Maya and Star have vanished from the attic and realise the Walkers have taken them to their farm. Sally finds them locked in the barn and manages to free Maya. Freeing Star takes a bit more doing, but Sally succeeds with Leaper’s help. Sally then heads over to Miss Knight’s for help, but overhears a conversation that sounds like Miss Knight is going to help Green get his hands on Star. 

Meanwhile, Sally discovers the posse have discovered Maya’s hideout in the forest, so no more safety for her there. She meets up with Old Bella, who advises that Maya rejoin her tribe and not go near Star, for that is how they will be captured. 

Later, Miss Knight finds Star in her garden, which makes her realise Sally must have overheard. Instead of turning Star over to Green, she conceals her from him, but Green realises his quarry is around when he sees the footprints. Sally comes upon the scene and, using the strange telepathic link between her and Star, tells her to make a run for it (knocking Green over in the process). Sally now comes to a decision: she and Star are going to leave the area and live like gypsies as best they can. 

Meanwhile, the Walkers and Green have discovered Star and Maya’s escape from the farm, and the raving Green says to find them in 24 hours or the deal’s off. Elsewhere, Miss Knight is demanding explanations from Blakeley and Ramsden. Surprisingly, they tell Miss Knight they just want to tell Maya she’s a heiress. 

Bella informs Maya that her mother was a non-Romany who married a Romany, and gets a clearer vision of the house that Maya feared was a prison. Maya now sees it does not look like a prison. It looks more like a grand mansion. Then there’s another vision – of Star getting hurt. Soon afterwards, Star gets shot by a hunter. 

Sally and Maya have to take her to a vet, Mr Wilson. Of course Mr Wilson asks questions about how it happened. Sally decides to just tell him everything. Miss Knight, Ramsden and Blakeley catch up. Miss Knight says she was trying to trap Green into an admission of guilt of illegally taking a deer from the New Forest in earshot of witnesses (Sergeant Parker secretly listening). 

What happens to Green exactly is not recorded, but it is fair to assume that he and his circus are soon dealt with. The Walkers hastily leave the district once word of their treatment of Sally spreads.

The mansion in the vision is White Towers, owned by Colonel Weatherby. Colonel Weatherby explains Maya is his granddaughter, the product of a forbidden marriage and elopement between his daughter and a gypsy. He disinherited his daughter (so that was the angry old man!), but had a change of heart once he heard about the birth of his only heir, Maya. He had been searching for her discreetly and hired Ramsden and Blakeley for the job. White Towers is Maya’s inheritance. She agrees to stay there, is very happy no hunting is allowed there, and Sally and Star can come too. Sally stays at White Towers until her mother recovers. Once Mum is back, Colonel buys the Walkers’ old farm and puts Sally and her mother in charge of it, all help supplied. 

Thoughts

It’s a nice surprise twist that the house Maya feared was a prison turned out to be her inheritance and the two men who wanted her were not the monsters they seemed to be. Nor was being captured because of Star the disaster that Old Bella thought it was. Having Old Bella misconstrue her own crystal ball gazing and get things wrong (something we will see elsewhere, such as in Jinty’s “Destiny Brown”) puts even more of a twist on the tale. Ramsden and Blakeley and the grand house turned out to be all right and helped to give Maya a happy ending. Mind you, Blakeley and Ramsden sure were giving the wrong impression. After all, they were being a bit heavy-handed in their approach, such as when they made the grab on Sally when they mistook her for Maya, or when they arranged the posse to find Maya. The buildup was they were out to put Maya into care, and their conduct has you more than convinced that they really were going to do that. If they’d taken a different approach, things could have been sorted much more quickly.

By contrast, you don’t get things wrong with the Walkers or Josh Green. One look at them ought to tell you the sort they are and to steer well clear of them. It’s a bit surprising the Walkers don’t seem have the reputation around the district they ought to have, even though we learn they are careful to stay onside with the police. What a contrast to Miss Knight, who is perceptive about things right from the start, so we know it’s her who’s going to be key in resolving the story. Put Miss Knight on the force any time!

This is a solid, rollicking story, and a plot so full of twists and turns, plenty of chasing, dodging, getting captured and escaping, and increasing layers of complexity and mystery that it leaves you a bit out of breath at times. There are also touches of both humour and intrigue with these strange connections with the forest animals who often get these pursuers in the story their just desserts and leave you laughing. We’ve also got the Cinderella elements (Sally’s abuse at the Walker farm), the shifty circus owner, and the mystery of why Blakely and Ramsden want Maya. If there’s one thing girls love in girls comics, it’s mystery. And of course, there are the animals, and animal stories are always popular. The affinity Maya and Sally have with the animals heightens the animal elements even more; readers are on the edge of their seats to see what the power does next to help save the day. What’s not for a girl to love in this story?

It is a bit of a let-down not to hear the final fate of Josh Green, and the Walkers aren’t punished as much as they should have been. They leave the district when word of their treatment of Sally gets out, but they don’t get much more than that. We’re left a bit worried about what they might get up to in their new locality. It’s also a bit surprising to hear Sally is willing to stay on at the Walkers’ old farm – even with her mother – after the way she was treated there. Surely it would have too many bad memories for her, and Sally would be happier at White Towers. Still, the final panels are filled with such happiness for the girls and their beloved animal friends at White Towers that we are more than satisfied it’s a happy ending.

A Dream For Yvonne (1974)

Sample images

Yvonne 1

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Yvonne 2

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Yvonne 3

Publication: 11/5/74-27/7/74
Artist: Miguel Quesada
Writer: Unknown

Summary
Yvonne Laroon comes from a long line of circus performers and her family takes it for granted she will follow in their footsteps. But ever since Yvonne saw Swan Lake on television, she has had other ideas – to become a ballerina. She certainly has talent for it, thanks to her acrobatic circus skills, but no formal ballet training and does not even know what a plié is. Even worse, her parents do not approve, saying she is born for the circus and that is that.

Yvonne comes across Alexia Company Ballet School and climbs up onto the roof to take a look at a lesson. She gets more than she bargained for and ends up crashing through the roof. She is mistaken for a new girl they were expecting. After a demonstration of what dancing she can do, she is accepted into the school. But as her parents still won’t hear of her becoming a ballerina, to the point of Dad threatening to belt her, she runs away from the circus to the school. She decides to keep her circus origins secret, fearing expulsion because of it.

Having had no ballet training, Yvonne has to pick it up fast, by watching how others move and swotting up ballet books. And of course there has to be a jealous rival out to make trouble. In this case it is Lisa Telemann, a star pupil from a rival company, Pavel. Lisa becomes suspicious of Yvonne’s origins and eventually finds out the truth. Lisa gets peeved when Yvonne becomes a cygnet in The Dance of the Little Swans. She tries a blackmail note and then a phony telegram to recall Yvonne to the circus. At the circus, Yvonne discovers the trick. But her father disowns her when she insists on continuing with ballet.

Worse, on the way back Yvonne has an accident and loses her memory. This causes her to fall into the power of the unscrupulous Ma Crompton, who takes advantage of her amnesia and dance talent to exploit her. Yvonne eventually escapes Ma Crompton and comes across a Swan Lake poster that stirs some memory. She heads to the theatre, not realising Lisa has spotted her, and Lisa arranges for the doorman to block Yvonne.

Yvonne ends up in a home, where the matron takes her for a bad sort and threatens her with the reformatory. Yvonne runs off, where she bumps into the circus and saves the horses from an accident. During the process Yvonne bumps her head, which restores her memory. She is reconciled with her parents, who stop interfering with her dream after they hear what she has been through. They take her back to the ballet school. Lisa’s trick with the telegram is discovered, and she is expelled. Yvonne can now study ballet without interference.

Thoughts
Ballet stories are bread-and-butter in girls’ comics, so Jinty’s first line-up would hardly have been complete without one. It was drawn by Miguel Quesada, a regular on the Tammy team during her first five years, but this was his only outing in Jinty. Quesada drew some ballet stories for Tammy as well, but it must be said that he could have done with more research on drawing ballet. The poses look angular and positions often not drawn correctly. And the title itself sounds a bit uninspired and perhaps could have done with more imagination.

Storywise, there are certainly plenty of well-tried elements in girls’ comics to keep the drama high and ensure readers stayed hooked on this one: circus theme, fugitive theme, jealous rivals, amnesia, exploitation, determination and courage, difficult parents, a nasty matron, reformatory, and even some laughs as Yvonne gives demonstrations of her circus tricks. Ballet theme combined with circus theme would certainly have been a powerful combination. The circus is always popular in girls’ comics (although the theme was oddly sporadic in Jinty).

Contracting amnesia and falling into the clutches of a crook because of it is an oldie but a goodie in girls’ comics, and would certainly have helped to make this story popular as well. There is also plenty of action and the story moves at a cracking pace. In summary, “A Dream for Yvonne” had plenty in it to make it a strong, thrilling, fast-paced story in the first line-up.

The episode where the father disowns Yvonne is a shock that must have taken readers by surprise. Parents who disapprove of their daughter’s dreams are common enough in girls’ comics, but seldom do they go that far. The father’s move is even more shocking as the parents do seem loving and caring – just lacking a little understanding. It must have been a relief to readers when the parents finally change their minds and start helping Yvonne.

Incidentally, the episode where Yvonne is threatened with the reformatory has echoes of a Quesada story in Tammy, “The Stranger in My Shoes”. Could it be the same writer?