Dracula’s Daughter (artist Mario Capaldi) – final episode
Holiday Hideaway (artist Phil Gascoine)
‘Girl Called Scarecrow’ (artist Veronica Weir) – Gypsy Rose story
Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)
Man’s Best Friend – Toy Dogs
Stacy’s Posy (artist Mario Capaldi) – text story
The Sweet and Sour Rivals (artist Carlos Cruz)
Worlds Apart (artist Guy Peeters)
Winning Ways – Volleyball (writer Benita Brown)
Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)
“Dracula’s Daughter” ends this week. The final episode has a four-page spread instead of the usual three, which further suggests this story was brought to a quick conclusion to help clear the decks for the merger. The extra page helps to develop the ending further and give things more room to breathe.
The ending: Everyone at Castlegate is relieved when Mr Graves decides to leave. He is returning to his old grammar school, this time as headmaster, after finding out its discipline has slipped so badly that its pupils are running amok, vandalising property, and getting into trouble with the police. Bully teacher Mrs Snape is leaving too, which is another great relief for Castlegate. She is transferring to another school, as she did not like her pupils’ company any more than they did hers – only to find one of them is going to follow her to her new school. Sonya, the popular teacher driven out by Mr Graves’ over-zealous drive to run the school on his strict grammar school lines, returns as headmistress, so the school’s even happier.
However, the ending doesn’t have everything being resolved with Mr Graves and Mrs Snape simply leaving Castlegate. It both surprises and impresses us by having Mr Graves develop and emerge less bigoted about schools should be run. He’s still a disciplinarian and wearing that dreadful, old-fashioned teacher’s gown that earned him the nickname “Dracula”. But he’s gone from believing his way is the only way to run a school to accepting that there is no one way of running a school. He’s also modified his view that fun does not belong in a school and should be kept in the home. Now he’s allowing some fun things at school and showing his pupils he has a funny side. His farewell gift to Castlegate reflects this: a complete collection of Dracula films to remember him by! The boys at the grammar school might get a surprise when they see the change in him. Perhaps even the teachers too.
Sadly, no improvement in the character of the horrible Mrs Snape, so there is a worry about the pupils at her new school. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all. At least she leaves Castlegate with a comeuppance of sorts.
The fifth dream world in “Worlds Apart” is now dying with its creator, Clare. Hers is the only imaginary death in the story that is not shown, so we don’t see how her dream world ultimately backfired on her, caused her death, and taught her the ultimate lesson about how horrible her dream world is. We are informed that the sixth and final dream world (followed by the conclusion to the story) will be a “horror film world”. Its creator is Jilly, a girl who seems to be in a perpetual state of fear.
“Holiday Hideaway” is also approaching its conclusion. Hattie manages to save the family pretence (hiding in the house, pretending to be on holiday) from unravelling again. However, we are informed they are going to get “the shock of their lives” when they “‘come home’” next week. We suspect this has something to do with being caught out.
This week’s Gypsy Rose story is a new one, not a repeat or a recycled Strange Story. Julia is bullied and called “scarecrow” because of her straw-like appearance and thin build, and being a bit timid. However, her scarecrow build helps one of her bully classmates (thin enough to slip out when they’re trapped in a barn and get help) when she has an accident. After that, everyone wants to be friends with Julia. However, Julia can’t tell them that she got help from a real scarecrow, which pointed her in the right path to take for help.
In the other stories, the text story has Stacy dress up in period costume for a town festival. It brings back a ghost from that era, who presents her with a posy. Tansy believes she’s brilliant at general knowledge, but when she enters a quiz competition her history knowledge proves deficient and she gets landed with extra history homework. Coincidentally, Gaye does the same thing with Sir Roger, and even forces the poor ghost to wear a dunce’s hat. Suzie Choo brings Chinese themes to the school open day. Alley Cat wants to go fishing but doesn’t want to get caught in the rain. Instead of a raincoat he uses his bin for protection. The results are a bit mixed but work out in the end.