- The Queen Who Wasn’t! – Bunty: #1143 (18 Dec. 1979) – #1156 (09 Feb. 1980)
- Artist: Matías Alonso
Titles in girl comics sometimes weren’t the most imaginative at times, they loved alliteration and other times they liked a title so much they would just reuse it for different stories! This is the case, with this story where the same title was used in Bunty within just a space of a year, for two very different stories. The first story (published in 1978) involved a poor girl, whose mother convinces her and everyone else that she is a lost heir to a throne. The second story was about a queen who becomes ill and is replaced by a mechanical wax model. I do have a more fondness for the more bizarre stories which is why I’m going to discuss the wax model Queen story.
Unfortunately as artists went un-credited back in the day it can be quite hard to track down which artists drew what. [Update: I had previously credited this story to artist Vitor Peon a Portuguese artist, who has had similar work credited to him elsewhere on the web. Apparently it is not certain this is his artwork, again it reiterates the fact that its hard to track down these artists! Particularly in the girl comics industry. It is now thought be the work of Matías Alonso, who worked on other British comics like Victor] Whoever did draw this I always found the style pretty and eye catching. One common feature of his characters they always had big eyes. While I wouldn’t call it a Manga style I do think his artwork could appeal to those Manga reading fans.
So the story is set in the fictional Kingdom of Gretenberg. (Between the fictional kingdoms and Exotic Islands, Girls Comics could make up an entire world!). It is set in modern times (i.e. the 80s rather than 1800s). The people in this kingdom are unhappy with taxes and unemployment and are pretty close to revolting. Meanwhile Ella lives with her father ( no mention of her mother) who owns a wax museum. Apparently business is good for him, because who wouldn’t want to visit wax museums when they are not busy protesting about unemployment and high taxes!
Getting into the elaborate schemes of the story, the Queen has to have an operation so her staff “employ” Ella’s father to make a wax mechanical model of the queen with voice recordings to temporarily replace her. When I say “employ” I mean they are keeping him in a dungeon and threatening him. Hmm I wonder why people are ready to revolt!
Unfortunately this mechanical wax model of the queen has the brain box of a child, which causes mishaps. It’s all a bit vague, it seems like she is half childlike A.I. and half controlled by Ella. I suppose like most sci-fi/fantasy stories you just have to move past vague explanations and just go with the flow.
So the big bad guy in the story is General Maximilian. He’s worse than the people locking old men in dungeons apparently.He comes complete with bald head, eye patch and a beard he probably devilishly strokes when he’s coming up with devious plans. He’s waiting to see any weakness from the queen so he can over throw her. While he and his sidekick try to kill the queen with such schemes as making her horse buck and poisoning her dessert, Ella is trying to keep control of the Queen and explain away some of her childlike tendencies, such as sliding down banisters.
Ella figures out what the General is up to an tries to expose him. General Maximilian also figures out the queen is made of wax when she doesn’t die from cyanide poisoning and he learn of Ella’s father been brought to the castle. Luckily he is exposed, the real queen recovers and everything works out in the end.
Interestingly some of the visuals changed from the first issue, Ella changed from dark haired to fair haired, the queen also changes hair colour and looks older in later issues. Other than these inconsistencies, the art is always lovely to look at and while the mechanics of the childlike wax queen don’t make a lot of sense, it is harmless fun in the end!