The Door to Yesterday

  • The Door to Yesterday – Mandy PSL: #40 (1981)
  • Reprinted –  Mandy PSL:  #207 (1994)
  • Artist: David Matysiak

Plot

Sally Dean is staying with her aunt for the holidays. Aunt Mabel is a housekeeper to a scientist Mr. Winslow. Sally follows Mr. Winslow through a door in his attic and finds herself lost and alone in London in 1851. For weeks she tries to track down Mr. Winslow, finally grabbing his attention at a local music hall. Mr. Winslow gets her back to the present where no time has passed.

Thoughts

Firstly the artwork is great, I’m pretty sure its by David Matysiak, but if I’m wrong feel free to correct me.  The Victorian era is really captured in the clothes, streets and overall look. The grimy streets, overcrowded halls and in contrast the grand houses and the wonder of the Great Exhibition of 1851. Everything is wonderfully visualised. The characters are all expressive, Sally is a character that is shown to adapt to her situation but  her dejection when she thinks her only way home is blown up also is clearly illustrated.  Matysiak can switch between an everyday scene to an atmosphere of fear and creepiness brilliantly.

He’s definitely a favourite artist of mine.

The story itself is interesting. Mr. Winslow doesn’t come off as some crackpot scientist but is instead portrayed as a gentleman. In the middle of the night Sally notices him dressed up  in Victorian clothing going into the attic she follows him and is surprised to find herself out onto a foggy street. When the door shuts behind her she decides she best catch up to him but finds herself lost in the fog. Getting tired she falls asleep in a doorway. She is taken in by the people of the house. She decides its best not to tell them the truth particulaly when they enquire about her “strange” clothes. Instead she says she is an orphan and she came to London to look for a friend.

Sally is a great resourceful character, she first decides its best not to draw too much attention to herself by wearing the clothes that were lent to her. In the meantime she also goes about trying to track Mr. Winslow down. She hands in  some  of her coins to the local newspaper hoping to attract Mr. Winslow’s attention, unfortunately Winslow assumes they are coins he dropped and explains it a way to the newspaper without coming in contact with Sally. She manages to track him down to the hotel he was staying at but he has already moved on. Undeterred though she offers her services as a receptionist at the hotel so she sorts out a place to stay and money.

She continues to show her good detective skills in trying  to track Mr. Winslow down, she gets close to him at an exhibition but loses him in the crowd. She does manage to find her way back to the door she came through but is distressed when she arrives just as it is scheduled to be destroyed.

Despite this blow she doesn’t give up hope that Mr. Winslow may still be able to help.. She finally meets him at a Music Hall but they are seperated when a fight breaks out. She tries other music halls, during a talent competition hour, she has the idea to offer her talents as a maths wiz with her handy calculator. She gets the approval of the the audience but most importantly Mr. Winslow sees her and is able to meet up with her after the show.

Just when things are looking to be resolved, another obstacle is placed in front of them when a policeman arrests Mr. Winslow for his part in the fight at the other music hall. Sally isn’t going to let another thing get in her way of getting home, when she is so close. So she takes matters  into her own hands.

Finally Mr. Winslow gets Sally back home through another door, it turns out he has many ways to get back home (that’s convenient!). Sally arrives back at the time she left.

Sally  is an admirable character she is adaptable, smart and not afraid to get into a confrontation when needed. She is also shown to be kind and helpful to people, particularly those who helped her. She is at the same time – brave and stands up to people when needed.  She reprimands a man for not listening to a singer and throwing rubbish at her.

Mr. Winslow is a gentleman and shows his enthusiasm for science without looking like a mad scientist. The supporting characters for the little they are shown still get show their traits clearly. Miss Peacock an earlier character is shown to be disapproving and uptight, Mrs Brown who gives Sally a job at the hotel is kindly and shows concern for Sally.

The story itself takes the advantage of time being fluid. It establishes Mr. Winslow and Sally interacting early on before quickly moving into the main time travelling plot. It takes its time setting Sally up in this Victorian era, she is trapped for weeks, so the time period is able to be explored. The time period itself is just the backdrop for the detective side of the story as Sally searches for Mr. Winslow and a way back home. So there is a lot going on to squeeze into 64 pages and I think the pacing is done well.

6 thoughts on “The Door to Yesterday

  1. This artist is one of my favourites as well. I won’t use the name you mentioned in case you are wrong. But I have no information as to whether you are right or not. Anyway, the artist is a very popular choice for serials set in the Victorian era and other periods of history, spooky stories and school stories.

    Another artist who was good at the Victorian era was Bert Hill (The Fish Twins, Girl with the Golden Smile, Hard Times for Helen, Rosie’s Revenge). I know this artist’s name because he was a guest artist on Tammy during the period she ran credits.

    And Dudley Wynne was also brilliant at drawing the Victorian era. Wynne is best known for Valda and Angel from Mandy.

    Keep those names in mind in case you review one of their serials.

  2. Mandy also used the title ‘The Door to Yesterday’ for a 1985 serial. Actually it is not a door but a wardrobe that a Victorian scientist turned into a time machine. It works, but not the way he expected. And it only works in slots of 1855, 1895 and 1985. Handy if you are from the year, say 2012, and can’t get back to your own time period because the dial doesn’t have that year. Mary is from 1985 and able to get back to her own time period readily enough. For a while she uses the machine to have adventures in the other time periods. But after she nearly gets burned at the stake she calls it quits and goes home with a holiday to remember.

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