The Truth About Valda

Overview

  • First Appearance: Mandy #56 (10 February 1968)
  • Art: Dudley Wynne

Valda was a long running and popular character from Mandy. She is a mysterious girl, who gained long lasting life, youth and powers from the fire of life.  She has to bathe in the flames regularly to replenish her youth and strength, whenever she exhausts her powers. The powers and skills that Valda primarily is shown to have are; a youthful appearance, strength, ability to leap great distances, mental influence, a knowledge of herbs and a rapport with animals. As a baby over 200 years ago,  she was found by an  old gypsy woman Dorcas. Dorcas raised her and taught her about herbs and potions and shared with the water of life.  After Dorcas died, Valda continued her quest to find the fire of life. While the flames will restore Valda when she is weak, she also has temporary restoration methods, gained from a crystal pendant she wears.

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Due to her long life, she appeared many times over the years.  She had adventures with hidden tribes and lost worlds, she fought evil forces and sometimes she competed against athletes to  prove her skills.  In her first appearance she challenges the world champion ice skater,  and other stories saw her compete in sports such as tennis and diving. When the Valda serial appeared in Mandy it would usually come under different names such as;  “The Amazing Valda” “The Ten  Tests of Valda”  and “The Return of Valda”. In  1974 her origin was told in the “The Girlhood of Valda“.

valda_02She was an interesting character, and her original inspiration may have been from a boys comic strip from the 1940s “The Truth about Wilson”  in The Wizard, which had some similarities. Obviously she was quite popular character, and is well remembered. She appeared in a lot of the annuals and in the 2002 annual she was updated with a more cartoony and superhero look.

For full list of stories click here

 

The Truth About Valda

  • First Published: Mandy:  #56 (10 February 1968) – #75 (22  June 1968)
  • Art: Dudley Wynne

Plot

In Austria a mysterious stranger interrupts a skating competition, she jumps into the ice rink, skates beautifully accompanied by an eerie music. She asks the judges to mark her performance. A man objects that this stranger is not an entrant but she uses her mental influence to get the judges to mark her. She gets top marks, and she tells the objectors that she is Valda and she is not interested in being named winner, just in testing her skill. When she leaves the two men follow her back up the mountains. She stops them and tells them they won’t be able to follow her any more. She jumps a large ravine and disappears from sight as she enters her cave. She practices skating again, but finds herself feeling tired. She bathes in the blue flames of life and is restored.

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Valda continues to enter in ice skating contests to prove her skill, and many people are intrigued by her. At one contest she says that she doesn’t want any prize but if it’s money to give it to a hospital, St. Griseide. A man realises that’s a hospital that shut down a hundred years ago and wonders how a young girl like her, would think it was still opened. Along her way to another competition she helps some men who were buried in an avalanche, when the rescue party arrive she refuses their help and continues on to the competition. She is just finishing her performance when she collapses. They take her onto a helicopter to bring her to a hospital. She wakes up in the helicopter when it is passing over the mountains and she tells them she can’t go to hospital but thanks them for their help and jumps from the helicopter. She reaches her cave in time to restore her strength.

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As she enters more competitions, people began to question, where she has come from and acknowledge that there is something strange about her. Irena Petrova a mid-European champion, is competing in one such contest that she thinks she is sure to succeed, but her coach warns her that Valda has entered. Irena has heard of rumours of Valda but she doesn’t think that a person who won’t reveal anything about herself should be allowed to enter.  Valda arrives late to the competition due to a road blockage forcing her to skate to the town. After its clear that Valda has won, Irena demands that she be examined by a doctor as no normal person could skate for miles and not be worn out. She thinks she must be sustained by some drug but the doctor finds no evidence of drugs, although he is surprised that her heart beat is strong but beats at a very slow rate.

Valda continues to move up in rankings. When a competition takes her away from her cave for a few days she reserves her energy by arriving in a refrigerated box full of ice. She finally gets her chance to skate against the world champion Ingrid Larson. Ingrid seems conceited, she doesn’t bother with anyone she thinks would waste her time.  She brushes pass an old lady who wants to talk to her. Valda stops to helps the woman who is obviously unwell. Valda recognises the woman as an ice skater named Eva.  Eva also recognises Valda but doesn’t know how its possible as she saw her beat the world ice skating champion fifty years ago. The woman is too ill and weak to question this any further and Valda pulls her on a sled  to a hospital.  On her return she challenges Ingrid to a contest but she has exhausted her strength pulling the sled and suddenly feels weak. Ingrid dismisses her, challenge due to her obvious weakness.  Back at the cave Valda recovers and looks through her old chest containing  photos past skaters that she has beaten.

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Valda once again shows of her ice skating skills to prove to Ingrid she is a worthy challenger. When she comes down the mountains to meet up with Ingrid, she is arrested for crossing the border without papers. She breaks out of jail by bending the window bars, but is not able to face Ingrid until she regains her strength. Later she uses a television crew to get the attention of Ingrid. With it all over the news Ingrid must accept her challenge. She sends her friend Franz to research Valda. While trying to track her on the mountains he falls and Valda rescues him. She takes him to her cave to care for him and he pretends to be asleep but he later he sees her bathing in the fire of life. Valda returns him to the village and he still pretends to be unconscious but the moment he gets a chance, Franz tells Ingrid what he saw. But she believes he is still concussed and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Ingrid skates her best but she is no match for Valda. Franz tries to help her by distracting her with a camera but Ingrid tries to stops him as she wants to win fairly. The camera drops on the ice but Valda  is quick to clear it with a handspring. Ingrid admits defeat gracefully, Valda hands back the title to her, now she is satisfied she has tested herself against the best. She returns home but Franz leads some reporters to the cave. Valda says goodbye to them, then she walks into the flames and she dissappears and the fire goes out. The group just make it outside before an avalanche buries the cave. They muse that they will never learn the truth about Valda and wonder if she will turn up in a another time and place.

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Thoughts

Valda was a favourite character of mine, she was always engaging and just a very cool character. She had lots of different adventures, an interesting background, impressive powers and her stories weren’t repetitive. I think she is a character that would still do well today and could appeal to a lot of people.  She is otherworldly and powerful, but she also has weaknesses. In some stories she shows the burden of a long life being a lonely one and of course there is times where she is physically drained and there is the possibility of death if she can’t bathe in the flames of life. In later stories this is shown more as she begins to age drastically as she weakens. In this first story while she does look tired and weaker when she uses too much of her powers, she doesn’t look old like she will in other stories.

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Her first appearance isn’t the best of her stories, in my opinion (“The Girlhood..” and “The Return of…” would be two of favourites) but it is still good.  She got more development as time went on and I prefer the more adventure/lost world stories, than stories of her competing in sports. Interesting that in this story Irena thinks she may be using drugs to sustain her, this is not true but Valda does have an unfair advantage. The fire of life is like a drug making her stronger and giving her quick reflexes and an ability to leap great lengths. Not to mention that Valda has the advantage of having 200 years of practice.! This is meant to be okay only because she doesn’t take the title of winner and only does this to test her skills. So I think her other adventures are more noble and heroic! Not that she doesn’t show compassion and risks her life to help people in this story, its just that her main motivation is skating against a world champion.

Still if this had been her only appearance it would still be a satisfying story.  A mysterious young girl, who lives in the mountain, challenging some arrogant skating champions to contests.  We find out early that she gains strength from a fire in the mountain, and there are hints of how old she really is. As time goes by we find out more about her yet still know nothing of where she comes from. She arrives and wins contests only to reject all prizes and disappear into the mountain again. Valda seems to stand apart being mysterious, even eerie at times. Yet she still engages with people by being compassionate and helping them when needed. Ingrid, as the world champion actually gets some character development, (for the few issues she’s in)  after starting out quite conceited she is a gracious loser when the time comes.

The art is by the talented Dudley Wynne, and he really does a good job at capturing Valda as the mysterious and beautiful girl. He displays her weakened state convincingly, though like I said later stories would show her more aged. I have little knowledge of ice skating, but these girls do look skilled and talented. I also like her skating outfit, she more commonly wore a lighter sleeveless dress, The mountains, the village and the cold atmosphere, the shadowy cave are all well drawn too.

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Later stories have the fire of life in different places, allowing Valda to have adventures in different places. I haven’t read every Valda story, but I think there may be some continuity issues, such as what powers Valda can use, or the location of the fire, but that still doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the stories.  Valda is a very enduring character and one that really stands out in the history of girls comics.

31 thoughts on “The Truth About Valda

  1. I suspect that one of the reasons Valda was so popular is that she was such a refreshing change from heroines who are so often forced to suffer against misery and cruelty, and usually have to do it alone and in silence. Well, she is for me! Here we have a strong, superhero type who would never let herself be pushed around. Instead, she will fight and triumph against adversity and help others to do the same.

  2. The Valda stories I have seen that featured in Picture Libraries format were one off stories and not altered from the weekly comic serials. The Lucky Charm comics were in A4 sized, 64 page format and featured collected episodes of various Valda stories.
    There are two Mandy Picture Libraries featuring Valda as far as I know, but drawn by a different artist.

  3. I will have a look at the Mandy Picture Libraries I have to check the artwork – maybe one of them is Dudley Wynne’s work, I can’t remember offhand.

    1. There were three Valda picture libraries, I think the first one #151 has art by Dudley Wynne. I have the second one as well but not the third one.

      1. There was a Valda picture library not drawn by Dudley Wynne. It was drawn by Barrie Mitchell, the last Four Marys artist. I don’t know what others thought of the change in artist. For me, it was awfully funny seeing Valda drawn by different hands and Mitchell has never been one of my favourite artists.

  4. I was a weekly reader of both the Mandy and Judy girl comics (a very long time ago). I loved the Valda stories and often relay them to people now who have never heard of her. Yes I’m quite sure she would still be a popular character in story books or, more likely, TV episodes, today.

  5. Thursday 18 June 2015
    Mandy was plentiful with lively stories. Valda remains in one’s mind because her life, was a succession of action and amazing missions.
    Ms Ngozi Ngwube (Founder and Consultant ng3website).

  6. I seem to remember a story in the first series where Valda had lost a competition to another skater some decades earlier, even though both of them knew the judges had made the wrong decision. Valda meets this skater again (would it be Eva?) and offers her the chance to compete again, although it will be the death of her. The other skater agrees and they compete in Valda’s cave, the elderly woman made young for a few hours by the Fire of Life. I think a judge or reporter is there to judge the contest? All agree that Valda is the winner, despite the undoubted talent of her opponent. The other skater collapses and becomes elderly again and is taken home where she dies in her sleep. The judge thinks he has dreamed the whole thing.

    This story (if I have remembered it correctly) puzzled me at the time as I felt it out of character that Valda should be rankled by a simple misjudgement. But I was only eight years old at the time, and the subtleties of human nature may have escaped me!

    1. This story appears within Lucky Charm 22 The Truth About Valda (pp 25-27). The former ice champion was Anna Brandt, and the judge is the official who had introduced them the previous day. Valda removes the sleeping Anna from her house and takes her to her cave. There she asks Anna if she had meant what she said about being happy to die if she could have just one more hour of her youth in order to skate again like a champion. Anna agrees because her life means nothing to her without her skating so she agrees to immerse herself in the fire of life. Both skate superbly but the official feels that Valda just has the edge, and Anna agrees with him, telling him that she was lucky to beat Valda all those years ago. In keeping with the agreement she had made with Valda, Anna dies in Valda’s cave just as the rejuvenating effects of the fire of life wear off. Only then, on seeing the old woman does the judge realise who she is. The following morning he reads in his newspaper that Anna had died peacefully in her sleep. He is puzzled as at the back of his mind he seems to recollect a skating contest, but finally decides he must have been dreaming. Valda has of course returned the body of Anna to the bed from which she had taken her, and the official has been hypnotised.

        1. The only differences that I can see, Curious, between the episode in Mandy 355 and the equivalent pages in Lucky Charm 22 are that the speech bubbles are a different shape, the lettering in those in Mandy is in capital letters whereas in the Lucky Charm version both capitals and lower case letters are used, and that the content of the final speech bubble, the one containing the thoughts of the puzzled judge, has extra text in Mandy where the three dots … are used in Lucky Charm. Is that what you were referring to when you used the word ‘almost’ given that in every other way the story presentations are identical?

  7. One thing that did puzzle me was how Valda knew how to get hold of her birth certificate. She needed this for some competition (was it when she was a competition diver or swimmer?) but couldn’t produce it as it showed she had been born in 1748. She arranged for someone to produce a proof of its existence showing that she had been born on 20.04.48 (or whatever the actual date was). There was a picture of someone (a nosey journalist who has seen her looking old?) who then finds it hard to believe she was only twenty (or twenty-six when the series was repeated). But as she didn’t grow up with her family, and was born at a time when birth certificates weren’t standard, how did she manage this?

    1. The explanation, which is a bit of a fudge, appears in MANDY 98 (Nov. 30 1968). Valda wants to enter a diving contest. As the competition is only open to over-eighteens the official will not accept her entry without seeing her birth certificate. She goes back to her Emerald Grotto to get it but as she cannot allow anybody to see it she goes to the Town Hall to ask the town clerk for a certified copy of the document authorised with his official seal. She then hypnotises him by swinging her locket and then tells him to copy only the part that she tells him to copy, and after doing so he will not remember anything about her visit. When she gets back to the diving contest she gives the official the note from the town clerk certifying that he has seen her birth certificate.

  8. How lovely to see I’m not alone in remembering Valda. She was by far my favourite character. Thanks to the mentions on here I’ve just ordered a Valda story for eBay. Looking forward to receiving it.
    I agree with other posters that it would be great to see more stories and I’d love to read new adventures.

  9. Sunday, 28 august 2016
    I have been wishing for some time (thirty years) that one day there would be films on former Mandy stories, and of course on VALDA
    I am sure that all the Valda-Enthusiasts (not only the the october 2013 Girls Comics of Yesterday pondering pertaining to Valda) would be eager to welcome film(s) on Valiant Valda’s life and amazing missions.
    (Ms Ngozi Ngwube, Founder, Consultant, and Leader ng3website)

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