- Magic Wishes – M&J: #119 (21 August 1993) – #128 (23 October 1993)
While at a fairground, Beth Robinson visits a cave, where she finds a bottle and releases a trapped sorceress. The Sorceress gives her 10 bottles as a reward. She tells her she might find happiness with all of them or she might not, but when she opens one bottle on that day she will be happy. Each bottle has it’s own note which hints at what it will do, but Beth soon finds out the results don’t work out as she assumes they will! She tries out the first potion which tells her nasty people will take a splash. She uses it on her mean sister and friend to each them a lesson for calling her names. After taking a rowing boat out, she is the one that ends up in the water, while the girls are rescued by some boys and take a different kind of splash on a water ride.
The next bottle she tries isn’t any better. Trying to get a boyfriend, she follows the instructions to get her crush, Dave, to ask her out but he instead asks her if she would like to go out with his friend, William, whom she can’t stand. Other attempts with trying to get a boyfriend don’t work out either such as when she makes Simon a slave for a day. Unfortunately it’s just before a family trip. While he is away he phones and makes all sorts of promises to her but when he comes back he has forgotten all he said. Another time she gets her new date to stick to her, but after finding out more about him, she is happy when the note actually means they get stuck to a bench.
She hopes to get to the top of the class with another potion instead it causes an explosion and she ends up top of the class cleaning the ingredients off the ceiling. Another bottle her sister gets to first and it makes her hair look great, so Beth thinks this one will work great and she even enters a beauty contest. But then when sun comes out it goes frizzy and orange and she has to runaway from her angry sister. Another bottle promises fame and fortune, assuming it means she will win the school raffle she spends all her money on tickets, only to win a board game “Fame and fortune”
The last bottle she opens promises people will crowd around her. They do, but it’s not about popularity, they think she has written nasty notes about people. Beth goes home annoyed but things start to look up as it turns out her father has got a promotion which means an increase in pocket money. Then she is asked about Simon, who realizes what a good sport she was about his brush off. Finally her friends come to apologize as they find out someone else stole Beth’s notepaper to write nasty notes. So it works out that Beth has found happiness but again the interpretation of the Sorceress words are not as she expected.
This is a fun story, it is drawn by an unknown artist, but an easily recognizable style. The artist is most known for lighthearted stories and as is the case here it suits to capture the humour of the situation. I like also that there is a consistent set up at the start of each episode, there is a panel dedicated to Beth picking a bottle and a panel of the bottle and its label. This nicely establishes what the episode is focusing on, and gives a reader a chance to wonder what the message actually means.
The bottles have a sort of curse about them, twisting the meaning of what they say they will do in ways Beth or the reader doesn’t expect . This kind of “monkeys paw” type story is often played for horror (like in Misty’s The Evil Djinn) but here none of the consequences are that that terrible, even if it does cause problems for the protagonist.
In some cases it seems Beth causes the outcomes by trying to make her own interpretations of the inscriptions come true. When she believes her sister will take a splash – she takes her out on the boat, when she thinks a raffle will lead to fame and fortune – she buys lots of tickets, and when she is trying to get Dave to drink a potion – she comes across as showing an interest in his friend.
To keep things interesting the way each of the bottles are used is different as well. It’s not just a case of Beth drinking the potion, there are cases where she is trying to get the object of her affection to drink the potion, or using it as a shampoo. It’s these little touches that makes the episodes less repetitive. Its a good ending where actually none of what is in the bottles gives her happiness. It again fits with the running theme that the Sorceress words are not what they seem Also you may not rely on wishes and magic solutions but you can still find happiness anyway.