- Wynne Against the School – Emma: #30 (16 September 1978) – #43 (16 December 1978)
- Art: Carlos Freixas
Wynne Taylor is a promising track star, and when her family move to a new town she is approached by a top athletics club, the Harriers, to join. She promises to run in their next relay meeting, not knowing how many problems it will cause her in the future! Everyone in her new school become very unwelcoming when Wynne says she can’t run for the school at the meeting, as she has already promised the Harriers. Worse luck is that the Miss Baker who is in charge of athletics, is also her form teacher and she starts to give Wynne a hard time in class . She tells Wynne, her work isn’t up to standard and calls her impudent when Wynne tries to defend herself. At the meeting Wynne wins for the Harriers against her new school, to the calls of “Traitor!”.
Despite saying she wants to run with the school when she’s not with the Harriers, nobody thinks this is good enough compromise. When Wynne tries to use school equipment, the girls, led by sports captain Wanda, pick on her and throw her uniform in the shower, she then gets extra work from Miss Baker for not being in proper uniform. Only one girl, Annie, tries to help Wynne out, but she gets her bike wheel stolen for her efforts. Wynne helps her find it, and promises not to tell anyone she helped so Annie doesn’t get hassled more . This gets her in trouble when she’s late for school athletic training, Miss Baker tells her not to bother to change. Tired of being pushed around, she runs in her uniform and still beats everyone, making her as unpopular as ever. The girls don’t even want Wynne representing the school at county level.
Despite efforts by the other girls, Annie continues to be friendly in secret with Wynne. She is still a timid girl, so when Wynne and Annie both get chance at scholarship to another school, Wynne fluffs her chance so that Annie can escape this bullies. This does mean Wynne that not only has to stay at Brainton Academy, but also loses her only friend at the school. She does briefly find friendship elsewhere with John Talbot, who also goes for morning runs to train for Rugby. A local newspaper takes a photo of the two of them together and quote Wynne out of context. This of course riles the girls up again, and Wanda ruins Wynne’s new friendship, by pretending to be Wynne on the phone. She tells John she hasn’t time to waste on stupid kids when he asks “Wynne” for some tickets to her next competition. Wanda meanwhile supplies the tickets and succeeds in turning John against Wynne.
Wanda’s hate campaign against Wynne starts to get more personal, as she is jealous of all the attention she gets. She starts trying to get Wynne in more serious trouble, like when they visit a school in France, she tries to set Wynne up as vandalising the school with graffiti. Luckily Wynne while up early for morning run, is able to repair the damage before anyone sees. More trouble follows when the local newspaper runs the story about Wynne’s treatment at the school, Miss Baker wants Wynne to show that everyone is really friendly but Wynne isn’t interested. The reporters get a picture that looks like Wanda attacking Wynne and then Wynne gets suspended while the head hopes the bad publicity dies down and she can investigate further! Knowing the school wants to keep the story quiet, Wanda again impersonates Wynne on the phone telling the local newspaper about the suspension and that Wynne is being victimised. Wynne is able to deny she made the call as she has an alibi.
With the story still out there, people are sympathetic to Wynne and start to send her gifts. Seeing this as an opportunity to stir more trouble, Wanda gets Wynne disqualified from a race as she claims she is not an amateur. Wynne’s parents have had enough of the way she’s being treated, and Mr Taylor says he will ask for another transfer, Wynne’s happiness is most important. Wanda not knowing of this latest development, is still out to get Wynne. Having stolen her pendant, she vandalises a classroom leaving the pendant there as evidence. Wynne out for her early run, notices lights on in school and goes to investigate. She catches Wanda burning the head’s papers but it goes out of control. Wynne ends up saving Wanda and putting fire out, as a policeman arrives. When the head visits Wanda in hospital, she tries to blame Wynne at first, but then breaks down and confesses. Things happen quickly and the Taylors move away. At her first race in her new home, her old schoolmates and and teachers come to apologise and cheer her on. Wynne wins setting a new record and feeling accepted at last.
Firstly this has a very pun-tastic title, I do like wordplay in titles! Carlos Freixas art is top notch as always and the story is engaging. While at the start, the campaign against Wynne is by whole school, by the end it focuses more on Wanda’s jealousy. While Wanda’s actions become more extreme, I feel she ends up becoming a sort of scapegoat for the rest of the school, who have all acted terrible too. The school show up at Wynne’s race in her new home, and tell her Wanda has made a full confession and they have come to apologise, which implies it was all Wanda’s doing that turned the school against her! While some of the girls follow the lead of Wanda, really it’s the adults that should have known better. It’s some of their actions that influence the students.
Miss Baker clearly sets things up against Wynne, even coming down on her school work. As the girl’s coach she is held in high regard. She does still care about school reputation, so while simultaneously being hard on Wynne, she lets the French School fuss over Wynne rather than Wanda, as she wants their school to give a good impression. It’s actions like these that fuel Wanda’s spite of Wynne. Miss Baker also tells Wynne to come back and show the news reporters how friendly everyone is, when Wynne doesn’t listen, Wanda tries to pull her back, clearly following Miss Baker’s lead. It’s no wonder Wanda acts as she does, she may have her own jealousy issues, but is not helped by her her coach being antagonistic with Wynne (when it suits her!) and Wanda’s position of school captain being undermined. The headmistress is no better suspending Wynne while she investigates the whole story. You’d think punishment would be doled out after an investigation not before! Also odd that Wynne’s parents aren’t called in to discuss the matter. Even though Wynne isn’t seeking sympathy, it’s no wonder people reading the newspaper story side with her and really the school should be trying to put things right, rather than making things worse suspending Wynne.
While the Taylors don’t appear much, it is nice to see that they are supportive of their daughter. While Wynne doesn’t want her dad to set back his career, he puts her happiness first (though luckily a similar position elsewhere is available). Wynne is very strong willed, despite all the obstacles, she doesn’t let that interfere with her running. She doesn’t take the easy way out and shows her loyalty numerous times. She doesn’t back out of running with the Harriers, she helps her friend Annie out of the school as she knows she is strong enough to deal with the bullies and despite the hard times she doesn’t go around bad mouthing the school and is opposed to the newspaper story (despite it being pretty accurate!). While the Taylors do end up moving away, it is good to see she does get acceptance from her old school at last, though I still feel they could have shown more contriteness. Wynne has shown that she that would succeed with or without their approval anyway.