Brides of the Forest \ The Wrong Day

  •  Brides of the Forest  – Suzy: #230 (31 January 1987) – #232 (14 February 1987)
  • The Wrong Day – Suzy: #233 (21 February 1987) – #235 (7 March 1987)
  • Art: David Matysiak

Plots

These are two different stories, both with art by David Matysiak and creepy plots (fitting with the Halloween theme) as the stories follow girls who enter somewhere they shouldn’t have…

Anne Havers and five of her friends all are heading off camping, their mom’s are there to wave them off and make sure they have packed everything. Before they arrive they are caught in a downpour and with the campsite being next to a river the place is very muddy, so they decide to camp in a better field. Because of the rain they don’t see a sign saying not to camp past that point. When they do notice it, the girls take a vote and decide not to move camp. Anne goes to local farm to get milk and feels bad for misleading the woman about where the camped. On her return she notices two saplings that she hadn’t seen before, but that is soon forgotten when she finds Lucy and Lynn have disappearance. Worse yet the other girls don’t know who she is talking about when she asks after them.

Anne thinks maybe they are playing some sort of joke she cycles off to find her missing friends and tries to phone their home in case they left after a falling out, but  the phone booth is vandalised. Cycling around she notices a lot of places named after Druids, she remembers reading about how there were a lot of druids in these parts who worshipped trees, but then all those trees were cut down to help make the village. She returns to the field, now noticing four saplings next to the great big oak tree, and she find only Karen left camping. She begins to realise Karen isn’t joking that she believes only the two of them went camping. She makes the connection with the new saplings and the missing girls, but before she can get her and Karen out of there, the tree grabs Karen, turning her into a sapling. Anne tries to make a run for it, but when she’s caught she says her parents will come looking for her. The oak tree thinks “the 6 brides would flourish under its protection ) and one day as more brides were claimed, Druid’s forest would be restored to it’s former glory”. In the end we see Anne and Karen’s mother talking,  after seeing a nice checkout girl, about how it would have been nice to have a daughter.

Jan Curtis was anxious about starting her new school on the wrong day. Not relying on her mom’s diary, she shows up to school and sees a girl and follows her to assembly, thinking her mom did got the date wrong. The corridors feel very chilly, and then she notices an odd thing that all the students are dressed in different uniforms some of them look very old fashioned. She asks if it is some kind of fancy dress, but the girl explains that of course they have different uniforms because that is the uniform they would have had before they died. Every year they come back to school the day before the start of the term to continue with their studies. Jan is shocked that means they are all ghosts!

Jan tries to explain to the teacher she shouldn’t be there and though her name isn’t on the register, the teacher won’t believe her. She gets a cane across hand for insubordination but luckily it doesn’t hurt her. She needs to get out of the school, but finds the gates all blocked with fog. The headmistress also wants to see Jan, and from what her new ghost friend, Jessica has told her, the head has the power to trap her forever.  Jessica brings Jan to the clock tower to hide out, in the hopes that if she lasts until lessons are over she may be able to get back home. There the find old class pictures including one of Jessica, before she was killed be a a bomb in the war. Jan recognises the picture as her mom has the same one, it turns out Jessica is her aunt! With the head and teacher coming close to finding them Jessica turns back the clock and her plan works as it turns back the whole day, she tells Jan to remember not to enter the school. The next instant Jan finds herself outside the school before 9 o’clock with no memory of events but she does think she has the wrong day and goes home.

Thoughts

I thought these two creepy stories were a good way to round out Halloween. David Matysiak always does well in capturing an unsettled vibe and the supernatural. I enjoy both stories, Brides of the Forest has the darker ending with the girls turned into trees, and been wiped from existence from their families. A warning for those who may decide to ignore signs! Jan in The Wrong Day makes a genuine mistake which is maybe why she gets a happier ending escaping the place she could have been trapped in.

The school is interesting idea having  schoolgirls of all eras come and complete their studies. As it’s only once day a year, I wonder where they are the rest of the time and if they have any awareness of their other ghostly existence, do the spend the rest of the time haunting? with other deceased family? not existing?  We only really get to learn about Jessica, but there other potentially interesting ghosts.  In this case a lot more could be explored if there were more episodes. For Jan’s journey the story does it’s purpose, realising her mistake, trying to escape and letting her connect with her Aunt, it is a bit of a shame she loses all her memories.

The Druid’s Field is a lot less forgiving and it is quite creepy, as the girls slowly disappear and when Jan figures out what is happening it is quite horrific image to see the tree grab her. The end is a nice tie in to start with focus on Anne and Karen’s mother, a change from their fussing about their daughters in first panel, to not remembering their existence in the last panel. Both stories have intriguing premises and for the most part deliver on these, I think Brides of the Forest has a bit more of an edge over The Wrong Day, but both still work well with the short time they have to tell the story.

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