Category Archives: Bunty

The Children’s Champion [1964]

  • The Children’s Champion – Bunty: #348 (12 September 1964) – #369 (06 Feb. 1965)
  • Reprinted – Bunty: #842 (02 March 1974) – #863 (27 July 1974)
  • Reprinted – Lucky Charm #16 (1982)

Plot

In 1868, Hester Langley, daughter of rich titled parents, is feeling dissatisfied with the lavish life her family is living. One night, after another boring party, Hester can’t sleep  and goes downstairs to get a book. She hears a disturbance and decides to investigate herself rather than get a servant. She finds Annie, a young orphan who has sneaked in for someplace warm to sleep. Though not familiar with preparing meals, Hester does manage to heat up some soup for Annie and she questions her about her life. She is distressed to hear that a nine year old sleeps in back alleys, hasn’t eaten for days and only gets scraps when she does eat. Hearing there are many more like her, Hester wants to come to Stepney and see for herself, right away. After persuading her servant Polly to lend her some clothes, her and Annie set off. Hester is horrified with what she sees in Stepney and she returns home with a plan to enlist her father and wealthy friends to help the poor children. Annie thinks she’s very lucky to have met  Hester and calls her “Miss Angel”. Lord Langley in the meantime has woken and questioned Polly, when Hester arrives home he is not happy with her plan. He is not going to have his daughter mixing with the “scum of London”. The Langleys kick Annie out and fire Polly. Lady Langley insists Hester must bathe at once in case she’s picked up germs. But Hester isn’t going to be persuaded from her mission  and if her parents won’t help she is determined to give the London waifs a home herself.

Hester sets off the next day with the money and jewellery that she has and is joined by Polly. The only place they can afford to rent is a stable, and the landlord takes advantage of their desperation, but Hester and Polly clean it up nice.  Her parents get worried when she doesn’t return home, but Lord Langley doesn’t want to call the police because of the scandal it would cause, so he goes looking for her, himself. Annie has gathered all her friends to come to their new home, but then Lord Langley arrives and demands Hester comes home. She won’t budge and her new scheming landlord sees an opportunity to make  money off Lord Langley saying he will kick them out of the stable for a fee, and Hester won’t want to sleep on the streets and will go home.  But that plan fails for Langley as he still hasn’t realised how committed his daughter is to her cause. While asleep on the streets a coster (street seller) named Tom Clark, comes across them, he has known hardships before and he rents them his shed. After being cheated out of money by the first landlord, they are needing more money for supplies so, Hester and Annie go to see her kindly godmother Lady Ella Coombes, but she is away on a trip. Although they don’t succeed on getting supplies, they do pick up another stray on their trip, a chimney sweep boy, Billy.

More difficulties befall them when Hester’s bag is stolen. Tom’s wife, Molly, comes to check on them and hearing their story rounds up help from the community and gets some old furniture for the shed. Later, the boy, Jack, that stole Hester’s bag passes by the shed and is offered some soup. Jack recognises Hester as the toff he stole the bag from and now feels terrible about it. He confesses everything and how he is forced to steal for a man called Mr Luther, so that himself and his young brother, Bert, can have a home. Hester offers them a new home with her, but Mr Luther is not happy and tries to get him back. Luckily Tom Clark and his friends help take care of Mr Luther and get Hester’s money returned too. Mr Luther knows he has to leave the area but is only leaving after he has his revenge on Hester. He sets the shed on fire, while they are out. With no home, Hester has no choice but to ask her parents for help. Her father agrees to replace the shed on the condition Hester comes home, but she refuses to leave the children so he disowns her.

For the time-being Tom’s friends let them stay in their sheds though they have to share them with animals. When Hester and Annie come across a sickly lavender seller,Lucy,  Hester doesn’t have any room for her, but later feels guilty and goes back to find her half dead. She gets Lucy to hospital and gives her a reason to fight. She will never refuse a child again. She goes to her parents friends to implore them for money but of no avail. Luckily her Godmother Ella Coombes returns, and is keen to help with the cause. Jack not knowing this, tries to steal money for Miss Angel but is caught. If not for the intervention of Hester and Lady Coombes he would have been sent to prison. Lady Coombes also pays for refurbishment of the shed. But just as their fortunes are looking up, Annie comes down with Typhoid Fever which soon spreads to other children. With the help of Lady Coombes and Mrs Clark they all pull through, but unfortunately Lady Coombes comes down with fever. Coombes son Edward blames Hester for this and wants to destroy what she has built. He destroys their soup making stall, so Hester finds a hard job in hospital. Polly convinces her that she would be better doing that work as the children need Hester with them. Even still money is tight, Hester often kept going with little food. Jack and Annie break into Lady Ella’s house to see her, she is recovering and did not know her son had lied about Hester being not bothered to visit. She is to go to Italy to help with her recovery, but she leaves Hester money to help her waifs, while she is gone.

Edward spreads talk of the money, knowing it will be robbed, Some thieves do ransack the home but don’t find it. Then Lucy falls ill again and Hester spends most of her money to send her to be by the sea. A new boy, Ben joins the home,  he thinks that Hester is a sucker and takes advantage of her kindness. He riles Jack up in order to get him to help steal from pawn shop, but Hester finds out and follows them. Ben ends up knocking her out, luckily she recovers but Ben runs away. The others think she should give up on him, but Hester won’t abandon him. They eventually find him in the sewers, sick, Hester nurses him back to health and he becomes loyal to her. But heartache isn’t over for Ben as it turns out he is not an orphan, but a runaway from an abusive father who takes him back when he sees him out with Hester. Hester tries to earn money to pay Mr Brown for Ben, and she has the support of Ben’s mother, but the father beats Mrs Brown up badly and runs off with Ben. Hester takes in Ben’s younger siblings and comforts Mrs Brown before she dies in hospital. Hester finds Ben and Mr Brown goes to jail for dealing with stolen goods (no punishment in these times for beating his wife to death!).

With things settled for a while, Hester finally has time to start schooling the children. Still Hester keeps on taking in waifs, and their home is getting crowded. Then Tom arrives to tell her the shed is going to be pulled down to make way for a warehouse. Hester  sleeps outside with the children under a makeshift shelter. After some bad rain the Clarks take them all in temporarily, and Hester falls ill with pneumonia. The children all pray in the street for their Miss Angel and catch the eye of a reporter. The Langleys read about their daughters illness in the paper and put their pride aside, to go to her. Luckily Hester has mostly recovered at this stage and the Langleys want her home with them and agree to take in the children too. They help find sponsors for a new children’s home and the Clarks come work for them. Hester is delighted with the new home, but she is not one to rest, that evening she is out looking for more children to help.

Thoughts

There are many of these stories where the wealthy protagonist gives up her charmed life, in order to take care of young waifs in Victorian England (such as Angel, Haven of Hope and other variations like The Double Life of Delia), this was one of the first. While it is popular, Mandy’s Angel  is probably more well remembered (probably helped by it’s sequels and annual appearances). For this reason it is Angel, I will draw most comparisons to when discussing this story, especially as The Children’s Champion seems to be a prototype for it (perhaps it had the same writer?). The children call Hester “Miss Angel” the same as the children call Angela in Angel, though in the former case Hester still is identified both as Hester and “Miss Angel”. In both cases the protagonist has a close relationship with an orphan named, Annie and relies on them to help with other children. They are both very committed to their cause, looking after the children even to the detriment of their own well-being. There are religious tones in both (although more prominent in Angel) Hester thanks God for sending Annie to her, the orphans pray for Hester to get well, in  Angel Angela often asks God to give her strength and courage and it implies she goes to Heaven in the end.

Where they differ, is Angela is more of a martyr, working mostly by herself, her parents believe their daughter is dead, so she is cut off from all those in her previous life,  and of course with only a year to live, she dies at the end of the story but with her parents carrying on her work. While Hester’s parents  disown her,  she does have more help with Polly, the Clarks and Lady Coombes, and eventually her parents come around. We also see more class divisions as Hester interacts with the upper classes to try and get their help. Angela’s parents while dismissive of the plights of the poor weren’t as aggressive as the Langleys, who refer to the children as “diseased” and “scum”. While Angela’s ending was dramatic and pulls at the readers’ heartstrings, I like that Hester continues her work even when the Children’s Home is built. It shows that the work doesn’t stop just because they have nice place to live now and that Hester is still willing to go out on the streets to continue to find children.

 

While Hester is a bit naive about the plights of poor people, until Annie educates her, she shows dissatisfaction with her wealthy life even before that. She shows courage and willingness to do things herself too, firstly confronting an intruder, and then though never having to cook for herself before, she manages in the kitchen, heating up soup for Annie. Once she knows about the London waifs, she is committed to helping them. I would think that her Godmother Lady Coombes has been a good influence on her, as we don’t see her parents so inclined to help. Lady Coombes is a good ally and also willing to muck in when needed, like helping with Typhoid epidemic, she is someone that Hester obviously admires and has been a positive force in her life. She seems to be the exception among those in Hester’s former life, it is actually the people with little to give that help the most, particularly the Clarks. It’s good to see Annie as Hester’s closest ally too, as she brings the knowledge and experience of a London that Hester did not know about and they develop a good friendship too. It has some stunning art, I particularly like the opening panel for the details of Hester’s clothes and hair before she switches to plainer clothes. The art and a well-thought out story makes this a good read. The story does well concentrating on smaller selection of characters and developing them, certainly as readers we root for them and want them to overcome their obstacles, and are glad to see them get a happy ending.

Forbidden to Ride [1980]

  • Forbidden to Ride – Bunty PSL: #204 [1984]

Plot

A couple  find a girl unconscious on the side of the road, they go to help her,  but as she comes around, she does not remember anything. They call the police and they come and tell her she is Anne West and her parents reported her missing. While the policeman is taking her home, a girl, Renata Moore,  riding a horse approaches Anne. She makes a  strange comment “I warned you Fame was too much for you”, which Anne can’t understand. When Anne gets home she doesn’t remember her parents, but she feels loved and safe with them. Her father also mentions fame bringing heartache, but when Anne questions him, he quickly dismisses it. Anne notices some other strange things such as a mark on her bedroom wall where a picture used to be. Unknown to her downstairs her parents are hiding some riding gear.

As it’s the school holidays she won’t be getting answers from there, but her parents have arranged for a friend, Kay, to visit. Anne overhears her Dad telling Kay not to mention “Fame”, and when Anne tries to press her for information, Kay runs off.  Anne then sees Renata and tries to get her to explain what she meant,  but  a low flying plane means she can’t hear the end of that conversation. Anne wonders what she could have done to a rich girl who seems to have everything. She tries to jog her memory by taking a walk, and she runs into her dad, who had been out looking for her riding hat. He hides it from her before she can see it. Anne goes to gymkhana event where she comments on Renata’s riding, a woman overhearing her remarks says she must be very knowledgeable on riding. Anne wonders if that is the case, why there is nothing in her house that would suggest that. Unable to sleep that night, she takes a walk. In an old barn sat the edge of their land she finds a horse and she is sure she knows him. She takes him for a ride and decides she must ride him in secret, in case her parents take him away.

On a secret ride she runs into Renata who says “you think you can still handle Fame”. Finally Anne remembers that “Fame” is her horse’s name and that triggers a return of some of her memories. She now knows Renata doesn’t like her because she wanted to buy Fame herself. Anne returns home on the horse, telling her parents she remembers Fame, but her father doesn’t want her anywhere near the “brute”. On the day of Anne’s accident, Fame returned without her and her parents assume he threw her. But Anne isn’t convinced it was Fame’s fault and is very unhappy when her parents decide to sell Fame to Renata (they offer to buy her a tamer pony instead). Luckily the sale is called off last minute, when the doctor says that keeping Fame could help recover her memories completely. Renata of course is not happy with this outcome.

Meanwhile Anne gains confidence riding Fame again and her parents are  being more supportive of her, though they don’t want her taking any risks. Renata still unhappy about losing out on Fame, causes Anne to fall by riding out in front of her.  Anne doesn’t want to tell her parents about this as there agreement to keep Fame is still fragile. She decides she need to get back all her memories and revisits the site of the accident to see if it helps. Renata spots her and follows her. A low flying crop duster startles Anne, she panics and pulls on the reins, she realises this is what caused the accident last time, she pulls herself together and Fame manages to jump a wall close to the motorway. Renata who had seen this, was about to help as she didn’t want Anne to come to any real harm, but as Anne handled Fame without her helps she realises she doesn’t have any  evidence that Anne shouldn’t have Fame.

Anne happy that her memory is restored and Fame’s name cleared, enters into a show jumping competition with her parents support. It comes down to her and Renata, and Renata makes a fault in the last round. Anne goes over offers condolences, saying it was bad luck, but Renata surprisingly admits it was bad riding, taking a jump too quick because of jealousy. They agree to be friendly rivals in the future.

Thoughts

With the story cover and title, this is not what expected with this story. In fact throughout the story there seems to be a lot of plots set up that would have gone differently in another story, plots are resolved quite quickly, (who is the amnesic girl, riding in secret, antagonistic rival) but still worked for me, perhaps as it goes against tropes. Other stories like Mandy Picture Story Library The Secret…, the horse riding in secret would have taken a bigger part of the story, but here as soon as Anne knows who Fame is, she goes to her parents. It must be said the Wests initial actions may have hampered Anne’s recovery, by trying to hide horse riding and Fame from her (how long did they think that could last!)  and if her memory hadn’t recovered were they just not going to let her ride again!  Still they are not too authoritative and forbidding. They offer to buy her a quieter pony and when the doctor tells them gentle riding with Fame may help with Anne’s recovery they agree to it, in order to help their daughter.

The story does start out quite mysterious with the opening panel of a girl unconscious on the side of road. Then all these hints of “Fame” leaves the reader questioning what it could mean, though looking at the cover they should figure out it has something to do with a horse! As for what happened on the day of the accident, there are great little details throughout that looking back point to the cause,  as we see a plane in the distance on the first panel and it the plane that interrupts Anne and Renata’s conversation. The story along at a nice pace, some plot points resolved like what is “Fame” quite quickly but it still keeps things interesting.  Renata is also different to a lot of antagonists we may see in these stories, she is a rich girl who wants Fame, she makes some sharp comments, but she doesn’t resort to dirty tricks to get Fame, the closest she comes is riding out in front of Anne, one time. She doesn’t want Anne really hurt, she only wants to prove that Anne can’t handle Fame, and when Anne proves her wrong, she is jealous, but backs off. She is even gracious enough to admit her own flaws and bad riding is at fault when she loses to Anne. I was pleasantly surprised with this story, and I’m not a big fan of horse stories but I think this was well plotted and kept my interest throughout.

 

 

Rambling Rose [1989]

Plot

Clapton College needs more pupils. Head girl Di Gibson decides newcomer Rose Redd could bring the school valuable publicity because she is brainy and a natural athlete. The trouble is, Rose has a rather absent-minded way of doing things!

Notes

  • Artist: Matías Alonso

Appeared

  • Rambling Rose – Bunty: #1631 (15 April 1989) – #1644 (15 June 1989)

 

June the Second [1989]

Plot

Jo Newton has been presumed dead after a skiing holiday in Switzerland. But Jo’s sister Meg discovers she has been kidnapped by a power group, led by Madame Brauheim. They have hypnotised Jo into taking the place of Princess June II of Heldenstein. The real princess has been badly injured in an accident and is in a coma. The power group imprison Meg in the palace dungeon, where she finds an ally in Andrea Gerhart. They escape the dungeon and find the real princess, but Brauheim is hot on their trail.

Notes

Appeared

  • June the Second – Bunty: #1649 (19 August 1989) – #1654 (23 September 1989)

The Curse of the Connors [1989]

Plot

Rosina Connors runs away from school when she is wrongly accused. Rosina’s grandfather discovers another girl, Sara Ackford, was the true culprit. In retaliation he puts a curse on Sara’s family, which has Mrs Ackford fall mysteriously ill and her life is in danger. Grandfather tells Sara the curse won’t lift until Rosina is found, but she is still missing. Sara goes to find Rosina and eventually succeeds, and now it is a race to get to Sara’s mother in time.

Notes

Appeared

  • The Curse of the Connors – Bunty: #1645 (22 June 1989) – #1654 (23 September 1989)

Dolly Daydream [1989]

Plot

Dolores “Dolly” Grey tends to daydream. She falls for Tom and tries out car maintenance, Chinese cooking and judo evening classes to impress him. None of them work out because Dolly does not concentrate because of her daydreaming. She bumps into Tom, who is looking for an evening class. When she tells him the ones she tried he is interested and asks for more information. From there they hit it off.

Notes

  • Artist: Guy Peeters
  • Complete story – Short Story

Appeared

  • Dolly Daydream – Bunty:  #1656 (7 October 1989)

Save Our Stables [1989]

Plot

Vicki Andrews, Ted Winters and Pam Burton are minding Wallingston Riding Stables because the owner, Mr Hodge, no longer has time to do so. Messrs Snudge and Sykes are out to buy the stables for property development, but Vicki and her friends don’t like the look of them.

Notes

Appeared

  • Save Our Stables – Bunty: #1655  (30 September 1989) – #1665 (9 December 1989)

Tommy Girl [1967]

Plot

During World War II, Tommy Clark’s parents are captured by the Germans and she is smuggled to her aunt’s at the Channel Islands. When the German occupation comes, Tommy encourages the Islanders into secret Resistance against the Nazis. Tommy has also found a way to spy on the Nazis at the school they have taken over as their headquarters. She discovers the Nazis are plotting “Operation X” and sets out to find out what it is. She learns the Nazis are bringing something concealed in boxes to the Islands via submarine and concealing them in the Whispering Cave.

Notes

Appeared

  • Tommy Girl –  Bunty: #486 (20 May 1967) – #499 (5 August 1967)