Tag Archives: Emotional story

“I’ll Never Forgive You!” [1989]

Published: Bunty #1652 (09 September 1989) – #1661 (11 November 1989)

Episodes: 10

Artist: Douglas Perry

Reprints: None known

Plot

Carol Hastings is a difficult girl and getting into wild company that  her parents don’t approve of. When they remonstrate with her one more time, she reacts against it by running away, thinking she’s unloved and unwanted. Eventually Carol gets fed up and decides to return home, but it’s too late. While out looking for her, Mum ran out into the road without looking, got run over, and is now seriously injured.

Dad takes this very badly and blames Carol for it. He says he will never forgive her, especially when it looks like Mum could become wheelchair-bound. Their relationship becomes extremely embittered. Dad lashes out at Carol at every turn. He never wastes an opportunity to say he blames her and will never forgive her, tells everyone in town it’s all her fault, and won’t even let Carol visit her mother in hospital.

Carol blames herself too and has a terrible guilt trip. Also, the shock has sobered her up and she resolves become more responsible and sensible. She does whatever she can think of to help her father (doing housework, cooking, helping to get his new business going etc) in order to try to mend her relationship with him. But none of it makes any impression on him and he remains entrenched in his acrimony towards her. It does not help that sometimes things go wrong, such as Carol’s old crowd turning up at the worst time and getting Dad angry as he always disapproved of them.

Aunt Sally does not blame Carol for the accident and tries to help the situation. She tells Carol that when Dad was her age he ran away from home twice and was soon returned home, no harm done, which helps Carol to feel less guilty. However, reminding Dad of those incidents does not improve his attitude towards Carol.

What Mum thinks of where the blame lies for her accident is not known. Dad won’t let Carol see her, and when Carol finally gets the chance she is too ashamed to go.

Eventually Carol gets fed up with her embittered father and her efforts to reconcile going nowhere with him, and she turns to an act of rebellion. She and two friends go into town and cause trouble in a boutique. However, when the matter is reported to the headmistress they have to confess and take the punishment, which makes Dad even angrier. This time Carol lashes back at him, telling him how she’s tried so hard to prove to him that she’s improved, but all he does is hate her. She then locks herself in her room and him out, unable to take any more.

This has Dad wake up to how harsh he’s been and he goes to Mum for advice on how to put things right. As luck would have it, Carol’s birthday is imminent. So at Mum’s suggestion they throw a surprise party for her to patch things up, with Mum returning home for it. Dad tells Carol that from now on they will work things out together.

Thoughts

This is definitely one of the best emotional stories Bunty has ever published, but sadly not well remembered. It has intense moral lessons about the need for compassion and empathy rather than condemnation, and not let bitterness and hatred run away with you when someone makes a mistake that they already regret themselves, especially when it is a member of your own family. For if you do, you will only make that situation even worse, for both yourself and them and everyone else around you, when what’s really needed is working through the situation and trying to heal. There are so many situations in real life (as I have read in magazines) that parallel with Carol’s. A loved one just won’t respond to you, talk to you or show they still love you after some incident makes them fall out with you, no matter what you try to make things better or how much time passes. If only they would, as Mr Hastings did in the end, things would be so much better all around.

The story also turns several conventions in girls’ comics on their heads, which makes it an even more interesting and unconventional story that’s a bit different and refreshing. The first is the redemption theme. Carol starts off as a difficult, thoughtless girl who is asking for something serious to happen to make her a more thoughtful, mature girl. Usually this happens towards the middle or end of the story, but here it is right at the beginning, when the shock of Mum’s accident has Carol realise that she needs to be more responsible and sensible. She really tries, but it just goes nowhere with her embittered father. She gets frustrated and gives it up as hopeless. But instead of resorting to desperate measures as some protagonists have done, she vents her frustration with a stupid act and shouting back at her estranged father, which is a brilliant touch of realism. Ironically, this becomes the turning point in resolving the story.

The second is the protagonist running away from home. When a story uses this device, it usually comes at the climax of the story, when the protagonist has been pushed too far. But here it comes at the beginning of the story, and it drives the plot for the rest of the story instead of being the turning point in resolving it.

The third is the guilt trip theme and someone blaming the protagonist for some unfortunate incident. Often this is resolved with the person either finding out they were mistaken in blaming the protagonist or the protagonist redeems herself in some way, but neither of these things happen in this case.

Lastly, there is the resolution of the story. For once it does not come with the protagonist being pushed too far, running off, and have the people who drove her off realise what they have done. Nor does it occur with the protagonist getting knocked down by a car. Instead, it is resolved with a reconciliatory act on behalf of the father, once Carol’s anger has him realise what his bitterness has done.

Is Carol really to blame for her mother’s accident? It’s probably a matter of how you look at it. Carol did not do it directly or intentionally of course, and there was no way she would have known that running away would lead to it. Besides, as Aunt Sally says, running away or even contemplating it is something kids do frequently, and Dad is guilty of it himself. Directly, it was because Mum was not looking when she crossed the road, but that was because she was distraught, and Carol did trigger in motion the events that led to it. Dad blames Carol, Carol blames herself, Aunt Sally does not blame Carol at all, and what Mum thinks is not recorded, but when she reappears in the story it looks like she holds no grudges. Is it really Carol’s fault through what lawyers call causation, or was it just one of those things and extremely rotten luck?

One thing is certain: it does more harm than good to harbour hatred over the incident, and forgiveness and serious counselling are far better for everyone concerned.

Dolwyn’s Dolls [1983]

Published: Bunty Picture Story Library #246

Artist: Norman Lee

Writer: Unknown

Plot

Meg Dolwyn runs a doll shop and many of her dolls have tales to tell.

One day a man calls in and asks about a doll, which he notes has been repaired. Meg says the doll’s name is Tina and she belonged to a girl named Trudy Talbot. Trudy had moved to a South American country with her parents because of her father’s job. They live in a very luxurious house and servants tend to their every need.

There has never been any need for Trudy to be unhappy or cry. So she is a bit surprised when Dad presents her with Tina, who is a crying doll. He tells her to leave all the crying to Tina, because she’s a big girl now. Trudy takes this a bit too literally and from then on does not cry; she has Tina do all the crying. Trudy is reserving this for when there is a real need to cry, but does not think there will ever be one.

But all that changes the day after Dad gives Tina to Trudy. Revolution sweeps across the country and it is taken over by revolutionaries who rule by terror and the gun. Those who stand against them are arrested as “enemies of the revolution” (political prisoners), and among them is Mr Talbot. As a result, Castro-type soldiers tear the Talbot home apart while they search it, and Trudy and her mother become prisoners in their own home, with their servants for jailors. The Talbots’ food worsens too because Cook is taken into the army and the replacement is the gardener’s boy. The Talbots have no idea exactly why all this is happening because they are only being told the vaguest of details. Trudy comments on how her mother is crying while she does not because she promised Dad. Instead, she has Tina do the crying.

The servants agree to help Mum and Trudy escape – in exchange for all of Mum’s jewellery, mind you. The servants drive them as close to the border as they can. Mum and Trudy have to make the rest of the way on foot through dire, dangerous jungle conditions. Fortunately they bump into some kindly tourists, who help them to get to Britain.

Mrs Talbot comes to rent the flat above Meg’s shop. Meg deplores that it’s bit pokey for two, but Mrs Talbot says it is all she can afford. Trudy is a bit surprised to see Tina looking like she is crying of her own accord, but accepts it. Then Mrs Talbot is taken ill and dies. Trudy still has Tina do all the crying for her and says Tina is all she has left.

Then one evening the revolutionaries catch up. They burst into the flat, rip Tina open (hence the mending she had), and find what they have been looking for all this time: a cassette that Dad had hidden inside Tina. As the men leave with the cassette, they tell Trudy to blame her father for everything that has happened to her because he is “an enemy of the revolution”.

Trudy does not accept that. Instead, she blames Tina and turns against her. As she does so, she starts crying for the very first time. And now that Trudy’s tears have started, there is no stopping them. Eventually Trudy follows her mother to the grave, from a broken heart.

It turns out the man Meg is telling the story to is none other than Mr Talbot. He had escaped prison and the despotic regime, made his way to Britain and was trying to find his family. The cassette was evidence against the terror regime. Dad had been hoping to spread the word with it. He leaves, heartbroken that he has come too late and that his cassette destroyed his family instead of helping bring justice to the downtrodden country. As he goes, a strange thing happens: Tina starts crying.

A few days later, Jill the girl from next door, makes one of her frequent visits to Meg’s shop. Meg is mending a doll and Jill remarks that a broken doll must be the saddest thing there is. This has Meg spinning another doll yarn, and we get a hint of a moral that Jill needs to put what she just said into perspective. Meg heard the story from a customer named Sally, who dropped in the other day.

Sally accidentally broke her grandmother’s “lucky doll” when she got startled by a thunderstorm. She panics about this, because her grandmother told her stories about how much the doll meant to her, that it is her lucky doll, and great-grandmother made it, “every stitch” (Sally thought this meant the doll, not the doll clothes).

So Sally runs away, in the violent stormy weather, to find a way to get the doll mended, but has no luck. She sees an ambulance outside her house and assumes the grandmother has been taken to hospital because she was heartbroken about the doll, and bad luck has started because she broke grandmother’s lucky doll. Sally runs away in panic, thinking people are searching for her because they blame her for what happened to grandmother.

Her panic drives her into the countryside, where she has scary encounters with a tramp, a farmer and cows. Then Sally comes across Meg’s shop and sees an identical doll the window, at a price she can afford. Sally sneaks home to get the money, but grandmother catches her. They have noticed she was missing and have been worried sick about her.

When the story comes out, Sally finds she had been worried over nothing and misunderstood a lot of things. Among them was finding out that the doll was a recent one, bought to replace an older one that got worn out. This doll in turn can be replaced. Grandmother hadn’t even noticed the doll was gone and the ambulance had been for Jimmy next door. What does upset grandmother is that Sally would think she would love an old doll even more than she would love her. And so Sally learns that there are much sadder (and more important) things than a broken doll.

Thoughts

Dolwyn’s Dolls appeared as a Bunty serial in 1982. Dolwyn proved popular and she spawned two appearances in Bunty annuals and two picture story libraries. Dolwyn belonged in the tradition of the storyteller who had collected an assortment of items that all had tales to tell and each week she would tell the story of one such items. Other stories in this tradition included The Button Box (Tammy) and Jade Jenkins Stall (M&J).

The Dolwyn stories would entertain, a number of them would teach morals, and there were spooky, creepy ones – not surprising as the strip is dealing with dolls and toys, which have often been associated with hauntings and the supernatural. One story, “Major’s Revenge”, was about a cruel boy named Toby and his rocking horse, Major. Toby has a strange accident that breaks his leg. Toby claims Major came to life and took him on a wild, nightmare ride as a punishment for his cruelty. Perhaps it was just a hallucination brought on by the accident as Toby father says. All the same, nobody is willing to ride Major anymore and Meg does not put him in display in her shop although he is in much better condition than the one in the shop. At least the accident makes Toby more considerate although he limps for the rest of his life.

Unlike the regular strip or the other Dolwyn picture story library, the two doll stories in this picture story library are not individually titled. They are told to customers as Meg goes abut her business in the shop.

Both stories are tear-jerkers with sympathetic heroines who, one way or other, are plunged into turmoil, terror, tears and confusion. The second story ends on a happier note than the first one. We are so relieved when everything is sorted out for Sally after all the horrors her imagination puts her through when she runs away. We are even relieved that grandmother wasn’t even angry over the broken doll. The first story, on the other hand, is nothing but tragedy and tears, and ends on a note that is creepy as well as sad.

Trudy’s story is by far the more powerful of the two stories because it has far greater emotional wallop. It’s even more heart-breaking to see Trudy bottling up her emotions and having Tina as the only outlet for the tears she keeps inside her while she has so much to cry about as the revolution tightens its noose and destroys her happiness, her home, and her family. Trudy has to stop depending on Tina if she is to express her emotions properly. Eventually she does so, but the way in which she does it is even more heartrending because it is so unfair. Tina is no more to blame for Trudy’s unhappiness than Trudy herself is. The blame rests with the political events that overtook the country.

Trudy’s story also has the hints of the supernatural that permeated many Dolwyn stories. Twice it is insinuated that Tina is taking on a life of her own and crying of her own accord. There was some buildup of a supernatural element in the second story too, when Sally’s imagination runs riot at the bad luck she must have brought on her family by breaking the lucky doll. But it turns out it was just a replacement doll and Sally was freaking out over nothing. The supernatural had nothing to do with it.

The Search for Kitty’s Cat [1984]

Published: Debbie Picture Story Library #71

Artist: David Matysiak

Writer: Unknown

Plot

After nearly two years of saving, Jane Bright finally buys her new bike. Then her younger sister Kitty is involved in a road accident, which causes her beloved cat Cleo to disappear. When Kitty comes home, she reacts badly to Cleo’s disappearance and begins to pine, which makes her fragile condition worsen. This makes it all the more urgent to find Cleo.

The family can’t find Cleo anywhere in the neighbourhood. Inspired by an ad about a lost pet and reward for its return, Jane puts up her own ads for Cleo. As Jane has no money for the reward and does not want to bother her parents about it, she decides to sacrifice her new bike as the reward. This creates an additional difficulty as Kitty is looking forward to riding the new bike when she recovers. Now it has looks like Cleo or the bike.

The ad brings some people over with cats, but not one is Cleo. Among them are two kids who will try an even sneakier trick to get the bike later on. Door-to-door inquiries turn up nothing. Jane finds the police search only for lost dogs, not cats, so no luck at the police station.

The family see a cat food ad with a cat that looks like Cleo, and Kitty says they must have stolen her to make the ad. Inquiries reveal the ad was made three months previously (er, doesn’t that rule out Cleo as the cat?). When Jane checks out the ad agency they scare her off with their snake, a handy method they use to get rid of unwanted guests.

They try a newspaper ad. A reporter turns it into a human issue story of Jane having saved so hard for her new bike and then willing to give it up to find Cleo. It goes out in the newspaper and on the radio to tug at people’s heartstrings.

But while searching for Cleo, Jane’s bike gets stolen. Now she has no reward at all. While the bike is missing, the two aforementioned kids try to con Jane out of the bike by giving her a cat they’ve painted up to look like Cleo. Too bad for them they forgot to let the paint dry first!

Then Jane spots a man she spoke to just before her bike was stolen. She follows him to a scrap yard and finds him with a bike that looks like hers, and he’s about to respray it. Jane calls the police, and they find not only the stolen bike but also other stolen items, including stolen pedigree cats (no Cleo, though). The man is taken into custody and Jane gets her bike back.

When Jane gets home, she discovers Cleo had been under her nose – well, in the airing cupboard – the whole time. Cleo had just gone off to have kittens. Kitty is thrilled and is now on the mend.

Thoughts

This is a solid story that a lot of us who have had to look for lost pets (including me) can relate to. The sense of urgency – that a girl’s life depends on finding the pet – has appeared elsewhere in girls’ comics and has created popular animal stories. It’s also got some dashes of humour, such as the ad agent with the snake and Jane landing in the garden pond while calling Cleo. It also has a pathos that tugs at our heart strings as we read that Jane had slogged and saved for nearly two years to buy her bicycle, yet she’s prepared to give it up because she has nothing else to reward the person who finds Cleo with. We sincerely hope that Jane won’t have to give up the bike and Cleo will just walk in the door or something.

Jane’s self-sacrifice is an emotional contrast to the unscrupulous people who turn up in the story, namely the cheating kids and the thief. Although we see many people moved by the radio broadcast nobody comes forward with real help. Eventually we learn that is because Cleo is still at home, keeping herself in a quiet place while she has her kittens. So it all turns out happily, with the added bonus of joy of the kittens.

It is a bit unbelievable that nobody realised Cleo was pregnant, although she must have been about ready to give birth when she disappeared. It might have been better plotting to just have the cat come back.

The Secret Life of Fenella Field

Plot:

Upon the death of her mother, Fenella Field discovers she was adopted as a baby and sets out to find her birth parents. She becomes a lodger with her natural family but keeps her identity a secret while waiting for the right time to reveal the truth.

Notes:

Appeared:

  • The Secret Life of Fenella Field –  Bunty: 1973. No publication dates currently available

The Lonely Life of Linda Brown

Plot:

Linda Brown is an orphan and her grandmother is too busy to give her much attention. The only person who does is a governess, Pat Roberts. But Pat leaves to get married and gran sends Linda to Brandon College for Girls, a boarding school.

Notes:

Appeared:

  • The Lonely Life of Linda Brown –  Bunty: no publication dates currently available

Puppy Love

Plot

Lauren Dean has always wanted a pet, but it was not possible as her family live in an apartment block. Then Dad changes jobs and the family move into a cottage, where Lauren can have a pet at last. A stray dog adopts Lauren, and Lauren names her Spot. Spot dies, but not before she has given birth to three puppies, who become Lauren’s new pets.

Notes

  • Artist: Ron Lumsden

Appeared

  • Puppy Love –  Bunty: #2209 (13 May 2000)

Emma’s Umbrella

Plot

In 1900, Ivan’s Umbrella Shop is renowned for his beautiful personalised umbrellas, with the owner’s name inscribed on the handle. The last umbrella Ivan makes is inscribed with the name “Emma”, after the daughter he and his wife never had. The umbrella passes through a succession of owners over time, and each time it does so, it changes their lives.

Umbrella

Notes:

  • Writer: Alison Christie (Fitt)
  • Artist: Norman Lee

Appeared

  • Emma’s Umbrella –  Mandy: #983 (16 November 1985) – #990 (4 January 1986)