Tag Archives: Hate campaign

Wynne Against the School [1978]

  • Wynne Against the School –  Emma:  #30 (16 September 1978)  – #43 (16 December 1978)
  • Art: Carlos Freixas

Plot

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.

Thoughts

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.

 

Teacher’s Pet [1990]

  • Teacher’s Pet  – Judy: #1574 (10 March 1990) – #1583 (12 May 1990)
  • Artist: Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)

Plot

Anna Norman gets on well in school until the arrival of a new teacher Miss Johnstone. Her new form teacher, starts favouring her immediately, earning Anna the name of “Teacher’s Pet” from her classmates. Even when Anna tries to get in trouble it makes things worse, such as when she is late to class she expects to be punished, like her other classmates were, but “Stoney” Johnstone just lets her away with it, and everyone else just thinks Anna’s taking advantage. When it comes time to elect a form captain Johnstone makes it clear that she thinks Anna has the right qualities for the job and commiserates with her when she lose out to Lucy. No amount of objections from Anna can convince her friends that she never wanted to be captain. It continues to get worse, on a museum trip, Johnstone implies that Anna told tales on Lucy and Anna rues the day the teacher took a liking to her. One good thing comes out of the trip is that her old friend Ros has gotten suspicious of Johnstone’s motives and points out to Anna that everything she does gets her in trouble and perhaps Johnstone doesn’t favour her at all!

Anna puts this theory test by speaking in slang to Johnstone when no one else is around, and gets a more typical “Stoney” response, but in class when she does it, Johnstone suggests she’d be perfect for reading the lead Pygmalion. She enlists Ros’s help to find out why Johnstone is doing this, Ros agrees to help but doesn’t want to get too involved for fear of losing friends. So in secret Ros and Anna start investigating Miss Johnstone, they find out where she lives and theorize that Anna may look like a sister that she dislikes. That theory is soon disproved as Johnstone is an only child. While Stoney is away for the weekend they do more snooping where she lives and gets talking to a neighbour of hers. Seeing a letter in a book she lent the neghbour, they think they have a new clue. It involves the local dramatics society and they think Stoney is upset because she lost out to a younger actress similar to Anna that also has the same name. Again this theory quickly goes nowhere, as the letter actually was Mrs Greys’, the neighbour.

Johnstone assigns Anna to the school disco committee, despite Lucy volunteering, not winning Anna any favours from the others. The theme is to be the 60s, so Anna asks to borrow some of her Dad’s records, but he won’t let his precious collection out of the house, her mom says he had them even before they met (some foreshadowing here!). Then while setting up for the disco, Anna gets in Stoney’s bad books temporarily for playing “Twist and Shout” by the Beatles. Stoney ends up scratching the record in her hurry to turn it off. Wayne, the owner of the record, blames Anna for putting it on. Ros thinks they finally have a clue to Stoney’s past and they must find out why she hates that song so much.

Things look up for Anna, when Ros introduces her to her cousin Tom and they hit it off, but of course Stoney tries to cause problems. Anna then tells her mom that she she is having problems with Miss Johnstone praising her all the time, so her mom says she will have a word with her on parents night. But on the night Johnstone leaves suddenly with a headache before meeting the Normans. Ros who has smoothed things with Tom, reckons that Stoney had a broken romance, and wanted to break Anna and Tom up, though it doesn’t explain why she’s targeting Anna specifically. She soon finds out the reason why, when they get a chance to look in Johnstone’s flat while Mrs Grey is looking after her cat. Anna finds a picture of young Johnstone with a man whose face is crossed out, but she recognises the car in the background. A visit to her grandmother and looking through old photo albums, confirms her suspicions, the man in the photo was her dad! Mr Norman had never made the connection with the name but he was once engaged to Jean Johnstone but broke it off because of her jealousy and moodiness. They contact the headmistress and Johnstone doesn’t even deny it when confronted, she is happy she took her revenge. Learning the truth her classmates are sorry for how they treated Anna, she forgives them easily as she doesn’t want to end up like Stoney holding a grudge for years.

Thoughts

This is an interesting hate campaign story, there are several things that make it stand out from similar stories. Firstly that it is an adult campaigning against the protagonist rather than a peer. Miss Johnstone is in a position of power, she abuses this terribly and has no regrets that she punishes an innocent girl for the perceived wrong doings of her father. She also doesn’t regret ruining her own career because of this. Even without her revenge plan, Miss Johnstone isn’t a nice person, she soon earns her nickname “Stoney” with her tough discipline and hard attitude. We later learn it is not just being dumped that has turned her into this bitter person (although it certainly doesn’t help!) as even as a younger woman Johnstone was prone to jealousy and moodiness. Seems Mr Norman had a lucky escape!

Another thing that makes it stand out, is that it is not clear that there is a hate campaign against Anna to begin with. Other stories have had the “friend” of the protagonist turn out to be their secret enemy, but here because of Miss Johnstone’s strategy it’s not clear there is a hate campaign. Certainly it is a devious scheme, by praising and acting like she thinks Anna is great, she causes trouble without suspicion. It is nearly half ways through the story before her motives are actually questioned. Some of the girls thoughts on why Johnstone is after Anna are a stretch (such as looking like a hated sister) but they don’t have a lot to go on, so they have to think of some reason. Anna was lucky to find the photo and recognise the car and end Johnstone’s revenge. I like that Anna’s parents are supportive too, because often adults in these stories can be dismissive, especially considering Anna’s complaints are “Johnstone’s too nice to her”! While her mother doesn’t think it can be that bad, she does say she will talk to Johnstone and when they find out who she really is, they go straight to the Headmistress.

Anna’s friends are a bit quick to judge her, even Ros at first when she agrees to help, she doesn’t stand up for her in public. This might be excused if she didn’t want to put Johnstone onto their investigation but she also says she doesn’t want to get involved and lose her friends. Although as Ros becomes more convinced of Johnstone’s motives, she does become more active in supporting Anna, even introducing her to Tom, her cousin. I’m sure Anna, as a nice person, would have forgiven all her friends anyway, but it’s good to see it tie in with Johnstone, as she doesn’t want to become a bitter, unforgiving person like her. It brings the story to a satisfying conclusion.