Tag Archives: Quest story

Selina’s Search / Selina’s Sketches (1985)

Published: Selina’s Search – Debbie PSL #91 (1985)

Reprint: Selina’s Sketches – Mandy PSL #249 (1996)

Artist: Unknown

Plot

Mr James is a struggling, ailing Victorian artist. He has been commissioned to paint a picture of the opening of the new merchants’ hall. But during the ceremony he finally collapses, leaving the sketch six people short for his painting. If he can’t finish it, this will mean no payment, and they really need the money.

Fortunately the Guild of Merchants provided a preliminary plan of where the dignitaries were during the ceremony. His daughter Selina is going to use it to track down the six people and take sketches of them. But tracking them down is only half of it. Somehow, Selina has to get these six important-sounding people to sit for her. And she does not think this will be easy.


Selina’s first stop is a servant named Jem, who was a page at the ceremony. However, the maid won’t let her in to sketch a picture of Jem. Fortunately Jem overhears, and arranges a secret meeting with Selina. He does not have enough time to be sketched, but Selina finds a way to change the maid’s mind and let her in to sketch Jem – a drawing of her and her sweetheart. All of a sudden Selina is a welcome guest and given all the time in the world to sketch Jem in the outfit he wore at the ceremony.

Next is the French ambassador, who will be returning to France next day. But the constable at the French embassy won’t let Selina in. Then a coach knocks over a road sweeper and Selina sketches its coat of arms to identify the reckless driver. Impressed, the constable finds a way for Selina to sketch the ambassador: at Waterloo station where the ambassador is boarding his train for home.

Two down, but the merchants want the picture done in five days. So, although Dad is still not well enough, he has to start painting it now, and he is. The race against time has Selina braving the streets after dark for number three, Dr Armitage, who is the medical advisor for the guild.

Unfortunately Dr Armitage is out on call at the arches under the bridge. Selina finds this means he is tending to homeless children under the bridge, and he is more concerned with treating them than helping her with her sketches. To win him over she entertains the children with shadow pictures to help them forget the pain while he treats them. Dr Armitage agrees to the sketch on condition she also draws a poster to raise funds for the children. Dr Armitage also gives Selina’s father some medical treatment.

Number four is Septimus Swann, a leading member of the Guild and owner of a posh ladies shoe shop. However, Swann has left instructions not to be disturbed while he selects designs for his next collection. Then Selina discovers Swan has rejected the latest designs from his shoe designers and hits upon the idea of asking the customers what they want in a Swann shoe to design a shoe for Swann that will meet the customers’ wants. Swann is impressed with the design – and surprised that all Selina wants in return for it is a sketch of him for it rather than the ten guineas he offers.

However, Selina is rather annoyed that the conceited old peacock keeps her hours drawing copies of him to show his friends. This has eaten up valuable time she needs to track down the remaining two.

Dad anticipates no problems with number five, a Mr Toby Maitland. But he has not counted on Maitland falling ill too. Selina discovers Maitland is ill because he was put in charge of minding the guild regalia from the ceremony, but someone has stolen it. On the case is the constable from the French embassy, and he has to tackle the problem of conflicting descriptions of the thief, which sound pretty pantomime. Selina uses her sketches and pantomime posters to put together a composite, which matches the description of a criminal named Beanpole Beckett. Sure enough, they find the regalia when they raid Beckett’s house. In return, Maitland not only sits for Selina but also gives her a letter of introduction to the last person on her list: the Duchess of Dorian.

But even with this letter of introduction there are problems in getting the sketch. The duchess is up at Dorian Castle, Sussex, which is miles away. Fortunately, Selina matches to get a lift from her town residence, which is packing up and moving to the castle. However, the duchess is in the middle of organising a banquet and a bit busy to sit for a sketch. Then Selina uses her sketches to help a lady organise the flowers for the table. It turns out to be the duchess herself, and she is so grateful she is only too happy to sit for Selina.

Thanks to Selina’s sketches, Dad is able to complete the picture in time, and he acknowledges it at the unveiling. Dad is paid handsomely, and now many of the merchants want Dad to paint pictures for them too. But there’s more – the duchess was so impressed with Selina’s sketch book that she has the Director of Sarum School of Art award Selina a free scholarship.

Thoughts

This is a delightful, engaging story, and it has nice, simple artwork that lends itself really well to the setting. It’s a race against time that becomes a rags to riches story in the end. Selina didn’t quite intend it that way; she just wants to help her father get his work done in time and save face and receive his much-needed payment. We feel for Dad too, who is struggling with ill-health as well as poverty, and though he is still sick, he still has to get that painting finished on schedule. And no matter how sick he is, he has to make that painting a masterpiece.

The story doesn’t delve too far into the dark side of Victorian times. However, we still get hints during Selina’s search of it with the lives of servants, the homeless waifs under the bridge and the doctor who wants to help them, and Beckett the thief. The Jameses themselves are part of the dark side of it. They clearly live in poverty, have little money, and it’s no wonder Dad’s health is suffering. He not only needs the payment from that commission but the prestige and hope of more work from it as well.

There are some touches of humour, such as Jem the servant who’s a likeable scallywag to boot and is not going to have the maid turn Selina away like that. And there is the crook who looks like he’s straight from a pantomime, and pantomime posters help bring about his downfall.

Of course everything comes down to Selina not only being a brilliant artist who is able to sketch well enough to help Dad, but also use quick wits to get those people to sit for her. Getting the people to sit for her or overcoming difficult people who stand in her way turns out to be easier than she thought, even if it is extra work, because she uses her artwork to do them good turns first, from tracking down criminals to doing fashion designs. It always seems to happen that way. So they all get something out of having Selina sketching for them, and it is only fair that Selina receive an extra reward – the art scholarship.

The Ride-away Randalls [1978]

Plot

When Mr Randall is transferred to Scotland his three children are left in Cornwall and put in the care of landlady Mrs Pendellin. Unfortunately Mrs Pendellin dies and the authorities cannot trace the father. So Welfare intend to put the children into care and sell the ponies, but the children are having none of this. Instead, they saddle up and go on the run from Welfare and in search of their father.

Notes

  • Artist: Andy Tew

Appeared

  • The Ride-away Randalls – Debbie: #279 (17 June 1978) – #295 (7 October 1978)

The Sea Witch

Plot:

The peace and tranquillity of the island of Honan had been shattered by the arrival, some years before, of the evil Sea Witch. When the Sea Witch turned Yoko’s parents into pillars of stone, Yoko consulted an old hermit, who told her that the three gold pearls of Kojima were her only hope of defeating the Sea Witch. The hermit also gave Yoko an amulet, the only thing which could offer any protection from the Sea Witch . Yoko made for the long-deserted school.

the sea witch

Notes:

Appeared:

  • The Sea Witch – Spellbound: #53 (24 September 1977) – #60 (12 November 1977)

The Seeker

Plot

The famous music hall star Madame Nellie Selba seems to be a hard-hearted woman. But this is a front for her secret identity as The Seeker, a mysterious masked woman who helps runaway girls. Her goal is to find her own daughter, who was rendered homeless and turned out on the streets while Nellie was looking for work. When she finally traces her daughter, she discovers she has fallen foul of a racket that sells homeless children into slavery.

Notes

  • Artist: Douglas Perry

Appeared

  • The Seeker –  Bunty: #2014 (17 August 1996) – #2051 (3 May 1997)

My Mum is Missing!

Plot:

Jennie Watts’ mother disappears when her car is involved in an accident. The police have no luck in finding Mrs Watts, so Jennie sets out to do it herself. Clues tell Jennie that her mother has lost her memory and is travelling under her maiden name, and this is why the police have failed to find her.

Notes:

  • Artist: Mario Capaldi

Appeared:

  • My Mum is Missing! – Suzy:#127 (9  February 1985) – #138 (27 April 1985)

 

 

The Quest of Anna Midnight

Plot

Anna Midnight, a talented artist, was left on the doorstep of a Children’s Home as a baby. Her surname is Midnight because that was when she was found, but her true identity is a mystery. She goes in search of a travelling artist in Cornwall because she is convinced he is her father.

Midnight

Notes

Appeared

  • The Quest of Anna Midnight – circa #258 (12 December 1971) – (?)
  • Reprinted – Mandy:  #623 (23 December 1978) – #636 (24 March 1979)

 

Ellie Mae

Plot:

Ellie Mae and her sister Sally Jane are bringing two buckets of Yellermelon spring water to their Granny Tickle, who is dying to drink it. But Ellie’s cousins, the McNaughtys, are trying to stop them because they want Granny to leave her fortune to them.

Ellie

Notes:

Appeared:

  • Ellie Mae –  Debbie: #324 (28 April 1979) –  #335 (14 July 1979)

Jet’s Incredible Journey

Plot:

Jet is a racing pigeon that was adopted by a girl, Cathy, after her uncle discarded him as useless. Jet is injured on a flight and the Cath sets out looking for him, as he also tries to make his way home.

jets_journey

Notes:

  • Artist: Paddy Brennan
  • Unconfirmed, reprinted and translated to Dutch as “Op zoek naar Jet” – Peggy #4/1988

Appeared:

  • Jet’s Incredible Journey–  Suzy: #201 (12 July 1986) – #206 (16 August 1986)