A strip from The Victor
See The Victor issues 507 - 512.
Writer:- The Victor editorial team. Artist:- Jean Marie.
Main cast:- Mister Eel; Dimples.
Time period:- early 1800's.
This short series (six episodes), tells the story of a master escapologist Mr. Eel, (real name Sir Stephen Roberts), who is retained by prison reformers to find out about conditions in British prisons. The UK's prisons in the early nineteenth century were damp, overcrowded and dirty. The reformers including Elizabeth Fry sought to improve conditions for those in jail.
Initially, Mr. Eel refuses to assist, on the grounds that he believes the criminals are getting their just desserts. He later changes his mind after his assistant and friend Dimples (a rather unfortunate name), is wrongly arrested for stealing a watch and sent to prison. Mr. Eel breaks into the prison and rescues his friend. Having seen for himself the conditions that prisoners have to live in, makes Roberts change his mind about helping the prison reformers. (Nothing more is said in the series about Dimples jailbreak or him being wrongly convicted or any attempt made to clear his name).
Mr. Eel's ability to squeeze between bars and pick locks makes him the ideal choice of breaking into and out of prisons to collect information for the prison reformers.
Artwork for this series is by Jean Marie (confirmation needed). His artwork looks a bit rough and ready, but does grow on you as you read the series.
Prison reformers did and still do exist and conditions in Britain's prisons in previous centuries were dreadful. Elizabeth Fry, who was a Quaker, did get involved in trying to improve conditions for prisoners and especially for female prisoners. Although I suspect the reformers didn't go as far as getting someone to break into and out of prisons to collect information.
The following adventures of the Amazing Mr. Eel are from issues 507; 508; 509 & 512.