Holly Ransome was created by writer John Ney Rieber and artist Peter Gross in The Books of Magic issue 14, in 1995.
Major Story Arcs
Holly is pregnant from a man named Lloyd. He’s a jerk, but she has low self-esteem and can’t bring herself to break it off, despite the entreaties of her friend, Shirley Tinch, to do so. She finally gets the nerve to tell him they should get married, but when she shows up at his place, the woman he’s already married to answers the door. Crushed, she heads home.
On the way, Holly and her son Cyril walk down the street and see Bill Hunter, whose face was badly burned by magical fire recently (and who also lost an arm in the car crash years ago that killed his then-wife). Bill’s face is wrapped in bandages, and Cyril obnoxiously says he looks like the Invisible Man.
Embarrassed, Holly calls a cab for Bill when he is unable to get one to stop. They share the ride to his house and he gets out. He is shocked to find that his face has entirely healed (due to the abilities of his doctor, Mr. Vasuki, who Bill does not know is a demon). Bill has spent years as a drunk and neglecting Tim since the accident, but he now tries to get his life back in order.
Holly tells her friend Shirley about Bill and the fact that Lloyd was a cheat. Lloyd was only the latest in a series of men who have taken advantage of Holly, but Holly always wants to improve them rather than give them up. Shirley jokes that Holly should pick the man she’s least attracted to in order to break the curse.
Holly has an abortion and keeps thinking about Bill. Lloyd calls her, and Holly almost falls for him again. However, she decides to see how Bill is doing. Gwendolyn answers the door, and Holly worries that Bill is married just like Lloyd, but Gwendolyn is only Bill and his son Tim’s friend. She is glad to see Holly’s interest in Bill and does her best to get them together.
They bond quickly, in part due to their shared challenges with their boys. Tim, in fact, shows up shirtless in the garden while they’re talking, with a giant chest tattoo that he got from Circe.
Holly cuts things off with Lloyd and decides to date Bill. Shirley thinks it's a bad idea, based on her past, and thinks she just likes to feel needed. In anger she says they have to bet their friendship over Bill. From then on, she refuses to answer any calls from Holly.
Still, Holly and Bill get along quite well, and are happy to get past their loneliness. For instance, Holly enthusiastically helps prepare a party for Tim’s 14th birthday, even if she doesn’t show up on time. Neither one particularly cares for the other’s boy, and to a degree not even their own boy. Cyril is a horrible child and constantly causes problems for Tim, in part because he is extremely self-centered and needs attention all the time, and now Holly is paying attention to Bill.
Tim runs away to America, and we don’t see Holly for a while, but she and Bill move in together in a new, very fancy house. A Changeling from Faerie takes Tim’s place, and they think he only left for a week. Changeling-Tim is a lot nicer than the real Tim, and the household is pretty peaceful. Changeling-Tim even compliments Holly on making Bill so happy he even forgets to mourn his late wife, Mary, on the anniversary of her death.
Holly and Bill get married, but the ceremony is interrupted by Tim’s return and the death of the Changeling, among other supernatural events. Holly seems to take it fairly well in stride, and joins in the conga line with Araquel, the angel, at the reception party. However, she is not surprisingly freaked out when Bill is turned into a reptile monster that slithers out the window on their wedding night.
Bill is being controlled by Vasuki, and Cyril, who has become increasingly obsessed with Christianity, becomes the tool of the Queen of Wounds, a supernatural figure that has been manipulating angels and demons into fighting each other on Earth. Holly gets less tolerant of Cyril’s behavior: when he comes in to show off his transformation by the forces of religion, she says, “Mummy is not in the mood to tolerate your pathetic jealousy or your lying.” At that, one of his magical figurines, Choczilla, turns her into a chocolate statue. One of Cyril’s figures accidentally sets off an explosion, which kills Cyril, but surprisingly doesn’t break Holly. Cyril is resurrected by the Queen of Wounds, and Holly is returned to normal after Tim resolves the war of the heavens.
Shaken by the experience, although she doesn’t remember any of it directly, Holly goes to New York to see a psychiatrist who specializes in such events. At this point, Tim remarks that Holly is the kind of person who cares a lot about what other people think of her, but that she shouldn’t, because most people don’t pay attention to her. “Even when she’s talking to you, sometimes you forget she’s there. It’s like she’s made of air.” This is a characterization that follows through from this point on, but was not really evident previously; before this she seemed a bit shy, but not anything so extreme as described here. Cyril is also sent to a mental institution.
When Holly comes back from New York, she is changed somewhat—harder on Tim and Bill. She insists that Tim goes to the same fancy school that Cyril goes to, called Bardsey. Holly pays for it; she is clearly very well off, but it’s not clear what she does for work, although she does not like to be late for it. She wants the kids going to Bardsey partly because she has started desperately needing to believe in the idea of a perfect family, and partly because she cares about the connections they’ll make there for their future, and she is a believer in proper routes to success.
However, not long after they start going there, Tim and Cyril have serious problems related to Tim’s new mentor, and a teacher at the school, Mr. Currie, who also happens to be a magician from a world Tim created as a child. Tim and Cyril have a deal where they both agree to not tell Holly what’s going on. However, despite the lies, Tim feels that Holly is growing on him, and is glad of her positive influence on his dad.
One afternoon, Bill is driving Holly and Cyril in the car when they see Tim’s Other, who looks like Tim. Surprised to see Tim outside of school, they’re distracted, and the car crashes, fatally wounding Holly, and hurting Cyril and Bill. For Bill, it is an echo of the time he killed his first wife, Mary, in a car crash. The Other comes down and witnesses her death; Tim gets notice of it by a magical form of automatic writing.
Shirley Tinch comes to Holly’s funeral, which is otherwise mostly attended by Tim’s family.
Strangely, considering her fancy home and the private school tuition she paid, Holly had almost no money in her account. She had no other family, and her life insurance money went to Lloyd; she had forgotten to change the beneficiary after breaking up with him. Cyril’s father was unknown (possibly Lloyd), so Bill agrees to take care of him.
Later, when Tim is visiting a faerie land of the dead, he sees the spirit of Holly. Holly and Tim both apologize to each other for not being nicer to each other. Tim forgives her.
Later, Cyril absconds with Holly’s corpse. Ever since he was resurrected, he thinks he’s the King of the Dead, and now he has a cauldron that can resurrect the dead. He brings her back to a sort of undead existence, and revels in the fact that she has to do what he wants—and clearly his intentions are sexual in nature.
Tim later finds Cyril and is disgusted by what he has done. Cyril trips and falls into the cauldron, sending Holly back to a normal state of death. The cauldron is destroyed, and Cyril is seeming killed too. However, Cyril used his glamour stone to make it look like he died. After Tim leaves, Cyril gets back up and swears to find a way to bring Holly back.