Sister Staylace was created by writer John Ney Rieber and artist Gary Amaro in The Books of Magic issue 9, in 1995.
Major Story Arcs
Sister Staylace grows up in Victorian England as a starving seamstress. Through magic, she is still alive in modern times. She lives with a group of others from her era who live in the London sewers and grift people who live on the surface. In particular, she tricks men into thinking they are buying sexual services from her, but she is actually capturing their souls in magic spheres. Her boss, Reverend Slaggingham, wants to drain the happiness from the surface and give their group the life they deserve. He uses the soulless people to work on his magical machines.
She finds Daniel, who used to live with them last century, but is still a child because he has been living in another dimension, in the sewers. She brings him to Slaggingham and Daniel joins his group.
On the surface, she meets Auberon, king of Faerie, who is looking for his wife Titania and her presumed son, Tim Hunter. Playing off his arrogance, she takes his soul into the sphere and he is sent to work in the sewers. She is somewhat saddened by this, however, as she can tell his grace and the depth of his pain. She calls him "Lovey-horns."
Reverend Slaggingham (a cyborg) is broken apart and the sewer kingdom floods. Gwendolyn realizes all the soulless slaves will drown, and looks for Auberon. He is the only survivor of the workers, and she pulls him out. They find his soul-sphere but can't get the soul out.
While his soul is in the ball, Auberon begins to fall for Gwendolyn's charm; she is real to him, unlike the fakeries of Faerie.
On the surface, Sister Staylace finds Tim and Molly. She and Molly convince Tim to put his soul back, but then Titania and Amadan find them. They all argue, with Gwendolyn being clear that she is not a servant to be ordered about.
Titania knocks the soul sphere out of Tim's hands, and it breaks, returning Auberon's soul to his body. He says that she taught him to feel again in a mature way, and offers her his service, but she says no in a charming fashion.
Auberon says that Titania is in fact not Tim's mom, and they leave, with Gwendolyn and Molly comforting Tim.
Gwendolyn comes to stay at Tim's house, and becomes a second mother to him. For the first time in years, he is happy at home. She is gentle but firm with him, and he appreciates both the love and the concern.
She equally appreciates that he is trying to fix up his home so his father Bill, who was a drunk and then was burnt by magical fire, and is coming home from the hospital, will be able to live a healthier, happier life.
When his father arrives, he realizes what a good influence Gwendolyn is on Tim, and agrees that she should stay.
Later, when Tim has traveled to Hell to rescue Molly, the angel Araquel appears to Gwendolyn, who is gardening. He asks where Tim is, and she doesn't know. She lectures him that he better find out in a hurry.
Later, when Holly Ransome, who has a crush on Tim's father, comes to the door to ask for him, she mistakenly believes Gwendolyn is married to him. Gwendolyn, however, quickly disabuses her of that notion and welcomes her in, knowing that Bill could use a positive relationship with a woman after mourning for his late wife for years.
She helps Bill and Holly put together a birthday party for Tim, including making a cake, and has to keep Holly's son Cyril away from it. Unfortunately Tim is late due to magical villains, but on the way back one of his magical creations tells him that Gwendolyn is planning to leave.
It's not clear what happens next, but presumably Gwendolyn does move out.
An illusion of her appears in Faerie when it is being Leveled--having its reality and appearances brought back into sync. Auberon talks with her image and she lectures him on his cowardice.
Gwendolyn may have moved out, but she still cares about Tim and his family. In her last appearance, it turns out that she regularly visits the grave of Mary Hunter, Tim's mom. There are magical strawberries planted on her grave. If you eat a berry, you relive her memories. Two others, Derek Sutler and Jimmy Morehead's mom. They like to live her memories for different reasons, but Gwendolyn points out that they are using her, and stealing the memories from Tim. She takes the strawberries and makes preserves out of them for Tim's benefit. However, we never see her actually meeting her again. Her final words are that he is her dear friend, and that she hopes to meet him again. She says she knows him "better than either of us cares to admit, at times."