As Action’s demise drew closer, an unaware John Sanders and editor John Smith began initiating changes, chopping out sections of art and dialogue that they thought might be deemed too violent or threatening, in an attempt to satisfy the board of IPC. Kids Rule O.K. was an obvious candidate for this treatment, and was hacked to bits on more than one occasion. It was a case of too little too late, the die had been cast and Jack Le Grand wanted the bad seed gone. Sanders and Smith’s attempts to save Action were for nought, but it is interesting to see exactly what changes they thought necessary, compared to those made by Sid Bicknell when he took up the reins of the ‘safe’ version of Action. Two issues of Kids illustrate this point very well, one from either side of the axe.
A close look at the first page of the 23rd October issue shows diagonal lines and handwritten comments over the top of five frames, instructing someone that these images were “OUT!”
The abandoned October 30th issue illustrates a few more problems, first noticed when resizing the pages for upload to this site. In very simple terms, it’s been cut to pieces. Looking at the art, there are several very sketchy panels, very out of keeping for Mike White, and on closer inspection, there are some anatomical anomalies. These panels have been cut, and whoever did it, did it badly. The shape of the speech balloons also suggest that a lot of the original dialogue has been removed. The situation was worth a closer look.
The episode of Kids Rule O.K. from the 30th of October was never published in the weekly comic, but survived, allegedly unedited, in the former IPC archive. However, this version had in fact been cut to shreds, then badly patched up, much like the episode from October the 23rd. Unfortunately, unlike its predecessor, the unedited version of this episode is gone forever. We are left with a sanitised version, but not one that has been done with any style or continuity. The edits have been so poorly executed they leave rather unsubtle hints as to what is no longer seen. This is also true for the subsequent surviving episodes. The main page shown here is perhaps the most obviously mistreated, but the others have all suffered their fair share of injury, the most blatant of which are presented below.
|The first obvious problem involves this confrontation between Ray Spencer and one of Rigden’s cadets. Either Ray is using an old Jedi mind trick in prescient homage to the then unreleased Star Wars, or there’s something missing from the picture, such as the huge lump of wood he was holding at the copper’s throat the week before.|
|Jumping forward a few panels, Cadet Peters has made his sneak attack on Ray, which has backfired. The panel composition is very poor here, Ray is ducking, but his pose suggests he is lashing out or moving something, other than the missing piece of wood. The scratchily drawn background drops another hint that something is amiss, as does the obviously truncated speech bubble…|
|…yes, it’s Peters’ mate, who Peters has just smacked in the head with a truncheon, because there’s no other explanation as to why he’s suddenly lying down in a pool of his own blood. Ray’s speech balloon is truncated once again, as are several others on the remainder of this page. Ray takes the truncheon and goes in search of his mates, who are being interrogated by Stryde.|
|“You stinkin’ rat! I’ll – Yowwww! Oh, hold on, you haven’t hit me have you, because your arms have been redrawn rather badly.” Also, another truncated speech balloon at the top of the panel, an edit which blights this page more than any other, as we can see in the next panel.|
|Stryde orders Rigden to “lay it on”, but much like his “punishment cells, Rigden” line, Stryde obviously had more to say, but was cut short by the editorial Stanley knife, leaving a straight lower edge to an otherwise round balloon. Further lines from Stryde and the Malvern Roaders appear in similarly shaped balloons as the inspector turns the cane onto one of the girls, and Ray finds some fireworks to blow up the room.|
|Making their escape in the firework confusion, Ray is within Rigden’s reach, but a warning from Benny tips him off. I doubt very much if Ray is throwing a small can of talcum powder at Rigden as this picture suggests, especially as he’s been carrying Benny’s baseball bat up to that point.
“No ya don’t, Pal!”
“Aaarrgh! The baby-fresh scent of talcum powder…”
|Having crumpled under the dangerous effects of talcum powder, Rigden is dragged away by the Malvern Road gang, but they are ambushed by Stryde and the remaining cadets, when a shotgun is levelled at them. Ray and Benny use Rigden to spoil Stryde’s aim, then overpower the remaining cadets and steal their truncheons, or do they? As we can see see from the first panel, Benny is holding a truncheon as he enters the fray. There are several other fists held aloft with a rather flat upper edge, just as if a truncheon had been removed from the artwork.|
|In fact, as Benny delivers his blow in the next panel, he seems to have accidentally dropped his, even though the arc it was swung through is still visible. Throughout the remainder of this, the last surviving full episode of Kids Rule O.K., the gang seem to pick up and drop truncheons every other frame. It’s alright to hold one, but not to hit someone with one, although Benny manages to land a blow on the final page of the episode, suggesting that whilst Benny didn’t miss, someone else in IPC did.
As we know, the episodes that follow are lost, and the final one is a two-page joke that had no violence to cut. Was the editorial hand as heavy on the missing episodes? I think it may have been, but considering the ban was coming, or indeed had already occurred, were they just binned instead, to save all the hassle? We will never know, and I doubt that those missing episodes will turn up again over thirty years on, so we’re left to imagine just how violent the hippy festival became, and what exactly happened at the Tower of London.