Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tale of One Story Told Twice

This is the story of one story told twice. Both Battle Picture Library 75 Bandits One Five and Air Ace Picture Library 352 Squadron Airborne are the same story. Are there any clues as to why the name needed to be changed? 

The subhead flashes offer no clue - Squadron Airborne makes mention of "Blind hatred can cloud a man's judgment", while Bandits One Five declares "Their lives were measured in seconds in the skies over Burma" Both clearly have something to do with the Japanese and the British. Yet why the different names?

The Battle Picture Library version is published in September 1962 while the Air Ace Version is published in August 1967. Perhaps there was a copyright issue as the later issue makes no mention of it being previously published. Perhaps somebody didn't want to pay somebody else royalties? Who can say? Who knows?

The Air Ace edition runs to 64 pages while the later Battle Picture Library edition cuts out at 58 pages. So what failed to make it across space and time? Page 3 has 2 panels showing hurricanes giving the Japanese infantry a hard time. A panel each on page 14 and 15 showing British airman scrambling from their tents disappear. The 2 panels on page 24 are lost. One shows the hero making his way around the jungle while the other has him discovering dead and bloated enemy bodies. But then page 25, of the later Air Ace Picture Library, has a half panel of the hero discovering a manned enemy ammunition barge coming down the river found on page 29 drawn as a quarter panel in the "original"!  Was this quarter panel redrawn, retraced or was the full panel rediscovered and reapplied? Furthermore an action sequence where the hero manages to survive a chance encounter with a single Japanese soldier and is then lucky to avoid a nearby patrol takes up a whole 4 pages, including some detail of the previously mention armed barge is excluded. Page 43 of the "old version" loses 2 panels showing some British earnestness.

Could we be witnessing a stirring of racial sensitivity in 1967 that wasn't present in 1962? Or was it just simply a question of cost?

Is the story changed? Does four pages down equate to less of a story? It does take the desperation out of the first quarter. In the "later" edition the hero is just stumbling around the jungle until he finds the armed barge loaded with explosives which comes into play at the end of the story. In the earlier story there's more tension in the hero's life with the chance single encounter and the patrol before he finds the barge.

I prefer the drama.

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