The ‘lost’ “Hook Jaw” page above looks odd. The third panel action is strangely off-centre. There’s a wobbly looking pole in the fifth panel which is missing the sharp end it had before. Visually, all is not well, but now try reading it. An off-duty policeman is threatening to turn in a bunch of murdering hi-jackers, when he is knocked into the path of a killer shark. The merciless bunch of killers suddenly decide to save the life of a man who could put them all in jail.
When Martin Barker first saw the page, he noticed that it made no sense. Closer inspection revealed that several panels had been altered. This page was drawn before the ban loomed, but would have been edited anyway. Removal of the overlay revealed the original art. It’s far more likely than the edited version, but still doesn’t quite ring true.
In fact neither version is fully representative of the original page. There is evidence that dialogue has been altered or removed. Barnett asking Gunn to pull the man out of the water wouldn’t happen. Fletcher obviously doesn’t grab ‘another boat hook’ as he and Barnett are busily beating up the Captain. Chances are that panel five was originally Gunn, later made to look like Barnett, but as the original is no more, we’ll never really know. I’d expect Gunn to have something to say about pushing the copper overboard in panel three, and I doubt the Captain would be able to talk during the pasting he’s getting.
It seems reasonable that, as there’s a huge space to the right of panel four, someone drew all over Gunn to make him look like Fletcher. Otherwise, he’s strangely absent from the action, and Fletcher needs to grab ‘another boat hook’, whereas Gunn is already in position to do the deed. I’ve used my imagination and put a third page together. It rings more true than either of the others.
Text © Moose Harris
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