Action: The Story of a Violent Comic – The Lost Pages of Kids Rule OK

Action: Kids Rule OK - Fightback

The next extract followed the reprinted material from Kids Rule OK:

As you can see, not many episodes of “Kids Rule” made it into print before the comic was withdrawn. And Kids Ride was one of the main casualties – despite an assurance from Johnny Johnson that no stories would be dropped. There was to be no December 4 episode of this one. Evidently it proved too hard to reform. So no ordinary reader would ever get to know how Ray Spencer and his mates survived this brutal assault by power-crazed police cadets.

In the IPC archive, the bulk of the rest of the story is there to be seen for the first time – and fascinating it is. Or rather, fascinating and awful simultaneously. As you will see, the story continues the rising battle with the police cadets – surely one of the crucial elements that led to its deletion. But the October 23 episode had already suffered a revising hand: there is an evident leap between panels 1 – 2. As the criticisms of Action mounted, one effect was that a number of stories shrank to two-and-a-half pages, with a half-page advert filler: evidence of hard decisions having been made. (For a nice example of this, look back at the October 16 issue, and the odd shift in lettering style in the middle half-page.) Because “Kids Rule OK” was simply deleted, the artwork for October 23 survived intact. A little judicious peeling-back reveals what had been cut – and perhaps not surprisingly, given the manic sadism Mike White imparted to all the combatants. It’s not difficult to see why this should be judged an unwise thing to publish. But once again, it does show up that difficult line between straightforward internal decision-making about the acceptable/desirable/workable, and censorship.

By November 6 the story had become rather bizarre. Escaping from brutal gangs, mad bikers, and crazy cops, Ray and his mates make their way to relative safety – only to meet this curious bit of born-again hippiedom – and it isn’t clear why, or what it adds to the story. Mick Roker also makes his second appearance. But now the oddest thing of all happens. Two whole episodes of the story – the intended November 13 and 20 episodes – are simply missing. All that remains to tell us what might have happened is the projected cover for November 20. It is a wonderful cover, and for sure would have raised as many hackles as Carlos Ezquerra’s famous “‘Chain” cover from September 18. I have reproduced it in the sequence, and include here a comment from Jack Adrian’s notes for the story, so that you can appreciate what the story must have been like: “Clearly Ray’s bunch should have some sort of objective to work towards. This is proving something of a headache. A quick straw poll amongst a few of the kids (16/ 17 year olds) who work in the caff as washers-up, and their mates, elicited the following. When asked what they’d like to do, given these circumstances (all the oldies dead…no authority…kids doing what they liked, etc) someone said they’d go to the Tower, steal all the Crown Jewels and robes and ceremonial stuff and put ‘em on. This was considered to be a fucking ace suggestion. Trouble was, they were reasonably serious.”

And so to the ending which, as Adrian’s note indicates, was always going to be a problem. Golding himself, with his deeply pessimistic Cold War image of human nature, resolved his story with deep ambiguity by having a navy vessel, with all its implications of military power, authority and control, “save” the children at the end. And it was particularly double-edged given that the kids had crashed onto their island while being evacuated from a war area. Thus political and military power in Golding are both the cause and the solution for society. That couldn’t be right for a story where authority itself and the world it had created were seen as the main source of the problem.

But that wasn’t all. In Golding’s story, the main group are choir­boys – setting up expectations of sweetness and innocence. and at the beginning totally regimented. But in Adrian’s scenario, the kids are already the corrupt result of a corrupt world. There was no way they could just create a new society, or turn good – they wouldn’t know how. So how to end it? There is an ending, given in two desperately wince-worthy pages. It just won’t do. Read them for yourselves and see why. It is the one bit of unpublished artwork I might have been tempted to suppress!!

To have such a clean-cut, even clean-shaven Dixon of Dock Green character suddenly appear and appeal to their better nature – whereupon they instantly look so ashamed, like naughty children; and to have, within ten panels of this, Benny wishing Ray “good luck with your social work”… someone corrupt me quick!

Read More in this Section of “Sevenpenny Nightmare”

Action: The Story of a Violent Comic (about the book by Martin Barker) | Action: The Story of a Violent Comic – Introduction | Developing the Formula | The Critics Bite Back – TO BE ADDED | Moving in for the Kill – TO BE ADDED | So, Should Action Have Been Censored? – TO BE ADDED | Hook Jaw: The Shark Bites Back – TO BE ADDED | The Lost Pages of Hook Jaw – TO BE ADDED | How Lefty Lost His Bottle  – TO BE ADDED | The Lost Pages of Lefty – TO BE ADDED | Death Game 1999: Steel Balls to the Finish | The Lost Pages of Death Game 1999 – TO BE ADDED | When The Crumblies Flipped It: Kids Rule OK…? | The Lost Pages of Kids Rule O.K. | Dredger… No Comment | The Final Reckoning | Estimating Action

Sevenpenny Nightmare Section Index

This is an excerpt from Action: The History of a Violent Comic by Martin Barker, featured here as part of the Sevenpenny Nightmare project edited by Moose Harris. Text © Martin Barker. 


See this section’s Acknowledgments section for more information