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Battle picture weekly - Terror Behind the Bamboo curtain 
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Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:48 am
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I have just started to read my collection of Battle comics and the title that grabs me the most is "terror behind the bamboo curtain". I enjoyed it more than "day of the eagle", "rat pack", "D-day dawson", and "bootneck boy". The aforementioned were stalwarts of early Batttle whereas the bamboo curtain was a one-off and gripping. Of course, Darkie's Mob was similar - a one-off series that gripped the imagination for half a year. When Mike Nelson died in the "eagle" series, it was like: "wow!" When Darkie died, it was like: "Oh, sh*t, no way!"


Sun Aug 30, 2015 2:01 am
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Nice to see a thread on Terror Behind the Bamboo Curtain as I have been discussing this story in context of the girls comics that inspired it. Battle was inspired by the dark streaks (stories filled with cruelty, suffering and over the top tortures) that revitalised girls comics with the early Tammy, and Terror Behind the Bamboo Curtain was an attempt at a boys version of the slave story that was one of the lynchpins of the revitalisation. The formula was that a group of girls (or sometimes one girl) would be held captive and used as slaves. Quarries, factories, camps, islands, circuses, ships, restaurants, orphanages, workhouses, sadistic schools and reformatories have all been used as settings. There is one girl who refuses to break under the cruelty, so she is singled out for the cruellest treatment. Or she pretends to side with the enemy to secretly help the prisoners and becomes a target for bullying from them. Sometimes a mystery is attached, as is the case with the story we are discussing here, and solving it is the key to liberation.


Last edited by Tammyfan on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:10 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Aug 30, 2015 9:05 am
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Tammyfan wrote:
dark streaks (stories filled with cruelty, suffering and over the top tortures) that revitalised girls comics with the early Tammy
Is the expression dark streaks a legitimate usage, Briony, or is it just one that you have coined? I've never heard it before.


Sun Aug 30, 2015 9:40 am
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Terror Behind the Bamboo Curtain was reprinted in Tornado annual 1980, by the way.


Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:09 am
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Met Pat Mills who said it wasn't very popular. Girls loved any "what's in the box?" mystery, no matter what actually was in it. Boys just wanted shootings. Didn't give a fig what was in the box.

Anything involving ships was also low in the popularity stakes.

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Sun Aug 30, 2015 1:36 pm
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starscape wrote:
Met Pat Mills who said it wasn't very popular. Girls loved any "what's in the box?" mystery, no matter what actually was in it. Boys just wanted shootings. Didn't give a fig what was in the box.

Anything involving ships was also low in the popularity stakes.

Pat Mills said they only tried the mystery thing once in Battle, with Bamboo Curtain. It didn't work out. He reckoned boys didn't care for mystery and just wanted action. Funny - don't boys like Sherlock Holmes and such? Maybe they just needed a different approach to mystery stories in boys comics. Ah well, it was the early days of Battle. It must have been a matter of working out what worked and what didn't. And I have read feedback that some boys did like Bamboo Curtain because they thought it was different.

The Running Man in Action was another attempt to transpose a popular theme from girls' comics into the boys' that proved unpopular and short-lived. The boys liked the villain chasing the fugitive more than the fugitive because he was the action figure they wanted.


Sun Aug 30, 2015 9:09 pm
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Phoenix wrote:
Is the expression dark streaks a legitimate usage, Briony, or is it just one that you have coined? I've never heard it before.
This was a serious question, Tammyfan, so I am hoping for an equally serious reply.


Sun Aug 30, 2015 9:44 pm
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I like that idea. Dark Streaksis not a term that I have seen before but it does convey the idea of a lot of the darker storylines as one grouping.

However, going back to the original idea of the thread. Terror Behind the Bamboo Curtain (TBTBC) was an interesting take on the idea that those who were POWs of the Japanese suffered a lot more than those who were POWs in the European Theatre.

I did not get Battle much as a kid and have only picked a fuller run up as an adult. TBTBC feels like a punchy version of a Commando broken down into weekly parts. I have to admit that it stands up well against much of the D C Thomson output of the time, but there is something about it that irritates. It is better than D-Day Dawson but better than Rat Pack or Major Eazy? No way!

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Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:52 pm
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The prisoners in the girls' slave stories would not have taken a punch at the guards (though they sometimes put the jump on them, as in "Slaves of the Nightmare Factory", Girl 2) as Jim Blake does to escape. I like that part!

I read in online discussions of TBBC that Sado, the villain in the story, was very popular among the editorial staff. One member even sported a "Save Sado" badge. It was probably his English, which they got enormous laughs out of when they repeated his expressions out loud.

It's intriguing that TBBC has been described as a serialised version of a Commando story. I do recall a Commando story, "Always a Prisoner", that is set in the slave story mould. The hero is a man who always seems fated to be a prisoner. It starts with a wrongful prison term in a harsh British prison and ends with an even crueller Japanese POW camp. And adding insult to injury, he is sharing his Japanese prison with the man who was responsible for his unjust prison term and trying to get a confession out of him. So maybe the slave story theme was more common in the Commandos?


Sun Aug 30, 2015 11:54 pm
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I'm speaking from the perspective of a reader who first bought Battle. I was too young then so, as I read the collection from the beginning, I confront it with no preconceptions and, I have to say and repeat, Terror Behind the Bamboo Curtain intrigued me more than any of the other stories. Now, had I bought Battle no. 1 when it was released, I probably would have found Rat Pack the most engaging story. But now i'm more mature, no laughing here, I stick with the title of this thread. Of course, my sentiments may change as I pursue this story and the collection in general. I'm just reporting on my first review of Battle no. 1. The stickers weren't too bad either, but I won't be sticking them anywhere. I'm mature now, remember. :)


Sat Sep 05, 2015 2:00 am
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What are the credits for Terror Behind the Bamboo Curtain, please?

Thanks in advance.


Sat Sep 12, 2015 6:06 am
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The first episode at least was supposedly drawn by Giancarlo Alessandrini and scripted by Charles Herring.


Sat Sep 12, 2015 6:56 am
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Thank you, Philcom!


Sat Sep 12, 2015 7:56 am
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Now you've got my attention, Phil. Alessandrini, eh? One of my favourite artists but not on war strips. Years ago in London in the international newsagent in Soho, I found #1 of Martin Mystere, art by Alessandrini, and I was hooked.
http://www.dandare.info/artists/alessandrini.htm
As you'll see, he did the Eva Kant (from Diabolik) strip for Italian Cosmo and I've never been able to find it :(


Sun Sep 13, 2015 2:01 pm
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C. Herring wrote the first script but there's no info on the following episodes. It's no secret that Pat Mills and John Wagner edited a writer's script to the point that it was barely recognizable from its orginal source in the early Battle issues. I've just read the second issue of Battle and, as regards Bamboo Curtain, the mystery of British soldiers wearing Japanese uniforms has just materialized. I imagine this is the mystery part of the story. I find this very interesting as opposed to the ho-hum continuing stories of D-Day Dawson and Golden Hinde. Bootneck Boy has the supposed "loser" overcoming adversity theme that does engage the reader. Rat Pack demonstrates the skills of its individual members to succeed in their first mission but, at the same time, doesn't shake down any trees. Lofty's One-Man Luftwaffe introduces a nemesis for the protagonist and creates an interest. Day of the Eagle is ho-hum at the moment and expresses a cold and flippant Mike Nelson for the first time, but nothing with which to engage at the moment. So, in summary, after two issues - Bamboo Curtain wins my vote for favourite strip. The complete feature strips: Battle Honours and This Amazing War are mildly interesting. How's that for a retrospective review?


Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:05 am
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