I thought maybe they changed the bikini to a one-piece so they wouldn't offend mothers who may buy it for their children, but you're right, do they actually read what it says?
I also got Betty and Veronica comic digest #256 in the mail today. I was happily surprised to see some classic Josie and the Pussycats stories in it since I thought they were just confined to the pages of B&V Friends, so maybe the rumors of B&V Friends ending are true and they moved Josie over. Also, happy to see some classic 70s Sabrina stories instead of the more modern (2000?) version.
I had the same initial thought. Then again, as I remarked here when I read it last month, the most recent B&V FRIENDS (#255) didn't have Josie (or Cheryl) reprints in it, as it usually had up to this point -- and in fact, Josie reprints had been a regular feature of B&V FRIENDS going all the way back to when the title was changed from BETTY AND VERONICA DIGEST back in 2011 with issue #209. The next issue of B&V FRIENDS (JUMBO COMICS), #256, the Halloween-themed issue, is scheduled to ship in 2 weeks (09/27), so maybe we'll see if it has Josie (or Cheryl) reprints in it again.
It does seem a little odd that they're trying to squeeze both Josie and Cheryl reprints into the regular BETTY AND VERONICA DOUBLE DIGEST, which has always carried Sabrina reprints (in this issue, revisionist-logo'ed as HILDA and ZELDA stories). I laughed because while it's fair to say that Hilda was the focus of the first Sabrina story, she's also the focus of the second
story, despite the fact that it's Zelda who appears most prominently in the 1st panel of the story. I don't think there really are
any Sabrina stories revolving mostly around Zelda until we get to Sabrina's series from the 1990s. There's more proof that they didn't actually READ the story... just looked at Zelda prominently featured in the 1st panel, and decided to slap a ZELDA logo on the story.
Further proof that the production department colorists don't read what it says on the page occurs in the story where B&V participate as contestants on the TV game show "Race Around the World". In a panel introducing the other pairs of competing players, we're introduced to Lisa and Lana, who are described (in a caption appearing right above their figures in the panel) as twin sisters
-- yet the colorist chose these
particular incidental characters as an opportunity to "diversify" the cast of a reprinted story, and Lisa and Lana not only have different hairstyles and different-colored hair (explainable), but one twin is Caucasian, and the other twin African-American! Talk about embarassing
...!! And then, it seems as though the colorist has realized his goof (but not corrected it), as Lisa and Lana both appear in the rest of the story with the same hair and (Caucasian) skin coloring.
Now, in the instance of the cover gag featuring the "umbrella girl" on the beach, I've no doubt that if I were to try finding the original appearance of that Dan DeCarlo gag, the umbrella girl, as she originally appeared, would have been Caucasian. I didn't bring it up in my prior post about the colorists altering the cover for that gag because it's completely irrelevant to the joke. The only points relevant would be that the girl on the beach under the umbrella is pretty and shapely, and that she's wearing a bikini (which might be considered the most salient point of the joke, since Veronica considers that worthy of mentioning). Her ethnicity doesn't matter to the nature of the joke -- it's exactly as relevant as whether her bikini is white with blue polka-dots, or purple with yellow polka-dots.
I have no problem at all with the idea of the production department diversifying the cast of incidental characters by choosing some of them as representatives of people of color, because I agree with the intent
in principle. These digest reprints are aimed at audience of contemporary pre-teens, and I applaud ACP for wanting to make those stories more inclusive and accessible to kids of all ethnicities. All I ask is that they actually read
the stories first, and apply those changes judiciously
, so that the end results don't stick out like a sore thumb as obvious alterations of the original story that don't fit -- the alteration of the umbrella girl to a person of color is a good example (and the alteration of her bathing suit a poor one), while the alteration of Lisa and Lana is a bad example (in fact, one of the worst, counterproductive to the intent of including people of color). Kids are not stupid, and it's an embarassment and makes the whole company look bad when they screw it up.
In the case of archival-type reprints that are aimed at an audience of collectors, many if not most of them adults, the source material should be adhered to as originally published, for reasons of historical accuracy. A blanket disclaimer somewhere in the front of the book advising that "These stories were originally created during a time... yadda-yadda-yadda" is sufficient explanation.
For the same reason, it's dismaying when I see a reprint like "Off to a Good Start" (from JOSIE #45, Dec. 1969) in the recent BEST OF JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS trade paperback, but it's been reprinted from a later digest reprint altered by the production department so that the original text of Alexandra's dialogue balloon was re-lettered to change it -- instead of referring to her magic powers, Alexandra makes reference to having studied hypnosis on a website.
At any rate, those reprints of other girl humor features ARE the "friends" of the title B&V FRIENDS, so without them, it's just Betty and Veronica stories. I do hope they keep reprinting them, regardless of the eventual fate of B&V FRIENDS, but I'd hate to see only one B&V digest title being published.
Also, is it just me, or did they recently change the paper they're being printed on? The paper seems whiter and the colors "pop" more. I took a break from the digests for a few months, so this is the first one I received in a while so I don't know.
Can't say that I noticed any difference in the paper quality or printing in recent months.