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14.02.76

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IPC MAGAZINES

DIED - 1980


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Only 36 issues of Action comic were printed before it was withdrawn from sale because of it's violent content. The last Action published is very rare and would be worth around £40 today.
Action teamed up with Battle on 19th November 1977 you can see one of the covers on the Battle page.

Action - Annual 1980

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There's now a dedicated Action site at www.sevenpennynightmare.co.uk i know cos i put it there. cheers - Moose

Action was suspended in October 1976 and came back about 6 weeks later, sadly watered down, but ran for another year before merging with Battle in 1977 - (The) Lew Stringer of Combat Colin fame.

The main reason for Action being dropped was due to crowd violence being graphically displayed in the strip 'Look out for Lefty'. - Curtin Lorcan

As far as I know ACTION was actually an individual title at one stage - interestingly its initial run was stopped after there being complaints about its ultra-violent content! I know its fairly short second run was absorbed into some other title - this could have been 2000ad even. I know there is a book about british comics which covers the scandal over Actions initial run and also contains a fascinating chapter on the kinds of storylines featured in girls comics (you know, orphan ballerina under cruel stepmother who won't let her dance eventually discovers she is in fact princess). I know the library I got it in but for the life of me I can't remember the title - I'll get back to ya when I find out.......... - Philip Barratt

One of the things that struck me about ACTION at the time,and certainly looking back,was the number of movies it ripped off !! .'Hook Jaw' was based on 'Jaws' a big film at the time,'Death game 1999' was a twist on 'Rollerball','Dredger' was a Clint Eastwood clone,and a letter at the time suggested Dredger be made into a film,with Clint as the lead!,I also think 'Blackjack' was an attempt to draw on the success of 'Rocky',although the boxer in the story was black.Despite this,it was still a hell of a read,and remains,for me,one of the most memorable comics ever. - John Stewart

I collected every single copy of Action from issue one until its eventual ban, of which I think was inevitable as it did actually get more violent with each issue.

I read with interest recollections of some of the stories about Action comic, and like most of your readers I to remember reading Hook Jaw, Hellman, Blackjack , Death Game 2000,Dredger etc etc and I also recall the editor an action man called " Steve" who used to carry out daring stunts each week such as going down the sewers or climbing to the top of an extended fire engine ladder.

Action - Character

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I also think that one of the stories that eventually got Action banned was one called " Probationer" , of which only appeared very briefly before the ban.

Upon the return of the revamped Action comic a couple of months later I can remember them dropping the Probation story totally, they also changed the name of Death Game 2000 to Spinball, of which was the name of the game anyway, plus they added a couple of lighweight sports stories,I am sure was called "double dynamite" about Boxing brothers and I think a football story was added.

Like most people my collection was binned when I got older, but I do still have a copy of the Action Annual from 1977, but it is not in the best of health unfortunately. - Derek Russell

I used to be a subscriber to TV21 and this was cancelled or incorporated into ACTION ,I'm pretty sure because that was what I continued getting. Im sure the title contained a mention of this for a while. Anyway I remember it being pretty violent for its time but a great comic. As usual ...I was young and maybe the newsagent just decided to send me something else.... - Gary

Hello,I was a big fan of Action comic and like most i binned my collection sometime between then and now. But....do you remember the Hookjaw poster that came as a gift over 8 seperate issues(a page each week and then you stuck 'em together),well i knew i had it some where and I found it in a box of stuff in the loft last week. It's held up quite well so thought i'd better stick it in a frame before it aged anymore. - Craig Halliday.

Some of the information from your Action mailers is incorrect. Action did not merge with TV21 but started off as a new comic. IPC had already put more violence into Battle Picture Weekly than had been seen previously in British comics. Action took it all further but the important point is that - it was a very good comic with exciting stories!
I believe the stories that got it banned were:
Kids Rule OK - kids take over when a disease kills adults. This was quite nasty. Probationer - About a kid on probation blackmailed to carry out crimes. I don't think the Look Out for Lefty strip had anything to do with it, though it was violent.
Battle and Action joined together and Battle-Action was a very good comic too. It all went horribly wrong when those toys came along... and British comics became an anachronism all around. - Andzrej Kuras

Andzrej Kuras is correct. It was the Kids rule OK strip that got Action banned although Hook Jaw was becoming more and more graphic by the week too, what with heads floating about and viscera every week. Death Game 2000 was violent from the off and I think parents had had enough by then. Made change from reading Look and Learn mind ;-) - Gary L Wright

I have a copy of Action (18.sept.76) with a front cover illustration of a 70's youth attacking a fallen policeman with a chain. This edition was sub-titled "Aggro is a way of life in "KIDS RULE OK!" I think this may have contributed towards the banning of the comic. ( You can assume the fallen man is a policeman because he is dressed in a dark blue suit and has a policeman's helmet lying next to him). Damn good comic though, only collection I ever kept!. Steve

I still have EVERY issue of Action comic and remember it very well. it is in my dads Atic and kept in sealed plastic bags. I loved action and the extreme content of which the adults seemed to have no idea at the time. Suddenly it disappeared and merged with battle and i lost my love of "hookjaw" and all the favorites. It DID get MORE violent each issue and infact as i remember, became more graphic as it went along becoming colour sometimes instead of black and white. If it came out now though, i would have serious reservations in letting my kids read it. it was the most violent and discusting "Kids" comic ever allowed in to print and i am surprised thatit was ever allowed in to publication. all said and done/.......i still love it !!!! LONG LIVE ACTION !!!! - Jon Boabab

A superb comic. I certainly wouldn't want my kids reading it now. I remember an article in a daily newspaper headed something like "Do you know what your kids read?" and featured example story lines like a man being dissolved in an acid shower in "Dredger". The full colour pictures of dismembered bodies in "Hookjaw" and "Death Game 1999" no doubt contributed to its demise. My brother had a letter published in it under the subject "Twit Of The Week". He nominated Mike Reid, late of East Enders. - Mark Jones

Dear Gaz, I wrote to you a few months ago to express how much I enjoyed your British comics website. In return, you suggested I get a copy of "Action: The Story of a Violent Comic." Recently I managed to find a copy on Ebay, and if it isn't one of the most entertaining books I've read in quite a while, I don't know what it is! To be honest, when you mentioned it, I though the book would only be an analysis of the comic and its demise interspersed with a few pages of artwork. But imagine my surprise when I find it to be almost two hundred pages of excellent Action reprints. A true trip down memory lane. I'm just writing to thank you once again! And perhaps let you know that the author Mr. Barker mentions he reprinted even more Action strips (I hope better Hook Jaw ones) in another book of his published in 1989. The title escapes me at the moment, but I'll be on the lookout in the future! Thanks, John O'Neil

Anyone remember this? the first action I bought included one of those plasticky iron on transfers, a hook jaw design. that was my favourite t shirt of the summer 76.

I distinctly recall a dredger story with a russian spy dressed as a waiter in a hotel. dredger chases him, loses him, spots a man in a white jacket in the alley by the bins, whips out his magnum, and blaaaam!! only it's the wrong bloke, its just someone who works there. his sidekick Breed remonstrates with him. Dredgers only comment is 'well, he won't be chopping any more cabbages will he?' - Bert

I was actually on the site, to look up "Action", which I'd been discussing with a 21year old comic fan. I remember collecting the six-part Hook-Jaw poster! Wow! When I look back on it, I'm amazed that the adults who produced that comic, were so willing to sell such violent images to children like me - I loved it! I also gave up on it when it came back, emasculated! Great website. Paul

Great site...bringing back top memories of afternoons spent waiting literally by the front door for the paperboy to deliver a new issue of 'Action'.

I've had many interests and obsessions since but 'Hookjaw' was undoubtedly my first big passion. The sheer brutality of the strip couldn't help but enthrall an eight year old. Makes me wonder how the original run lasted as long as it did. I'll never forget the shockwaves that resonated from the original 'hero's' absurdly graphic demise in the jaws of the real star of the strip and how his head was washed up on the beach afterwards. Roald Dahl had it right. Kids like it nasty...and the gorier the better!

"Green's Grudge" was another strip I rememebr not mentioned in your article. About a soldier's simmering hatred for a guy in his regiment, set during World War 2 if I remember rightly. Subversive, compulsive story telling a million miles away from just about everything else a kid could get his hands on. - Gary Bakewell

The design team behind ACTION went on to produce 2000 AD (still going strong!) which somehow used the 'sci-fi' tag to get away with gory images and tough stories. It's well-known that Judge Dredd was based partly on Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry - ACTION's Dredger (DREDger?) was too. The 6-week ban on ACTION came about after pressure from WH Smith, the UK retail newsagent - also responsible, more recently, for banning certain novels and issues of Private Eye. GG

So I didn't imagine it then - it really did exist and was withdrawn from sale. Towards the end of it's run I recall a war story about a maverick army officer named 'Major Eazy' (or something). It was pretty cool. Part of me would love to see it all again, especially Death Game 2000, but I wonder if it isn't best left alone, back in my childhood. I also seem to recall 'The Mad Money of Action', if you spied him in the street you could go up to him and demand £5 and he've give it to you - probably. - John Thomson

The thing that still sticks in my mind is when action hero "Rick Mason" had his head bitten off.It shook me up so much that i had to re-read it over and over again.That was the kind of thing that kept me coming back for more.I remember issue 2 i think it was when they introduced "Spinball". I thought it was superb and can barely remember the cover picture.By the way if anyone knows where there are cover pictures available to browse on-line i would love to have a look. When action ceased i went across to 2000AD which was also brilliant but nothing seemed to affect me as much as Action. Never did me any harm ! i finish my sentence for mass-murder in 2 Months time (only Kidding) - Darren

How good to see i m not the only 36-year-old who remembers and loved'Action'!Hook Jaws human nemesis was Rick Mason...he started out working on Red Mcnallys oil rig,survived that experience,barely,when his stomach was ripped open by Hook Jaws hook,and i was happy to see him pop up again a short while later on Dr.Gelders holiday paradise island.Still remember the shock to this day when he was finally dispatched by Hook Jaw-comics did nt kill their heros so i thought.And get this...Dredger worked for D16...and a year later the Professionals appeared-Department CI5!Coincidence??

I collected ACTION magazine from issue two, right up to about a year before its eventual demise. I absolutely loved it. There were other features not mentioned herein: 'The Moneyman of Action' 'Hells Highway' 'Green's Grudge War' 'Sport's Not For losers' 'Mad, Mad Maniaction Machines' 'Coffin Sub' 'The Running Man'. I had my copies in prestine condition in a garage to the rear of my house up until 15 years ago. One day, the garage was demolished while I was in holidaysand my precious Actions with them. - Keith James

John Thomson mentions 'Major Eazy' - this was in Action's stablemate Battle (drawn by Carlos Ezquerra).

I've always thought that in the same way that 'Hookjaw' was derived from Jaws, etc., 'Hellman of Hammer Force' was derived from those vital ingredients of the Nineteen-Seventies experience, the novels of Sven Hassel and Leo Kessel (if rumour/memory serves, these were both the same writer... a guy called something like Bill Higgins who lived in Witham, Essex). - Tim Bateman

I was amazed to find so many people with such fond recollections of Action Comic. it has prompted me to share one of my most abiding memories, apart from the obvious blood and gore. It concerns one of the free gifts that came with the second edition. A iron on transfer showing Hook Jaw in all his glory. Unfortunately the illustrator must have had a heavy session the night before because he forgot to put the all important hook in the sharks jaw. As I recall, I wrote a snotty letter to Steve the editor, threatening to sue under the trade descriptions act (I was only 12 for christís sake!) Oddly enough the bastards never did print it. Great site by the way it looks like a real labour of love. - Jeff Tuffley

Action, the self proclaime "The Paper of the Seventies", had three main claims to fame. The Jaws rip-off Hookjaw which was the first British strip to show blood in colour. Hellman was the first World War II based strip in a British comic where the hero was a German. And there was the football strip Lefty which got complaints from among others the secretary of the Football League and a World Cup referee when Lefty scored a winning goal with the help of his girlfriend who thre a bottle at a player on the opposing team. There was also a strip called Kids Rule OK set in an immediate future where a virus wipes out the adult population leaving kids to run riot. - Clive Huggett

I recently heard that there was an ACTION tribute mag in the works titled VIOLENT! containing a 'Death Game 1999' lookalike 'Deathball' - Alex Thornton

I remember eagerly running to the newsagent every Friday morning (I'm in Dublin, it came a day later) to buy Action, paying my 10p (we had 35%VAT on comics), and slowly walking to school. The last 500 yards was a mad dash, shoving the comic into my school bag, praying I wouldn't be late.

I was completely unaware that Action had been banned in October until a schoolmate informed me of it's demise. It just didn't appear in the shops. I vividly remember the feeling of disbelief and loss when the newsagent confirmed this. "It's banned" he said. As I strolled home, head down, fighting back tears (Yes, I WAS seriously affected), my sense of loss for Dredger and Joe Taggart from Death Game 1999 was as real as the death of any near relative. If I remember correctly, The Sun wasn't available in Ireland back then, so the idea of "The 7 penny nightmare" wasn't as prevalent, and I'm sure if Irish newspapers had carried the story in such a big way, I'd have heard about it from my parents.

Action was undoubtedly different. No other comic had a black hero (Blackjack), and no other comic showed WW2 from the point of view of a German. (OK, he was a good guy with Gestapo bosses and he fought the Russians) But the "real" violence didn't come until later stories, Kids Rule OK (It's widely believed that THIS is the story that was the final nail in the coffin), and Probationer. It's as if the writers were "pushing the envelope", trying to see what they could get away with. One story that never got any real credit was "The Running Man", different to other stories in that our hero was actually running away from and not really facing up to his adversaries.

It surprised me to see that nobody on your site has stated that Steve (the "editor") McManus went on to 2000ad along with John Wagner and Pat Mills (the real editor), they took Action after it's final demise and created something incredible that still runs today. They learnt from the "mistakes" of Action and put together a truly winning formula.

Although I read 2000ad until the mid to late '80s, I never felt the same sense of excitement as I did when running to the newsagent on a Friday morning to see what would happen my heroes this week. Did reading Action do me any harm? Not at all. But then again even at 11 and 12 I was fairly well rounded. Maybe other kids weren't. Was the ban justified? ...... I hate to say it, but probably. Would you allow your kids to read it today? - Tony Murray

My mum hated me reading Action, especially when I explained to her - courtesy of a typical Action information piece - that a tightly rolled newspaper was a more effective weapon in a street-fight than a lump of wood.
There's no way on earth I'd let my kids read it now but it was bloody fantastic. - Mike

Just discovered your wonderful website and I was inspired to dig out and have a look thru my old Actions, about 8 pre-ban and a similar no. after, all bought 2nd hand over the years, including the first issue in very good nick.

My friend David read Action, I took the Victor, and we'd swap. I remember one scene where two blokes were fighting on the top of a lorry as it went under a low bridge. One didn't duck quick enuff and lost his head .

A thing that struck me looking at the old issues was how tatty everything looked, and I don't mean the condition of the paper. The stories were mainly well written but with one or two exceptions - such as Mike Dorey on Hellman and Ron Turner on Spinball Wars - much of the artwork was very poor, and certainly well below the standard of 2000AD which turned up a year later.

Would I let kids read Action?. Assuming they would want to, yes, butI'm not sure they would. Sadly, comics in this country don't seem to sell unless they are based on some crappy tv show and it seems it's old beggars like us who miss the comics. Don't you just wish you could nip down to the paper shop and buy a few!! Mebbe my dad does too cos he always used to read The Tough of the Track!! - Gary

I have just had the loft of my house insulated and had to clear out lots of boxes, etc. In some of the boxes are hundreds of comics as I was an illustrator for many years and worked for IPC under Dave Hunt and Ian Vosper. I drew "Lefty" in Action and the infamous bottle picture and also Twisty in Bullet. I also worked for D C Thomsons and did Bernard Briggs in the Hornet for many years. I had forgotten how many comics that I had worked on!
I started as a trainee at Link Studios and worked with Barrie Mitchell and Mike Lacey before moving away from London.
It was great to find your site and heart warming to read the letters from fellow comic lovers.
I shall sort the comics out soon and let you know what else I have worked on if you are interested. Scoop rings a bell, and also Hotspur. - Tony Harding

If you have any other information on Action please drop us a line. Drop us a line.


 
 

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