Monday, October 10, 2016

This week in 1976: ACTION is suspended

Concluding my look back at a few comics that were published 40 years ago this week, here's a few pages from Action dated 16th October 1976 (published 9th October). This issue is significant because it's the final one to receive national distribution before it was suspended by IPC for two months because of its content. There was another issue, dated 23rd October, but only around 30 were printed before the axe fell (and subsequently it is very rare). 

The cover is by Carlos Ezquerra. It seems a bit alarming today, with the concerns about the rise of the far-right, to see a swastika on the cover of a kids' comic. It wasn't unusual back then, and comics such as Bullet, Battle, or Warlord would feature the image in the context of their war stories. Even so, it may not have done Action any favours in 1976 as it was already being scrutinised by the media for offensive content. 

As you know from older posts, Action was suspended because of excesses in its violent and anti-authoritarian content. It's evident that IPC were getting nervous even with this issue, as the violence seems to be toned down a little. Most notable is that the Kids Rule OK strip is censored. (See Martin Barker's Action: The Story of a Violent Comic for the full gory version.) Even so, the ending of this episode, with police cadets beating up the kids, is quite brutal...
One of the most controversial strips in Action was Look Out for Lefty, which had featured a bottle being thrown onto the pitch, hitting someone's head. This week's episode continued the theme of football violence. Art by Tony Harding...


One strip that would abruptly vanish from Action after this week was crime story Probationer. Perhaps it was felt it was glamorizing crime? Who knows? Whatever the reason, the strip did not return when a neutered Action came back in December.


Hook Jaw wasn't particularly violent in this issue, although one guy met his end in the course of the story...  
Hell's Highway looks like it had some tinkering with the second panel here. I'm guessing the driver received a savage blow to the head. The substituted image is just bizarre and makes no sense.     
So, although IPC were already self-censoring Action at this point, management still decided to suspend the comic to do more rewrites and redraws before returning it to the stands two months later. There was no mention in this issue that the comic was going on hiatus and its absence from the shops wouldn't have done it any favours. By the time it had returned many readers may have moved on to buy another comic instead. Also, it was so toned-down it must have cost them a few readers. It survived until November 1977, then merged into Battle.         

Action was a great comic and it's sad that its excesses led it towards its own demise far too early. Now that Rebellion own the archive I'm sure we'll eventually see reprints of some of the strips. Titan Comics will soon be launching a brand new Hookjaw comic, and perhaps other Action strips will also be rebooted in all-new stories, either under license by Titan or by Rebellion themselves?   

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...