Another rare “Banned” Action offered for sale, start your bids at £2500

Action Issue 37
A copy of the very rare Action Issue 37 is up for auction on eBay.

There’s another chance for someone with deep pockets to get their hands of a copy of the rare “banned” issue of controversial 1970s comic Action (Issue 37).

The starting price this time around, through eBay once more, is £2,500 and it can be found here.

Previously offered issues of this rare comic sold for £4110.75 and £2555.

The opening spread of "Hookjaw" from Action Issue 37, offerd on eBay in 2015.
The opening spread of “Hookjaw” from Action Issue 37, from the copy offered on eBay in 2015

Here’s the description of the item offered:

This is a copy of the British anthology comic, Action, from 1976. However if you are reading this it is most likely you know the story behind this issue. This is one of the most rare UK comics and its history is one of popularity, rebellion and defiance, pressure groups, House of Commons statements, media witch hunts, and ultimately corporate pressure to kill what was a burning flame amongst the mass-read comics of the ’70s. Wagner, Mills, Belardinelli, Sola, Gibson all contributed to Action before it’s hiatus and rebirth as a pale imitation of what had gone before. The story is old but no less tragic for the passing years. *Sigh*

This is issue 37, the comic that never made the newsstand that week. The 200,000 copy print run was complete but the suits at IPC pulled the rug before distribution, all but a few copies were pulped and Action disappeared for a month. It is our fortune that a small number survived in the hands of staff from the boys comics department, some have made it out into circulation over the years and have made their way into the hands of collectors like me who have kept them in the knowledge that they are looking after a little piece of history. I have owned this copy since April 2003, bought through eBay from an Art assistant who worked on Action. His name is known to me, and as such the comic’s provenance is known as “two careful owners”. A scan of the cover was used on Alan Notton’s “Comics UK” site and I believe Moose Harris used a cleaned up copy of that scan for his site “The Seven Penny Nightmare”.

The comic is complete with two rust-free staples that extend to the centre and fasten correctly. There is no tearing around the staples. There is uniform light yellowing of the pages both internally and externally, as would be befitting of a comic of this age and this paper stock. Since I have owned it the comic has been stored in the dark and in the dry with plenty of ventilation. It has been stored in an acid-free bag with acid-free backing board and is flat. The comic is cut square and the spine is straight. There is no evidence of foxing. The colour pages are nice and clean and continue to have excellent colour. There is no water, ink staining or other obvious staining, alterations or repairs, except for a minor small mark on the cover (see below).

The front cover is excellent but for sake of grading there are a couple of observations. There is a small mark centrally on the lower clear border. The mark does not affect the art work at all. It was present when I obtained the comic in 2003. The top right hand page corner appears to have been folded over at one time. Since then it has been stored flat and has “repaired” itself. To first glance it is not obvious but with careful examination in good light you can see that the corner may have been folded in the past. The spine is intact and complete, but it appears that at one time it may have been bent slightly. Again, with the passing of time and careful storage the fault is minimal and doesn’t take away from the good look of the cover. The back cover is clean and flat but with a couple of minor issues. Within the lower quarter of the vertical edge of the comic there is a very small chip which extends into a very short horizontal tear (7mm). Also, the bottom corner of the edge of the page appears to have torn off, 5mm x 5mm. This makes very little impact on the cover as a whole. The inside pages are without any but the slightest issues and are free from tears, missing pieces etc.

So there you have it, an excellent and much sought after comic. I would personally grade this at FN+, some would possibly give it a VFN-, however it doesn’t sit neatly into either category. Given the age of the comic and the rarity I’m not sure grading is the primary issue here, whoever eventually owns this comic will be getting a lovely example with very few faults and I would imagine it would give them as much enjoyment as I have had from having it as part of a “complete” collection of Action. Two examples of this comic have been sold on eBay in the last 18 months, one in May 2015 and one in October 2016. The details and links to the listings can be found on the website “downthetubes.net”, as can archived pages from Moose Harris’s now defunct website.

For more background on the issue itself (and the circumstance behind the previous copy to come up for sale here) check this news item on our site here

For more about Action: The Sevenpenny Nightmare, check out our special section on the comic featuring much of the material from Moose Harris’ site, reproduced on downthetubes with his very kind permission

Item with thanks to a tip from Richard Sheaf and the Boys Adventure Comic Blog

UPDATE 25th January 2017: This time around Issue 37 did not have any takers; perhaps possible buyers were put off by the opening price. As Richard Sheaf notes on his blog, the first copy of this rare comic offered on eBay started off at 99p and ended up at £2,555; the second one started off at £750 and got to £4,110.75. “I can’t believe that’s the last we’ve seen of this comic,” he notes. “I’m sure it’ll be back soon (and hopefully at a lower opening bid price).”

 

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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