Here’s a fine and rather typical example of how Action was being tamed by IPC’s ‘safe hands’ editor Sid Bicknell prior to the withdrawal of the title. The left hand picture shows some crude editing to the artwork of Hook Jaw, with one of the hi-jackers suddenly becoming merciful, and rescuing a poor drowning man, who has fallen in the sea.
To the right we see the true motivation for the panel after some of the paste-on edits had been peeled away. To save themselves from Hook Jaw, the hi-jackers throw a man overboard and then spear him. The character depicted looks like Gunn’s right-hand man Fletcher, but was originally drawn to be Gunn himself. Thanks to other edits elsewhere in the artwork, this would require Gunn to be in two places at once, hence the hasty scribbling on of some hair, and a few checks to the shirt. One version makes sense, the other is a safe option which ignores all previously established facets of the characters and their motivation. This would be Action’s unfortunate fate with Bicknell at the helm.
Some covers for the lost issues were recycled, such as the 23rd October issue, which was cut up and represented on December 11th. Another example shows Lefty Lampton sending a high-powered shot directly into the opposing goalkeeper’s stomach. The original tag said ‘Have you got the GUTS to stand up to Lampton’s left?’. When the cover was re-used in December, the art was unchanged, but the tag now said ‘Could YOU stand up to Lampton’s left?’. Obviously the word ‘guts’ is extremely offensive to those lacking any of their own.
This small section looks at the cuts and edits, some obvious, some not, that were appearing in the comic before the axe fell. Hopefully what follows will provide a little insight into the processes behind the new direction Action would be forced to take.
Action – The Lost Stories – TO BE ADDED
When Action was withdrawn after the 16th October issue, work was already well underway on the next seven issues of the comic. The 23rd October issue went to press, but was destined to be pulped rather than distributed. The issues that should have followed didn’t even get that far…
The Lost Stories – Hell’s Highway – TO BE ADDED
There’s only one surviving episode of Hell’s Highway in the public domain.
The Lost Stories – Dredger – TO BE ADDED
Most of the Dredger stories in the archive were lightly edited and represented in a toned down form. Acts of violence were removed, language was tamed and, most strangely, Dredger was no longer ‘dirty’. He was tough, he was gritty, but he was fair, and didn’t kill anybody unless he absolutely needed to.
The Lost Stories – Death Game 1999 – TO BE ADDED
Death Game 1999 became Spinball, and the Karson City Killers won their final match.
Whither Stalin? – TO BE ADDED
What possible problems could Hellman of Hammer Force give a revised Action?
Cutting Out the Violence from Kids Rule O.K. – TO BE ADDED
Kids Rule O.K. was an obvious candidate for censure.
The ‘lost’ Hook Jaw page on the left looks odd.
The Lost Covers – 30th October 1976 – TO BE ADDED
Intended for the issue that followed the withdrawal of Action.
The Lost Covers – 6th November 1976 – TO BE ADDED
Much thanks to Rufus Dayglo for this one, long believed to be destroyed.
The Lost Covers – 13th November 1976 – TO BE ADDED
This particular cover has been made using any available resources.
The Lost Covers – 20th November 1976 – TO BE ADDED
The only clue as to what the November 20th story would have contained.
Text © Moose Harris
ACTION™ REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, COPYRIGHT © REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
See this section’s Acknowledgments section for more information