Like most boys’ comics of the time, Action was laden with editorial features to fill out the gaps between the strips. Unlike other boys’ comics, Action’s editorial content was more tongue-in-cheek, or blatantly sarcastic. It poked fun at authority, took the piss out of the establishment and stuck two fingers up at convention.
Most new comics make up letters from the readers in the early issues, Action didn’t bother with letters until some real ones came in. It soon became known for its postbag, Write Away!, the largest amount of mail IPC was receiving for any of its publications, and most of what came in was resoundingly positive. The Star Letter got a fiver, and any other letter published could choose from a Thunder Chief Aircraft or a Tiger Tank model, a ‘Skimmer Disc’, an Action t-shirt with Dredger on it, or a £1 postal order.
Readers were invited to contribute, the Grumble and Groans Department was a forum for things that ticked them off. They could try to defeat Knowall, by setting him difficult trivia questions, like this one from April 17th 1976: “When was the first person arrested, and by who?” There was Twit of the Week, where popular media figures could be ridiculed by a readers vote. No nominations, the person who had the most letters written about them that week was it. You can view the lucky recipients of the award in the archive.
Elsewhere was So What?, trivia with a picture of a celebrity next to it saying “So what?”, Krazy Kaption, which you can see in the picture, Under A Quid, which listed top stuff that really was less than a quid, not 99p like in most other comics, Guess What?, featuring everyday items photographed from an unusual angle and later the “mad, mad” Maniaction, a series by Steve Maher that featured illustrations of mad inventions. Oh, and “Action Mouse“.
Sport was covered in Soccer Sessions with The Boss, Sports Stars of the Future and the Action Sports Scoreboard, all of which were self explanatory. There were competitions too, usually with a celebrity face like Bob Wilson or similar attached to it.
What further set it apart from the competition were Action Man, where Steve MacManus, the face of the comic, would do dangerous stunts every week for a tenner from ‘Old Wooden Leg’ the editor, and Money Man Stuart Wales, who would tour the country on Saturdays giving money to anyone who came up to him saying “You are the Money Man of Action and I claim my prize”, and could produce the latest issue of the comic.
Through all its features, Action never patronised its readers like Warlord or Bullet did. There was no secret club you needed to pay to get into, and no coded message to exclude you if you didn’t. The messages were so banal that it didn’t matter anyway, with Action, just buying the comic was enough to get you involved.
Text © Moose Harris
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