Very quickly after December 4, the character of Action changed. “Kids Rule OK” and Probationer simply disappeared. In their place came two absolutely traditional unchallenging stories: “Double Dynamite“, a boxing story; and “Roaring Wheels“, about racing.
“Death Game 1999” became “Spinball“, and Taggart’s team were out of prison. The authorities turned magically into hero-lovers. Taggart even went on to work on behalf of the Government as an agent abroad…
“Look Out For Lefty” escaped erasure by the skin of its teeth, but at the price of becoming a traditional football story.
“Hell’s Highway” staggered on for a while, but the new restrictions irked Jack Adrian and he soon abandoned it (especially when he lost Mike White as his artist for the series). There was less apparent change in “Dredger“, except that his opponents became more traditional. Eventually Breed was killed off, and Dredger became much more articulate – and that is a major change. “Hellman” needed less change. He was always a more traditional character, despite the unusualness of the German point of view in the story.
And what of “Hook Jaw” – the pride and joy of the comic? Its flagship, if that is a feasible metaphor? HJ continued to eat, but now like a good child learned to do so with no mess. A new artist came on the job whose work was strictly functional. It was off the centre pages, so blood colour was out. But anyway there was no blood to be had – even in black and white. Hook Jaw spent two episodes being attacked by other marine life after a brush with a Norwegian whaler: and then arrived – tossed by a hurricane – in the Hudson river by New York. There, he managed to eat a few divers, but always with his back to camera.
A faint glimmer of the old villains showed in the New York City boss who doesn’t want unnecessary rumours spread – but that glimmer lasted one episode. In short, Hook Jaw was fast turning into a pale shadow of the film’s monstrous dentures.
Read More in this Section of “Sevenpenny Nightmare”
Action: The Story of a Violent Comic (about the book by Martin Barker) | Action: The Story of a Violent Comic – Introduction | Developing the Formula | The Critics Bite Back – TO BE ADDED | Moving in for the Kill – TO BE ADDED | So, Should Action Have Been Censored? – TO BE ADDED | Hook Jaw: The Shark Bites Back – TO BE ADDED | The Lost Pages of Hook Jaw – TO BE ADDED | How Lefty Lost His Bottle – TO BE ADDED | The Lost Pages of Lefty – TO BE ADDED | Death Game 1999: Steel Balls to the Finish | The Lost Pages of Death Game 1999 – TO BE ADDED | When The Crumblies Flipped It: Kids Rule OK…? | The Lost Pages of Kids Rule O.K. | Dredger… No Comment | The Final Reckoning | Estimating Action
This is an excerpt from Action: The History of a Violent Comic by Martin Barker, featured here as part of the Sevenpenny Nightmare project edited by Moose Harris. Text © Martin Barker.
ACTION™ REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, COPYRIGHT © REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
See this section’s Acknowledgments section for more information