Rare, ‘banned’ 1970s British Action comic sells for over £4000

Action #37 - 2016 ebay auction edition

Regular readers of downthetubes will recall how a rare copy of the controversial 1970s comic Action went under the hammer on eBay last year; and the final winning bid was over £2500.

Well, another copy of the rare Issue 37, one of very few to survive being pulped as the hammer fell on production of the comic’s original incarnation, that sorry tale documented here, has just been bought for a whopping £4110.75, again on eBay.

There were just 12 bids on the rare comic offered by a London-based seller who related he’d owned it for 20 years, prompting rampant speculation as to the buyer among fans. Celebrity buyer, or , perhaps, Rebellion, now owners of the comic brand and characters?

Perhaps we’ll never know… unless it goes up for auction again in future.

Best known for the Jaws-inspired strip “Hook Jaw” but a comic that also featured strips such as secret agent adventure “Dredger”, “Look Out for Lefty”, “Kids Rule OK” and “Death Game 1999”, the edition of Action 37 offered on eBay, cover dated 23rd October 1976, is one of few surviving copies of the legendary “Lost Issue”.

The print run was almost entirely pulped as the media and political pressure on publishers IPC reached fever pitch as outcry about the comic’s content and controversial storylines grew leading to the title’s shutdown and subsequent re-tooling as a much diluted title, eventually merging with Battle in 1977.

Former 2000AD art editor Robin Smith was one of the lucky few to own a copy of Action 37. (It was his copy that was sold last year). He has previously related how a full print run of Issue 37 was completed, and something in the region of 200,000 copies were produced.

Free copies were distributed to a regular list of recipients, including staff and others, and a set number were reserved as file copies, to be kept in publisher IPC’s archive.

Once the ban was instigated, the remaining copies were pulled from distribution and sent off to be pulped. That was just about every issue, turned back into paper sludge.

IPC later also destroyed all the file copies of the issue, leaving only a scant few in the hands of the comps list.

Check out our guide to Action, its strips and the sad story of its rise and fall, compiled by Moose Harris, here

With thanks to Richard Sheaf for spotting the auction

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: British Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

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2 replies

  1. I’d like to know a bit more about why the comic was banned. What was the content? I remember strips like Death Wish, that were absolutely terrifying, yet somehow deemed suitable for warping fragile typing mind like my own.
    Happy days.

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