Action: The Story of a Violent Comic

Action: The Story of a Violent ComicIn 1990, readers of Action were given a treat that they’d waited fourteen years to receive. Martin Barker brought out the book behind the comic that bit the dust. Action – The Story of a Violent Comic was a fascinating and insightful account of the creation, birth, life and death of a much missed and wrongly maligned publication. The book included interviews with the key players in the Action story, details of the comic, the outrage, the ban and all that followed, but most importantly for those of us who were readers back in 1976, it contained the strips. Not just a few bits and pieces, or odd pages, but full length stories that had not been seen in print for years. The icing on the cake was that we were finally given a glimpse of exactly what had been stolen from us when Action was neutered by IPC.

The book presented, for the first time, the (mostly) unedited conclusion to “Kids Rule O.K.”, six uncut episodes of “Hook Jaw” that were never printed, three more of “Look Out For Lefty” and strangely, only two unpublished episodes of “Death Game 1999”, the rest of the unpublished material having either been chopped up to make the anti-climactic final episode, or disappeared from the IPC archive altogether.

Professor Barker offered us a chance to compare what would have been, in the shape of the ‘lost’ 23rd October issue and the proofs for the issues that would follow, and what came to be, in the weak and watered-down December 4th incarnation. The ‘cut-and-paste’ jobs that were done to provide nice, tidy conclusions to the more violent stories are presented next to the original material, and the comparisons are disturbing.

Action – The Story of a Violent Comic was published by Titan Books but is sadly no longer in print. It is the inspiration for this site, and a great source of reference. If you can find it, buy it. Copies have been seen on eBay recently for as much as £60, but it’s worth every penny. Thanks to the author, sections of the book are reproduced here. I have edited the text slightly throughout, as there are many references to the stories contained within the book, and as you can see, this isn’t the book. In a couple of places in the original text, no artist has been credited to the relevant story. Where I have been able to identify the missing artist, the name has been added.

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

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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.


See this section’s Acknowledgments section for more information