On this day, 14 February 1976: Action
On this day, 14 February 1976 … forty years ago today was the off-sale date of the very first Action, ‘The Sensational Paper for Boys’ or ‘The Sevenpenny Nightmare’, depending on your appetite for punky gore, attitude and violence. Which, let’s face it, is pretty much all of us, right? Issue One could seem a little tame by today’s standards – traditional lettering type, a high number of panels per page, and relatively little blood (Hook Jaw aside) compared to what we know was to come – but in the context of where we know British kids’ comics were at in early 1976 – 2000AD was yet to come, Battle was still relatively tame, Valiant and Vulcan were both still on the shelves, offering heroes and adventures in fantastical lands and dimensions – Action was grittier, hardboiled and (thank you, Pat Mills) properly representative of a young post-post-war generation finding confidence in its own gutteral voice rather than that handed down to them.
Look out below for the first appearances of psychotic government agent Dredger, chin-pierced great white shark Hook Jaw, and Hellman of Hammer Force, the heroic German Panzer tank commander, plus name-checks for script legends Tom Tully and John Wagner, and future Tharg Steve MacManus’ debut as real-life daredevil Action Man (and keep your Action Man Eagle Eyes alert for Steve’s forthcoming memoir, which promises fantastic insights to the days before they took our Action away).