On this day, 24 April 1976: Action
On this day, 24 April 1976 ... Beneath this week's Star Letter, in which 'Action Reader' of Cheadle Heath, Stockport, reports that the second issue of Action contained 522 noses, is a rather more poignant letter to from Ronnie Clark of Pendower, Newcastle-upon-Tyne:
'Dear Steve [MacManus]
'You call your comic the paper of the 70s, but I will be surprised if it won't be around in the 80s as well. I think this comic is an absolute knockout. It is with all the family.'
As we know, Action didn’t come anywhere close to becoming the paper of the 80s. In fact in little over four months all 522 of the comic’s noses were put fatally out of joint by the hard-hitting fists of the British Moral Estate (including Mary Whitehouse, Frank Bough and most of the press). The Pendower Clarks' beloved sevenpenny nightmare was banned for a couple of months, only to reappear for as a poor, sanitised imitation of its former self before being merged into Battle before the end of 1977.
I'm sure Whitehouse et al loved this front cover which was released over the Easter weekend of 1976, although probably not as much as tens of thousands of kids across the nation. Inside we find the final episode of the first run of Hook Jaw, with the chin-pierced Great White fighting to the death in an epic blood-gushing battle with the rigger McNally. As one story ends, so begins Green's Grudge War, a wartime tale of a hot-headed Commando with an oversize chip on his shoulder.
Elsewhere, Dredger has a night to forget on the trail of a Japanese extermination squad, Blackjack is given the finger by fight-fixers and The Running Man infiltrates a coven of blood-drinking Satanists. As a modern reader it takes a little while to get used to Action – the small, inky panels and typed lettering are off-putting initially – but once one gets into the stories it becomes clear how exciting and special they must have been for the readers of its day. A dark and dirty gem.