by 02-Jun-15

Rarest UK comic hits record price on eBay

A copy of Action cover-dated 23rd October 1976, has sold for £2,555 (approximately $3,920) in an eBay auction.

Missing in Action; the lost issue comes to light.

No relation to the venerable DC Comics series, Action was a weekly comic aimed at the early-to-mid-teen male audience. Launched in February 1976, It rapidly attracted public attention because of the brutality and bloodthirstiness of its storylines, particularly its serial starring a killer shark – Hookjaw – whose adventures frequently occupied the centre pages, scoring a coveted colour slot and adding extra vividness to the gore and dismemberments. Other serials attracting negative media attention were Kids Rule OK? and The Probationer, which, in the middle of carnage and mayhem, also illustrated abusive practices in the juvenile custodial system of the time.

Although hugely popular with its audience, Action rapidly fell foul of conservative forces, particularly those marshalled by Mrs. Mary Whitehouse, a public figure whose knee-jerk over-reaction to all forms of popular entertainment rendered her name synonymous with the kind of censorious busybody later personified by Viz comic’s Meddlesome Ratbag.

By the time of its 37th issue, dated 23/10/1976, protests had reached such a level that publication of Action  was suspended, pending extensive editing of both scripts and artwork. Almost all of the issue then in production was and pulped, with approximately thirty file copies or contributors’ copies believed to have survived, out of an average print run in the region of two hundred thousand thousand copies.

When the weekly returned with the 4th December issue, most serials had been extensively toned down, and Kids Rule OK? and Probationer were discontinued mid-story, replaced with more innocuous fare. The series stumbled, fell, and was, in the habit of UK comics publishers, absorbed by a more successful stablemate, Battle.

For many years, the ‘lost’ issue of Action was believed to be purely apocryphal, but an eBay auction of one of the handful of remaining copies has achieved an extraordinary amount for such a comparatively recent item. The copy in question had been kept by its original owner, who was one of the workers at the printer’s, and his family consigned it to Brighton’s Phil’s Comics to auction on their behalf.


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