Comic Strip Hooligans
Soccer chiefs hit out over bottle-throwing heroine Angie
By JOE STEEPLES
Taken from the Daily Mail, Friday, September 17th 1976
A COMIC read by 180,000 children each week was accused yesterday of pandering to violence. For one of the strips features a girl Soccer fan hurling a bottle at a player, knocking him out. And the cover shows teenage thugs beating up a policeman, with the headline ‘Aggro is a way of life in Kids Rule OK!’ The comic, Action, published for nine to 14-year-olds by IPC, was condemned yesterday as: “Appalling and brainless” by Football League secretary Alan Hardaker, and “Irresponsible nonsense” by Ted Croker, secretary of the Football Association.
In the strip ‘Look out for Lefty’, a player tries to thwart the hero’s goal scoring attempts. But he reckons without heroine Angie and is carried off ‘with blood streaming from his head’ after she throws a bottle from behind the goal. With the villain off the field, Angie’s boyfriend, Kenny ‘Lefty’ Lampton, is able to score.
Mr. Hardaker, however, did not echo the roar of the crowd. He said: ‘It is really appalling that there are people so brainless as to sell comics to children with stuff like this inside them. The man responsible ought to be hit over the head with a bottle himself. Really, its difficult to find words to express the stupidity of action like this at least in words that are printable.’
Jack Taylor, World Cup referee and Wolverhampton magistrate, said: ‘I certainly decry it. People might say that comics do no harm, but even if stories like this affect just one child’s mind I think they’re wrong.’
Even harsher words came from Mr. Denis Gifford, the organiser of a comics convention in London last March and a leading expert on the history of the comic. The whole comic, he said, is a deliberate, commercial attempt to pander to violence. American horror comics were banned in the Fifties, he said. ‘Perhaps its time we had another outcry against products like Action.’ He said: ‘Action is a new kind of comic geared to the lowest form of behaviour in children. Just as pornography caters for a mass market for adults, stuff like this provides violence for a mass market of children. As far as the people who produce Action are concerned, the children are simply a market and moral considerations do not apply.’
IPC say Action is their most successful launching of a boys’ magazine in five years. Mr. John Sanders, editorial director of their juvenile magazine section said: ‘I don’t think that Mr. Hardaker, who may well be an excellent football administrator, has any professional knowledge of children’s magazines, child psychology or what does or does not harm children in the media.’
‘His comments are irrelevant, the experts say that its only adults who relate the things in children’s comics to real life.’
And Dr Maurice Jaffe, senior psychologist at Guy’s Hospital London, said ‘I don’t think that a comic strip would persuade a child to do anything he wouldn’t have done anyway.’