Missing in Action
To the left is a fine and rather typical example of how Action was being tamed by IPC’s ‘safe hands’ editor Sid Bicknell prior to the withdrawal of the title. The left hand picture shows some crude editing to the artwork of Hook Jaw, with one of the hi-jackers suddenly becoming merciful, and rescuing a poor drowning man, who has fallen in the sea. To the right we see the true motivation for the panel after some of the paste-on edits had been peeled away. To save themselves from Hook Jaw, the hi-jackers throw a man overboard and then spear him. The character depicted looks like Gunn’s right-hand man Fletcher, but was originally drawn to be Gunn himself. Thanks to other edits elsewhere in the artwork, this would require Gunn to be in two places at once, hence the hasty scribbling on of some hair, and a few checks to the shirt. One version makes sense, the other is a safe option which ignores all previously established facets of the characters and their motivation. This would be Action’s unfortunate fate with Bicknell at the helm.
Some covers for the lost issues were recycled, such as the 23rd October issue, which was cut up and represented on December 11th. Another example shows Lefty Lampton sending a high-powered shot directly into the opposing goalkeeper’s stomach. The original tag said ‘Have you got the GUTS to stand up to Lampton’s left?’. When the cover was re-used in December, the art was unchanged, but the tag now said ‘Could YOU stand up to Lampton’s left?’. Obviously the word ‘guts’ is extremely offensive to those lacking any of their own. This small section looks at the cuts and edits, some obvious, some not, that were appearing in the comic before the axe fell. Hopefully what follows will provide a little insight into the processes behind the new direction Action would be forced to take.