Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Collected Hook Jaw

Just received my copy of Collected Hook Jaw Volume 1 from Spitfire Comics, 96 pages of blood-soaked, limb-severing shark attacks from the pages of Action. Having "given up" comics at the age of 13 when I switched from reading Valiant to getting Speed & Power, I was tempted back to them when the first issue of Action hit the shelves... although I guess I'd never really given them up because I was already buying Vulcan. Action really did live up to its name and, for a while, was the best comic on the market. There was an almost immediate backlash against its violent content, led by the tabloids and famously picked up by Nationwide where Frank Bough interviewed John Sanders.

Sales of the title were rising as word of mouth brought in new readers each week. And then... disaster. IPC cancelled the title and, ten weeks later, bought out a new, neutered version. I continued to read it but without the same level of enthusiasm. It obviously didn't hold my attention because I stopped buying it after a few weeks and the only strip I missed was 'Spinball'. By then there was another new title on the shelves and I thought I'd give that a try: 2000AD.

So it's great to see Hook Jaw given the collection treatment. The title page has a little note asking what readers would like to see reprinted next and I think I'd like either 'Dredger' or 'The Running Man'. I don't think the latter ever topped the Action popularity charts but I thought it was fantastic. Or 'Death Game 1999', the precursor to 'Spinball'.

(Hook Jaw © Egmont UK)


  1. Hi John,

    Good choice, but I think the strip was notorious beyond its merits, especially the cover shot of the policeman being attacked.

    The main problem is that the storyline was never finished so it wouldn't make a satisfying book. I think there's enough Dredger (especially the episodes by Horacio Altuna), Death Game (Costa, Bellardineli, Turner) and the complete Running Man to make a solid collection.

  2. An update to the above -- there was an ending to 'Kids Rule OK' -- it just wasn't published in the comic. The final pages did turn up in Martin Barker's book Action: The Story of a Violent Comic but it was a real let-down and not in keeping with the rest of the strip. I'd forgotten, or managed to suppress, it until now.

  3. Hi Steve,

    my father (Ken Armstrong) was the writer for Hook Jaw (and some other strips of the time - I believe he did a stint on Dan Dare and Tarzan at some point, and has mentioned being involved in some way during the early days of 2000AD). His birthday's coming up and I'd dearly love to find a reprint of some of his work; I'm fairly sure he hasn't got anything left from that time now. I've tried searching everywhere for a copy of this book, but to no avail - do you have any idea where I might find a copy for sale?

  4. Mike,

    Drop me a line directly -- my e-mail address is at the top right of the page under the picture -- and I'll see if I can point you in the direction of some of his work.