Friday, September 17, 2021

Comic Cuts — 17 September 2021

Finally I've reached the bit of comics' research that I like: reading comics! I've started writing up some of the stories that appeared in Action, some of which I haven't read since they first appeared back in 1976. I dug out my copies — the ones I bought when they appeared in our local newsagents forty-five years ago.

I missed two issues and never got around to filling the gaps; nor was I a big fan of the reboot, so my comics buying pretty much came to an end. I had given up on Valiant in 1975, leaving me with Top Secret Picture Library, which was appearing with two new issues a month, and I started buying Vulcan in September 1975. I was still buying Speed & Power, the kid's transport magazine that was also carrying SF stories until it folded in November; and Top Secret came to an end in February 1976, just as Action was launched. Vulcan merged into Valiant, so I began buying that again in April 1976. I stuck with it for a while, but while I enjoyed 'One-Eyed Jack', I wasn't a big fan of 'Wee Red' or 'Paco', which were the new launches.

I was down to the one comic, Action, when it was pulled from the shelves in October 1976. I picked up some issues of the relaunch, but didn't last long, and it was then a long gap before I started buying Starblazer when that launched in April 1979.

Action was the best comic I had read in years. Battle was something I read some years later but it didn't particularly interest me at the time because I had discovered science fiction and thrillers. Television was showing The Sweeney and movies like Point Blank, Dirty Harry and The French Connection. Even if we couldn't go and see Jaws, we knew about it thanks to reviews and adverts in the papers. As for books, by the age of 11 I was reading crime thrillers by James Hadley Chase (a habit picked up from my Dad, who left his paperbacks laying about) and I wanted my comics to be as tough.

That's what Action provided. Tough thrills. My top three stories were 'Dredger', 'Hook Jaw' and 'The Running Man', although I think 'Death Game 1999' trumped all three when it arrived in May 1976. Maybe I was missing my science fiction fix after Speed & Power folded.

Thankfully there's nothing much else to report. I finally published the three Andrew Forrester Jun. books. I was aiming for the summer, but was somewhat distracted by writing up those old wartime comics and now writing about Action. They're fine examples of the old Victorian casebook collections, all revolving around crime of one kind or another and all early examples of police and criminal procedural work, one book involving female detectives, another about private detectives and the third about the secret service. I've taken one of the essays from the Fifty Forgotten Authors series and reprinted it as an Afterword in all three volumes, which will hopefully tell you all you need to know (and it's certainly everything that I know!) about the real author, J. Redding Ware.

I'm still sorting out the various links that I need between here and Bear Alley Books. You can find out more by following this link. I need to make the links for ordering the books more obvious, but you should be able to find them. Amazon links to follow. Give 'em a try... two of them haven't been in print for over 150 years!

Now... back to reading comics!

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