Back in the 1970s, Action horrified prudes and censors alike – it really was the comic they tried to ban! But now, with the Action 2020 Special, it’s back and it’s looking better than ever!
The new Special features some of the absolute classics that made Action such a headline maker at the time (The Sun branded it “the sevenpenny nightmare”), brought to some of the greatest creators of today. Inside you’ll find the return of Garth Ennis to write the German Panzer action of Hellman of Hammer Force alongside artist Mike Dorey. You’ll find the classic killer shark tale , Hookjaw, by Dan Lish and Keith Richardson, merciless secret agent action with Dredger by Zina Hutton and Staz Johnson, and the return of the strip that really managed to offend Mary Whitehouse, Kids Rule OK, with its ultra-violent tale of kids in a world without adults by Ram V and Henrick Stahlstrom. And finally, an all-new strip with Hell Machine by Henry Flint and Jake Lynch.
The Action 2020 Special will be on sale from newsagents and comic book shops on Wednesday 23rd March.
Here, we’re chatting to Keith Richardson, editor of the Specials line and writer, as Quint Amity, of the new Hookjaw strip – featuring the return of the greatest of Great Whites, with a fisherman’s hook in his jaw, who ate his way through the supporting cast in Action. And we’ve kept it spoiler-free because, as Keith tells us, there’s a great surprise for readers in there!
Keith, as the editor on the Action Special 2020, was Hookjaw one of those strips you had your eye on from the start?
Keith Richardson: Yes, I’m the editor of all the specials including this one. Hook Jaw came about late in the day to be honest.
I had a strong line up that didn’t include the strip to begin with. It was a risk, but I just wanted to include another brand new strip (the other one being Hell Machine by Henry Flint and Jake Lynch). I had a few pitches, but nothing that really packed an Action-sized punch. It soon became apparent to my colleague Oliver Pickles and I that you can’t really have an Action comic that doesn’t include Hook Jaw. So I got a few other pitches for it and again, nothing really jumped out at me.
Oliver and I had an idea for a dialogue-less story that I think is a little different and when Dan (Lish) came to mind as the artist, all of a sudden I just knew that that script had to become a reality. His talent is off the scale. I’ve never been so excited waiting for pages to turn up in my inbox.
So, what’s it all about? And are you going to be having all the bloody violence and nastiness of the original?
KR: The Hook Jaw strip is seven pages. I can’t give too much away, because there is a nice surprise addition to the cast.
But in good old Hook Jaw fashion, it’s brutal and very bloody. He gets to munch some fish, some people and has an attempt at eating something else!
Keith, as the man in charge of the archive, how does it feel to see so much of the material coming back into print, both as reprints and new material?
KR: It’s awful! Come on, it’s obviously great. I get to put out collections that I would love to have had when I was younger. And it is a real thrill being able to champion the work of creators who I feel deserve a lot more recognition for their work.
Certainly, with this Action Special, you’ve had more than enough to pick from – any particular reason for choosing these strips rather than the likes of Blackjack, Death Game 1999, or the hard-hitting footy strip of Look Out For Lefty?
KR: I feel like we have included the strongest – at least the best-known strips that featured in Action. Sport strips are a difficult one. It is hard to find talent that have a vested interest in doing a sports strip these days.
What about more from Action? More from Hook jaw? Any plans as yet, Keith?
KR: There are plans, lots of plans. We will have to wait and see how this goes down.
Thank you so much to Keith for chatting to us amongst the chaos of the world right now! As we’ve told you already, 2000 AD and The Treasury of British Comics are continuing to publish weekly and monthly comics, including the Action Special 2020, but it’s vital that you get out there and spread the word! Comic shops around the country have had to close, but some newsagents and supermarkets remain open. If your local comic shop is offering mail order, you can order the Action 2020 Special, along with 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine from there to help the comic shops survive through this. And if your local newsagent doesn’t stock the Prog or these specials – get on their case to do so!
It’s a difficult time right now, so keep well, keep safe, wash your hands, follow the advice. We’ll get through this together.