Monday, September 11, 2006

How Can You Kill a Shark With Hot Melons?

Now and again, thanks to the power of the Interweb, you find something you hadn't even realised you were missing.

I'm a regular visitor to the Doctor Who website
Outpost Gallifrey, but I rarely venture into the site's comics discussion forum. I tend to be so far behind on my reading that dropping in there would inevitably lead to me learning something that, while old news to 99% of the comic-loving population, would spoil whole as-yet-unread storylines for me.

As it happens, though, I'm up to date with my comics for the first time in months, so I swung by to see what people thought about some of the latest releases. Before I got the chance to find out, I spotted a thread about Hook Jaw.

Lovers of British comics from the 70s will already know all about Hook Jaw, and the publication in which he starred, the ill-fated Action - it's something of a cause célèbre in the industry. For anyone who missed it, Hook Jaw was a massive shark with, er, a hook through its jaw (see what they did there?), left there after an unsuccessful attempt to kill him. The creators of the strip made no apology for the fact that the strip was a blatant cash-in on the massive cinema success of Jaws, which had kept people off beaches the world over only a year before. Nor did they have any qualms about showing gory shark attacks the like of which Spielberg wouldn't have touched with forty-foot inflatable.

Hook Jaw became the most notorious tale in Action, one that attracted a hefty chunk of the moral majority's outrage when grown-ups suddenly realised that the comic had rather a lot of violence in it. The late, unlamented Mary Whitehouse (who was, coincidentally, getting stuck into Doctor Who at much the same time) was one of those sharpening the knives for Action, and the result was that the comic was temporarily banned before being relaunched with all the violent bits taken out.

Unsurprisingly, it died a death shortly afterwards.

As a result, copies of the pre-censorship Action are pretty hard to come by, which is why I was delighted to learn about this site, a tribute to the comic that not only records the history of Action's rise and fall, but also reproduces as many of the pages of the comic as are still extant. Be warned, however - if you're thinking of checking the site out, be prepared to lose several hours ...

It's strange, looking back at the stories. I was four at the time they came out and remember precisely nothing about them. Well, that's not entirely true - I must have owned a copy of the first issue of Action at the very least because I recall owning the free gift off the front. Perhaps it's that I was so young at the time, but I'm happy to say that reading Action did not turn me into an illiterate, a delinquent or a psychopath.

I've certainly never been tempted to bite any swimmers at the beach.

Hang on, there was that time with -

Oh, that's right! The answer to the question in the title! It isn't 'Choke it to death with Angelina Jolie' (stop sniggering at the back). It's this, dubious as it may seem ...


Blogger Peter Pan said...

I was 5 when action launched and obsessed with Jaws... had my own rubber shark that I used to play with in the bath. And no, thats not a euphemism. There is a new shark terror film out next summer ... which looks incredibly like hook jaw in scale

4:07 PM  

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