Tuesday, 15 February 2011
Yesterday's Papers - Shark Attack
And so started the saga of Hook Jaw, which will be re-printed soon is full colour when Strip Magazine launches later this month. Hook Jaw was the lead story for the launch of the controversial comic book, Action (the British anthology comic and not to be confused with the American publication of the same title) and like the publication that carried it the story of the killer shark received much criticism in the media, as a campaign against Action Comic was born. The campaign would intensify until the comic was actually banned and then relaunched as a much tamer version.
The colour frame left (taken from the first episode) may seem tame by today's standard, but at the time that splash of red blood was truly shocking and not something ever seen in a comic book. At the height of the press hysteria against this new kind of comic, one commentator in The Sun newspaper called Hook Jaw, "A sadistic story designed to turn our children into blood crazed lunatics."
The kids who had discovered this new comic though were over the moon with this new gritty kind of storytelling. Jaws was a massive cinema hit at the time and the fact that Hook Jaw was merely a rip off of that movie, didn't matter. British comics had always taken their lead from the blockbuster movies. Dirty Harry's been reinvented several times by British comics, most notably as Dredger in Action and then Judge Dredd in 2000AD.
Action, The Sevenpenny Nightmare
"There were two complete and one unresolved storyline in the pre-ban issues. The first was set on an oil rig in the Caribbean run by Red McNally. McNally’s obsession with oil and wealth is at the expense of those around him. Initially his greed causes the deaths of divers and riggers, but as the story progresses we discover McNally isn’t averse to a spot of murder to get his way. Explosions, a hurricane, an airliner crashing into the rig, the U.S. Coastguard depth-charging the water around and other hazards are sent to test the characters. Through it all, Hook Jaw feasts on everyone and everything. Eventually, the rig destroyed and everyone else dead, Mason and McNally battle each other and the shark. Mason is wounded and drifts aboard a makeshift raft from which he is rescued by a passing sea plane. McNally takes on the shark in a final battle with the inevitable consequences pictured here, and what a fine episode that was." The Sevenpenny Nightmare
Hook Jaw constantly topped Reader's Polls and it seemed that each week more and more blood was used in the strip, but when Action was withdrawn from sale largely because of the media campaign against the title, Hook Jaw was never the same. When the comic returned in a sanitised version it was as if Hook Jaw had had all his teeth removed - he certainly no longer had any bite.
Strip -launches Feb 2011