Sunday, 26 April 2009

Action Presents: Dredger

For this week, I thought we'd take an extended look at Action, the brilliant, brutal, banned boy's weekly that ran for just 36 issues in 1976.
Action is generally seen as The Daddy to 2000AD ( and if you've seen the movie Scum, all puns intended ) being created by many of the people who would later go on to instigate Judge Dredd & chums, principally John Wagner & Pat Mills.
Mills & Wagner's brief was to come up with a new weekly that was as different, realistic and up-to-date as possible, and boy, did they deliver. Action was as far removed from the staid, middle class world of 1950's style comics like Valiant & Thunder as Dirty Harry is from Murder She Wrote.
Action was fast paced, action packed and incredibly, breathtakingly, heart-rushingly violent. And it's characters were working class, angry & more than happy to stick their fingers up at authority and The Establishment.
With punk just around the corner, Action was the perfect comic for the late '70's. Too bad it didn't last.
Authority doesn't appreciate kids giving it the finger, and soon The Establishment came down on the mag like the proverbial ton of bricks. The pressure came firstly from famously intolerant newspaper The Daily Mail getting their knickers in a twist about this filth our children were being allowed to read, then went on to MP's asking questions in Parliament. First the book was banned, then it was neutered, and finally it was cancelled.
For the full, fascinating story of Action and it's inglorious demise, head on over to THE Action fansite Or stick around here, where every day this week, we'll be looking at some of Action's classic characters. Today: Dredger!

Dredger was sort of the british version of Gil Kane's spy hero Savage, being a hard-bitten mercenary working for a top secret government organization, in this case DI6. ( Obviously based on then TV show The Professionals' CI5 ).
Just like Savage, Dredger is brilliantly mean, vicious & brutal, and his adventures were always short, nasty and as violent as possible.
Unlike his American counterpart, working class boy made bad Dredger has a partner, his polar opposite: the posh, well-educated Etonian Simon Breed. It's Breed's job really to explain the plot to the reader and generally spend each episode getting more and more appalled at Dredger's down & dirty ways.
It's Dredger's job to find inventive new ways to kill people.
This is the kind of strip that appeals directly to the 13 year old boy in all of us, and, as Dredger shoves bear traps in bad guys faces / pushes them into open fires / and drives trucks over them, you will constantly find yourself going: " Cool! "
Dredger lasted the full run of Action! though towards the end, there were vain attempts to tone down the violence, which made about as much sense as putting slippers on a shark.
Here he is in his gory, glory days.

While here, he's doing his bit for international relations.

And finally, a look at Dredger's softer side ( sort of ).

Tomorrow: Don't go in the water! It's...Hook Jaw!!!


  1. Great, keep it up with scans of Action if you can. It's a still a source of frustration to me that I don't have the copies of Action I bought as a kid. When all the hoo-hah happened my parents made me get Roy of the Rovers instead. I wonder of they got rid of the Actions.

  2. Parents who throw your collections away, now there's a topic! Alan, I will be putting up loads of Action this week, but don't wait for me, if you go to seven penny nightmare, Moose has nearly every issue up online. That's where I got all this!

  3. My parents were usually good with my comics, they knew I was a collector. Most of my 2000ADs and Marvel DC etc are still in a cupboard at my Mam's. Maybe they were brain-washed by the Mail and needed to cleanse the house of the 'filth'. I'm getting vivid memories of Hookjaw biting a guy's arm off in the first episode

  4. Who's the artist on Dredger? Reminds me here and there of Jim Baikie, although obviously it's not him

  5. There were lots of artists on Dredger, but as Moose credits Horatio Altuna first on his Dredger page, I'm assuming it's him ( unless, natch, anyone knows different ).
    Re: Throwing out collections. It took me a while to convince my parents I wasn't going to grow out of this stuff anytime soon. I think it was Heavy Metal that did it. Like: " Oh, ok, this is clearly not for kids ".

  6. One point of clarification: Action/Dredger was first published in 1976. The Professionals didn't start until 1977, so DI5 couldn't have been taken from the TV show. Wagner said the idea for Dredger (leading to Judge Dredd) came about due to the film Dirty Harry and the righward shift in UK politics at the time.

  7. I've recently contacted Titan Books about the Action comic collection. They told me that the publication was cancelled and might never be done. I wish we could launch a campaign to get it published. Feb 20th 2015.