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January 9th - Look out for Lefty! by kanyiko January 9th - Look out for Lefty! by kanyiko
A Year in Comics - January 9th

Day 9: Kenny 'Lefty' Lampton - Look out for Lefty! (Or: A Tale of British Comic Censorship)

Antony John 'Tony' Harding was born on January 9th 1942.  At the age of 16 he joined Link Studios as an apprentice, before becoming a comic artist for DC Thompson and IPC Magazines.  Tony, himself a passionate soccer player as well as a talented boxer, athlete and singer, specialised in sports comics.  In 1962 he became a freelance artist, drawing numerous sports comics (predominantly football ones) for British publications such as 'The Victor', 'The Hornet', 'The Hotspur', 'Bullet' and 'Scorcher', including such titles as 'Roy of the Rovers', 'Twisty' and 'Bouncing Briggs'.  However, his name is most associated with the controversial 'Look out for Lefty!', written by Tom Tullie and originally drawn by Barrie Mitchell, which he drew for the equally controversial weekly 'Action'.

In the changing political and social climates of the mid-1970s, and faced with DC Thompson's newest publication Warlord, which featured more realistic and gritty adventures than traditional British Boys' Comics, IPC Magazines asked freelance writer/editor Pat Mills to come up with a concept of their own.  This became Action, a weekly comic anthology which ran a number of titles.  Upon its first issue, published on February 7th but dated February 14th 1976, Action hit with the force of a bomb - it was not only realistic and gritty, but graphic and gory as well.

Within the context of the Action anthology, Look out for Lefty! was a football comic about a young inspiring working-class footballer named Kenny 'Lefty' Lampton, so-named as he was a left-footed striker.  However, Lefty was less then perfect: he had an evil temper, a skinhead girlfriend named Annie, and was often involved in scrapes both on and off the field, both with other players and local football hooligans.

Within weeks of the first publication, both Action as a whole and Lefty as an individual title had become the subject of controversy: newspapers such as the Evening Standard and The Sun ran damning articles on Action; meanwhile Mary Whitehouse (1910-2001), Britain's closest equivalent to a Taliban-styled moral police, led a campaign to censor or totally ban Action; and when in one issue of Lefty a bottle was thrown on the pitch by Lefty's skinhead girlfriend, even the Football Association pitched in, demanding action over the comics.

Eventually, faced with distribution boycotts, IPC gave in and had the October 23rd issue pulped before publication.  By the time the next issue was published on November 27th 1976, the controversial titles had either been toned down to a pale shadow of their former selves, or entirely banned - predictably, sales of this watered-down version of Action fell, and soon the publication was cancelled as a whole.

Despite all of the controversy, Tony Harding himself felt Lefty was cheeky and humorous, but did refuse to draw some of the things his writer Tom Tullie demanded of him, such as Lefty giving the crowd a two-fingered salute.

Tony Harding continued playing as a soccer player until the 1980s, having played for Guernsey-based St Martin's FC, and the Isle of Wright-based Rookley FC.  When the British comic industry began to falter in the 1990s, he became an art teacher, leaving the world of comics alltogether in 2000.  Tony Harding unexpectedly died of a heart attack on January 12th 2014, three days after his 72nd birthday.



Following the ban of Action, editor Pat Mills used the experience to set up a new comic anthology, but setting it in a science-fiction context to avoid similar issues and controversies which had plagued the previous publication.  First published on February 26th 1977, barely four months after the ban on Action, the new publication carried titles similar in feel to those of Action - including a new comic title featuring an authoritarian lawman in a future dystopia.  Not expecting the publication to survive long, they cheekily named it 2000AD; the lawman in question was, of course, Judge Dredd...


10th entry out of ?

January 8th - Ferd'nand by kanyiko <- Back to January 8th ---------- Forward to January 10th ->  January 10th - Quasar by kanyiko
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benitezdk Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
... Hard to be a controversiel front runner! ... :wow:
kanyiko Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Indeed - even half a decade later, hardly anybody (bar Mrs. Whitehouse) would have batted an eyelid at it!
burstlion Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Heh!!  Neat XD
kanyiko Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks! ^_^
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Submitted on
January 8
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