Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Stick it in a bag and throw it in the canal

Dear oh dearie me, what have we here? If the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, what's the road to good intentions paved with? Discarded issues of The Scurvy Dog, probably. 

Whilst other "adult humour" comics of the time mostly relied on lampooning the likes of your Beano and your Whizzer & Chips, the makers of Scurvy Dog - those being Graham Hey of Spit! fame, along with Chris Whitehead and Paul Kelly - in 1995 decided to go further back and have a go at a "boys' paper" parody. Writing as someone who's never got ANY enjoyment from such a publication, maybe it's not entirely fair of me to be looking at Scurvy Dog? Well, it's not like anyone else is going to be doing it, so here we go...

Staying calm

There's been a lot of my favourite famous people dying this year, and today's one seems to be making a bigger impact than most of them. Whilst others have been tragic and/or unexpected, the death of Robin Williams is beyond tragic - this is someone who WANTED to die, how could anyone ever think like that?

Well, we all know the answer, and it's a horrible answer but an answer none the less. It's depression, it's a big thing. Judging by the amount of things popping up all over the Internet today you'd think mental illness had only just been discovered today, but at least it's getting people talking about it, which is something that NEEDS to happen a lot more often. Geoff Lloyd of Absolute Radio fame did a remarkably frank piece on his usually-jovial show this evening, along with a big push for the Campaign Against Living Miserably, and that wasn't an isolated incident either. Here's another thing worth reading, better than any preachy eulogy could ever do: 

Call this bandwagon-jumping if you will, but depression is ridiculously common, and the absolute best thing to do about it is to talk about it. This in itself is hard enough, in that it's so hard to explain exactly WHAT it is, without resorting to vague notions about chemical imbalances and crossed wires in the brain and suchlike. Here's as good an idea of it as I've ever read, and even that's alarmingly vague:

If you'll bear with me, I'm going to talk about my experiences with it now. To be fair, I'll delay publishing this until I've got my next "proper" article ready, so they'll both be there at once, should you happen to be one of those sick fucks who prefers to think that depression is a made-up disease.

I was diagnosed as depressed in 2007 (or "psychotic", to be precise). I was living with a bunch of friends at the time, and it was those friends who noticed that something wasn't right with me. It was them who staged the "intervention", them who made me go to the hospital, and them who cut off all ties with me once I was safely in the hands of the NHS. This is a thing that happens with mental illness - it scares people, and not just those who are stuck with it. Despite going through school with these people, as soon as I was deemed "not normal" in their eyes they were gone. People get scared, fine, but if you really want to call yourself a friend you should be there when things go wrong - if not you'll no doubt make things worse, so they did a great job there.

What followed was around three years of medication in varying dosages and strengths; countless sessions with a counsellor, a psychiatrist, a psychologist and several support workers; a somewhat terrifying CT scan; a few workshops which involved hanging around with other "disturbed" people of varying intensities; and lots and lots and lots of doing nothing. I got fat and slept a lot and most of those three years are a blur, but things gradually started picking up. 

Spending more time at home naturally meant spending more time on the Internet, and I joined a forum. About six months after joining, there was talk on there of a meet-up, which I convinced myself to go along to somehow. There were more and more of these, and I went along to as many as I could, each time meeting new, like-minded people. People who today I count as among my best friends, and one of whom is my ultimate reliance. Whenever things are getting bad or at their absolute worst, she's there to listen, and that's enough. If everyone would just get their selfish heads out of the sand and LISTEN when someone's falling to pieces... Idealism etc. My rock doesn't like comics so she's not likely to read this, so at least I'm not embarrassing anyone here.

Something else happened about a year or so after getting involved with "Internet people" - I was offered a job. Nothing fancy, but a job, which gave a reason to get up in the mornings, and this was a big development. I was active and speaking to people everyday, I lost weight, built muscles, earned my own money. Eventually I decided to bin the tablets and cut myself off from the support workers, and even got out of the house and moved into a place of my own.

I was lucky, is what I'm saying. Or "am" lucky, whatever. But just like any illness, the effects are long-lasting, sometimes even permanent. I still get angry, still get miserable, still get hopeless. Only three weeks ago I was reasoning with myself how I'd prefer to be dead, whilst at the same time telling myself I'm too much of a coward to actually go through with it. Seven years ago this would've been dangerous, but now I'm surrounded by people who actually give a fuck, people who can tell when something's wrong and are there to give me a kick up the pants and send me in the right direction again. Where I am right now isn't perfect, far from it, but as long as there are people willing to listen, I'm happy with that. People deal with depression in many different ways, and my way mostly involves making sure there's enough distractions around to keep me from thinking about it, so there.

Let's get back to the comics now and pretend everything's fantastic again.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

A Different Class

Something's happening - I seem to be losing the ability to dislike things, mostly. Well, at least in regard to this kind of thing. Back in February of last year, I highlighted some Beano parodies from a comic called Pulp, a publication I summed up thusly:

...of all the Viz-style "alternative" comics I've seen, Pulp's definitely one of the worst in terms of "Getting it completely wrong". No cleverness or satire or anything here, just bad drawings and rude words.

Humble pie from the oven of shame and all that, but I must've either had a short memory or, as feared, I've lost the ability to criticise. Reading over the two issues of Pulp I have for the purposes of this article, it's suddenly one of my favourites. At least top ten. Whoops. So here we go, a re-assessment of sorts of Pulp.

Launched in 1991 by Big Mags Ltd, and edited by the same Stuart Blair, as the sister title to Ziggy, which if you remember, was a fairly outrageous title (as an understatement) that thrived on speculative libel. Suggesting Simon Bates has an incestuous relationship with his mother, stating that Roy Hattersley threw up on live TV and there was a baby's arm in the sick, that sort of thing. It was mostly those kind of articles and strange doctored photographs on most of its pages, with a few comics here and there. Pulp, on the other hand, flipped that ratio to be more of a comic-based publication, with a smattering of the articles too. So now we know what kind of thing we're in for here, shall we begin?

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Got the clams

Not really a "proper" post, this one (should have one of those ready by Sunday, perhaps), but it's one for the archive anyway. I've been looking for a somewhat elusive adult comic/Viz-clone called Klam for a while now, to no avail. Here's a picture of it:

Well, the guy who actually MADE the thing has recently reacquainted himself with the whole thing, and reviewed it retrospectively (and at length!). Go and read it by clicking on the following word: KLAM.

Sad completist/hoarder that I am, I'm still on the lookout for it!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Robbery with violence

Thus runs the tagline for Blag, and it's a fairly accurate one too - this could possibly be one of the most pen-crunchingly, ridiculously violent Viz-type comics that there is! All seems well on the cover, if not slightly odd, in a "we-are-here-for-you" kind of way:

Your basic information here is that Blag lasted for about a year from August of 1990, it was edited by Craig McDonald, published by Sceptre Marketing, and features several familiar faces we've already met.

And with that... Let the catharsis begin?

Monday, 23 June 2014

42 MP's, 5 hod carriers, 3 pimps, 12 students and a tramp.

Here we go again, with a title that doesn't really stand out at all, in any way whatsoever... But I set out to cover ALL of these things, and ALL of them I shall! There's a fair few more of the atypical variety to go, but there's also several more "interesting" ones on the way too. For now, let's get Top Banana looked at, including its inspiringly literal covers...

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

But why are the kids crying?

Utterly devastating, that's what it is. This year, we've already lost uncle Ramis, grandad Hoskins, auntie Townsend (and her family of Moles), and now our best mate, Rik. Speaking honestly, I can't think of a single performance of his that wasn't good. I'm crap at eulogies, but this really is one of those deaths that seems to be uniting everyone, and it's horrible, it really is.

Have some YouTube links while they're still active:

Rik's appearance in the Comic Relief Comic:

And then maybe this thing should be "number one" at the weekend or something?

In other news, dozens of other "comedians" are still alive and have several panel shows/advert voice-overs lined up over the next few months.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Behind the Green Curtains

One of my favourite things about doing all these articles on the "rude comics" (besides re-reading them all and finding ones I've never heard of before) is when the people who actually made them pop up in the comments section, and share a bit about what it was like being a part of the whole thing. For example, take a look at what Rob Filth (or Rob Yuppies as he was then known) has to say about Ziggy and Spit, and while you're at the Spit bit, take in what Lee Turnock and Lew Stringer have to say about the whole thing as well.

Recently, Nigel Maughan popped up in the comments section too - click on his name in the side bit there, and you'll probably be taken to nearly every "rude comic" article I've done so far, as he worked on pretty much all of them (with a few exceptions - only Poot! and Lazy Frog come to mind immediately). Seriously, have a look at his CV, it goes on and on and on... Here's something of his in case it hasn't clicked yet who I'm on about:

That's one of the first things I ever saw by him, by the way - in an issue of Acne, a long, long time ago.

At the risk of sounding like a disgusting sycophant, I'm going to say now that I was a bit excited when Nigel got in touch - he's my fourth-favourite living cartoonist, y'see. We got to talking, and what follows is my attempt at a thrown-together "interview" about the "scene" in general. I've never done anything like this before, so you'll just have to bear with it. Plenty of illustrations/comics throughout though, so don't worry.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Devastated? The Prequel!

Not long after starting the write-up on Gutted, I found out that Gutter was actually the comic that was out BEFORE Gutted, and also from the same company - Humour Publications. That's my explanation for the lack of chronology here. I have no explanation for the amount of time that's passed since the last update here. Just call it an inflammatory lung disease or a broken arm or whatever.

Gutter then. A very similar name to Gutted, but it couldn't be more different to it. Well, it could, but we're only talking about it in terms of rude British comics for the time being. For the sake of documentation, I think we're looking at a start date of around 1990 here - the earliest issue I have is number eight, and that's got 1991 on it, so we'll go with 1990 for now unless I'm corrected.

Carry on reading to see just how "different" it is, if you're interested at all...