Monday, 14 April 2014


Here's a lesson in why setting out to initially do things in a chronological order was a doomed task from the start... As in, I had this "piece" all ready and prepared when I found out that this particular publication is/was the "sequel" to another one. No worries, I'll just have to shift things around a bit and "do" Gutter after this one - which is called Gutted.

Get me and my fancy sample edition

The story goes that there was a comic called Gutter, itself an off-shoot of Zit - same publishers and everything (Humour Publications), and when things weren't going so well there Gutter was shut down and re-launched as Gutted, printed on cheap paper and using spot-colour throughout, and claiming "bizarre humour" as its selling point. Yep, it's rude comics having a go at surrealism, with mixed results.

Before I got hold of any issues of Gutted, I was informed that it was the equivalent of what you'd get if you could staple wank together - an understandable opinion when looking at lazily "random" bits like these:

Yes, that thing that Noel Fielding does nowadays, only on paper. I stand here today to say that despite such rubbish as this, I enjoyed reading the four issues of Gutted that I've acquired so far. I really have! 

The "proper" first issue

Conceived and written mostly by Ged Backland and Shaun Taft (previously featured here within the pages of Igor), and lasting for... Maybe seven or eight issues? Beginning in 1992 anyway, and the only source I've found so far says it lasted for "about" eight issues, so that'll do for now. Let's have a peek at what else constitutes "bizarre humour", shall we?

Friday, 4 April 2014

Apathetic Amphibian

Here's an odd one, stylistically at least. In the realm of Viz-inspired comics, Lazy Frog from Big Star Publishing is certainly... anomalous? Thematically it's identical, yes, but it LOOKS like nothing else I've seen within the "genre". 

Well, that cover's not exactly representative of what I'm on about, but hang in there. Okay, the first time I found Lazy Frog was on a trip to that London in 2002, and it was on the shelf of some swanky newsagent. Not the first issue, but the sixth issue. I enjoyed it enough at the time, but in the decade (and more!) since then I've only been able to find two more issues. And the only information concerning Lazy Frog on the whole of the Internet can be found in two paragraphs of one page:

Dave: You’ve sent me some of your recent work. Well, fairly recent. I didn’t know of the existence of Big Star Publishing and here are two titles from them. Lazy Frog is a kind of West Country Viz with lots of rude words and sheep-shagging. It’s about ninety percent comics, the strips variously signed by Shaky Kane, Shaky K and Joe Klutz. Time to come clean I think. This looks like a one-man show to me. But can I reassure Vikki that all those French personal ads were not down to you? I can’t believe you came up with “Sacre Bleu, I appear to ‘ave fucked you up ze ass.”

Shaky: Again, an opportunity came my way. Uncle Al The Kiddie’s Pal was my character, along with The Tic-Toc Man. But the personal ads you’re talking about were down to the editor, Ian Porter. He must have thought it was a good idea at the time. His Smelliest Clown Lonely Heart page was funnier! And he actually put the damn thing out, so it’s hard to be too critical.

There we have it - the extent of the Internet's knowledge about Lazy Frog (besides a slight discussion on the matter here) - it's a two-man job consisting of the artist, Shaky Kane (real name Michael Coulthard, of Deadline, 2000AD and Bulletproof Coffin fame) and the editor, Ian Porter, who also put out the magazine and wrote most of the stuff in it. It lasted for at least six issues, beginning in 2001, and that's all we know. So what can I do? I can show some of its contents to anyone who might be interested, that's what!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Gordon Bell - 1934-2014, a mini tribute

By now most comic readers are probably aware that Gordon Bell left this world on the 13th of February, aged 79. One of the hallmarks of being a "great" comic artist is your work being easily identifiable as uniquely yours, and Gordon's style was DEFINITELY a unique one. Tributes to him abound (for example, here, here, herehere, here and here), and here's another one - beginning with the first bit of Gordon's work that I ever saw, from the first Beano annual I ever got:

Here's a self-portrait of sorts from the 1993 Topper annual:

And arguably his finest creation, that master of hokum, flim-flam, posh and poppycock, Spoofer McGraw:

RIP, Mr. Bell.

Could be a writer with a growing reputation, could be the ticket man at Fulham Broadway station

Bit of a sad one here, as apart from Viz, this was the last (easily-obtainable) "alternative" British humour comic - as in, there haven't been any more on the high street since this one. That's not to say I'm done here, there's still LOADS left to look at, it's just that chronologically, this is the last. It's the "sequel" of sorts to Northern Lightz, and it's called Wasted. You may remember Johnny Kunt "hinting" at this (here). The last page of the last issue of Northern Lightz was this:

And now THIS: Wasted!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Skin Up, or something

Yes, yes, it's been a short while - explanations to follow and all that. For now let's get on with this trilogy thing here. This one!

It's 1999, and David Alexander (creator of Electric Soup mainstays the MacBams) came up with the idea for a dope-themed humour comic (initially titled Skunk) - Jim Stewart, Jamie Grant and Paddy "Pudsy" Morris (RIP) agreed, and so Northern Lightz came into being. What followed was eleven issues of mostly pun-based laughs, all in a "being-in-the-right-frame-of-mind" sort of vein. Let's "toke" a "ganja" shall we? As in, "take a gander". Do puns still work if you explain them afterwards? Pfft.

Before starting, maybe the more innocent folk out there should know that "dope-humour" largely relies on short-term memory loss. You'll be seeing the same jokes over and over again here. Think of a T-shirt shop in Blackpool or Scarborough or Amsterdam, only better drawn, and you're on the right track. It's nowhere near as rubbish as something like this:

...but if that tickled you, you're going to have a great time.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Cheap Strong Beverage with an Uncompromising Bouquet

It would've been nice to've had this one done by Saturday, but there we go. Another delayed celebration it is. The next few things getting "looked at" are from that Scotland place, but don't worry - these're nothing like that last Scottish comic seen here. So get your Irn Bru ready - we're starting with...

This one!

Started in Glasgow in 1989, by misters David Alexander and Tommy Sommerville, Electric Soup seems like so much more than the Viz wannabe that the media made it out to be. So people aren't allowed to make grown-up comics with rude words in them because there's already one of those? Balls to that! I'm feeling a bit guilty now with that "Viz-A-Likes" words I've been using, but a lot of them undeniably ARE cash-ins... It's just that a lot of comics sprung up around the same time, and people like to encapsulate things, so that's what's getting done. Electric Soup is one of the good ones, so let's just leave it at that. After looking at some pages from it, obviously.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Is this too late? Probably

Greetings, and a merry new year to one and all. Yes, I'm late saying that, but I AM working on... something. It's in keeping with previous themes, but it's also a theme-within-a-theme. While that's in development, I thought I'd best do something quick here - nothing screams "dead blog" like a miserable post made on Christmas Eve being at the top of the page when we're half way through January, so you're having this:

Zig and Zag's Zogazine - the New Year special! The Zogazine has been featured on this part of the Internet in the past. Twice, in fact. It honestly, honestly, REALLY IS one of the funniest comics to ever come out of Britain, thanks in no small part to it being headed by a certain Kev Sutherland, yet if the modern world is anything to go by, it seems that I'm 50% of the people who remember it. The other 50% made a video all about it, with genuine enthusiasm and everything - take a look at it, perhaps? Then go back to this thing, unless something else on YouTube distracts you. There's some pages to see if you want, and some "clues" as to what the next thing around here will be, if you're keen enough...

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Fishmas!

Speaking honestly, 2013's been a bit of a shitter mostly. There were some good bits, definitely, but it's all been downhill since around September-ish, hence the general Scrooginess I've been feeling throughout December. HOWEVER, over the past two nights I've been visited by three spirits (well, two good friends and a sibling), and that "festive feeling" has finally arrived, sort of. So let's have one last thing before the 25th happens - The Trout Xmas Special!

How appropriate! One of those terrible Viz wannabes that's also Christmassy. This being the only issue of Trout that I have, it makes sense to look at it now, otherwise it'd mean waiting a whole year for the opportunity to arise again. And a lot of things can happen in a year - what if something should "happen"? The world would be denied knowing about the contents of this particular comic! And what a tragedy that would be etc.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Look behind you and all that

Six more sleeps till "the big day", and somehow, despite all my efforts, I'm not feeling "Christmassy" in the slightest. I'll be blaming recent real-life events for that, but am still endeavouring to get at least a BIT festive. This might help:

Yeah, a pantomime! The Hoot pantomime no less. I've talked about Hoot before, and I'll be talking about it again - it's far too good a comic to be as neglected as it is. It was completely left out of the otherwise excellent Classics From The Comics (it's not even mentioned on the cover), and last year, when DC Thomson put out a book collecting several pantomime-themed stories from their archives, Hoot was left out once more.

In my ongoing heroic quest to right such wrongs, here's the whole thing, in full...