Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Specialist Adult Humour Periodical for the Lonely

Well look at this, more than one post in a month! Makes a nice change, a bit. This one's about a terrible, terrible, terrible comic called Spit! - I don't feel like smiling anymore.


Carry on, make yourself miserable...

"Comic Historians" will be interested to know that this is the comic that helped to bury the (slightly) superior Zit - Russell Church, the owner of Zit, took Spit! to court on plagiarism charges, and got laughed out of the room with a massive time-wasting fine, but as we'll see here, maybe there was a slight bit of truth to his argument.

For example, many of the characters that appeared in Zit also appeared in Spit! - suppose that's the trouble with a relying on freelancers in an overpopulated market, perhaps? Here's Maxwell Beecher, who we've already met before:


As well as Rob Filth's Roy of the Red Lion:



And Graham Hey's large cast of unimaginative characters... The Twats Next Door:


Dad and Son:


And Teenage Mum:


Graham Hey also "did" a few other "characters" here, just for Spit! - well, they're not in any issues of Zit that I have, at least. None of them are much fun. We have wife-murdering gambling-addict Fred Furlong:


Child-bothering clergyman Reverend Potter:


And pathetic Sid The Sexist rip-off Norman's Conquest:



And while we're on the subject of terrible imitations that completely miss the point, here's Spit!'s take on Viz's Jack Black - Andy Fraser's Danny Glutton, the Fat-Arsed Schoolboy Detective:


Carrying on with the desperately-wanting-to-be-Viz theme, they also did these things:


In case you can't tell, that's supposed to be funny. Seasoned Viz readers will be familiar with such "tatvertisements" as No. 22 Shit Street or The Life of Christ in Cats, but this one? Well, it's a picture of kittens on a plate, and then it talks about the kittens on a plate... There's something missing here, that being "humour", which is sadly a bit of a running theme with Spit!, as can be further demonstrated by the likes of Michael Hingley's Lambert and Butler:


That charming punchline there? It's used often! See also Ugly Dudley:


Ugly Dudley's "thing" is the mutilation of students, as you can see here:


As well as in the four thousand other adventures he has. Drawn by Chris Whitehead, possibly the most prolific of contributors to Spit! - here's another of his regulars, the Queen of Clubs:


That bit that's obscured for legal reasons has my curiosity piqued slightly...

Also from Mr. Whitehead we have...

Alan Clutchdown, Driving Instructor (with ANOTHER sodomy-related punchline):


Young Brad, the Vicar's Lad:



Wingnut Wilson with a punchline that's actually fairly amusing a bit!


Charles' Atlas, which has potential but somehow falters... Not quite sure why or how:


Difficult Youth:



Robbie's Robot Dad - that panel where he says "Tin cunt" is worth a chuckle at least:


Barney's Rubble, which I actually DID laugh at, for that "riot" that he helps to start:


Gypsy Kings - Viz got into a spot of bother when they did a strip based around Gypsies (it's all there on Wikipedia if you're interested). When Spit! took a pop at them, it seems nobody really noticed, let alone cared:


And here's a further example of the slap-dash nature of relying on freelancers for content - Belamy Lugosi, Gothic Botanist appeared in issue 16:


And then again, with the exact same strip only with a bit of spot-colouring, in issue 45:


Good old Mr. Omnipresent himself, Nigel Maughan, is also a victim of multiple printings here - I've seen this same Barny Boot-Sale in Zit and possibly even in Smut as well:


Let's see some more of Mr. Maughan's contributions, because I like him...

Here's Bertie's Balloons:


And the mini-masterpiece, Junior Ram Raiders - each episode ends with the lead young offender mutilated in increasingly messy ways, to the point that his parents are getting sick of the whole thing:




Let's see, what else has Spit! got that's worth noting... There's the Spit! chatlines, which I can only assume are the worst things ever conceived:


And these things also - taking old adventure strips and changing the words in an attempt to make them funny. They go on for up to sixteen pages, so here's just one page from one of them - you get the idea:


And here's some more bits from the "early days" of Spit! - the contractually-obliged Jeremy Beadle lampoon, courtesy of Andy Fraser:



Jim Nasium, Andy Fraser's ode to schoolboy buggery:


Whitley Baywatch, drawn by Lew Stringer and written by Graham Hey (so at least this one looks different to the rest of Hey's stuff):


Something from current Beano and Viz man Paul Palmer:



And some more things from Michael Hingley:




From issue 27 until its overdue demise, Spit! underwent a slight makeover, with a full-colour glossy cover and some new artists:


Most "prominent" amongst them being Anthony Smith, again. He still did his usual identi-kit characters:




Whilst also deviating somewhat into a slightly different "style", which works well for the (comparatively) "hilarious" Pete's Pranks - a blatant rip-off/affectionate parody of Joker from Knockout and Whizzer & Chips. I like it:



Not so fun is Sad Twat, a bespectacled Roger the Dodger in a story in which nothing happens:


And Schizophrenic Stan - it's not often I put on my PC helmet, but this one I don't like, negative reinforcements of misguided stereotypes and all that:


Also new to the fold is... Someone Kelly? Seems like an angry fellow, you can imagine him gritting his teeth whilst drawing stuff like this:



And then there's this... thing. By a guy called "Gash", I'm SURE I've seen his work elsewhere... It's Sefton Ward, Paranormal Detective. The stories make no sense, but they look like nothing else:




UPDATE:
Almost exactly three years after this most was made, "Gash" has made himself known via the Facebook group (joined yet? It's fairly fun) - Gary Bell is his name ("Gash" being a nickname for Gary, from a time before the word was more synonymous with lady bits). And he also did a strip for Spit! called Nero Ramone: Porno Star Turned Hitman. Happy days! Thanks go to Gary Whitlock for pointing him in this direction.


And... That's Spit! then. Mostly terrible, but it got slightly better as it went on. The last-dated issue in my possession is from late 1996, meaning it lasted at least two years - moderately successful in terms of rude comics that aren't Viz then, and certainly deserving of its place in history for burying Zit.

Before we go, and seeing as it's October (when seemingly every blog has to have a "spooky" theme), here's the cover to Spit!'s Hallowe'en issue:


And a board game sort of thing from inside it, done by that Whitehead guy again:


Ah bollocks, I've spent my whole day off doing this thing.

Have a look at the comments below for some conflicting, informative opinions on what it was like working on Spit!, whilst also marvelling at the wonders of the modern age (write about comics then the folk who made the comic will come along and tell you about it!).

27 comments:

  1. I remember Spit! being a good comic to work for at least. Payments were on time and Graham Hey's scripts were regular. I think I may have written some Whitley Baywatch strips myself later. (I'll have to check.)
    There was another comic they did - C'Mon Ref! - which was a comic/mag hybrid really. Football themed as you may have guessed. We changed the strip into Whitley Baywatch Wanderers or something for that - with the characters joining a team of out of condition players sponsored by the local chip shop.

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    1. I've heard of C'Mon Ref! - I'm about 12% interested in football at the absolute maximum, but I've heard that it's mostly Spit/Zit reprints in there? It'd make things a bit easier if that WERE the case...

      It's a bit of a shame about Mr. Hey - some of his stuff is a BIT funny, but his drawing's abysmal, and there seems to be too much "swearing for the sake of it" - such as in Whitley Bay there, where even the mayor drops the C-word all over the place like it's nothing.

      Don't suppose you can identify the "Gash" of Sefton Ward there, could you? Or anyone else for that matter?

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    2. From my understanding the reason why Spit! ended up so much like Zit was because of when Ged Backland took over as Editor on Zit comic he neglected to pay many of the contributors for many months work (myself included) and Graham Hey was very welcoming to the many ripped off Zit contributors to come and work for him on Spit.

      Although Spit won the court case against Zit who were claiming that Heys own characters and creations were their own copyright whilst Hey was claiming (quite rightly in my opinion) that freelance contributors such as himself were merely selling first publication serial rights, I believe the court costs to Hey and Spit were still quite damaging at several thousand pounds being wasted over Zits action.

      Although Spit was very terribly formulatic due to Hey doing the scripts for about 80% of the thing, it was still moderately successful as readerships seem to feel complacently comfortable with a template which they could associate closely to Viz, even if it was an inferior cloned one. I believe the comic was selling in the region of around 60,000 in it's first few years .

      C'mon Ref! was (mainly) original material from what I remember, I was contracted to draw up a football themed "Roy Of The Red Lion" for it and the script was so bloody awful, more uninspiring and excruciatingly awful than usual with just a group of 5 characters introducing each others names for 12 panels before the non-existent "story" ended that I complained to Hey and told him I felt the strips inclusion would reduce the quality of the launch issue to wriggle out of doing it.

      My own interest in football is less than 12% at an absolute maximum, probably less than 1.2% but I guess Hey had his eye on the successful football zine market, some of which were crossing over to mainstream at the time, "When Saturday Comes" etc. After seeing the dummy copy of issue 1, I wasn't impressed with C'mon Ref and felt it was going to lose Hey money which might impact on Spits output as had previously happened with many other publishers when they operated dual titles such as Damage/Gas, Ziggy/Pulp etc, but a few of my football fan mates seem to enjoy the pages of the comic all the same so perhaps it was just my biased ignorance of football which swayed my opinion?

      I eventually downed tools on Spit for pretty much the same reasons as I did for Zit, payments were not forthcoming for work contracted and delivered on time and on Spit I seemed to be the only contributor affected by this so I guess it was quite simply because Hey didn't like my artwork or attitude, perhaps due to my reluctance to get involved on C'mon Ref.

      I fucked off to work on Top Banana instead where at least I could nurture my own characters again instead of getting saddled with god-awful scripts.

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    3. Cheers for the information there, Rob - bit of a contrast with Lew's experience it seems!

      So, Hey wanted Roy of the Red Lion, which was a piss-take on a football strip, to be about football instead? Takes the point away, sort of. Those football folk are an odd bunch.

      Top Banana, I like that one a bit more than the previous few things covered here - it's fifth in line in the "to-do" pile, at the moment.

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    4. I'm pretty sure that most contributors like Lew,Reg Whitehead, Paul Palmer etc had an okay experience working on Spit, to be fair Hey did pay on time and more regularly to begin with than Zit and was far more hands on and less corporate in his approach to the comic. I think my own sour experience was with the frustration of having no creative control or recognition over my own output. I even asked Hey to let me take on some of his own scripts if he didn't want to accept my own, such was my utter frustration with Roy of the Red Lion which I personally found desperately unfunny. It's not like I hadn't worked from others scripts before on other comics and mags and often an artist can inject more humour in to a lacking script particularly when they've studied the art of putting in background gags etc in to the visuals, but Roy of the Red Lion was like a bad hangover from Zit which really should have only been a one-off idea and I think even the writer Kevin Pillay(fair play to him for managing to churn it as far as he could) also realised this by C'mon Ref from his first draft 5 minute attempt. It was hugely stagnating creatively.

      As you rightly point out, a football parody then turned in to a football script again seemed a bit odd and the hastily cobbled together script comissioned for it was like the kind of thing I would have written when I was about 7 years old and making comics. I think I still have it somewhere and should post it up for proof...

      Top Banana I have to admit was my favourite comic to work on since Pulp (which not many people liked I gather, but I quite liked it), but sadly suffered from a poor distribution. In fact I would say most of the best comics during the Viz-cloned boom seemed to get the worst distribution and the most of the worst the best distribution.

      I found it incredibly frustrating at the time, because there WAS some good stuff equally on par with Viz to be found within the pages of some of them.

      I remember really raving about Anthony Smiths stuff to Graham Hey because although he had an indenti-kit instantly recognisable style of art and characters, I really liked his scripts and tight style of art, but he unfortunately stubbornly stuck to Zit for another couple of years before finally crossing over to Spit after which time I'd left.

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    5. Think I've only got a couple of issues of Pulp, and will be reminding myself of it shortly, but from what I've learnt it IS the worse ones that seemed to get the better distribution - the likes of UT, Gas and Poot! barely scraped over maybe two dozen issues, if that, yet Smut somehow went on for almost 300 issues!

      Thanks for clearing up Mr Whitehead's name there too (Reg!) - I've since managed to figure out "Michael" Hingley as well, so will be adjusting the index/tags accordingly - do you prefer "Rob Filth" or "Mister Yuppies"?

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    6. Well after Filth comic I changed my signing name to "Rob Yuppies" once I became aware that there actually was some money to be made from producing these lewd kind of cartoons by working for other publishers and that the audience for this kind of thing (particularly in London) was astonishingly becoming the Yuppie class and affluent.

      I've reverted back to my original moniker "Rob Filth" nowadays.

      Pulp started off quite well with lots of original content and sadly declined like a lot of other titles did by ending up reprinting anything and everything to to fill pages. I think some of Nigel Maughans stuff must have had 4 or 5 reprints around the range of titles and it showed at the time too.

      It was a bit like when IPCs comic range was on its last legs and they'd desperately reprint from old Busters or Whoopees from ten years previously in the hope that no one would notice.

      (sorry about all of the deletions, due to edits :) )

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    7. Yuppies liked these sort of things? And here's me thinking that most of them kept their "local" audience unless they managed to break through, or something.

      Thinking about it, I haven't looked at them for a while but I think the two issues of Pulp I have both contain a bit of crossover within them,,,

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    8. Yes, yuppies DID like these sort of things. They thought they were risque and naughty. Amazing huh? Something that was so obviously aimed at the working classes found its most appreciative audience in a load of rich twits.

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  2. Surely it was a misprint in the title. Should've been an 'h' instead of a 'p'.

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  3. Here's where I 'out' myself...
    I did the voices for those spoof phone lines. Graham Hey knew I'd done time on the comedy circuit as 'Tommy Shears' (so that explains that one - the picture isn't me, it's a stock photo of some old duffer) and I demonstrated some funny voices to him over the phone, and he paid me fifty quid to record some funny phone messages. They were all recorded on a little mono tape recorder in my spare room, as low-tech as it gets. If I remember rightly Miserable Fucking Caretaker had a Glaswegian accent, the rest of them were generic Northern.
    I have to agree with Lew Stringer about Spit! being a good comic to work for, fifty quid means a lot when you're effectively self employed. I also did some scripts for C'mon Ref!, using the three or four football jokes I know!

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    1. Fifty's a LOT for recording some funny voices!

      Found a couple of your things in the Spit! comics there - an advert for Klam and a letter you sent in. I can get them scanned and sent to you if you want?

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    2. Thanks for the offer, but Klam reminds me of a very unhappy time in my life and I think it should be left where it lies.

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  4. Fascinating stuff, particularly the insiders' accounts of working on these titles! I mostly didn't read them, but I can still remember the upper shelves of newsagents being crammed with what seemed to be endless variations of a theme!

    Interesting that there seemed to be such a vibrant ‘adult’ market in the 1990s, in contrast to the shrinking juvenile one.

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    1. Ta muchly! Good point about the contrast with the juvenile comics, never thought of that one until now. What was there in the Nineties, maybe ten comics at most?

      Beano, Dandy, Beezer & Topper (combined) and Buster being the "big" ones, along with Fleetway's archive comics - Big Comic and BVC. Then several non-starters like It's Wicked, Fizog and Triffik, as well as the more "teenage"-focused ToXic and Acne. That's all I've got off the top of my head!

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  5. Re: Spit comic
    Hi, a friend just forwarded the link to this blog which I read with interest! Even though you seem to slag off virtually everything, it shows that you did know the market a the time. We were friends with Viz, yes, we were selling on the back of it, but the artwork (obviously not mine!) was excellent and fitted in with the idea that 'anyone could get stuff published' which was part of the appeal. At Spit we paid decent rates, usually on time, and treated everybody nicely. Infact I can tell you that I am still friends with pretty much everyone who worked for us - yes, surprise surprise, I am a decent guy. Loads of comics failed to pay their contributors (I was not paid by top banana and about 15 other adult comics). Spit! had a good reputation despite the fact you don't like it. It used to sell about 50,000 copies, so was one of the best selling adult comics. When Zit took us to court, to effectively put us out of business, we won, they went into liquidation and set up the next day. We were awarded full costs of 70K, but as they liquidated (again) we had to pay the costs ourselves- yet we still paid our staff - and some of them relied heavily on our payments. Top marks to people like Lew Stringer, Paul Palmer,Chris Whitehead, Paul Kelly, Nigel Maughan, all put a big effort in, and we had a loyal readership. I tried to stick by the guys who helped us out by saying stuff like 'Pay me a few weeks late if that helps you...' I won't forget those guys.
    Of my shite, Teenage Mum went on to be a daily cartoon strip in the daily star, and chris whitehead and Paul Kelly also helped to write a weekly comedy section in the newspaper which ran for several years. if you want to slag off comics - why not slag off the frauds, liars, cheats and all those who ripped good guys off - who were just trying to make a living of sorts. We were all young lads trying to get on the cartoon ladder (OK, maybe not Lew, as he was already successful) but Paul Palmer - top geezer worked in the NHS, so did Whitehead, Nigel in the Police force. We all just tried to do something. Zit also failed to pay me over 10K for freelance work- which is why I set up Spit, cos I was sick of fraudsters. Most of the other cartoonists were not paid by them either. On Spit! I remember paying some fees out of my own pocket in order to keep it going when the court case was going on. Thanks for all the positive comments about it being OK to work on Spit. I left after about 15 issues or so as Express newspapers asked me to write a comedy section for them. Paul Kelly took over as Editor. It was fun to work on, although drove me mad at times cos of people like Zit. Anyway, I had better go as I'm all 'comiced out' now! I know of at least 25 adult comics that launched in the 90's. And for the record, Simon Bates (Radio2) did a piece each month on The Twats Next Door, which was his favourite strip - he changed the name of course! Incidentally, I am now a stand-up comedian/comedy writer for guys on TV - have been for years, and I did a gig the other week with Simon Donald from Viz, who is also a stand-up. We had a good old chat and laugh about the times!
    Graham Hey

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    1. Hi Graham,

      First of all, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, always appreciate hearing from people involved in "the scene". And thanks for giving your side of the story, I've heard conflicting things from all sorts of people whilst doing these write-ups, good and bad, and the more I hear the more interesting the whole era becomes.

      Allow me to state that I don't WANT to "slag off" comics - I've been collecting hundreds of these titles now for the last few years, and appreciate all of them - some more than others, certainly, but it was noticing how little coverage they've had on the Internet and in comic history books that spurred me on to giving them as much "exposure" as I can. This blog has a small audience, but I put a lot into it. Look up the piece on "Duck Soup" for my lamenting on how the whole scene's dismissed in a couple of sentences in every history book I've read.

      Also... I'm 29, so "at the time" was too young to be aware of the vast majority of these titles. I have older friends who've told me that Spit was their favourite of the lot, so there's that. Can't remember how my "obsession" with them started, but it did, and whilst my write-ups have initially been based on gut reactions, as time's gone on and I've spoken to many of the people involved, I've been able to piece together, bit by bit, a cobbled "history" of what was going on, and thus appreciate the comics even more. Most of what I've learned has come from Rob Filth, Nigel Maughan and Lee Turnock, those three I've spoken with the most, but as I've said, I've learnt more and more with each new name that's appeared, and one day, I WILL re-write the whole lot of them, and give these comics the documenting they deserve.

      I'm rambling now (again), but thanks again for commenting. One last thing... Would you have any idea who "Gash" is? As in, the artist on Sefton Ward: Paranormal Detective?

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    2. Hi, I’ve no idea who Gash is, I’ll ask Paul Kelly – he’ll know.
      I’m glad you are covering the area of adult comics, but it just appears you are slagging them all off, when ‘for their time’ several of them were very successful – including Spit! The Viz crew loved Spit, as did many many readers. We were not some corporate company looking to make fast money- we were a few young lads doing something we enjoyed, and knocking it together in the kitchen. You have to bear in mind that after 3 issues, Spit! Was already 100K in debt cos of 2 legal cases that we WON. The Zit one was for ‘passing off’ )The NAME – which they said was too similar to theirs! The judge threw it out as a fraudulent prosecution. Their name was even more similar to Viz! Anyway, cos of all the debt, I had to write most of the scripts to save money, as I didn’t want to rip-off cartoonists. Most of them were great, as they knew that myself and Spit! Was a very honest comic- unlike many. We helped out several cartoonists, giving them legal advice when they were trying to get money from Zit. Top marks to the Nigel, Paul palmer etc – genuine guys with a love for comics. I made some great friends through Spit! I think it’s easy to knock comics without knowing the background. I would have loved to get several other cartoonists in, but we just couldn’t afford them, and I wasn’t going to exploit them! So that shaped Spit!
      Anyhow, time to go now. I hope you have a great Xmas. And for your new year’s resolution, try and say something nice about Spit! Go on, you’ll feel much better for it! 

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    3. Off the top of my head, I can only think of Winebibber and Jockstrap as ones I've had nothing positive to say about - with all the others I think I've tried to have a balance between highlighting aspects that I've liked and disliked - if they read like I'm slagging them ALL off, that really isn't the intention! If you look at the more recent articles, you'll see I've been leaning towards showing more "good" stuff than the stuff I didn't enjoy... And I am only one individual, with my own opinions and so on.

      It does seem that there's only been myself and a couple of others who've had bad things to say about Spit, whilst everyone else has spoke highly of it, and as I said before, as time's gone on and new information has come up, I've learnt to appreciate ALL of these titles a lot more than I already did.

      Whilst I'm not going to go for a complete retraction, once I've finished covering all the titles that I know of I'll definitely do a "summary" posting, clearing up a lot of the vitriol and whatnot.

      Thanks for being so professional about it all and not calling me a twat - have a great Xmas yourself too :-)

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  6. Oh, and good to hear from Mr Straightman aka Tommy, aka Lee. he was always a good lad, and in our office we used to like a read of KLAM!

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  7. Hello everybody.

    I remember working on Spit! with great fondness. It was a very warm comic to be involved in. I met Graham Hey when he phoned me after seeing a strip or two in something like Gas! or Zit or something and asked if I wanted to be involved with starting a new comic. As I was spending endless time on the phone being fobbed off with empty promises of cheques in the post, I said yes.

    When Graham ran Spit! I always got paid.I used to travel over to Spit! HQ in Huddersfield for a couple of days a week kipping on Graham's settee. We'd write scripts together like mad, often in the Merrie England cafe, send some out to other artists and keep some for ourselves. Then we'd go our separate ways and draw like billy-o.

    Deadlines came quickly and the work was intense, but they were happy times. Things have moved on, but friendships were formed. Graham came to my wedding 2004. Paul Kelly (one of the funniest people I've ever met) came to see me in Whitby on his motorbike and fell off on the bleak North Yorkshire moors. I also performed supporting Jack Dee at Ged Backland's comedy club in Liverpool.

    That was before he stopped paying anybody.

    Good luck to everyone who contributed.

    Also, whatever your opinion, thanks for covering these comics TwoHeadedBoy.

    P.S. What about Scurvy Dog?

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    1. By the way, I don't know where the name Reg Whitehead came from (my name is Chris). I rather like Reg though.

      I might keep it.

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    2. Hi Chris, thanks for commenting :)

      Rob Filth aside, I've heard nothing but good things about working on Spit! - opinions are arseholes and all that, ha! Me and Graham DID come to blows over this thing, summarised here:

      http://twoheadedthingies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/i-stayed-exactly-where-i-was-and.html

      But we've since made up, and everything's peachy now, as far as I can tell... Scurvy Dog's been covered here, you might not like what you read though!

      http://twoheadedthingies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/stick-it-in-bag-and-throw-it-in-canal.html

      One last note... Your "Board Game From Hell" is one of my favourite things in all of Spit!

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    3. Don't feel bad about it. Saturation point was never far away and we hurtled towards it like bats out of Huddersfield.

      Scurvy Dog was a laugh to write though. We laboured long and hard over hard backed boys' comic annuals we'd bought from second hand shops, Tippexing out the lettering and entering swear words instead.

      Somehow we managed to Tippex ourselves out of existence too.

      We moved on.

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  8. Well all I can say is that Graham was perfectly straight with me, paid me on time and was a great guy to work with. Graham is definitely one of the good guys. Russel Church was an evil wanker and he caused a lot of problems with his behaviour.

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