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.

That impressive-looking cover there is one of many done by Frank Quitely, who nowadays is one of those genuine comic world celebrities. Before he was doing stuff about daft folk in capes though, he created The Greens, an "affectionate" parody of The Broons - even doing the speech bubbles similar to how Dudley Watkins used to do'm. There's moments of actual "laugh-out-loud"-ness amongst these, and it proved too difficult to pick just one example of their adventures - so here's a whole mess of them:

How's THAT for an explosion sound effect?

Quitely's other main contribution to Electric Soup is Wendy the West-End Trendy, one of those celebrity-bashing things that've been popular ever since doodling was invented:

Electric Soup's very much a "core team" kind of affair, with just a handful of folk doing the whole thing, unlike the free-for-all disasters like Smut, which helps a lot, obviously. Here's a few bits from co-founder Tommy Sommerville, starting with Rocky McBlaw - it's by-the-numbers drugs humour, but at least it's funny to look at:

Equally yawn-making is the overheard pub joke illustrations of Jack Russell:

Fun information - another of Jack Russell's adventures was completely ripped off and redrawn by Jockstrap!

The more imaginative stuff is obviously more fun, so here's Adolf Busturd, the traffic warden:

And Electric Soup's resident superhero, Helmetman, with his giant, shape-shifting member:

One of my personal favourite comic people is Shug McKenna (aka. Shug 90) - there's a fair amount of his stuff in Electric Soup, including Polis Story:

The Bears fae Brigton:

And the utterly helpless Wildebeests:

And just because I like those doomed animals so much, here's another of their adventures:

Arguably the centrepiece of each issue of Electric Soup is David Alexander's own creation, The MacBam Brothers, Scotland's answer to Gilbert Shelton's Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, although Alexander himself says it's more inspired by The Young Ones. None of that matters, because each one's a mini-masterpiece - be it a one-page thing like this:

Or a multi-page epic like this one:

Of course, nothing's ever perfect - try as I may, I just can't get any enjoyment out of Billy Pope (which I THINK is drawn by Padam Singh?):

Same goes for Spandex Sue, Capital Cabs and Wur Malkie:

On the other hand, a lot of (somehow?) enjoyment can be had from the deranged Sandwitch Lotter by "Kev" someone-or-other. I've seen that hand before, but I just can't place it!

Likewise, we have the mild-mannered Tunnock McNulty, by "Gerbil":

After seven issues, John Brown of John Brown Publishing (them who made Viz the success it was) was shown a copy of Electric Soup whilst in Glasgow, and loved it, sending it out all over the country and pushing sales into the 50,000+ mark. This obviously made for fancier printing, meaning fancier covers like this one:

And even fancy BACK covers too, such as this bit of fantastic-ness:

John Brown admitted that there may be problems with the language used in Electric Soup, but it was the Scottish-ness that made it what it was - so the first "national" issue included this helpful thing at the start, for all those soft southern bampots:

Nothing lasts forever, mind, and Electric Soup was finished after issue 17, although a tenth "Anusversary" issue was made in 1999:

And... That's that! What happened next is fairly interesting, so "stay tuned" or whatever. We'll finish here with another mighty MacBams adventure...

Oh, anyone got an Electric Soup T-shirt knocking about? I'd love that Wildebeest one there!

And one more thing - for those that don't like getting their fingers dirty on eBay but would like to see more of this kind of thing, there's these two books available:

Both fantastic, and both available from Braw Books. Get them!


  1. Fun fact - John Brown also picked up a cricketing magazine, Sticky Wicket, during his brief run of magazine acquisition. Died on its arse because nobody gives two shits about cricket because it's a boring game for middle class prats.

    1. Sticky Wicket, eh? Add that to the Onion Bag for the list of ones I have no interest in whatsoever but may one day have to reluctantly pick up.

  2. It's virtually unknown nowadays but I remember seeing copies on the 'Viz shelf' back in the day.

  3. Glad you covered the amazing Electric Soup. Tunnock McNulty is a firm favourite of mine, a decent unassuming guy in a comic of reprobates (well, apart from that weird story where he dressed up as a woman to shag Hamish!).. there's a really nice art deco/Aubrey Beardsley art style to that 2nd strip you reproduced in particular... in fact most of the ES artists had really nice individual styles, one of many aspects that marked it out as a quality periodical.

    1. Never thought of that Beardsley connection until you mentioned it - smart! That one where he puts the condom over his head is one of the funniest things I've ever read.

  4. And to think I've never seen an issue before now. Did hear about it after the fact 'though.

    1. Glad to be of service, sir. I can only assume you were in the wrong parts of Scotland at the time? Never been there myself, keep meaning to every year but always end up somewhere else.

  5. I remember this, there used to be a second-hand place that dealt in old magazines, I came across a job lot of old comics and this was among them, if i remember correct it was strong with Scottish dialect that read a little like Irvine Welsh

  6. Have been thoroughly enjoying these adult comic reviews. Have you got a Brain Damage/The Damage review lined up at any point in the future? I always remember that being slightly more intelligent than most of the Viz clones - quite left wing and often well drawn, I remember.

  7. Thanks very much, sir!

    Brain Damage/The Damage IS in the queue, but I have been a bit slack this month - the next thing should be up within the next week, and then I think Brain Damage is fifth in the queue, I think... Been trying to organise the order of it all as titles have been asked about/requested, but it's a fairly large task.

    I like Brain Damage from what I've seen though!