Tuesday 25 March 2014

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:

...is Wasted!
Admittedly, there's not a lot that's new in here - at a guess I'd say it's about 65-70% reprints (albeit re-coloured) of stuff from Northern Lightz, Shit the Dog and possibly even Khaki Shorts and New British Comics (who knows?), but seeing as those titles were only available in specialist places, Wasted could be seen as an introduction to a whole other world of comics, if you like. A big glossy thing, available from the likes of Forbidden Planet, WH Smith's, Borders... This was a big thing! The first issue was out in 2008, and it was in 2009 when I found my first issue of Wasted (number two). Not having read any Northern Lightz personally until Adam Smith sent me a pile of them last year, at least it was all "new" to me - perhaps I was exactly who they were aiming for? Perhaps not? Let's not get definitive here.

The whole thing's another Alan Grant venture, published by Bad Press Ltd. and created (mostly) by the folk at Glasgow's Hope Street Studios...

That's the educational part, here's some stuff from it - beginning with a few "touched-up" Northern Lightz reprints. Jim Devlin's The Dopranos have a home here:

As does Spaceman Spliff, the Spaced Cabby by Jamie Grant. In this particular strip, the shipment of Northern Lightz comics has been "modified" somewhat from the original printing:

And here's our old pal, Gibson Quarter's Johnny Kunt, agent of R.E.T.R.I.B.U.T.I.O.N. in his continuing War On Drugs:

John Miller's eyeball-raping Captain Zappa is present too, in this chucklesome adventure featuring Eric Clapton:

And there's more... Reprints of David Alexander's MacBam Brothers, Shug's Dope Squad, Alan Burrows' Fun Guys, various bits from Jon Haward (more on those in a bit) - but moving away from Northern Lightz, here's some bits from Alan Grant, John Wagner and Simon Bisley's Shit the Dog - originally a series of four massive (as in A-1 size!) poster magazines, here the titular dog was resized and reprinted for all to see:

Deemed "indefensible in court" by a legal counsellor for the Sport of all things, NOBODY would stock Shit the Dog - and that was back in 1997. Over ten years later and the dirty mutt got a bit more exposure thanks to Wasted. And for all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans out there, here's Kevin Eastman's take on Shit:

Let's see some "original content" now - as far as I can tell anyway. Here, here's Jed Raven illustrating a ballad by Alan Grant called The Devil's Arse:

Ray Manta's OK-COKEY is a rip-roaring something-or-other:

Also from Ray Manta is Ramrod, a series of unconnected stories/gags that share nothing but a title. Good though:

Whilst Gabrielle Noble's Spliffy the Stoner Chick is a bit on the odd side:

Name those kids - they're all famous!

If that one did anything for you, you can get a book of all of her various adventures "here".

Adam Smith's here too, with Khaki Shorts mainstay Boy Mindless (here given the air brush treatment that seems to befall many pages of Wasted for some reason):

And from him again, in collaboration with Martin Smith and Robert Smith (that's three Smiths for those at the back), it's this morality tale of sorts:

Now something from a guest contributor, Lee Turnock:

Naturally, it's not all fun - Lusi Sulfura by Alan Kerr just might be the most boring comic character ever created:

Really, how many times have you met someone like "that", and before they've opened their mouths you instantly know what their opinion on absolutely everything is? I'm entitled to a rant just as much as anyone else is! See also Lise Myhre's Nemi every day in the Metro (or in a comic shop in Norway). At least Ray Zell's Pandora (from Kerrang!) is mainly there to rip into the bands. There's a parody of Nemi in another issue of Wasted, but by sharing paper with Lusi there, it's just hypocritical. It's done by Curt Sibling as part of his Total Fear series, featured below:

And if that's not thinly-disguised softcore furry porn, you tell me what it is. Whatever floats you and all that, eh?

The highlight of Wasted as a whole is another thing that began in the later issues of Northern Lightz, before continuing onwards - Jon Haward's Tales of the Buddha (Before he got enlightened):

Semi-educational, nicely-drawn, not TOO many "haha drugs are funny" jokes, it's a winner. There's even a multi-issue spanning adventure in which the Buddha is tricked into taking on the Twelve Tasks of Hercules, of which the first part is presented here:

Just as Wasted was getting noticed, it all came to an end in 2011 when, after eight issues, Bad Press Ltd. was forced to close its doors due to "adverse and unforeseen circumstances". The character copyrights were withheld, but most of the multi-title-spanning characters remain in limbo, as far as I know - with the exception of your Buddha man there, who got picked up by Renegade Press and then compiled into a nice big fat book.

So, that's Wasted then, and the end of the "Scottish trilogy" that's taken up all my time here so far this year - not to say it was unenjoyable. A nice grasp for the mainstream there, that didn't resort to "hey drugs!" as a punchline on every page...

...Well, almost.


  1. I've got the first issue, given to me by Jamie Grant when I was in the studio one day. It's not really my sort of thing, but it was a nice looking package to begin with when it was full colour. Got to give them full marks for trying.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to review the "Scottish Trilogy" (as future historians will hopefully refer to them now) - kind of depressing to reflect that Wasted may end up being the last stand of the (non - Viz) high street Adult humour comic, at least in the form we recognise.
    On a technical note for my own part, some of the Boy Mindless's and both the Men Out of Times that featured in Wasted were indeed redraws from Khaki Shorts, the Men Out Of Times (scripted by Martin Smith and originally drawn by me in Khaki) being re-drawn for Wasted by another Khaki artist under a pseudonym.. see if you can guess who!

  3. Ah, a guessing game! I'm going to say... Rob Miller?

    Depressing, certainly, but at least they went out on a "high" (pun) and it wasn't some trash like Smut being the last of them. The small press stuff is the closest thing there is these days, and even that's getting increasingly hard to find (and you have to REALLY look to find any good ones of those!).

  4. I didn't get paid for the Art Casuals, in fact I didn't even contribute the strip directly to them. It was originally drawn from a script by TV presenter Nigel Buckland (www.dogsizedcat.com) and posted on his message board - after that, I don't know. It also found its way onto Cook'd and Bomb'd. The first I knew that it had ended up in a copy of Wasted was when someone mentioned it to me in an email.

    1. Interesting... Do you think Buckland may've submitted it? Or someone else even, passing it off as their own? How far did you look into it at the time?

    2. Nah, there was no foul play. Nigel submitted that together with, hmm, 'the emotional security guards'(?) - I think he and Jamie were old pals from Edinburgh - and it likely was rushed into production to fill a gap. Just to further prove it's a writers' world, Nige and his band played for about 6 hours straight at a Hope St Xmas party.... The story behind Wasted, from conception to actually/eventually getting it out there is one rife with bad business deals, debilitating illness, death and being generally utterly skint (it's all tied up in full colour!). You're not the only artist who felt hard done by, Mr S, it was a right mess. The mag itself is really a game of two halves, you can see the new school pulling and rubbing up uncomfortably against the old and everything falling down in between. Most stuck by it because in a way we knew it'd be the last of its kind (in Scotland). It had its critics - personally I often felt the art was too "straight", more funny drawings would have at least entertained where sparse scripts or creaky jokes could not. Still, it brought a lot of writers and artists into each others' orbits and with only 1-2 people working on it behind the scenes in production it certainly looks better than it ever should....

    3. Thanks for that bit of behind-the-scenes stuff there - I get what you mean about the comic feeling too "straight", it may as well be a Marvel title but with swearing at times.

      Any chance of someday sharing the full story? I'm sure there's people who'd be interested in that...

    4. Right, it's all a lot clearer now. The Emotional Security Guards and the Art Casuals were both sketches written by Nigel that I turned into comic strips.

  5. Hmm, maybe.... with the names changed to protect the innocent (and guilty!)....