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!

2015 UPDATE:

What with LJT taking down his blog for various reasons, that link up there is now obviously redundant, so for preservation's sake, the contents of Klam and the commentary shall henceforth be preserved here. It's a public service.

All the text from after this sentence (after the jump!) is Mr. Turnock's own:

Well, it had to happen. Here's where I destroy some of my own mythology (pfft!) and 'treat' you lucky people to my first attempt at a self-published comic, which started back in May 1993 and lasted five issues. Actually, that's not entirely true, because there was actually a pilot issue of Klam which was published late in 1992, and had the Blues Brothers on the cover, which I thought would be a nice, eye catching design. Obviously it wasn't because the handful of shops that sold it couldn't give the thing away, so that was a lesson learned.

Klam started properly in May 1993, with a much more Viz-like (or at the very least, Viz clone-like) cover and all one hundred copies sold out, a success story that repeated itself for the next three issues. Amazing, considering the contents were... crap, really. In a post on this excellent blog, I said I didn't really want to dwell on the days of Klam because it reminded me of a rather depressing time in my life, and now, thanks to the one poor sod out there who seems to have a complete collection (cheers, Doug!) I've been able to revisit these anti-classics and it's all come flooding back to me. So here, for the benefit of everyone who's asked about Klam and for enthusiasts of the lesser-known Viz clones everywhere, here's the shamefully incomplete story of one of the shoddiest of the lot!

Here's the cover. That black ballpoint scribble obviously isn't supposed to be there. Back in 1993, believe it or not, I considered myself such a hotshot that I had a business advisor and an agent, both of whom were about as much use as a concrete parchute... so their abilities were well-matched to my own at that point. Using the connections I'd made during my time as a contributor to Acne, Smut and Spit, I managed to call in a few favours to get Klam together... more of that later. My agent (who spent most of his time chasing prostitutes) looked through the proofs of the first issue, and he'd never seen Viz or any underground / alternative comics before, and the silly old sod warned me "you'll get sued for that... you'll get sued if you publish that... that'll get you sued." In the end, I changed Tony Slattery on the cover to Tony Twattery just to keep him happy. I made one other change which we'll get to in time. As for my business advisor, he was a laid-back American reformed hippie type who was totally disgusted that I was wasting my 'talent' on producing something he considered worthless. In case you hadn't already guessed, I didn't choose my 'people' wisely, and looking back, I'd have been better off without them... in fact, I did dispense with their services the following year. Anyway, here's the back cover...

Yeah, take that you damn young people! For the record I was nineteen in 1993. The yoof culture bashing continued inside...

The 'inspirtation' behind Teenager's World? A gang of proto-chavs were mildly rude to me outside a fish and chip shop. Pathetic, I know. Still, the nineties did mark a shift in youth culture that even at the time I violently disagreed with and I was already arse-deep in nostalgia for years gone by. While everyone else my age was listening to all that 'Madchester rave on' stuff I was listening to the Who, Alice Cooper, the Sweet and the Kinks. (Still am!) Beneath that, two single-tier strips from Phil Neill, then God Bothering Gordon, which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that back in 1993 I could not fucking draw worth tuppence. I kind of knew how to lay out a comics page and make it vaguely presentable, but beyond that? Well... you decide!

Apologies for the poor quality of some of the scans in this article, but at least they reflect the standard of the material. District Councillor Denis was a blatant attempt at whipping up some sort of controversy (it worked for Viz!) but nobody took a blind bit of notice, in the event. Lucky really! Noncy Fletcher was based on an absolute donkey scrotum of a teacher from my secondary school. You'll notice I couldn't draw hands then either.

Back in 1993 I was still doing a lot of speed and I remember being mashed to the eyeballs whilst designing the title frame for Henry Rubette. Oddly enough, my aforementioned useless cunt of an agent didn't warn me that the Rubettes could have sued! I just chose the surname because it sounded none-more-seventies. The folks at Igor obviously thought so too! Blind Brent was based on a joke I overheard in a pub. (Well, isn't that obvious...)

Klam had Phil Neill's Maggie's Plaice before the Top Banana, so that kind of counts for something. Phil could draw sexy women better than I could back then. In fact, he could draw most things better than I could back then.

Bit of context - the early nineties marked the last gasp of the old-fashioned end of the pier variety shows on television and 'Programme Planning' is kind of a nod to that, complete with entirely ill-informed opinions about Ronnie Corbett and Ernie Wise, for which I apologise. I think they're both great. On the facing page, Tarquin's Friends is a parody of an absolute reeking shitheap of a film I hated with an ungodly passion. In fact, I had intended to call my parody something charming like 'Peter's Friends Are A Bunch Of Cunts And He's Got the Gay Plague' but once again my agent stepped in and advised me that (you've guessed it) I might get sued. Looking back, he did have a point. I think the original title was a bit much, even for me! Beneath that, something nice from Phil Neill whose work really does shine like golden nuggets in a mire of shite.

Here's a weird one. I was pre-empting the inevitable "Ha! Viz rip-off!" criticisms by doing a parody of a Viz rip-off called Smeg, only to be told later that there actually was a Viz clone in the shops called Smeg! It was the work of this chap and I've still never seen an actual copy of it anywhere. So, belated apologies for any confusion or offence caused.

I really, really fucking hated Lovejoy.

Victor the Vampire was a character I used to doodle at school and I revived him for Klam. This stuff really is embarrassing for me to look at now.

Well, that's it for Klam issue one. At the time, I remember thinking "Ha, I've actually written and drawn and published my own adult comic! It's in the shops! It's selling! This is a piece of cake!" Then it dawned on me that I'd have to repeat the trick every two months in order to get any kind of a regular, established readership... and that's when the shit hit the fan. I remember reading that Bill Griffith and Art Spiegelman were too high-strung and neurotic to keep the underground anthology Arcade going for more than six or seven issues, and I can certainly relate to that. Klam made it to five, after which I was burned out!

Here we go with issue two, July-August 1993. (Look, if you want to bail out now, feel free. Nobody would blame you. There are cat videos you could be watching.) A Year In Provence was a much-panned BBC series starring John Thaw. Very few people remember it or want to. 

The Darling Buds of May was popular at the time. It was shit then and it's still shit. So there.

District Councillor Denis and a strip by a new contributor, Adam Weller. In those days Gary Glitter was seen as an amusing seventies novelty throwback rather than a monster. Weller did some good work for Klam but he was a lot more enthusiastic and go-getting than me. He was a couple of years older and seemed convinced that we could present ourselves to London publishers and tell them "Here we are, here's our comic Klam, make us rich". It may have been selling well in my neck of the woods (as well as shifting a fair few copies through mail order) but I looked at it as a bit of fun, not part of a grand career plan! I knew my work wasn't up to professional standard and any 'London publishers' would have laughed us right out of their poncy offices. Also, because Klam came out every two months, I found myself accepting and publishing a lot of stuff (including my own stuff) I wasn't crazy about, and Adam's 'Scary Old Newsagent' strips - about a camp and pervy newsagent who said things like "Hello, saucebox!" - was very much one of the strips I disliked (which is why you won't find any scans of it here), but ran it anyway because I hadn't got anything better to hand. Sorry Adam!

Gobsmacking misogyny and a strip based on someone I encountered on holiday in Devon, who became known to me and my father as 'pedal bin'. He entered the talent contest dressed in one of his wife's frocks with a big foam rubber cowboy hat on his head, and a pedal bin under his arm. He sang 'I am the music man' with the lyrics 'I can play the pedal bin, pedal bin, pedal bin'. To the best of my knowledge he didn't enjoy a showbusiness career outside of this little episode.

God Bothering Gordon and a bash at student rag mags. Student-bashing became a bit of a theme among adult comics and I was only too happy to join in. I tried to sell copies of Klam in the student bedsit area of town and in student pubs, usually without success. 

My attempt at drawing a follow-on Maggie's Plaice strip and a couple of other short jokes.

Arnold Pan and Norman Whitelies. The latter was a variation on the Nicky Hunt character I drew for Acne. Arnold Pan was a conglomeration of every miserable, fickle, spoilt brat I knew at school.

Not very imaginative - rendering a policeman as a pig. Oh well, subtlety never was my calling card.

Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves was another of those 'everybody loves it' propositions. I did this whole two-pager one night, again whilst high on amphetamines. I'm glad those days are over, because as you can see, speed abuse did not go with creating a good (or even legible) comic strip.

A deliberate pop at my agent here - who pointed out that Stratocaster is a trade name and I could get sued blah blah. Come to think of it, Strat O'Caster would have been a better name for Henry Rubette rather than a generic 'totally inept virgin' character. Too late now, of course, and it's also too late to change that terrible "HA HA TEH GHEYS LOLZ!!!1!" ending.

More misogyny. Actually there's a sad story behind this one, which I'll cut short. A girl I was a bit too 'friendly' with at the time turned out to have five other boyfriends on the go as well as me, and this necessitated in me taking an AIDS test. This strip was drawn while I was waiting for the results which thankfully came back negative. Phil Neill pulls an otherwise terrible double-page spread out of the mire at the eleventh hour with an effortlessly funny quickie. God, I was a twat back in 1993.

We're up to Klam issue three now (sorry, no cover scan available but I think the back cover - reproduced above - is one of the highlights of the whole run!) and times were changing fast. It was the last issue to be handled by some miserable old cunting twat of a bastard the 'regular' printer who got cold feet over the content and refused to handle any more copies, so from issue four onwards Klam was reproduced at Prontaprint, who had no such reservations. Inside, it was business more or less as usual...

Terribly drawn but at least it has a beginning, a middle and an end.

Fun stuff from Adam Weller.

The Mary Whitehouse Experience was absolutely HUGE at the time and all sorts of ridiculous claims were being made in the media about comedy being the new rock and roll and them being the new Monty Python and so forth. They still have their admirers but, well, fuck that with bells on. This fake tour advert was recycled as a free A3 giveaway poster in issue four. And as if by magic...

A nice bonfire-themed cover for the fourth issue. The masthead is covered in sick because I was getting sick of the whole enterprise by now, hence the symbolic cat pissing against the M. Nonetheless, we just kept cranking it out...

Byron Bland and Little Bastard's worlds collide.

One of my favourite strips in all of Klam, borne out of my lifelong hatred of monochrome cunt Charlie Chaplin. The appearance of 'Rick Mael' has since acquired new layers of poignancy.

Noncy Fletcher again. And another lazy "HA HA HA HE'S TEH GHEY!!!1! LOLZ" punchline.

Changing the names of famous folk ("You'll get sued" - fuck off, John) in order to be scurrilous and rude was a trademark of Klam by now.

Arnold Pan rehashes the 'disappointing videos' routine from Bottom and Macauley Pumpkin provides a swipe at shitty American sitcoms.

Wacko Wilko took over from Strat O'Caster (who didn't disappear completely) as the token 'crap lad' character.

Which brings us to the final issue, sales of which were shockingly low. Even the shops that usually sold out of Klam found it hard to even give this one away. Either the readers had eventually caught on or this cover design put them off...

Well, come on, would you want to be seen buying a magazine with an elderly transvestite on the cover, shouting "Happy new year, sauce-box"? Exactly. Plus, the contents overall were pretty poor, and looking back I think it's pretty obvious the game was up.

Not a lot happens in this Little Bastard strip, but it takes two pages for it not to happen.

And finally, Wellard the Guard lets rip with another "why today stinks!" diatribe.

Another reason Klam had to end... my mother was terminally ill by this stage (she died in December '94) and most of my time was taken up with her care. By the time I had enough free time on my hands to resume cartooning, the climate had changed. Viz was no longer big news and its own sales were slipping fast. Independent newsagents and shops were vanishing fast as the high street juggernauts took over. As I found out when I returned to the small press scene with Breakdown in 2002, there wasn't even any guarantee that dedicated comic shops would sell your stuff any more! So three cheers for the internet, the cancer cell that will destroy capitalism from within, that's what I say!

So there you have it, the Klam story, and I've just blown a sunny afternoon telling it. Hopefully that's put any remaining mystery or interest in this tatty title to rest and now we can all look forward to my new stuff!


Ba-da bing, ba-da boom, and what have you. Saved from the great recycle bin in the sky.


  1. I think the reason it's elusive is because each issue had a print run of a mere 100 copies, and distribution (outside of the copies I sold via mail order thanks to the adverts in Spit) was limited to a handful of shops in Northampton.
    One thing I forgot to mention - the 'Programme Planning' strip in issue one had all the names changed to shut John up with his "you'll get sued" bollocks. As if that matters.

  2. Oh great!- I've finally seen the elusive Klam! Thanks for the pic and the link and look forward to the 17 vizalikes you still have left to review. I'm not bothered how dire any of them are. Please show us anyway. This series NEEDS to be done by someone. I doubt ANYONE could make a better job of it than your posts.
    Well done and thanks.

    1. Thanks for that, John, really! It's my birthday today, and that's just about made my day.