Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Stick it in a bag and throw it in the canal

Dear oh dearie me, what have we here? If the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, what's the road to good intentions paved with? Discarded issues of The Scurvy Dog, probably. 

Whilst other "adult humour" comics of the time mostly relied on lampooning the likes of your Beano and your Whizzer & Chips, the makers of Scurvy Dog - those being Graham Hey of Spit! fame, along with Chris Whitehead and Paul Kelly - in 1995 decided to go further back and have a go at a "boys' paper" parody. Writing as someone who's never got ANY enjoyment from such a publication, maybe it's not entirely fair of me to be looking at Scurvy Dog? Well, it's not like anyone else is going to be doing it, so here we go...

Really, I don't know where to start with this one. So we'll just pick a page at random:

There we go - open the Scurvy Dog at any page and you're more than likely to get something like that. Aiming for playful ignorance or something, but coming across as dull more often than not. Here you go, have two more similar pages:

Oh, and that other staple of the boys' paper, the text story - they have those in the Scurvy Dog as well:

I'll admit that I've never read this page all the way through - it was tedious enough by the end of the first paragraph. That probably shows more ignorance on my part than anything else, but I'm not going to force myself to enjoy something. To enjoy a parody, you must be familiar with, and ideally gain enjoyment from, that which is being parodied. I meet neither of those criteria, sorry.

There's lots of re-scripted adventure stories too, of the kind that needlessly filled so many pages in Spit! - and just like in Spit!, they go on and on and on forever, and aren't funny at all. Essentially, they're keeping the story the same but adding swearwords and a few colloquialisms. Regard:

See that? NINE BLOODY PAGES! Just to give Scurvy Dog an equal amount of attention as I've been giving to most of the other Viz-ish things, here's a couple more of the exercises in tedium, starting with The Lost Bay, a diving yarn, which at least has the pictures doctored a tiny bit:

Sharon - Best Chum of the Elephant Boy seems to be lifted from a "girls' comic", something else that I have no interest in whatsoever. This one managed to raise a small smile on my face with the erratic self-censorship:

There ARE a few bits of "original material" in here, at least. For a start, there's this nice little bit from John "The Modern Parents from Viz" Fardell:

A few reprints of Andy Fraser's "apt" material from Spit! also appears:

Along with a Just William pastiche from Nigel Maughan, which appeared in Elephant Parts four years before appearing here. If it was 1995 and I'd just bought Scurvy Dog, this'd be the highlight. However, it's 2014, and I've just read every issue of Elephant Parts a couple of weeks ago, so here it's more like "Oh, that one again".

I'm not playing fair here, am I? Must be something in the air.

In Scurvy Dog's defence, at least it was trying something different, and the covers by Michael Hingley are very nice indeed:

It only lasted for three issues. I saw all three of them sitting on a table in Oxfam a few years ago, but after flicking through them decided against buying them. The third and final issue is supposedly a bit of a rarity these days, so hindsight blah blah blah. In conclusion, if you enjoy the old boys' papers enough to enjoy a parody of them, go for it, but you'll probably get more enjoyment from Viz's Bumper Book of Shite, or maybe from getting an issue of Commando (they still sell it in WH Smith's!) and going through it with a biro, drawing giant cocks all over it.

How about some "irony" to finish off with? The one page that had me laughing out loud in the Scurvy Dog was an advert on the back of it. An advert for a video game, something completely at odds with what the rest of the comic was aiming for. Ho ho, what a wheeze etc:

2016 - A Minor Update

I've since found a copy of the third and final issue of The Scurvy Dog. It's still the same old bollocks on the inside, but again, it has a nice cover, so here's that at least:


  1. Scurvy Dog was the absolute opposite of Top Banana, in that it had absolutely great stand-out covers and utterly shite virtually unreadable contents.

    It was a really lazy and cynical marketing ploy from Hey, not his finest moment.

    I think it was entries like these which were really signalling the death of the adult comic market personally.

    1. Well said - guess it shut their mouths up when it only made it to three issues.

      Think the only "new" one after this was Lazy Frog, unless I'm mistaking. Not exactly going out on a high, but if the last one WAS a high... Well, they'd still be making them, I suppose.

  2. The last two entries I personally ever saw were The Sunday Sport one(I actually sent them some stuff in but didn't even get a reply back), and a few years after that there was Skank which was the "black Viz".

    Zit and Spit were probably the saturation point of the market and everything afterwards was really the tail-end of it all...

    1. Yeah, I've "done" Skank and the Sunday Sport Adult Celebrity Comic (great name there!) here already - Skank was of 1994, and the Sunday Sport one from 1997. There was also the DREADFUL Jockstrap from 1998, and then Lazy Frog arrived in 2001 - probably the true "last gasp" of the "scene", even if it was mostly a one-man job.

      There was also Wasted in 2008 and Poot in 2009, but they were both mostly reprints of earlier titles, so they don't count for much.

  3. I've never even heard of this one, and by the looks of things, I didn't miss much.
    What does it remind me of? When I was about seventeen I had an idea for a 'humour magazine' that was supposed to look like 19th century copies of Punch. As you pointed out above, doing a parody of something the majority of people aren't familiar with is usually a bit of a waste of time, and that's why my planned magazine 'Tumbril' came to a grinding halt before the first issue was even completed. Plus, I didn't really have the technical ability or the budget to make it look convincing. On the plus side, I did have some really funny pictures of Terry Jones as an aristocrat which would (almost) have been worth the cover price on their own.

    1. As in, proper pictures or drawn pictures of "Lord Terry"? Either way, they must be worth sharing now if you still have them!

    2. They were BBC publicity photos taken during the studio sessions for Monty Python's Dennis Moore sketch. I think I found them in one of the many books about Monty Python that the local library had. The only other thing I can remember about Tumbril are some of the names I thought up, like Eustace Grumblestick and Percy Sandwich-Gavel.

  4. I've never heard of it either, so thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  5. I wanted to do a Viz-a-like called SCV (Sex, Cake, Vomiting, which was what happened in a very early 3-panel Viz strip) once, which was going to have some stuff a bit like this.
    One strip was to be a parody of Captain Hurricane, which starts off as an extra-violent Warlord-type story, which is suddenly bought out by Americans halfway through and turns full-colour, with them all crying and screaming "NNNNOOOOO" at the sky every time somebody gets shot. At least it was only going to be 2 pages.
    Another one was going to be making fun of the Dan Dare Corporation's ridiculous grip on their copyright, basically a typical first page of a Dan Dare adventure called "Banned Dare", with all the faces and random bits of the dialogue pixellated.
    Unfortunately, all I ever did was the cover (twice, actually), and about half of the first page of the war story.

    1. Those're a couple of fun ideas there... Especially the "Banned Dare" one, that whole situation really is ridiculous!

      Credit goes to anyone who can do a full comic by themselves, it takes a lot to think everything up. I did a couple of my own comics back in the day - 20 pages of A4 stapled together, done completely in biro, read by nobody but myself and other members of the household - it was called Sock and it ripped off bits of Acne, Oor Wullie, Darkwing Duck, Ren & Stimpy... It was fun to do but about as much "quality" as can be expected from a bored 11-year-old.