Monday, 22 September 2014

Christenings/Weddings/Funerals/Jumble Sales

Three or four weeks ago, I got a book - Roger Sabin's Adult Comics - An Introduction (ridiculously expensive on Amazon so I won't bother providing a link). In the customary three paragraphs he took to dismiss the various Viz clones, there was something I'd never heard of:

"Winebibber was another anomaly, and was published by a fundamentalist group within the Church of England. It included strips like the dismal 'Barry Belf - He Evangelises Himself'."

I mentioned it in conversation with Adam Smith, who promptly found a compilation/"Best Of" kind of thing on Amazon. For two pounds, why not? Now that it's here, I'm sort of wishing I didn't bother...


Read on, read on, for the worst thing to happen to comics since Jockstrap.


We'll just clear something up first - I'm not a religious type, not in the slightest. I'm also not one of those militant atheists - if folk want to believe in something, who am I to stop them? What I DO have a problem with are fundamentalists, missionaries, extremists, whatever... As in, the type that force their beliefs upon anyone in their line of sight.

What we have here, in the form of Winebibber, is Mike Brooks (writer) and Mike Stonelake (artist) using the beloved medium of the comic as their tool of conversion, or to show that Christianity can be "fun", or whatever. It's all definitely shite, every last bit of it, but that's just MY view. Have a judge yourself on this lot:




As can be seen here, there's no jokes, the drawings are terrible, and Bible quotes are often used as punchlines.

That one with the body bits gave me a laugh just for how absurd the whole setup is - small praise!




It still has a few things in common with the other Viz-ish comics, as in, "traditional" comic characters with rhyming names, and parodies of things that are currently popular, but they all get given a relentlessly tiresome "God's great" angle:






Thou shalt not take Raymond Briggs' name in vain!


Oh, and there's the not-at-all-copying-off-Viz-in-design Letterbox page:


Potentially Jihad-inducing small ads:


And even an appearance from Roger Mellie:


When I saw this page, I started to wonder if maybe it was all one big piss-take:


Until two pages later, and I realised that no, it really is attempting to "reach out" to potential Christians in 1991:

Mike Stonelake's art DOES improve as the book goes on, so there's that I suppose.

It's not often I have NOTHING good to say about something - I know I'll never want to read Winebibber again, ever, and will be keeping it only as a curiosity. The most amusing thing about it isn't contained within its pages, but rather on Amazon, in which both Mike Brooks and Mike Stonelake review their own book, with their tongues in their cheeks (I'm assuming). Just going to go ahead and copy/paste both of those reviews here, to save you the hassle of finding it yourselves (and no doubt having your Amazon recommendations flooded with all sorts of theological hoo-hah)...



They can defend it or call it "subversive" all they like, I'm looking at it as a comic-lover and nothing more.

All in all, it could be said that Winebibber is "testament" to the popularity of Viz in the late Eighties and early Nineties (joke © Adam Smith). See also The Twilight Clone for an example of someone using the "rude comic" medium to convince people of how great The Twilight Zone is.

Also, because I've gone out of my comfort zone to look at a comic based on something I have no interest in whatsoever, this also means I'm going to have to go ahead and investigate those terrible-sounding football-based Viz clones that I keep getting told about, bah.

Moving in mysterious ways and all that, spooky!

19 comments:

  1. Oh good LORD! (no pun intended) Now that really is some (holy) shit!
    I actually saw a copy of this thing on sale in a charity shop many years ago but it didn't interest me enough to even have a quick, cursory flick through it. I can safely say I never experienced ONE sleepless night, wondering what was inside 'that crap looking religious comic thing that was obviously an incredibly tame Viz rip off'. Now I've seen the insides, I predict several sleepless nights, wondering exactly what kind of sterile misery-dribble actually might have laughed at this stuff!

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    1. "Sterile misery dribble", hahahaha!

      There's another page in there I couldn't even bring myself to scan - a dot-to-dot thing with the "picture" being a Bible verse.

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  2. Wow, thanks for doing this one.. stuff like the Ghostbusters and Postman Pat parodies are so bizzare they would work as surreal humour if they were in another comic, but the rest of the content is so earnest.
    I did like the jarring idea of putting one of those haunting faceless characters from the Good News Bible http://www.patheos.com/blogs/scriptorium/2012/02/stick-figure-theology-annie-vallotton/ in a humour comic setting , even if the strip went nowhere. Also kind of impressed if that's all the work of one artist, as there's quite a variety of styles there.

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    1. Good point about the parodies - I could picture them in Elephant Parts, easily, maybe even Brain Damage, but as you say, when put in with the rest of the strips, you realise that "surreal" isn't exactly what they were going for.

      The art gets better as the book goes along, so I'm guessing it was one of those "practise makes good" sort of things.

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  3. Blimey, what on earth is this? I like the green dinosaur thing on the cover but the rest? Eeeek!

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    1. The dinosaur (with his pleasant enough face, yes), is the Biblical Behemoth - all the way through the book there's pictures of dinosaurs or the Loch Ness Monster, and these are always referred to as "the Behemoth".

      Bible-folk seem a tad unhinged if we're going by this book alone.

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  4. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. I am seeing this for the first ( and last! ) time!

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  5. I've just written a big post about this then had to sign in when I tried posting it but it's gone now! Basically, the reviews were so bitter and un Christian like. Both seemed mental, but is that Evangelical people for you? God knows!

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  6. I don't get it!!! I read a few of the strips namely the weird faceless ghost thing and the Ghostbusters and Snowman strips which make no sense.. The only one I got was 'Methuselah' very mild anti seminism about Jews having short hands and deep pockets.. Was even expecting 'Loch Nes Monster to appear in his strip seeing that Methuselah is a Jew and Nessie the Beast

    Viz done a strip that depicts Jesus's life riding a magical bicycle. Pontius Pilate has him crucified due to jealousy since Pilate only has a girl's bike. And the Father, the father the son and the holy ghost.. With the Holy Ghost gets a kicking in the pub

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    1. Well you "got" more than this particular heathen did, ha!

      That Viz strip's a classic - "Christ on a Bike" is its title, with his wooden chopper, thanks to having a carpenter for a dad.

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  7. *skips post to comment*
    I heard about this ages ago, though I can't remember where (possibly Chris Donald's autobiography, which is a great read, by the way). I've always wondered what the hell a "Christian Viz" would be like. I guess I'm about to scroll up and find out!

    "For what I am about to receive...."

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    1. I really need to read that book...

      Mind you don't get converted, it's powerful stuff! (sarcasm there, ha!)

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  8. Great post! One of those strips, Coat Pigs, rang a bell; when I was growing up, we had a whole book devoted to those characters, the much-better-named Gaberdine Swine. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gaberdine-Swine-Roy-Mitchell/dp/0551021357

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    1. Interesting, thanks for sharing that bit of info! Seems there's possibly a whole world of strange fundamentalist comics out there, perhaps?

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  9. I love the Winebibber. But I'm its target audience, a Christian, immersed in church culture who's not afraid to laugh at our foolishness. It's in the long tradition of "holy fools" - revealing truth by poking fun. Yes, it didn't always hit the mark, but that's true of all experimental humour. In its time Winebibber was excellent and it's still a classic.

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  10. Umm, I hate to break it to you, but it's a total piss take. Did the fact that it's done in the style of Viz not at least suggest that possibility? To be fair the whole thing is all in jokes for people who have had to suffer things not too dissimilar from the kind of things that it depicts, but if you had suffered from close contact from crazy charismatics and cheesy evangelicals this was just the sort of light relief that kept you sane. I guess its humour lies in pointing out all the things about the late 80s Christian scene and saying "this is all a bit bloody weird isn't it" only sort of with a sense of affection. Admittedly its kind of hard to explain why certain things are funny, and these aren't the funniest parts of it, but it's brilliant if for no other reason than it seriously fucked off the kind of cheesy, intolerant, humourless religious types that would knock on a stranger's door at 7pm on a Friday evening, bore them to death in an attempt to convert them and then spend an hour on a Sunday morning boring a room full of other people by telling them about it.

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    1. Well I'll be!
      The Amazon reviews were the biggest clue, but they pulled this one off on me at least. Religion plays no part whatsoever in my life, so I had nothing to go by on Winebibber other than its face value.

      The "Trendy Christians" bit, that one had me suspicious, but the rest of it SEEMS to be playing completely straight... Interesting!

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  11. Thanks for taking the time to scan the pages of this ... remarkable document. The whole thing is an in joke? It was pretty convincingly seriously crap. Interesting. I did actually laugh (I actually did) at the pub band 'the Drunken Nazi Atheists'

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  12. I think Winebibber makes sense to survivors from the Charismatic/Pentecostal church of the eighties. Many things in it struck a chord when I read it. That said it's still rubbish.

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