Thursday, 28 March 2013

Ah, Poot! is here

Bit of a delay in proceedings there, sorry about that. Accidentally got a "social life" for a few weeks, whoops. Anyway, enough of that sort of nonsense, here's another rude comic from a couple of decades ago. This time it's a GOOD one, and it's called Poot!

Birmingham-based, this one - done mostly by a couple of students from 1985 to 1990. Tim Westall and Jon Marks are their names. It's a bit of an odd one, is Poot!. Very silly, almost childish, but definitely a refreshing change from the violence and misogyny-fuelled Smut. As such, it stands out from most of the Viz clones in that it's still an enjoyable read today (as long as your senses are  subscribed to a certain form of humour).

The fun begins by clicking below:

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Charity gubbins

Just taking a short breather from the Viz knock-offs, just for a moment. That Smut thing was depressing, and I've spent most of today reading Ziggy, which has got me verging on the suicidal (you'll see what I mean when I eventually get around to covering that one).

The "breather" is for a reason other than reminding myself that good comics exist - for on this approaching Friday, it's Red Nose Day. Raising money for all sorts of good causes (and ignoring the salaries taken by BBC folk), it's mostly a "fun"-based charity. This year has the Beano getting involved, and to be frank, it looks horrendous. Jessie bleeding J, One Direction, Olly bloody Murs, Harry Hill and David Tennant all done in Nigel Parkinson's caricature style.

Yech! Is this REALLY how far imagination can take the Beano these days? Just sticking the obnoxious faces of Saturday evening's television into the otherwise wonderful worlds of Dennis, Minnie and the rest of them? Why not celebrating the medium itself and doing something special with regards to UK comics as a whole? Well, probably because hardly anybody cares about comics anymore, but still.

Let's go back 22 years instead, and take a look at something that seems like it's had a LOT of effort put into it - the Comic Relief Comic.

Comic Relief has several different faces to it - there's the BBC show, in which folk from all over television-town come together and make tits of themselves. There's Sport Relief, where sports personalities do similar. And now there's the Beano, but instead of bringing together a load of comics folk, they just got the X-Factor crowd instead.

In 1991, people DID buy and enjoy comics a lot more than they do now, and of course that means there was more of them around - hence we have this wonderful publication, bringing together DC Thomson's Beano and Dandy crew, along with Judge Dredd, Doctor Who, Dan Dare, Captain Britain, Superman, Batman, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Hunt Emerson, the Young Ones, Dr. Strange, Iron Man, the cast of Fawlty Towers, Edmund Blackadder, the Sleeze Brothers, and hundreds more. All framed around a central, somewhat bizarre Christmas Carol-esque story about red noses conspiring to turn the world population's faces into doorknobs or something.

Want to read the whole thing? Go ahead then, just click on the "Read more" button...

Friday, 8 March 2013

Smut - It's all in the name

Well, THIS was a depressing post to put together. Anyone who's ever read Smut will know it's not exactly the pinnacle of comedy. Anyone who's read Smut recently will know that the Sun is a more tasteful read.

Created by misters Tom Fulep and Clive Ward sometime around 1990 (or possibly very late 1989?), it does everything that Viz does, only without any of the satire, wit, subtlety or all-round readability.

Regardless, it lasted for bloody ages, so someone must've liked it. And it DID have occasional good bits, courtesy of a few fairly "big" names, mostly - but more on that later.

Oh, don't carry on reading if you're at work. Or if you're under 18. Or if you've got any ounce of "political correctness" on your mind. Or if you're on dial-up (there's a lot of stuff here!). Or you could just disregard all those warnings, get off your high horse and enjoy some smutty fun, takes all sorts!

Sunday, 3 March 2013


Up next from the teetering pile of smutty comics is this one, called DoodleBug. The last ever issue of it, from 1989, as it happens. I've decided to "do" these things in a roughly chronological order, but that plan'll definitely fall to pieces straight away as I find newer/older comics as I go along. Won't really make any difference in the long term, so it's MORE likely I'll be alternating between "good/readable" comics and "absurdly horrible" comics.

DoodleBug, you'll be (possibly) glad to know, is of the former:

It looks cheap because it is cheap, for DoodleBug is a self-published, mostly one-man-job comic - that man being Royston Robertson (currently working for Private Eye, amongst other things). So, despite looking about 2% more professional than the first issue of Viz even though there's a ten-year gap between them, at least there's an excuse for it.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Duck Soup - The beginning of a large thing.

In the year of 2005, a mister Graham Kibble-White put out a book, called The Ultimate Book of British Comics. It's a good read, detailing the histories and contents of most British comics one could care to think of. There's a few dozen exceptions, obviously - neither the Bog Paper or Zig and Zag's Zogozine are mentioned, along with piles and piles of early story papers. Fair enough, it'd be a massive book if it included EVERYTHING, so by aiming the book at the 30 to 40-something market, it keeps things easier... 

There's one fairly massive area of UK comic history that's left out entirely, that being the towering mounds of "alternative" comics that sprung up in the wake of the success of Viz. Graham passes them off with one paragraph in his book:

"Although they were everywhere for about two minutes in the mid-Nineties, they weren't ever intended for kids, nor did they grow out of the lineage of children's publications. Besides, all bar Johnny Fartpants' rag were bloody awful."

Well, yes - a LOT of them were terrible, but not "all" of them. And seeing as there's no big compendium of these adult titles out there ("Viz-A-Likes" is what I call them sometimes), why shouldn't I have a stab at doing a little bit about as many of them as I can? At a push (on a somewhat pretentious level), it could be argued that they're almost as important to the history of UK comics and the underground "comix" are to US comic history (although probably not). They're definitely an acquired taste, and reading too many of them in one day is a depressing jaunt, but I'm going for it anyway.

And here's the one we're starting with:

Here we go, it's called Duck Soup and it's from 1978 (pre-dating Viz by a year). I'm sure I read somewhere that Chris Donald cited Duck Soup as an influence on Viz, but no amount of Googling can currently bring me that information again. Ah well.

As can be seen from the opening page, it's a bit of a home-made affair, with no computer-aided type of any sort to be seen:

Some recognisable names in that list of credits - get excited!

This is the format that the comic mostly takes throughout - pages full of single panel cartoons following a particular theme. This issue's theme as a whole is "the media", with pages based around television, newspapers and the radio.

There's a few full-page strips as well, such as this one from Bryan Lawrence Reading:

This one from Ed McHenry:

And this one from Steve Bell:

Plus a page of short "strips", the three-panel variety, free to break away from the issue's theme, apparently:

And just to add to the whole "DIY" charm of the thing, the adverts are all hand-drawn as well:

Looking at the addresses in the adverts, this was obviously a London-based publication - and considering I found this issue in a used book shop in London, it hasn't travelled much over the last thirty-five years (until now!). 

That's one of the most interesting things I find about these "alternative" titles - they're all so LOCAL. Cheaply made, which obviously means not much would be spent on distribution, so you'd be finding different titles in different parts of the country. That's Duck Soup anyway, incredibly tame when compared to what's to come - consider that a fair warning!