Friday, 4 April 2014

Apathetic Amphibian

Here's an odd one, stylistically at least. In the realm of Viz-inspired comics, Lazy Frog from Big Star Publishing is certainly... anomalous? Thematically it's identical, yes, but it LOOKS like nothing else I've seen within the "genre". 

Well, that cover's not exactly representative of what I'm on about, but hang in there. Okay, the first time I found Lazy Frog was on a trip to that London in 2002, and it was on the shelf of some swanky newsagent. Not the first issue, but the sixth issue. I enjoyed it enough at the time, but in the decade (and more!) since then I've only been able to find two more issues. And the only information concerning Lazy Frog on the whole of the Internet can be found in two paragraphs of one page:

Dave: You’ve sent me some of your recent work. Well, fairly recent. I didn’t know of the existence of Big Star Publishing and here are two titles from them. Lazy Frog is a kind of West Country Viz with lots of rude words and sheep-shagging. It’s about ninety percent comics, the strips variously signed by Shaky Kane, Shaky K and Joe Klutz. Time to come clean I think. This looks like a one-man show to me. But can I reassure Vikki that all those French personal ads were not down to you? I can’t believe you came up with “Sacre Bleu, I appear to ‘ave fucked you up ze ass.”

Shaky: Again, an opportunity came my way. Uncle Al The Kiddie’s Pal was my character, along with The Tic-Toc Man. But the personal ads you’re talking about were down to the editor, Ian Porter. He must have thought it was a good idea at the time. His Smelliest Clown Lonely Heart page was funnier! And he actually put the damn thing out, so it’s hard to be too critical.

There we have it - the extent of the Internet's knowledge about Lazy Frog (besides a slight discussion on the matter here) - it's a two-man job consisting of the artist, Shaky Kane (real name Michael Coulthard, of Deadline, 2000AD and Bulletproof Coffin fame) and the editor, Ian Porter, who also put out the magazine and wrote most of the stuff in it. It lasted for at least six issues, beginning in 2001, and that's all we know. So what can I do? I can show some of its contents to anyone who might be interested, that's what!

The first issue seems like more of a "lad's mag" parody than a comic - out of 32 pages, ten of them are comic strips, the rest consists of "funny" things, which of course is entirely subjective. Things like My Kind of Wank with Patrick Moore (featuring Declan Swan from the Claims Direct adverts), Diary of a Drunken Male aged 30 and 3/4 ("Woke up on the stairs! Despair..."), bar games, quizzes, daft news stories, things like this:

And this:

You know - the kind of things that give away the publishing date without even using numbers. And speaking of being an object of its time, the first issue also has this page:

Ah, when the Internet was still a novelty and not the main reason most people get out of bed on their day off. Only one of those featured websites still works, and it doesn't seem to match its original description (just don't try them out if you're in public!).

Right in the middle of that first issue though, is this:

That old "comic-within-a-comic" thing, similar to what Cheeky Weekly used to do so well, perhaps. It's kind of alright on the inside of this bit, in that it features Kooky Koala, the mandatory "children's TV puppet doing rude things" strip:

Uncle Al, The Kiddie's Pal, who is in every issue of Lazy Frog that I've read:

Irish gangsta rap sensation Duff Paddy:

And these two things - both of these strips were reprinted in the fourth issue, only with added colour, which is what you'll be seeing now:

In the "original" version, this was titled Indiana JAMES. That might come up in a quiz one day.

So... Fairly interesting as first issues go, but nothing special. I'm not sure what happened in the intervening issues, but by the fourth one, it's ALMOST like a completely different comic:

Slightly bigger so that it won't fit under the scanner properly, what a bastard!

It's still got a few bits of lad-mag nonsense (such as the included World Cup wallchart, complete with "flied lice" jokes), but it's also got Shaky Kane giving us freaky-deeky bits like this:

And what else? Some boring drug-humour in the form of Sinsemilla Street (not really worth the effort of scanning), Joey's Bar, in which Joey Ramone runs a bar in Heaven (ditto), and some more "sign of the times" stuff, this time in the form of political satire:

And the continuing adventures of Duff Paddy - notice how the first page of this one is word-for-word identical to his previous escapade, but drawn differently?

I'd completely forgotten about that horrible advert until reading this again.

And now we come to the SIXTH issue, the one that entertained me for the first half hour of the bus ride home from London all those years ago:

It certainly stood out on the shelf, that's for sure. Lots of high quality (as in, fun to look at, if not to read) stuff in here, such as the Freud-fuelled frolics of Professor Chad:

And nefarious supervillain-at-large, Tic-Toc Man:

So, Lazy Frog - definitely interesting, mostly for Kane's drawings (mostly under the "Joe Klutz" pseudonym). Not a lot of it's actually amusing, but to sound like a Londoner I'll say it's a visually stimulating tour-de-force if you want. More of this sort of thing will be scanned if anyone's interested, but for now we'll finish with this:


  1. Shaky Kane's art in this was amazing! I remembered many of the lurid but stylish images reproduced here since I first read them in Glasgow Buchanan Street bus station in 2002-04 till now. As you say though, there's a monumentally gaping gulf between the quality of the art and the writing behind it, although some of the characters had potential if they'd been able to stick around longer.Professor Chad kind of reminds me of a sleazier Norm from the mid 90s Twix Adverts: This must be one of the very last of the Viz inspired high street distributed adult titles.. were there any between this and Wasted?

    1. Ha, cheers for that YouTube link - Norm's been buried at the back of my mind for years.

      The only one I'm aware of between this one and Wasted is the "revival" of Poot! - and I'm not sure if that counts as it was mostly reprints. Maybe I should've mentioned that in the article? Ah well.

  2. I remember seeing it on the shelves but never bought a copy.

  3. That Sea Monkeys one brought a smile to my face.