Thursday, 23 October 2014

It's not easy being cheesy


Back in 1993, when I published the very first issue of my fanzine Klam, I included a one-page parody of a typical piss-poor Viz clone which I called 'Smeg'. Then I was informed that there actually was a Viz clone called Smeg, on sale at Tower Records, of all places. I still haven't managed to track down an actual issue, but Victor Marsillo posted this cover scan on Facebook and the following information... "only some strips bear an artist's signature. Not surprising. They are: Will Kevans, Tone, Tony Smith, Don Sinclair and someone who simply signed "Arow," as far as I can tell. I should also note that there are roughly five pages worth of sex adverts".

Meanwhile, the always interesting Two Headed Thingies blog has some excellent, detailed arguments on some of the other Viz clones that surfaced in the late eighties and early nineties, including...

The Winebibber - a truly awful 'Christian' take on Viz, or more precisely, its compilation edition, which called itself the Big Holy One. I think a better title for it would have been 'Holy Shit!'.

Acne, which I actually worked for. Wasn't very good.

The Scurvy Dog, a completely failed attempt at replicating Viz's Bumper Book of Shite on a monthly basis.

Pulp - sod all to do with Jarvis Cocker's group, thankfully. One of the better Viz clones with some fine work by the underrated Rob Filth.

Blag - every issue has a swastika on the cover. But it's not as sinister as it sounds, dear me no! It's pretty violent though.

Top Banana - let's get this cleared up here and now, I never worked for Top Banana. The 'Lee' they employed was someone else. Lee Johnson to be precise. Bloody terrible covers (at first), surprisingly decent contents. At least some of them were.

Gutter - more outrageous than Viz. Not as funny though.

Gutted - what you'd get if it was possible to staple wank together.

Lazy Frog - one of the last of the Viz clones

Wasted - DRUGZ LOL!

Northern Lightz - Weed makes you tired, blud (etc).

Electric Soup - the Scottish Viz (according to every newspaper ever).

Trout - Roger Daltrey walked away from this one, disappointed. (So I'm told.)

Igor - Unpronouncable title, pretty good contents. And they hated John McCririck. Really.

The Twilight Clone - Cherie Currie with no gob and trite homilies about racism not included.

Spit! - always just one letter away from the truth

Zit - it was never better than dreadful

Skank - a black Viz. Yes, this was a thing.

Jockstrap - one great big clusterfuck of failure

This bloody thing - about which you'll get no further comment from me

Adroit - it's all over the bloody place

Ziggy - the comic the News of the World wanted to ban

Poot! - cuddly Christmas puddings

Smut - it's all in the name

Doodlebug - looked cheap, was cheap

Duck Soup - an inspiration for Viz, believe it or not!


Friday, 17 October 2014

Works in progress...


Designing covers is just good fun. Whether the covers actually get used or not is another matter.


Er... yeah. This one will make more sense (but will be no less objectionable) when I post up the conclusion.


This was going to be a longer story but I left it at six panels. Yeah, I'm a lazy bastard, sue me.


The beginning of an autobiographical strip. 


A sketchbook page.


Three short, self-contained strips. (Remember kids, hedgehogs don't actually contain conkers, so don't go around stamping on them.)

*UPDATE* Later that same day...



For fuck's sake, if you don't like my work - and you've made it abundantly clear you fucking hate it - why do you keep obsessively checking my blog for updates, you loon? "Face of Noel Fielding" my fucking arse. Just piss off entirely you putrid cunt.

Friday, 10 October 2014

This never actually happened


Thanks to Michael Cabbage on Twitter for providing this image of two unlikely fans of my early nineties comic Klam

Friday, 3 October 2014

New thrills






Thursday, 25 September 2014

Whaddaya Want From Me?


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Yow arn' nurra burra howndowg

A change of pace for Whattock Hunt this time, from the forthcoming comic the Fat Arse...



While I'm at it, the usual bunch of twats who like nothing more than pointing their nose-picking fingers at someone they've decided is 'the bad guy' simply because he isn't a dreary ageing hipster who still bleats on about fucking Slowdive and Chris Morris like an incredibly boring Tourette's victim, and who has the temerity to like things that aren't universally regarded as 'cool', have turned me into a fucking meme.

Always nice to see hugely expensive, lengthy educations being put to good use.


Friday, 19 September 2014

Remembering Billy Batts



A lot has been said about Martin Scorcese's Goodfellas, most of it incredibly positive, so please cut me some slack when I humbly state my opinion that whilst parts of it are brilliant, it's also full of regrettable goofs and historical inaccuracies, all of which have been covered in great detail elsewhere on the internet. It's also far too long for my tastes and the constant profanity grated on my nerves as well as my ears - people who swear all the time apparently don't realise how much like Derek and Clive without the saving grace of the humour, imagination and unsettling flashes of erudition that made those recordings so much fun. Still, there are a few scenes that stick in the memory, none more than the uncomfortable confrontation between the loathesome Joe Pesci character and Billy Batts

Now, if you've just checked out that link, you'll know the real-life Billy Batts was, unsurprisingly, a pretty nasty piece of work, but that's par for the course. Virtually every character in this film is objectionable in some way. But actor Frank Vincent does such a great job of bringing a relatively minor character in the story to the screen, and he gets to deliver one of the most withering putdowns in cinema history - reminding a wiseguy about his early Mafia career as a shoeshine boy.

Yes, the character comes to a sticky end. In fact, his slow, extremely painful death (and what happens to his corpse) is harrowing in the extreme. But if you're going to be hung for a lamb, you might as well be hung for a sheep, and Billy's cocky, ultimately self-destructive and hugely stylish snubbing of wiseguy Pesci makes his scene a major standout. And if you don't like it, you can go home and get your fuckin' shinebox!


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Success story

 Another busy day for someone who would be better employed shining shoes...

In case you haven't read this classic from Kid Robson yet, you should do so now, because it's a very good and well-written piece. He males some interesting points, and he realises that we all want different things out of life.

Which brings me to the sad case of a certain over-opinionated Twitter user (naming no names, I'm not giving the lanky, pretentious, stuck-up waste of flesh and bone the oxygen of publicity) who has accused me of being 'a failure' simply because my underground comics are only read by 'a fraction' of the regular readership Viz enjoys.

The logic this irritating ponce employs runs along the following lines... because I draw underground comics, I must immediately be 'in competition' with Viz, and my stuff has fewer readers than Viz, therefore I'm a failure.

Well, I'm sorry to piss on your chips, son, but as it happens, I'm just happy to have found a publisher who likes my stuff well enough to grant it an audience, however large, or indeed, small, that audience may be. Like the famous fictional rock band Spinal Tap, my appeal is 'selective' and I couldn't be mainstream if I tried. I aim simply to produce the best possible product which I hope my regular readers (yes, I do have some) will enjoy, and in that respect, I think I'm succeeding. To accuse me of being a failure because I don't have 60,000 readers like Viz? By that token, Viz is also failing, simply because it no longer has the 1.2 million circulation it enjoyed at its peak.

Some people have to measure everything by numbers, it seems...



Friday, 12 September 2014

WHAT IS POINT?

Over on the excellent Two Headed Thingies blog, underground comics legend Nigel Maughan had this to day... "Comics are the last artistic form that should be sanitised. Today we have to read boring 'zines about eating a bagel or nearly meeting a tramp when we can do almost anything we want. Comics should be bold and challenging and even funny and crude. Comics can be art but they shouldn't be solely art - they are in danger of becoming pretentious in their desire to be taken seriously." 

The blogger himself responded "When you're only limited by your imagination and the amount of ink in your pen, why draw a comic about the one time you were almost accidentally racist when you could be doing something, anything... Just whatever pops into your head, scribble it down. I'm still shocked about the small press folk talking like they are - they have the freedom to do totally ridiculous stuff, whilst the old 'rude comics' could do the same, only they got sold on the high street."

A few years ago, three 'DIY' comedy magazines hit the shelves of Northampton record and comic shops. I won't name names but they were all piss awful. The artwork, without exaggeration, looked like this...


...and the level of 'humour' was practically non-existent, just the spurious characters (though they were so one-dimensional, I hesitate to call them that) talking utter nonsense and saying things like "if you don't join in this game you're a goth". They really were THAT GRIM. 

They were being given away free, so the creators weren't getting rich, but the galling thing was that despite the absolute lack of memorable (or even well-executed) content, the production values - printing, collation etc - was well above average, which suggests utter decadence along the lines of "well, I've got absolutely no talent, my artwork looks like something a dog could do, I've just produced a heap of steaming shit that's only likely to be of interest to me and my mates, rather than dumping it on the internet I think I'll get a professional print job done and clutter up shops with free copies in the vain hope of drawing some kind of reaction to my self-indulgent, incoherent babbling".

WHAT IS POINT?!

Another aspect of their efforts that really pissed me off is the fact that there are genuinely talented people out there (I know quite a few of them personally, so excuse me for getting a little bit nepotistic here) who would love to be able to self-publish and would kill to get a professional print-job done on their fanzines, but they lack the funds to do so. Every time I put one of my self-published comics out, I try to do the best job possible with the design, layout, artwork, script etc in an attempt to reach the widest possible audience (within the confines of a 'comic for grown-ups', naturally), but I'm not always able to afford the best quality print-job. In a way, this isn't too much of a problem because all the great comics from my youth were printed on paper apparently sequestered for the school toilets, but the eyes of potential customers will always be drawn to the slicker, professionally-produced efforts rather than the funky, hand-stapled, clearly DIY comics, however good the contents are.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Sixty minutes of entertainment

When I was a kid, going through my parents' (admittedly not very extensive) record collection, I used to be fascinated by the different labels and the names of the various companies. One that seemed to crop up again and again was Golden Hour, which I now find was a budget-range subsidiary of Pye Records, which offered listeners the chance to get 'sixty minutes of entertainment' at a reasonable price. Quite a range of artists on the Golden Hour label as well - everyone from the Kinks to Woody Allen - but let's concentrate on the ones I grew up with.



This is a rare example of a Golden Hour sleeve that's actually pretty good, one photo that perfectly encapsulates the grot and the grime of Steptoe and Son and the spirited love-hate relationship of the leads. What you can't see here is that every Golden Hour sleeve had a clock face embossed on the front, which was pretty snazzy for the time. 


This is where things start to get a little iffy. Great album - though I'm well aware that the great Benny Hill's name is mud over at the cancer of the internet - but those sub-Skip Williamson, sub-psychedelic cartoon characters are faintly unsettling, and it doesn't help that such an unflattering publicity shot of your man was used as the centrepiece either. Still, at least some effort's gone into it, which is more than I can say for this effort...



Come on, it's just rubbish, isn't it? Yet this isn't the very bottom of the barrel as far as Golden Hour's decidely hit-and-miss approach to sleeve designs goes. Dear me no! That would be this nightmare-inducing clusterfuck of wonky 'coming down from a bad acid trip' linework, unappealing washed-out colours and a complete failure to nail even one likeness...


Oh good Lord, what in the holy hell even IS that? Did the makers of Hugo the Hippo fart that one out in between drug binges? Actually, it's not that bad of an album, even though the chronological order of the tracks is shot to crap and the cover is the stuff of nightmares.
Finally, there's this little effort from 1976...


Holy shit, it's Daffy! It's Goofy! It's Mickey himself! This MUST be official Disney product, right? No, not really. For the record (groan), the Young Generation and the Mike Curb Congregation performed an hour's worth of Disney songs, including a Mary Poppins medley which you can hear right here. A pisser if you were expecting to hear the original soundtrack recordings, but a perfectly reasonable listen nonetheless. Given that this was the golden age of those Music For Pleasure / Hallmark 'can YOU tell the difference between these and the original hits?' albums that featured versions of pop hits recorded by faceless and nameless session performers, understandable, but Golden Hour truly had the cheek of the devil to package it so misleadingly.

UPDATE By the way, it is my right to refer to a certain site as 'the cancer of the internet' if I fucking choose to. Just as it is my right to describe Tiswas as a load of loud, brash, unfunny, childish cheapskate cobblers.