Monday, 13 April 2015

Never bluesbreak without a Beano!

A lot of people know the John Mayall album 'Blues Breakers' simply as 'Beano', simply because Eric Clapton is reading a copy of the Beano on the cover. But which issue of the comic was it?

It's this one, from 1966. 

The 'Beano' pose was also used for this promotional disc given away with Mojo magazine...

Another little mystery solved. See, it's educational, this blog. Educational.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Freeform stand-up comedians rant, take it or leave it

The majority of stand-up comedians have more than the merest touch of 'spoilt bastard' about them, am I right? Irrespective of their political views (most of which come straight from the Guardian or the student union bar anyway, so no surprises there), the vast majority of them have never grown out of the mindset of an annoying, hyperactive ten year old, constantly shouting for adult attention despite having nothing remotely important or funny to say - they just expect the world to stop dead in its tracks and gawp at whatever mindless shit they happen to be doing. 

Most of today's stand-up stars fit the same lazy template as the much-trumpeted 'second wave' of alternatives from the nineties... the ones who peddled the idea that comedy was the new rock and roll, had the opportunity to kick the world of comedy right up its arse and create genuinely fresh and exciting television. So what did we actually get? A bunch of fundamentally unlikeable performers with very short shelf lives pandering to niche audiences who simply HAD to have "their OWN comedy", regardless of how shit and unfunny it was.

Then there's the fact that impressionable teenage girls will laugh at literally ANYTHING as long as they fancy whoever's saying it. Misogynist? No - REALIST. This explains the comedy-is-my-hobby chancers like Russell Kane - "I don't HAVE to be funny, I'm a fucking PRETTY BOY!" Yeah, right. Go and try your piss-awful act out at some dog rough social club up North, I'd LOVE to see your face bisected by a flying bottle, you concieted piece of shit.

The antics of the Mighty Boosh, Reeves and Mortimer, Lucas and Walliams... fuck a fucking duck. If Stu Francis and company had done that on Crackerjack, or Andrew Secombe and his pals had done it on Fast Forward, I dare say even the juvenile target audience would find it all too silly for words, and their parents would ask them "why are you watching this rubbish?", as parents do. But because it was the work of performers recognised as 'cool' by the dicksuck media and regarded as comic geniuses by a handful of twats in influential positions with more power than they actually deserve, it's "genius". The story of the Emperor's New Clothes springs to mind whilst watching them!

So where do we stand now? Rack after rack of heart-stoppingly unfunny DVDs on the shelves of HMV, made by performers with not a single funny bone in their bodies or an original thought in their heads wandering around club stages, holding their microphones like ice cream cones, burbling approximately fifty feet of noise to every inch of actual recognizable material, damning their critics as "sexist cunts" or "trolls" and trying to work out how this "comerdee" business actually, you know, works, at the expense of poor sods who've actually paid for the evening's supposed 'entertainment'. 

Then you get the likes of Keith Lemon / Leigh Francis who want to have it both ways... 'comedy' that attempts to lambast the world of light entertainment and celebrity worship whilst simultaneously crawling so far up its well-hammered arsehole it can taste what it had for breakfast. Brooker also falls into this category - yeah, easy to slag off some primary-coloured early-evening pap that your core audience of Guardian readers and uni-students are highly unlikely to watch, isn't it, Charleston?

Monday, 30 March 2015

Crude cartoons + swearing = enormous profit

What with Russell Church hitting the headlines again for all the wrong reasons, I found myself thinking back to the early nineties, when the first issue of Zit hit the shelves. If you want to read more about Zithere's something to get you started.

The first issue of Zit came out in February 1991. At the time, there were already lots of Viz clones on the market, but this one stood out as the worst of the lot. In Chris Donald's autobiography Rude Kids, there are some interesting details on Church (who Donald pithily describes as 'a fucking arsehole'), who apparently thought crude cartoons plus swearing equalled enormous profit, recruited contributors with the promise of being part of 'the publishing success story of the nineties', and even sent a team of dolly birds to Newcastle city centre to hand out free copies of Zit - by the end of the day, the high street was littered with them. The expected sales phenomenon resolutely refused to happen, and Zit went bankrupt - only to rise again from the ashes in time for the next issue - several times over its decade-long run. But back to that first issue.

To say it was 'bad' would be an understatement. You know the baffling sensation you get when you read something that's clearly meant to be funny and entertaining, but misses by absolutely miles? If not, imagine reading Fred Basset for the very first time. Zit gave me that feeling, over and over again. It was hard to believe that someone, somewhere, had actually put time and money into producing something that so completely missed the point, that was so devoid of humour and originality, and which was so desperate to be the next Viz - despite having no understanding of what made Viz great in the first place. I actually wrote to the comic, giving them some hints on how to improve (little things like getting some original ideas, getting some decent artists, thinking up their own jokes and so on), and I got a sarcastic letter back which claimed that 'we are not a rip-off of Zit, we are an adult humour comic of which there are a few around, so there is bound to be some crossover at some point'. They also sent me a free copy of the latest issue. That makes sense - sending out free copies to people who hated the first one.

Zit was in the habit of publishing work by artists and writers and then not paying them - a pattern that continued throughout its life, and was taken up by Church's other ventures, including a short-lived lad's mag called Sorted (which contained articles on shoplifting and taking ecstasy). Church also took over the publishing of the official Boyzone fan magazine, only for the thing to fold after one issue - and after several fans had paid a £30 subscription fee. 

Now, though, it looks as if Church really is up Zit creek, and I can't help feeling his comeuppance is long overdue.

Forty-one today

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Six quick ones

Friday, 20 March 2015

Pencil drawing

Monday, 23 February 2015


Sunday, 8 February 2015

RIP Dick Millington

As a mark of respect for the passing of Mr Millington, here's one of the funniest instalments of his long-running Whizzer and Chips strip, Happy Families - which even manages to make domestic violence hilarious. Rest easy, DM, you've earned it.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Tuesday, 13 January 2015