It's now twenty-five years since the first episode of Bottom was recorded (not broadcast) at the BBC. Hold that thought. Then go and put a bit of sellotape on the fridge.
Monday, 30 March 2015
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 Zit, here'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.
Posted by Mr Straightman at 08:17
Sunday, 8 February 2015
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.
Posted by Mr Straightman at 06:24