Once extracted, you'll need the Comic Book Reader to view the files, which you can get HERE for Windows. For other devices search for "Comic Book Reader".
"I just bought the CD advertised in a recent Viz with issues 26-40 on it and your scans blow them out of the water. Wish I'd saved my cash now." - a happy visitor
many thanks to dextrovix for doing the issues I didn't have and Jay, Trelard, Ian, Leon, smellofmints, and Priestfan for sending some issues along with jacksprat and oohaah for checking mistakes. If you want to help by adding other stuff that isn't featured, send an email or pm
Founder won't be celebrating Viz's 30th birthday Oct 25 2009
Coreena Ford, Sunday Sun
Viz may be celebrating its 30th birthday this week but its founder, Chris Donald, will be taking a back seat as no longer having any involvement doesnï¿½t bother him one bit. Chris, who lives near Alnwick, Northumberland, first came up with the adult magazine with his pal Jim Brownlow back in 1979, dishing out copies of their first edition at a gig in Gosforth, Newcastle.
He and his brothers Simon and Steve helped to flesh out characters like Sid the Sexist and Biffa Bacon from the bedroom of their home in Jesmond, Newcastle, before moving into their own studio. And the laughter organï¿½s characters like Eight Ace, the Fat Slags and the Pathetic Sharks soon ensured it was selling more than a million copies an issue ï¿½ almost toppling the UKï¿½s bestselling magazine of the time, the Radio Times. However, Chris quit as editor in 1999 . . . and says heï¿½s never looked back.
He said: ï¿½Itï¿½s odd to think that Viz is 30 years old. When me and Jim Brownlow started putting the first edition together in 1979 it was only intended as a one-off. We did it for a joke, to amuse our mates. We didnï¿½t think it would last a week. Iï¿½ve not been involved with Viz for the last 10 years. I still keep in touch with the people at the comic, but Iï¿½ve not done anything for their anniversary issue or their recent books. Although I did lend them a bunch of old cartoons for the London exhibition. I donï¿½t think Iï¿½ll be going to see it. I have an allergy to London, and Iï¿½ve seen all the cartoons before. I donï¿½t miss Viz at all. I wasnï¿½t happy doing the same thing over and over again. It was like being on a treadmill. Iï¿½ve got a real treadmill now. Itï¿½s more fun, and Iï¿½m losing weight. I left Viz because I wanted to try something different. I worked in a bookshop for five years, then I got sick of that. Iï¿½ve recently started drawing cartoons again, for the QI TV showï¿½s 2010 annual. Iï¿½ve got enthusiasm to last me until Christmas, then I donï¿½t know what Iï¿½ll do next. Sit in the park and drink cider perhaps. Iï¿½m planning my own little celebration in Newcastle to mark the 30th anniversary. Just a handful of mates, a few strippers and a Transit van full of lager, perhaps. Nothing too fancy.ï¿½
The current editorial team ï¿½ Simon Thorp, Graham Dury and Davey Jones ï¿½ are marking Vizï¿½s birthday, which falls on Tuesday, with an exhibition in London at the Cartoon Museum. And theyï¿½ll also be heading North for several book signings, of their 30th anniversary edition and their two new books, the news annual ï¿½Council Gritterï¿½ and the ï¿½Magna Fartletï¿½. The trio will be at HMV in Newcastle on Thursday and at Waterstoneï¿½s in Gateshead on Saturday, and theyï¿½ll also return to the region, to the Borders store at Silverlink, North Tyneside, on November 7.
As the team look forward to ï¿½ hopefully ï¿½ another 30 years of filthy gags and crude characters, Chris lets us have a sneak peak at the early days of Viz, through a series of snaps taken behind the scenes. Over the years, a raft of stars took part in spoof photo love-stories, posters and adverts, from Alexei Sayle to Peter Cook.
Rude Britannia at The Tate A new exhibition at Tate Britain explores the British tradition of irreverence, from Viz comic to political satirist Gerald Scarfe.
One of Britainï¿½s rudest institutions is based in the genteel coastal town of Tynemouth, near Newcastle. This is the current home of Viz comic, founded in 1979, infamous for such characters as The Fat Slags, Johnny Fartpants, foul TV presenter Roger Mellie and Buster Gonad, and now a central attraction of Tate Britainï¿½s new exhibition of British comic art, Rude Britannia.
ï¿½People are often surprised by how civilised the office is,ï¿½ says genial production manager Stevie Glover, ushering me into an elegant townhouse to meet editor/artists Simon Thorp, Graham Dury and Davey Jones, and designer Wayne Gamble. ï¿½I think the local residentsï¿½ association were originally worried that weï¿½d erect a giant neon arse on the side of the building.ï¿½
There are no such decorations in view but the Viz office is crammed with pop culture ephemera and beautifully hand-drawn storyboards depicting bawdy antics. ï¿½For the Tate exhibition, weï¿½re creating a ten-foot tall comic sprouting out of the floor, featuring characters like The Fat Slags and a Letterbocks page,ï¿½ says Dury. ï¿½Weï¿½ve also done a Roger Mellie-style comment for each of the art exhibits.ï¿½
Rude Britanniaï¿½s exhibits will also draw suggestive connections between different media and eras, from William Hogarthï¿½s irreverent illustrations of 18th-century society to seaside postcards and modern designs including Grayson Perryï¿½s ceramics and Sarah Lucasï¿½s provocative visual puns. Surreal comedian Harry Hill curates the showï¿½s Absurd room, while legendary cartoonist Gerald Scarfe oversees the political satire section.
ï¿½The exhibition isnï¿½t setting out a singular tradition, itï¿½s exploring comedy through graphic arts and other media, and trying to tell a bigger story,ï¿½ explains Tate curator Martin Myrone. ï¿½Society has become much more accommodating of low art alongside high art. Each room is going to feel very different but these are also works that seemed to chime together as an ensemble.ï¿½ While saucy humour is fondly regarded as part of British tradition, Myrone is wary of getting too cosy in Rude Britannia. ï¿½Ultimately, itï¿½s a celebration but there are undertones we do need to question within the jokes,ï¿½ he argues. ï¿½Should we be laughing at this? Does political satire actually change anything?ï¿½
The Viz team, meanwhile, are happy with their Bawdy category. ï¿½Weï¿½ve never really bothered with politics except in a very broad ï¿½theyï¿½re all liarsï¿½ sense,ï¿½ says Thorp. ï¿½Whenever we try to do politics, it soon moves into ï¿½pants-downï¿½ and farting jokes,ï¿½ adds Dury.
The venerable Scarfeï¿½s take on politics certainly hasnï¿½t been any safer, as his section of the exhibition should demonstrate. ï¿½My position is that anything is questionable,ï¿½ he says jovially. ï¿½I did a cartoon about the Pope in The Sunday Times recently and got shoals of letters. I once drew Mary Whitehouse being screwed by Rupert Bear and she sued me ï¿½ but to my amazement itï¿½s in the Tate now. My drawings have really been about the things I canï¿½t stand: fear; abuse; everything thatï¿½s wrong with the world. Thatï¿½s why theyï¿½re grotesque. Iï¿½ve been lucky to have a platform to rail about them. Humour is quite a destructive weapon and if you canï¿½t have a sense of humour, then itï¿½s a pretty grim world.ï¿½
The public definition of ï¿½rudenessï¿½ changes all the time; are British audiences shocked by anything any more? ï¿½There probably arenï¿½t as many storms about transgressions now,ï¿½ concedes Thorp. ï¿½Even kidsï¿½ telly is a lot ruder. Johnny Fartpants seemed quite ground-breaking at the time ï¿½ or wind-breaking. I donï¿½t think weï¿½d deliberately try to provoke anybody. Weï¿½ve always said that if something made you laugh first and then wince it was all right but if you winced first and chuckled afterwards, itï¿½s probably beyond the pale.ï¿½
The team agree that Vizï¿½s humour is fuelled by its Britishness. ï¿½A lot of the comics we were inspired by, like The Dandy and The Beano from decades ago, donï¿½t exist abroad,ï¿½ points out Jones. ï¿½And maybe Geordie characters like Biffa Bacon or Tasha Slappa wouldnï¿½t be as good if they spoke standard English. People do write in asking for translations.ï¿½ The fundamental question remains, though: is Viz art? The editors reply in unison: ï¿½Naaah!ï¿½ ï¿½It is artier than a pile of bricks, though,ï¿½ adds Thorp thoughtfully. ï¿½Itï¿½s cheaper too.ï¿½
Happy 30th birthday Viz
17 October 2009
Some night soon on the peaceful back streets of Bloomsbury, you might want to keep an eye out for two young ladies from the north for whom the term ï¿½muffin topï¿½ might have been invented. They will be extremely drunk, laughing like open drains and displaying unsuitable underwear. They will be looking for romance. They are known widely as the ï¿½Fat Slagsï¿½.
Sandra and Tracey are two of the Hogarthian figures that populate the pages of Viz, a distinctly adult comic. It is now celebrating an anniversary that few childrenï¿½s comics ever see: 30 years of scatalogical, frequently obscene cartoons. To celebrate this birthday, the normally decorous Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury is staging a special Viz exhibition. The Fat Slags will be there, alongside a sweary parade of characters who have, over the past few decades, provided a most unflattering reflection of modern British society. Among these are: Sid the Sexist; Roger Mellie, the Man On The Telly; Mrs Brady, Old Lady; Finbarr Saunders and his Double Entendres; Millie Tant And Her Radical Conscience; Billy The Fish; Major Misunderstanding. All are drawn in a richly detailed style reminiscent of every comic you grew up with. Viz also has a raucously funny letters page, and a ceaselessly ingenious ï¿½Top Tipsï¿½ advice column (ï¿½Catch moths using a mousetrap baited with a jumperï¿½ was one recent suggestion).
But the genius of the comic throughout the years has been its unflinching and rather unforgiving approach to various forms of antisocial behaviour. From benefits fraud to unreconstructed sexism to alcoholism to tiresome green posturing, Viz characters are quite often vividly irredeemable. The comicï¿½s founder Chris Donald once disingenously described the Fat Slagsï¿½ ceaseless promiscuity as ï¿½unbecomingï¿½.
For long-term fans, it is a shock to think that Viz started as far back as Margaret Thatcherï¿½s first term as prime minister in 1979. ï¿½We still get a few young readers,ï¿½ says co-editor and prolific cartoonist Simon Thorp drily. ï¿½That is, people in their late thirties and upwards.ï¿½ Thorp has been with the comic since 1985. The Viz office, just outside Newcastle, comprises himself and his fellow cartoonists Graham Dury and Davy Jones, plus Stevie, their office manageress, and their designer Wayne. For a publication so comically ferocious, its monthly gestation is very equable. They all sit around on sofas ï¿½discussing what they watched on televisionï¿½; ideas come up; and if one person writes a script, then the other will draw the strip for it. Thorp says that the only real editorial requirement is that the stuff that makes them all laugh loudest goes in. And despite language that would make a horse retch, Viz is embraced snugly in the bosom of the comedy establishment. For instance, the veteran comic genius Barry Cryer is a huge fan, and once took the Viz team out to a pub ï¿½ accolades really do not come higher.
Take another look, though, and some of the strips seem ï¿½ unless this is my imagination ï¿½ surprisingly right-wing, as opposed to simply anarchic. One regular is ï¿½8-Aceï¿½, a frequently incontinent alcoholic made to live in his shed by his understandably violent wife. Aceï¿½s sporadic attempts to find gainful work are always scuppered by his remorseless daily consumption of eight tins of extra-strength ï¿½Aceï¿½ lager. Then there is ï¿½Tasha Slapperï¿½ and ï¿½Tashaï¿½s Mumï¿½ who seem to be emblems of a Jeremy Kyle culture ï¿½ caterwauling, pathologically selfish, and again frequently drunken. It is all prime Iain Duncan Smith material.
Elsewhere, in Mrs Brady Old Ladyï¿½s latest adventure, the formidable old bag is seen diddling her disability allowance and then, having fooled the benefits inspector, refereeing a football match. Meanwhile, the Fat Slags ï¿½ and their various paramours ï¿½ are rarely seen in any form of legitimate employment. In other words, the implication of these recurring strips is that the welfare state as it stands is often being played for a patsy by feckless, irredeemable monsters.
Add to this the nauseatingly right-on monologues of spoiled, mollycoddled Student Grant, and the insanely politically correct diatribes from lesbian Millie Tant and... well, it is certainly not Guardian territory. Indeed, traditional Guardian readers are also traduced in the ï¿½Modern Parentsï¿½ strip, in which a pair of sanctimonious, ill-tempered eco-hypocrites bully their poor children out of mass-produced toys, TV-watching and meat-eating.
But Simon Thorp recoils from this suggestion of right-wingery like a cat squirted with lemon juice. ï¿½No, I donï¿½t think we are right-wing,ï¿½ he protests. ï¿½I donï¿½t even know where we stand on the Lisbon Treaty.ï¿½ He also says that Viz tries to be even-handed with politicians, in the sense that ï¿½we lash out at everybodyï¿½. ï¿½We once included Stephen Poundï¿½s name for some reason in a word-search puzzle which was themed around ï¿½large organsï¿½,ï¿½ he says. ï¿½He sent us a box of chocolates.ï¿½ Thorp also cites the long-running Viz character Baxter Basics MP ï¿½ who as the name implies, came into being at the end of John Majorï¿½s premiership, ï¿½but then flipped to being New Labourï¿½.
The circulation might not be quite what it was 20 years ago ï¿½ there was a point when Viz was outselling Radio Times, with a million copies per issue ï¿½ but Thorp is aware of just how loyal long-term Viz readers are. The forthcoming 30th anniversary issue features the return of such old favourites as Roger Irrelevant and Finbarr Saunders. ï¿½Some characters have continual appeal because they reflect the times,ï¿½ Thorp says. ï¿½Billy the Fish (half-fish, half-goalkeeper, Vizï¿½s surreal answer to Roy of the Rovers) will be competing on Strictly Come Dancing.ï¿½
Perhaps average Viz readers now resemble the three-bearded real-ale bores who sometimes appear in the comic. Every time I see someone chortling away at it, itï¿½s a middle-aged man in a jacket and tie. Oh, hold on. Thatï¿½s me as well. ï¿½We have had people reading us for a very long time. And convicts,ï¿½ Thorp adds helpfully. ï¿½We had a plaintive letter from a convict recently complaining that he couldnï¿½t get Viz in his prison. We sent him an issue with the proviso that on his release, he must never offend again. We always look out for our incarcerated clientele.ï¿½
Thorp is thrilled about the forthcoming Cartoon Museum exhibition. His own favourite artists are H.M. Bateman and Pont. ï¿½Pont...ï¿½ he says wistfully. ï¿½I only wish I had that subtlety. Itï¿½d have to be an accident.ï¿½ Too modest! In truth, the needle-sharp satire of Viz ï¿½ combined with the important fact that it is consistently, howlingly funny ï¿½ means that it has more than earned its place in the comic pantheon.
The Viz exhibition is at the Cartoon Museum, Little Russell St, London WC1, from 4 November.
Roger Mellie, It's Him Off The Telly October 27, 2009
Roger Mellie talks to Sky News Online on Viz's 30th birthday and reveals which Sky presenter he thinks most closely resembles him.
Q. Who do you admire at the moment on telly?
A. It's got to be Brucie, hasn't it? What a pro, still going after all those years at the top. Amazing. Getting a bit long in the tooth now, and that's definitely a wig, but I only hope I look as good when I reach that age.
Q. How popular do you think you are with today's audience?
A. In this business you have to keep re-inventing yourself for each new generation. You've got to keep in touch with all the latest fads and crazes that the kids are getting "into". That's what my new show Roger Mellie's Groovy Hula-Hoop Barbecue (Sky One) is all about.
Q. Which Sky News presenter do you think is most like you, and why?
A. Definitely Eamonn Holmes, because like me, he (the rest of this answer has been omitted on legal advice).
Q. Who in the media would be your ideal date?
A. Apart from Fiona Bruce, you mean? You know, I've always thought that Janet Street-Porter was the most fascinating woman in the media. She's got the most amazing mind - she's witty, clever, well-informed, and she's got a strong personality and knows exactly what she wants. But have you seen the state of her? Bloody hell. So, if I had to pick my ideal date, it would probably be someone with big knockers like Krystle off Page Three.
Q. What would be your perfect night out?
A. When you're a celebrity, you're forever running the gauntlet of the paparazzis' cameras. Whatever you do, it's difficult to stay out of the public eye. So I've recently joined an exclusive club where I can relax and be myself without getting splashed all over the tabloids in the morning. It's very discreet, tucked away under some railway arches in Acton and the dancers do this trick with ping-pong balls that would make your eyes water.
Q. Have you got any new TV shows in the pipeline?
A. Yeah, we've always got a few irons in the fire. In fact, my production company's got a few things in development with Sky at the moment, as it happens. Television has been dumbing down a lot recently, so we're trying to redress the balance a bit, come up with some more intellectually-demanding programme formats. Topless Paintball Question Time with Diane Abbott has just got the green light, and we've got high hopes for Kerry Katona's Sky at Night.
Q. Are you planning to write any more books?
A. I'll let you into a little secret. Us celebrities don't actually write our own bestsellers - we're far too busy. For example, it's a well known fact that Jordan gets someone else to type all her books out for her - she just comes up with the ideas. I've taken that process one step further. Someone else thinks up my ideas and does the writing.
Q. Are you still working with Tom?
A. Who? You mean the bloke with the beard and the specs? Oh yeah, me and Tom go back years. We met on the set of my first show, Family Fart-Tunes, 30 years ago, and he's been with me at FTV ever since, through thick and thin. Sadly, though, I had to make him redundant last week. I'm having my office refitted and it was either Tom or the iridescent tiles in my en-suite bathroom. They really are beautiful tiles.
Q. Sky notices you have a Twitter page and a Facebook page. What do you think of the latest social networking tools?
A. I don't really know the first thing about computers, to be honest - I'm no Stephen Fry! Though funnily enough, I met him last week in the BBC canteen, as it happens. Shorter than he looks on the telly and smelled very strongly of TCP. Hang on, I tell a lie, that was Moira Stuart.
Q. Would you consider working for Sky News?
A. Yeah, why not? I'm not proud. Is Paul Ross not available or something?
Q. What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into television work?
A. It's the hardest game in the world, it really is. The competition is so fierce. My advice to any young women who want to get into television is to get in touch with me, Roger Mellie, c/o FTV Television Centre, Fulchester. I'll happily do what I can to give them a leg up, and keep my eye out out for any openings, so to speak.
Viz Comic takes over the Guardian On the occasion of its 30th birthday, Britain's fourth or fifth funniest comic does its business - Warf! Warf! ï¿½ all over our pages. Check the images below for our exclusive Viz strips Justin Quirk
7 November 2009
This month sees the 30th anniversary of "the magazine that's not as funny as it used to be". Viz, Chris Donald's foul-mouthed comic, evolved from a 12-page fanzine hawked around Newcastle's pubs into one of the country's highest-selling titles, shifting over a million copies an issue with celebrity fans ranging from David Bowie to Simon Bates. Since that 1990 peak, sales have declined to around the 100,000 mark; however, the comic which first posed the then-unanswered question "Morrissey; pop genius or twat?" is still going strong as it enters its fourth decade.
Viz's influence on British comedy has been profound. Its squalid brand of anarchy and self-referential surrealism is present in everything from Mitchell and Webb and The League Of Gentlemen to Little Britain and The Daily Mash. And while its writers resist serious analysis, Viz's most overlooked quality has always been a furious intelligence.
As its numerous, pathetic imitators (Smut, Zit, Brain Damage etc) proved, a comic cannot survive on profanity alone and Viz strips like Biffa Bacon, Sid The Sexist and The Fat Slags tell you more about the national character than many literary heavyweights. In a tongue-in-cheek documentary, Auberon Waugh suggested that "if the future generations look back on the literature of the age, they'll more usefully look to Viz than they would, for instance, the novels of Peter Ackroyd or Julian Barnes, because Viz has a genuine vitality of its own which comes from the society which it represents". His favourite strip was The Bottom Inspectors, by the way.
The classic premise of situation comedy has always been that of a man trapped in his surroundings; and this is the case in Viz's finest strips, the characters poignantly locked in a doomed cycle by their giant testicles, religious fervour, undiagnosed autism, painful haemorrhoids, and terminal stupidity. Writer Graham Dury claims a core readership of "the well educated, the unemployed and people in prison" and Viz speaks to the parts of Britain that have a simmering and instinctive dislike of the rich, the show-offs, the moronic and the vain.
Viz has been entirely prescient about where our culture is going. Once, its obsession with third-rate celebrities, Roger Mellie's endless ideas for cheap television ("I've got an idea, Tom ï¿½ Celebrity Shit Bucket!"), dishonest overselling, and ludicrously hyperbolic real-life stories seemed like flights of fancy. Now, they look like the vast majority of the modern media.
"We pride ourselves on the fact you're no cleverer when you've read Viz," says Dury. "You might have had a few laughs, but you've not learnt anything." If that really is the case, then the fault lies with the reader, not the comic.
'Viz - The Rock n Roll Years'
is an extended radio feature about the comic... well worth a listen
Chris Donald on episode 201 of 'The Museum Of Curiosity'
Simon Thorp and Graham Dury - 2012-12-19 - Radcliffe and Mahonie
Some older articles...
Let's get Vizical - 25 years at the comic coalface
23rd August 2004
Viz comic has become a national institution and, after 25 years, is taking to the stage at the Edinburgh festival. Is it finally respectable? In the 25 years since Viz comic first appeared, Sid the SExist, one of its most enduring characters, has spectacularly failed in the pursuit to which he has single-mindedly committed himself: having sex. Yet it almost didn't happen like that, says Simon Donald, who started the comic with his brother Chris.
When they set out to find a serious publishing deal, Sid's crass exploits did not raise a smile with the suits at one of Britain's magazine publishing giants. "They wanted Sid the Sexist to be Sid the Smooth Talker. They were offended by the fact he was politically incorrect," says Simon Donald précising a letter from one of the big publishers. It was 1985 and PC - political correctness - had taken hold everywhere from council chambers to student unions.
Viz, an irreverent, sordid, at times outrageously offensive skit on the traditional British kids' comic, already had a thriving teenage readership in its native Newcastle. bThe next step was to go nationwide, and so the hunt for a big backer. The publisher in question, home to the sort of titles Viz had set out to lampoon, was looking for the next big thing. But it wasn't to be.
The letter detailing the company's objections to Sid and just about everything else in the Viz repertoire is recited and entertainingly dissected as part of a show at this week's Edinburgh Fringe. Called Swearing is Both Big and Clever it is a potted history of the comic which the late Auberon Waugh predicted would be more usefully reflected on by future literary scholars than the novels of Peter Ackroyd or Julian Barnes.
At the show's helm will be Simon Donald and Viz artist Alex Collier, both of whom have recently loosened their ties to the comic to pursue other projects. Pondering the upcoming show, Donald returns to the letter. "They couldn't stand the humour or the language, or the irreverence," says Donald, with the aplomb of someone who is still having the last laugh. "They said a great deal of our stories appeared not to have a recognisable ending. They wanted us to stop using four-letter words, be more political, develop a story about Maggie Thatcher." A strip entitled Sex and the Beatles, in which the mop tops are accused of having sex with their wives, caused particular anguish, he recalls.
Eventually, Donald and his pals found a publisher who granted them full editorial freedom, with the one proviso that they stayed within the law.
Viz's merciless ridiculing of stars and stereotypes, laced with much anarchic iconoclasm, proved the perfect antidote in an era of PC student politics and emerging celebrity culture. By the early 90s sales topped more than a million per issue, and Donald and co saw the money come rolling in. But the great minds behind characters like Those Pathetic Sharks - a strip about pernickety sharks who prefer ice lollies to human flesh - found swimming in the big sea of magazine publishing lured some serious predators.
Donald cites a parody of an old Ready Brek advert which showed a child glowing warmth and the line "Central heating for children". Viz recreated the ad with a vagrant toting a well-known premium strength lager and changed the line to "Central Heating for Tramps", inadvertently drawing the rebuke of the brewer's lawyers.
Given its reputation for poking abuse, one might feel a pang of sympathy for the poor Viz defamation lawyer. Not a bit of it, according to Donald, who says the comic relies on a loophole which permits "low abuse", ie plain non-libellous insults. Viz has only ever made two apologies - one after it ran a strip about gipsies, and got a letter from the United Nations alleging racism.
"We didn't mean to offend. It doesn't look good on our record to be accused of racism," says Donald, who despite his record, is not averse to serious reflection. The other apology followed a misunderstanding about a celebrity who subsequently died from cancer. After a "cease and desist" letter from the company Viz hit back with a strip about a "miserable Scottish git" called DC Thomson. Not to be outdone, Thomson sharpened its knives and resurrected one of its old strips, the Jocks Versus the Geordies, as a means of mocking Viz's comic strips.
Despite carving a handsome living out of parodying comics, Donald clearly retains great affection for the likes of Topper, Buster and Whizzer and Chips, which have shut down in the past 25 years. But he concedes Viz's warts and all approach has, in some small way, contributed to a changing market. "The world's constantly changing so we must have had a part in it in some small way. It certainly isn't one of our achievements that we shut down all the comics we grew up reading ourselves."
As for respectability, Viz has followed a familiar comedic trajectory, à la Monty Python or Billy Connolly, from outsider to institution. Donald is flattered by the Python analogy. "To paraphrase Quentin Crisp," he says, "if we're accepted now, it's not because we've changed, it's the establishment that's changed."
The Evening Chronicle
Aug 26 2004
The Viz comic is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Jamie Diffley meets the men who are still keeping its readers laughing. It must be a stressful life at a magazine which sells more than 130,000 copies per issue. Publishers on your back, deadlines looming, stories to finish. By the way when is the next deadline? "Don't know," is the instant chorus reply from three of the five staff who make up the current team of one of Newcastle's finest exports - Viz.
The chorus comes from designer Wayne Gamble, cartoonist Davey Jones and Simon Thorp, who along with Graham Dury is joint editor. Graham is away when we visit - in Cornwall apparently - as is Stevie Glover, editorial manager and, in the words of Simon, the rock. "She would know the deadline," he says. "She's good at the sensible side of things. If we were Princess Di she would be our Paul Burrell."
The next deadline (we learn later on by virtue of a quick check) is not for another three weeks. No need to panic then. Anyway, after a quarter of a century you'd think the comic is such a well-oiled machine that deadlines would become insignificant. With only 10 issues to produce every year it would make sense to everyone to have issues ready to go to print as and when required. To work in advance as it were.
"I still like the idea of getting one in the bag, so to speak," says Simon, known to the rest as Thorpy. "When one deadline is over it would be good to work steadily towards the next one but after so long it still doesn't happen. It's a shame because it would make things easier for us all, but the way we work is quite chaotic. However, we still get things done."
Viz is not just a North East institution but a national one. From the early days of a glorified fanzine produced in founder, Chris Donald's Jesmond bedroom, it went on to sell more than a million and still shifts a healthy 138,000 plus copies per issue. It gave us legendary characters like the un-PC Sid the Sexist, the half-man half-fish goalkeeper Billy and the man-mad Fat Slags. The comic spawned a host of imitators, most of which fell by the wayside and for a while itself suffered a huge dip in form.
But recent subscriptions have almost doubled since the beginning of 2003 and with a host of events planned to celebrate its silver anniversary there is a buzz about the comic again. One collector's edition of old favourites is already in the shops and there's a 25th anniversary edition due out in October. There are two books set for release, one by original founder Chris Donald, and there is talk of a celebrity bash in London to mark the occasion. Back at the office, things remain the same if a little busier of late. "We try to ignore what's happening in the outside world," said cartoonist Davey Jones. "The publishers try to push the business side of it on us but we do our best not to listen. We just get on with it."
Dennis Publishing Ltd owns half of the magazine, with the rest owned between Simon, Graham and Davy and Chris Donald, who quit the comic as editor in 1999. The writers have full creative freedom over the contents, which are decided in the comic's conference room. This is the creative heart of the publication, where scripts are scribbled on note pads and drawings doodled on whatever comes to hand. Staff thrash out ideas on the two battered sofas that sit in the middle of the room, surrounded by mountains of past issues, scores of irreverent books, a table football game and a dartboard.
Most top magazines employ researchers to try and pin down their core audience to boost their sales. Readers are canvassed, focus groups consulted and the results presented to editorial staff in a stuffy boardroom on an overhead projector. The brains behind Viz don't believe in focus groups. "We talk about it between ourselves and if it makes us laugh, we'll go with it," said Simon. "It's a collaborative process where we just bounce things around. If it doesn't make us laugh we bin it." It's a bold marketing strategy but it's one that works. Fortunately for them the Great British public is tickled by the idea of a vibrating goat which has a bum for a face.
The rest of the Viz office, set in Milburn House, close to St Nicholas' Cathedral, in Newcastle City Centre, is just as chaotic as the conference room. A framed gallery of the 100+ issues line one of the walls while a huge poster, mocking the merits of Skegness (too rude to print here but very funny) dominates another wall. Viz memorabilia is littered around. T-shirts, mugs, calendars. Even the remains of a Sid the Sexist Easter egg. In the middle of the room are the three drawing boards where the stories come to life.
Simon is responsible for Billy the Fish, Farmer Palmer and Mrs Brady among others. Davey concentrates on the one-off specialist cartoon strips (the aforementioned vibrating bum-faced goats was one of his) while Graham's hand is the one behind the Fat Slags. From there Wayne takes over as page designer, laying out the final product on computer. The finished article is then electronically sent to the printers in Essex. Always on time despite the apparent haphazard nature. "We used to send it by train in the old days but we missed it once and had to drive it all the way down," remembers Simon. "We were told it had to be there before midnight and we just made it. We handed over this package to the printer and he put it down on a table. It didn't get done until three days later anyway."
Simon first became involved with Viz in 1984. Originally from Pontefract, in West Yorkshire, he was an art student at Aberystwyth University, when he replied to an advert on the back of Private Eye for cartoonists. Although he was aware of the comic, he had never read it. In 1984 Viz wasn't available in too many places outside the North East. He moved to Newcastle to work full-time on the growing business just before it moved from Chris Donald's bedroom to offices in Portman Terrace, Jesmond, and watched it become the biggest selling humour magazine in the early 90s.
In 2000 they moved to their current premises, which they call Fulchester House, after the fictional town where Billy the Fish plays his football. Throughout the changes Simon tries to keep the same approach to the humour which made it a success in the first place. They have resisted suggested changes from a variety of publishers, including a push to move them to London. "I couldn't imagine living and working in London," protests Simon. "It's horrible. If we had have gone we probably wouldn't exist today. We probably would have all been murdered."
Cult comic Viz goes glossy
21 September 2001
Cult adult comic Viz is undergoing its first significant format change since it was launched twenty years ago. In a bid to boost its on-shelf appeal, future issues will take on changes including a bigger size format, a stiff and glossier cover and better quality paper inside the comic. Publisher IFG said the changes were part of an overall strategy to consolidate its men's titles, including Bizarre Magazine and Fortean Times, to create the strongest men's magazine publishing house in the UK.
In typical Viz style, commercial manager Will Watt said: "We've been talking for a while with the lads at Viz about making it bigger and stiffer as we're confident that these sort improvements will attract new and lapsed readers."
Viz gives Fat Slags the elbow
19 October 2004
The publishers of Viz magazine have axed the Fat Slags, one of its most infamous cartoon strips, after their big screen adaptation was branded the worst British film ever made. Sandra and Tracey, two sex-mad north country factory workers from 69 Shit Street, Fulchester, will make their last appearance in the magazine's 25th anniversary issue, which is out next week.
"I'm sorry to say that the Fat Slags are no more," said Graham Dury, the editor of Viz. "After seeing this crass and ill-conceived film I just don't feel like drawing them again. It was crap from start to end, there are no laughs to be had and it bears no relation to the comic strip on which we have worked so hard to make a success."
The Fat Slags first appeared in Viz 15 years ago. The big screen version, which stars Sophie Thompson and Smack the Pony's Fiona Allen, follows them on a trip to London where they help an American media tycoon, who is brain damaged after insulting the Dalai Lama. The movie was universally panned by critics in tabloids and broadsheets alike. "Crass, demeaning and thoroughly depressing, I would sooner recommend you scoop out your eyes with teaspoons than watch this," said Wendy Ide in the Times.
"There may still be some diehard Viz aficionados who'll love every second of this film - but I'm one and I didn't," said Johnny Vaughan in the Sun, while the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw concluded: "It has plenty of gross-out stuff, but chucked in with an eerie lack of enjoyment or conviction. Depression seeps out of the screen like carbon monoxide." "First they said that Mad Cows was the worst British film ever made. Then they said Sex Lives of the Potato Men was. Now the hot topic among connoisseurs of bad films will be: is Fat Slags worse than Cows and Potato Men combined?" asked Cosmo Landesman in the Sunday Times.
The film adaptation also starred Geri Halliwell, Naomi Campbell, Angus Deayton and former EastEnder Michael Greco. The Dalai Lama was played by Pink Panther star Bert Kwouk. Privately Viz executives are furious that the film has been made at all - when the magazine was sold to Dennis Publishing the film rights were retained by the magazine's former owner, John Brown Publishing. As a result, the Viz editorial team had no control over the film and were "appalled" by the end result.
The Fat Slags' creator and former Viz editor Simon Donald said it was "embarrassing". "Even the most idiotic, misguided teenage moron will not get a laugh out of this truly irredeemable crock of horseshit," he said. They believe that it will damage the reputation of the magazine and decided the only option was to distance themselves by killing the two ladies off.
Mr Dury said: "As far as we are concerned the Fat Slags has already been made by Alan Clarke. His  film Rita, Sue and Bob Too is the best film you could hope to make of the Fat Slags. This version was crap from start to end."
Within weeks of their debut in 1989, the Fat Slags were recruited in an advertising campaign for Tennent's lager. At the time, a Guardian column said they "stood out [in Viz] as the most appalling and the funniest strip, perhaps because they contain a hint of truth and tragedy. They're gluttonous and amoral and they'll shag anyone who's good for a bag of chips."
Fat Slags was directed by Ed Bye, who also directed Kevin and Perry Go Large. The big screen version of Harry Enfield's comic creation, Kevin the Teenager, was a hit at the box office and took £9m in the UK in its first three weeks on release.
Previous updates 2014
14th Feb - issues 151-175 added - thanks again to dextrovix for his efforts
23rd March - issues 111-150 added
6th March - complete downloads up to issue 110 available in first post. Thanks to dextrovix
25th June - issues 93 and 97 added, thanks to PriestFan
21st May - issues 68 and 89 added, thanks to PriestFan
2nd May - issues 58 and 65 added, thanks to PriestFan for sending his scans
19th September - issues 54 and 105 added - thanks to smellofmints for sending his scans
10th August - issues 98 and 147 added
6th August - 4 specials added to the bottom of the list
22nd May - issue 57 added - thanks to Ian for sending it
2nd Apr - issues 52 and 53 added
30th Mar - issues 29 and 30 added
25th Mar - issues 27 and 28 fixed - thanks to oohahh for letting me know of the problem. Also, streaming players added for audio files...
19th Feb - issues 25 and 26 added
10th Feb - issues 20 and 23 added
22nd Jan - issues 18 and 19 added
8th Jan - issues 15 and 16 added
December 23rd - issues 1-14 added. Thanks to Leon for the uploads (he's sent all missing issues up to 55). I've tidied them up, got rid of the age-fading and improved the definition.
October 12th - issues 183, 184, 185, 186 added
April 5th - Issues 80, 81, 82, 83 added
March 28th - Issues 115, 118, 124 and 130 added
March 23rd - Issues 17, 21, 22, 24 added thanks to uploads by Trelard. He's also supplied a few of the specials, but I'll add them when I've got a few more to include.
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