Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Top Tips: Get invited to a Viz party and drink all their beer

Last night I was very lucky to be invited to the opening party of the VIZ exhibition at London's Cartoon Museum.

The show marks 30 years of the UK's rudest magazine and features lots of original artwork. And, as you can see above, it's on until late January.

Simon Donald, Andy Colman (Golddust Comics) and Joel Meadows (Tripwire magazine) ignoring each other

It was a boisterous and busy affair with around 100 of us crammed into the gallery drinking Old Speckled Hen, decent wine or - for the dieters like me - apple juice. Sob. The exhibition boasts a lot of original page art plus quite a few of the fully painted covers to the magazines and the hardback collections.

I first came across VIZ in the early 1980s. I still remember buying my first ever copy - it was printed on tatty paper and had one colour (red) only but what it lacked in paper quality it made up for in gag quality. As I was introduced to the joys of Sid the Sexist, The Fat Slags, Buster Gonad (and his unfeasibly large testicles), Spoilt Bastard and so many others I thought I was going to burst. It was just so funny. And the accompanying features and spoof adverts were the best I'd seen since the old Python Papperbok and Big Red Book of the 70s. A few years later I made regular submissions to the 'Top Tips' section, usually under the pseudonym of Mr S Goblin. At the time, I was working with Chris Hale and he had a few published too.

Paul 'Little Britain' Putner gets taken roughly from behind by Davey Jones

Simon Donald and Sid the Sexist sizing up the interviewer's shirt potatoes

John Brown - the publisher who helped make VIZ at one time the third best-selling magazine in the UK (after the Radio Times and TV Times) - gave a rousing and very funny speech despite constant heckles from Simon Donald. One story involved original VIZ editor Chris Donald who had a run-in with the W H Smith chain over the amount of swearing there was in an issue featuring a new character called Sweary Mary. Eventually, in order to get published, Donald was forced to compromise by placing black squares over the swear words on the cover. However, in the following issue, Sweary Mary was depicted using semaphore flags in several panels. Had anyone bothered to translate it, the message was very, very rude and aimed at a certain High Street magazine retailer ...

Andy and I score with a couple of local birds who seemed up for it

Simon Donald and Graham Dury - they have immatured with age

Charlie Brooker smiling because he got my allocation of wine

Most of the VIZ mainstays were there including Simon Donald, Simon Thorp, Graham Dury, Davey Jones and Alex Collier. A notable absence was Chris Donald who started the magazine but then retired from it 2001. However, I did meet Chris earlier in the year after a recording of QI's The Museum of Curiosity. Already having a signed copy of his fantastic VIZ memoir and autobiography Rude Kids, I asked the others to also sign it. Here's the finished result:

A great night for a great magazine. Here's hoping for 30 more years.

1 comment:

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