Friday, 8 March 2013

Smut - It's all in the name

Well, THIS was a depressing post to put together. Anyone who's ever read Smut will know it's not exactly the pinnacle of comedy. Anyone who's read Smut recently will know that the Sun is a more tasteful read.

Created by misters Tom Fulep and Clive Ward sometime around 1990 (or possibly very late 1989?), it does everything that Viz does, only without any of the satire, wit, subtlety or all-round readability.

Regardless, it lasted for bloody ages, so someone must've liked it. And it DID have occasional good bits, courtesy of a few fairly "big" names, mostly - but more on that later.


Oh, don't carry on reading if you're at work. Or if you're under 18. Or if you've got any ounce of "political correctness" on your mind. Or if you're on dial-up (there's a lot of stuff here!). Or you could just disregard all those warnings, get off your high horse and enjoy some smutty fun, takes all sorts!


Violence, sex and foul language are the order of the day, mostly. With a BIG emphasis on violence. Smut's "main character" was the charming skinhead who went by the name of Everard Edbutt. Think Biffa Bacon only with all the surrealism and clever set-ups taken out. And some added superhuman strength too. He generally gets three pages in each issue:




Not appearing as frequently, but still full of gleeful violence, is Buster Bailey (Gets Beat Up Daily):


Another long-running strip is Rainbro (a Rainbow parody, obviously):


The whole "making-rude-things-out-of-kids-TV-shows" thing is a fairly popular running theme throughout all of these Viz knock-offs, as shall become more and more obvious as these posts go on.

Another popular theme is "the club bouncer" - surprisingly, something I could only find the one example of within the pages of Smut:


And then there's the "sadistic farmer", a role here filled by Farmer Piles:


Folk who tend to lie constantly are another staple of the "alternative comic". You've got Aldridge Pryor in Viz, The Bullshitters in... one of the other ones (I'll correct this when I remember which one they're in), and Smut has Gob-Shite Gordon, by Phil Neill:


The German people are often the target of jokes in these pages. First we have this example of Micky Munk & His Magic Spunk:


Then there's Helmut Kruper, the Ex-Stormtrooper:



Other recurring characters include...

The Bastard in the Black (a football referee who continues his job off the pitch):


Fireman Dan, who would later appear in the teenage-focused Acne - with the same strips, only with milder swearwords used:


Ignore Amos by Mervyn Johnston - I LIKE Mervyn's stuff, but find it hard telling his characters apart from one another. This one wouldn't feel out of place in Oink!:


Willie, by Bob Garland, about a boy in a Charlie Brown shirt and his filthy dog:



Willie was apparantly so popular that a large amount of strips were compiled into a seperate paperback:

Picture found on eBay

Worth noting is that world-renowned cartoonist Ufuk Uyanik was published for the first time in Smut, so that's one for the history books at least:


Danny & Death is a good one - about a lad named Danny, who's followed around by the Grim Reaper. In this two-part episode, Death has to go away for a bit, so Danny is instead followed around by the three other Horsemen of the Apocalypse:



Lee Healey did loads of stuff for Smut, including the amazingly unfunny (yet popular) Sarky Marky:


And the amazingly funny (but somehow not as popular) Mr. Ian Patient:


Smut seemed to last forever - outliving nearly every other Viz knock-off that happened along by many years. Some slight re-designs happened over the years - from the cheap two-coloured covers of the early years pictured at the beginning of this post, to more colourful ones like this:


Pictured on the cover there is Lionel Lettuces & His Sexual Fetishes, about a skinny gentleman and his overweight cousin, and their various (mostly appliance-based) bedroom habits.

From issue 40, Smut got itself a glossy cover instead of the cheap paper one that it was used to:


In the bath there is Fat Idle Bastard, a 37-year-old slob who lives with his mum and hasn't worked a day in his life. They got almost twenty years worth of stories out of this premise.


That's the 50th issue, a good milestone for any publication. After this issue, the glossy covers disappeared and it was back to the cheap paper ones:


Those things sitting on the beach are The Skeggys - same theme as Fat Idle Bastard, only it's a whole family of them.


The hundredth issue! Smut was obviously doing something right. But who was buying it? This advert might indicate the kind of audience it was reaching out to:


"Be the envy of all your mates down the pub!" - it's almost sad. But Smut didn't even peter out after its centenary. Seen the issue number on this one, from 2004?


Issue ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY TWO. It was being published every three weeks by this stage. Even today, Viz is only up to issue 223. The inside of this one's almost identical to the past decade's contents, only with more full-colour strips, and the odd few "new" characters (such as Twatman & Nobbin and the Ibizia Sluts). Oh, and also, "witty" articles such as this one:


I can't tell if they're being serious or not with this... It's fairly worrying. Issue 182's the latest one I have in my comics-box, but Wikipedia tells me that Smut was still around in 2007, re-branded as Twisted! Incorporating Smut

Everything has an audience, and I wouldn't have nearly as many issues of Smut as I do if it weren't for its TRUE saving graces. First up is Nigel Maughan, who had a seemingly ubiquitous presence in the adult comic world. Granted, a lot of his strips were duplicated numerous times, but it got him paid and his stuff still makes me laugh. Here's a few bits by him:




The OTHER main reason for not chucking Smut on the Bonfire of Bad Taste is Nick Brennan. Mainly famous for the Beano's Crazy For Daisy, as well as several characters in the Dandy, Nick was incredibly prolific when it came to drawing daft-looking characters and mostly hilarious strips for Smut (and a fair few controversial ones too).

Special Agent McGee (He Who Dares Goes To Bed With No Tea) was the longest-running, about a pre-pubescent mercenary:



Almost as long-running was Born Again Billy:


And the strip that goes by the title Barry's Me Name, Gatecrashing's Me Game:


Then there's one-off pieces of insanity such as Vincent the Vampire Hunter:


Tea Chest DSV, "inspired" by the Spielberg thing remembered by 2% of anyone who's ever owned a television:


Ugly Kid Joe:


Destination Brain:


And DIY Murdering Nanny - printed less than a year after the Louise Woodward trial. There'd've been an uproar over this one if it was published in Viz, but being in Smut, it escaped the attention of anyone who might care about such things:


And there we go, that's a small sample of Smut, possibly the most successful of all those that tried to be Viz but completely missed the point. Definitely not the best of the lot, still, but it's saved by a few bits.

One more thing of note before moving onwards, is this thing from an early issue - self-parody? Probably not, but it could work as a poster for the entire "scene":


10 comments:

  1. That's absolutely destroyed any residual fondness I ever had for Smut. Especially the 'Euro babe' thing. Here's an odd observation - I saw plenty of people buying and reading Viz, yet I never saw a single person (except myself when I was 16 and stupid) buying a copy of Smut. Perhaps I didn't move in the right / wrong circles?

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    1. That #182 is the only one I've ever seen in a shop - a Viz-loving mate of mine bought it, hated it and gave it to me. Nearly all the rest of my Smut comics came from Oxfam, oddly enough!

      So whoever it was that was buying Smut was mostly invisible, and didn't like it much, and was a charitable sort... Strange demographics there.

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  2. That Nick Brennan drawing from the "Barry's me name" strip of a woman seemingly breastfeeding with her chin is unintentionally revolting.

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    1. Didn't notice that until you pointed it out! All of Nick's characters have a weird conical shape to them, guessing it's only natural that breastfeeding would end up that way... Maybe?

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  3. That Nick Brennan stuff is a cut above, isn't it?

    I saw an issue of Smut in 2006, in Borders (the demise of that shop perhaps being the reason for it's eventual death, small local newsagents, which used to sell all sorts, now won't touch anything "experimental" with a shitty stick. Most don't even sell 2000AD any more). I think it had a glossy, thick cover and glossy pages too.

    The hard Skinhead was still kicking people's heads in. There was a farmer shooting people with a shotgun (and possibly having sex with his animals) and a horny oriental woman who shags anything at the drop of a hat. It wasn't much cop.

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  4. Interesting point about Borders.

    I blame Forbidden Planet for the lack of variety in comics today as well - ditching the small press section and continuously pushing the American comics. It's a crying shame (but at least Smut's dead).

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  5. I can't believe the... well not exactly love, but lack of appropriate HATRED for this terrible comic. And yes, who read it? The strips themselves were unfunny and barely literate, what must the readers have been like?

    It's bizarre it lasted so long! Perhaps it was some sort of money laundering thing, or a deliberate loss for some sort of complicated tax-avoiding scheme.

    I also don't get your love of Nigel Maughan. For the simple fact that none of his many, many strips were ever funny.

    I did pick up the odd issue of Smut in Smiths to kill 10 minutes, never actually bought one. I was wondering if it would ever change and print something that made me laugh instead of wanting to kill myself. It really drained the joy from me!

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    1. The only possible audience I can think of for Smut would be football hooligans or NF skinheads, but then, I couldn't picture either of those knowing how to read a comic, so it's a true mystery.

      Nigel Maughan... His art's great, and often grotesque. His storylines/setups are often bizarre (a character with the powers of a lamp is a highly condescending person), and they have that same depressing/funny mix that Lee Healy does so well in Viz nowadays.

      As with anything to do with "these kind" of comics, there's bound to be splintered opinions between those that DO like them as well!

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  6. I'm so gad you posted on my site and I found your gem of a blog, Smut was in the same league as Zit, in that it was awful. It tried to mimic Viz but the humor wasn't there, it tended to rely on sex and swearing.

    Paul

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    1. You're most welcome, Paul - we're all in this together ;)

      Of all the many, many, MANY Viz wannabes, there were at least a handful of good ones. What I've learnt though, is it was only the TRULY terrible ones that lasted more than a dozen issues - Smut being the prime (and definitive) example of that.

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