Viz, the satirical comic, marks its 20th birthday this week with an
anniversary edition hermetically sealed in a silver bag.
From a comic with a niche market of working-class males in the pubs of
the North-east of England, Viz has developed into a title with genuine
Today the readership encompasses a much broader group, increasing the
publication’s commercial viability. The individuality of the comic and
the fact that it has not attempted to change its principles to suit a
trend is the key to its success - it is impossible to categorise
The artwork, storylines and general principle remain as crude as ever,
yet they perfectly complement a group of characters that have grown into
household names. Billy the Fish, Johnny Fartpants, Roger Mellie and,
particularly, the Fat Slags have become icons, and everyone seems to
have a favourite.
The language, as foul as ever, still draws strong criticism from some
quarters but in essence is the source of much of the humour.
However, that is not to say that everything about the comic has remained
entrenched in its past. It is developing commercially year by year,
ensuring its future survival with the wider use of some of its
The Fat Slags have been franchised to endorse glucose drinks while
Mellie recently published his Profanisaurus.
The increasing amount of commercial opportunities in the comic, as well
as all the spin-offs, are a source of concern.
Despite its need to grow as a publication, too much commercial pressure
will sour the independent nature of Viz.
As if to illustrate this point, this edition comes in a bag and contains
a free facsimile of the first edition, from 1979. It is strange that for
once, as opposed to being visibly different, the birthday issue of Viz
will form part of the melee of faceless lads’ mags on newsagents’
It would be a shame to let the contents go the same way.
Publisher: John Brown Publishing
Cover price: pounds 1.75
Ad rate full-page colour: pounds 7,500
Advertisers include: Microsoft, Virgin Megastores, Nescafe.