Viz (comic)

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Viz is a popular British comic magazine which has been running since 1979.

The comic's style parodies the strait-laced British comics of the post-war period, notably The Beano and The Dandy, but with incongruous language, crude toilet humour, black comedy, surreal humour and either sexual or violent storylines. It also sends up tabloid newspapers, with mockeries of articles and letters pages. It features competitions and advertisements for overpriced 'limited edition' tat, such as a cat which "shits its own weight in gold", as well as obsessions with half-forgotten celebrities from the 1970s and 1980s such as Shakin' Stevens and Rodney Bewes. Occasionally, it satirises current events and politicians, but has no particular political standpoint. Its success has led to the appearance of numerous rivals crudely copying the format Viz pioneered; none of them has managed seriously to challenge its popularity. It once enjoyed being the third most popular magazine in the UK,[1] but ABC-audited sales have since dropped to an average of 76,408 per issue in 2009[2] (from 1.2 million). This is mainly because its comic remit has become broader and its format more commonplace,[citation needed] but also partly due to the fact[citation needed]that price has increased sharply to £3.20 (as of issue 195) and it is now published 'monthly' ten times a year. The falling circulation and rising cover price are often referenced in the comic itself, often by disgruntled contributors to the letters page.

Some of its comedic devices, for example, generating the illusion of an entire comic-strip "universe" with a "one-off" strip, often based on a surrealistic pun, were widely employed in the earlier and now-defunct American humour magazine National Lampoon, which was itself more or less a sophisticated version of Mad Magazine.

In a recently released coffee table book celebrating 20 years of Viz, cartoonist Graham Dury is quoted as saying: "We pride ourselves on the fact that you're no cleverer when you've read Viz. You might have had a few laughs, but you've not learnt anything".


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