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Zit (1991-2002): A Brief But Memorable Stint in British Adult Comic Humor

Zit (1991-2002): A Brief But Memorable Stint in British Adult Comic Humor

Zit: Comedy comes in many shapes and sizes, and in the realm of British adult humor comics, “Zit” was a notable but relatively short-lived player. Humor Publications UK published this monthly comic with moments of glory and controversy. It may not have reached the legendary status of “Viz,” its more successful counterpart, but it certainly left an impression on the comic landscape. In this article, we’ll delve into the history and highlights of “Zit” – from its inception in 1991 to its ultimate disappearance from the shelves in 2002.

Zit (Comic)

Publication: Humour Publications UK

Start Date: January 1991 (free sample issue), February 1991 (issue 1)

End Date: May 2002 (Issue 143)

Genre: Adult British comic

Description: Zit was a monthly adult humor comic published in the UK. It was similar to Viz but of lower production quality. The comic featured comic strips, photo strips, joke articles, celebrity references, and advertisements for phone lines and mail-order products, often of a pornographic or sexual nature.

History

The owner of Humour Publications, Russell Church, attempted to rival the successful Viz but faced criticism for the quality of Zit. In 1993, he sued another Viz clone, Spit!, which the court ruled was not confusingly similar. Russell Church was also sued by British TV presenter Anne Diamond, leading to the decline of Humour Publications.

Notable Strips

  • “Lambrusco – the Alcoholic Sheep”
  • “Dirty Stan the Blue Movie Man”
  • “The man who collects eyeballs”
  • “Middle aged Melvin”

Contributors

  • Allin Kempthorne (wrote and drew several features, including Starface)
  • Leon Horton (created and wrote many characters, including Hector Rectum and Dave Beef)
  • Ged Purvis (drew Young Tarby)

In Other Media

Zit: The Video (1993): An animated video featuring characters from Zit.

An Earful of Zit (1993): An audio cassette tape with “fifty minutes of audio madness” created by various authors.

The Birth of Zit

“Zit” made its modest debut with a free sample issue in January 1991 before officially launching with Issue 1 in February 1991. This comic was part of a niche genre, catering to adult readers with a penchant for irreverent, often risqué humor. The publication style was somewhat reminiscent of “Viz,” a more well-known contemporary.

Zit (1991-2002): A Brief But Memorable Stint in British Adult Comic Humor

However, “Zit” was characterized by its lower production quality than its inspirations. Beyond comic strips, it featured photo strips, joke articles, celebrity references, and advertisements for phone lines and mail-order products. Many of these ads ventured into the pornographic or sexual territory, reflecting the comic’s unapologetic approach to humor.

A Failed Rivalry and Legal Battles

Russell Church, the owner of Humour Publications, envisioned “Zit” as a worthy rival to “Viz.” He aimed to stoke an aggressive rivalry between the two publications, but as noted by “Viz” editor Chris Donald, “Church’s magazine was so bad he couldn’t give the thing away.” This rivalry never truly materialized as “Zit” struggled to match the success and acclaim of “Viz.”

IMG 8722 - Zit (1991-2002): A Brief But Memorable Stint in British Adult Comic Humor

The troubles for “Zit” didn’t end there. In 1993, Church took legal action against another comic, “Spit!” which he believed was passing itself off as “Zit.” The case reached the High Court, where the judge, in a rather humorous verdict, declared that no one “with reasonable apprehension or eyesight” could confuse the two comics. The legal battle ended with Church being ordered to pay Spit!’s legal bills, amounting to around £32,000.

IMG 8725 - Zit (1991-2002): A Brief But Memorable Stint in British Adult Comic Humor

However, the most notorious legal tussle involving “Zit” came when British TV presenter Anne Diamond sued Russell Church. The reason for her lawsuit was a tasteless reference in “Zit” to her child’s tragic cot death. This unfortunate incident dealt a severe blow to Humour Publications and, subsequently, to “Zit.” The publication faced financial turmoil, leading to a change in its backing.

Notable Strips and Contributors

“Zit” had its own set of memorable comic strips and characters. Some of the more notable ones included “Lambrusco – the Alcoholic Sheep,” “Dirty Stan the Blue Movie Man,” “The man who collects eyeballs,” and “Middle-aged Melvin.” These eccentric characters were the lifeblood of the comic, contributing to its distinct brand of humor.

IMG 8721 - Zit (1991-2002): A Brief But Memorable Stint in British Adult Comic Humor

The contributors behind these quirky characters were a diverse group. Allin Kempthorne, for example, wrote and drew several features, including the semi-regular strip “Starface.” Kempthorne later transitioned to television and film as an actor and writer.

photo output 205 - Zit (1991-2002): A Brief But Memorable Stint in British Adult Comic Humor

Leon Horton, another creative mind behind “Zit,” created and wrote many characters like “Hector Rectum,” “Dave Beef,” and “The Ales of Beer Tits Potter.” Ged Purvis, a one-time commercial artist, contributed by drawing “Young Tarby.” He, too, ventured into the world of television, film, writing, directing, and book illustration.

Beyond the Pages: “Zit” in Other Media

“Zit” wasn’t confined to the pages of its comic. It ventured into other forms of media, further solidifying its presence in the world of adult humor. In 1993, a video titled “Zit: The Video” was produced, featuring many of the comic’s characters in five-minute animated segments. These animations, however, were created as motion comics rather than traditional animation. Although they remained uncredited, David Holt and Rob Rackstraw voiced all the characters from the “Zit” comics.

IMG 8726 - Zit (1991-2002): A Brief But Memorable Stint in British Adult Comic Humor

An audio cassette, “An Earful of Zit,” was also released in 1993. PolyGram Record Operations Ltd marketed and distributed this cassette, describing it as “fifty minutes of audio madness.” The content collaborated with talented writers, including Ged Backland, Leon Horton, Dave Iddon, Paul Dyson, and Anthony Smith. It was produced for Polygram by Leo Cubbin and Ged Backland and recorded at Rainbow Studios in Brighton.

The Vanishing Act

Despite its share of controversies, legal battles, and unapologetic humor, “Zit” continued its run for over a decade. However, the troubled waters finally caught up with Humour Publications, and “Zit” found itself with a different publisher’s backing. This transitional phase didn’t last long; by May 2002, the comic had vanished from the shelves. “Zit” had left its mark, but its time in the limelight was over.

IMG 8723 - Zit (1991-2002): A Brief But Memorable Stint in British Adult Comic Humor

In retrospect, “Zit” may not have achieved the fame and acclaim of its more successful counterparts like “Viz,” but it succeeded in carving out a unique space in the British adult humor comic scene. It pushed boundaries, sometimes crossing into controversial territories, and elicited laughter and amusement from its dedicated readers. “Zit” may be gone, but it remains a curious footnote in the history of adult humor in the United Kingdom, a comic that dared to be different and unapologetically itself.

Read also

FAQs about Zit, the Adult British Comic

1. What is Zit, and when was it published?

Zit was an adult British comic published by Humour Publications UK. It began with a free sample issue in January 1991 and officially released issue 1 in February 1991. The final issue, Issue 143, was published in May 2002.

2. How does Zit compare to Viz, another British comic?

Zit was similar to Viz in style but had lower production quality. It featured comic strips, photo strips, joke articles, celebrity references, and advertisements, many of which were of a pornographic or sexual nature.

3. Who owned Humour Publications, and what rivalry did he attempt to create?

Russell Church, the owner of Humour Publications, tried to create a rivalry between Zit and the more successful Viz. However, Viz’s editor, Chris Donald, noted that Church’s magazine was poor quality and couldn’t attract readers.

4. Were there any legal disputes involving Zit and other comics?

Yes 1993, Russell Church sued another comic similar to Viz, Spit!, for “passing itself off” as Zit. The case went to the High Court, where the judge ruled that no one could confuse the two comics. Church was ordered to pay Spit!’s legal bills, which amounted to around £32,000.

5. How did Zit’s association with Anne Diamond affect its publication?

Zit faced legal troubles when it made a tasteless reference to British TV presenter Anne Diamond’s child’s tragic cot death. This led to a lawsuit by Anne Diamond, which effectively sank Humour Publications. Zit continued with a different publisher’s backing before disappearing from the shelves in 2002.

6. Can you tell me about notable comic strips and characters in Zit?

Some notable characters in Zit included “Lambrusco – the Alcoholic Sheep,” “Dirty Stan, the Blue Movie Man,” “The man who collects eyeballs,” and “Middle-aged Melvin.”

7. Who were some of the contributors to Zit?

Contributors to Zit included Allin Kempthorne, who wrote and drew the semi-regular strip “Starface,” and Leon Horton, who created characters like Hector Rectum, Dave Beef, and The Ales of Beer Tits Potter.

8. Were there any adaptations of Zit in other media?

Yes, “Zit: The Video” was produced in 1993, featuring animated segments of many of its characters. An audio cassette tape titled “An Earful of Zit” was also released in 1993.

9. What was the content of “An Earful of Zit” audio cassette tape?

“An Earful of Zit” was described as “fifty minutes of audio madness” and featured content written by various contributors, including Ged Backland, Leon Horton, Dave Iddon, Paul Dyson, and Anthony Smith. It was produced for Polygram by Leo Cubbin and Ged Backland and recorded at Rainbow Studios in Brighton.

10. Did Zit have any spin-off publications or related comics?

Zit also published in parallel “Gutter” (later “Gutted”), which was likely a related comic with a similar adult humor style.

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Written by Tor Alosson

I am a passionate writer with a deep love for exploring diverse topics. My writing endeavors span a broad spectrum, allowing me to delve into various subjects enthusiastically and curiously. From the human experience's intricacies to the natural world's wonders, I find joy in crafting words that bring these subjects to life. My creative journey knows no bounds, and I embrace the opportunity to share my thoughts, stories, and insights on everything that piques my interest. Writing is my gateway to endless exploration, a realm where I can freely express my thoughts and ideas and connect with others who share my appreciation for the written word.

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