Viz Comic is Britain’s best selling non-licensed comic book, and has been for decades. An adult comedy magazine, full of short strips and text pieces, it remains a searing satirical indictment of British society at all levels. It parodies classic British comics of some remembered childhood between the fifties and the seventies, it has built up characters and catchphrases that began with the joy of taking a childhood favourite and making it swearier, to taking apart searing social issues of a modern Britain in a fashion that cannot be ignored.
One of their recent additions in the last decade is Drunken Bakers. It is a comedy staple to use drunkenness for slapstick and mockery from comics strips to sketch show to sitcom. The Porter scene in Macbeth, with a drunken porter awoken by knocking through the night, slurring his words and shouting at the audience may be one of the best known early examples.
And Viz does this too, early on in its first issues over three decades ago with Brown Bottle, a man who thinks he becomes a superhero after drinking Newcastle Brown, but instead becomes a drunken nuisance – the inspiration for Garth Ennis and John Mcrea‘s Sixpack in Hitman.
The more recent 8-Ace being one of the best examples, the slapstick of a father estranged from his family with the best of intentions, always ending up spending his last £1.49 on 9 cans of Ace lager. It’s horrific but it is traditionally comic in structure.
Drunken Bakers rejects this tradition however, and instead shows the true horror of alcoholism at its worst, as two bakers, whose red noses are slightly ameliorated by the fact yhat they have a slight appearance of classical clowns, try and get through the day with nothing to live for but booze and destroying anything of worth in their lives. Their best of intentions are destroyed through their own behaviour and it is guaranteed that nothing they aspire to achieve will ever be fulfilled. It’s funny in a horrific way, Ken Loach meets David Lynch behind the bins throwing up for two hours straight. It is a remarkably bleak experience for an ostensibly humour magazine but its survival shows how it does that line beautifully – and chillingly.
When government looks to act on legislation regarding alcohol, they could read hundreds of pages of social reports – or they could just read Drunken Bakers. The odds are they’d get an understanding of the situation far clearer with the latter. Comics, you see. WOrds and pictures. And you can do anything with words and pictures.
Drunken Bakers by Barney Farmer and Lee Healey appear in this month’s Viz Comic #277.
- In Memory of Harlan Ellison: Michael Davis’s ‘The City on the Edge of Forever, Whitney, Martha & Apple Sauce – Straight No Chaser #339’ - July 17, 2018
- Dean Haspiel’s Red Hook Continues Free at LINE Webtoons with Starcross – Previewed Here - July 17, 2018
- Rock Candy Mountain’s Kyle Starks and Chris Schweizer Create Mars Attacks Comic for Dynamite - July 17, 2018
- John Jackson Miller and Daniel HDR Launch 35-Cent Battlestar Galactica #0 in October from Dynamite - July 17, 2018
- It’s a Two-Shirt Ant-Man and The Wasp Loot Crate for July 2018 - July 17, 2018