Sunday, 24 August 2008

Umberto Eco and Viz

People who don't know it very well think Viz is all knob jokes and swearing. There are a lot of knob jokes and swearing, to be fair, especially on its off days, but there is more to it than that, as suggested by the very British and self-aware (and funny) strapline "Not as funny as it used to be". An example, chosen pretty much at random - a Gilbert Ratchet strip from 1999 that's in one of my favourite pieces of bathtime reading, the Viz compilation from 1999 called "The Clown's Pie". 

GR is not Viz's funniest character by a long chalk. He is a boy who makes ludicrous gadgets. The strip opens with him needing a new tool set. He sees a sign for an Easter Egg rolling competition with a first prize of a "CORDLESS ELECTRIC SCREWDRIVER AND ABAG OF NAILS", so he decides to enter. Through an unlikely series of circumstances, he wins first prize, and goes to collect it with the judge. "Right then", says the judge, as Gilbert looks speechless and cross, "here's the robot chauffeur without any corduroy trousers which conveys prison officers around in a car...and here's Jimmy Nail's scrotum." "Ha! Ha! It's that sort of 'cordless electric screwdriver'", and "Ha! Ha! It's that sort of 'bag of Nail's'", say two speech balloons coming from under these bottom panels of the strip, with an arrow pointing to them that says "Umberto Eco's voice". There's a certain modest kind of genius in that, if you ask me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nothing will ever beat mickey's monkey spunk moped.