Sid the Sexist
"oot on the tap"
first appeared in November 1979 when 150 copies of issue one were printed
at the Tyneside
Free Press Workshop in Newcastle.
sold within a matter of days in local pubs, the first selling at the Gosforth
Hotel on Gosforth High Street, Newcastle.
was the brainchild of bored former school pals, Chris
Donald and Jim Brownlow, both aged 19. They had started, in the mid-Seventies,
with a publication called the Fat Crusader.
replaced by two one-offs, the Daily Pie and Arnold The Magazine which
they sold at the Punchbowl pub in Jesmond.
Viz was edited by Chris in his bedroom, and the initial print
bill of £60 was subsidised by his day-job as a DHSS clerk. The cover
price of 20p resulted in a loss of more than 10p per sale.
Surprised by the success of their first publication, a second issue was
hastily thrown together. The print run increased to 500, and circulation
extended to Newcastle's Student Union bars and a handful of helpful and
willing shops, among them the Kard Bar, Listen Ear and the local Virgin
Over the following months, Viz appeared sporadically,
the circulation gradually increasing to the point where sales revenue
began to cover the printing costs.
By 1983, a total of ten issues had been produced with sales reaching 5,000,
practically all in Newcastle.
Viz was soon to recruit two new cartoonists - in 1984,
Dury (then 22) and, in 1985, Simon
Thorp (then 20).
In 1985, after interest had been shown by several major publishers, Virgin
Books offered to publish Viz six times a year. A deal
was signed, and issue 13 (in August 1985) marked a major turning point.
Under Virgin's wing, sales climbed gradually to around 40,000 by the beginning
As in the early days of development in Newcastle, no consumer advertising
was employed, and the magazine continued to extend its popularity purely
by word of mouth, with limited national distribution through Virgin record
shops and the news trade.
In 1987, Virgin Books was sold to WH Allen, a large publishing house specialising
in paperback books, and Chris elected to part company with them and sign
a new publishing agreement with John
Brown Publishing, a company set up by the former Virgin Books boss
and huge Viz fan, John Brown.
He set about increasing the circulation and it ended the Eighties with
an audited bimonthly sales figure of more than a million copies, making
it Britain's third best-selling magazine.
Numerous spin-offs followed in the wake of this success. Viz
annuals, calendars, videos, fruit machines, and many new book titles all