I think when it comes to the North East legendary comic VIZ, you’d be very surprised if you found someone who didn’t know what it is.
My first memory of the crude comic came from my parents, actually.
In the late 1990’s I found some of the comics lying around in the house, and then saw a DVD, which at first glance certainly raised my interest.
The video actually happened to be one of the copies of the Fat Slags. I was young, and I can just remember not actually knowing what I was watching at all.
This August, creators Chris and Simon Donald are celebrating 30 years since the publication went into national print by Virgin Books.
To celebrate, North East comic and magical entertainer Chris Cross approached Simon to find someway of celebrating the anniversary.
But since the brothers are, shall we say, less than the ordinary pair of siblings, Mr Cross explained that he thought the show might not come off.
Miraculously enough, a spectacular event was staged at the Tyne Theatre to mark the occasion.
And it really was truly special - particularly the lavish set dressing.
The evening was made up of a variety of stand-up comedy, question and answer sessions, magic, escapology and live music from Alnwick-based band The Purest Green, so it was safe to say the event was truly varied.
To kick the show off, there was some close-up magic from the host. Chris Cross has performed many times around Northumberland and is very at home performing to crowds of any size. He somehow makes something as intimate as close-up magic be relatable to a whole room of people and keep them entertained, of course, with some crude jokes thrown in, but then again, to call this evening crude would probably be the understatement of the century.
The night was varied and gave a great insight into the VIZ brothers’ lives with the publication, from its humble beginnings in Chris Donald’s bedroom to a move into different offices around Newcastle.
One of the first acts of the evening was interrupted by Bingo from Benton, a simple man who was compiling information on a study on the street and just popped into the venue to ask us a few questions.
Bingo was actually one of Simon Donald’s alter-egos, who was asking a number of outrageously-crude questions to the audience. It worked really well. I would give you an example of some of the questions, but they’re far too rude to get away with writing here.
Following the stand-up, the host sat down with Chris Donald and asked him about his time at the comic. This was a particular highlight.
Chris now resides in Alnwick and no longer has any input with VIZ. It was great to hear someone talking frankly about their life and their past experiences.
Chris explained that he left VIZ after 20 years because this “bit of fun” he created in his bedroom had become too serious, adding that he didn’t go to the event in London that marked the 30th anniversary of the comic being created, instead having his own party with “a few strippers”.
An extension of this interview came in the second part, with both Donald brothers reliving their tales.
The night grew late, it was probably approaching around midnight when the audience became more involved as they got the chance to pose questions to the duo.
When you think that on VIZ’s 30th anniversary in 2009, Chris didn’t get too involved, but here he was with his brother Simon talking about their phenomenal life, it was truly something special. I would hope it is something that happens again at the next anniversary.