Leading Article: Fulchester's finest

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The Independent Culture
THERE'LL BE sausage sandwiches all round in Fulchester tonight as Buster Gonad, the Fat Slags, and, of course, Sid the Sexist will all be celebrating the phenomenal success of Viz on its 20th birthday.

Born half-comic, half-fanzine in a Newcastle bedroom in 1979, it is today a glossy satirical instrument with few peers that has made its creators extremely wealthy. It has also been accused of crudity and sexism.

Well, it is crude, and rude, as any publication with a character named Johnny Fartpants might be expected to be. And its portrayal of women can seem unsympathetic. Tracy Tunstall and Sandra Burke, the Fat Slags, are chip-guzzling good-time girls of indiscriminate sexual tastes. Millie Tant, a stereotypical lesbian feminist, is made to look fat, extreme and silly.

But Viz is as balanced as the ever-present tab (cigarette) on Sid the Sexist's lower lip. For Sidney Smutt is a beer-swilling, arrogant male whose ego consistently overreaches his attractions and who is always bested by women. The modern parents (lefty, lentil-eating killjoys) find a counterweight in Sir Baxter Basics (hypocritical sex-mad Tory MP).

Viz's circulation has fallen from its peak but it's still funny and remains essential reading. Many happy returns.