'Bored' creator of Viz bows out

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The Independent Online
TWENTY YEARS after he first started selling his home-made comics around the pubs of Newcastle, Chris Donald, the founder and editor of Viz, has handed over the reins.

No longer the "bitter and cynical" 19-year-old who tapped into the discontent of his generation, Mr Donald is bored with his creation. Yesterday he was happily building a train-set in a bedroom of the Victorian home he shares with his wife and three children.

"It is an ongoing project. You never finish a model railway. If you do, all you have left is driving the trains around which is soul destroying. You might as well kill yourself," he said.

It is perhaps a fitting parallel for Viz, the anarchic magazine which became so successful it lost the rebellious image which put at the top.

Mr Donald had been trying to tear himself away from Sid the Sexist and the Fat Slags for two years. "I went Awol last Christmas, believing they would never be able to edit the magazine without me - they managed perfectly well."

Eventually, he agreed with his publisher, John Brown, that he would remain at the helm for another year. But his collaborators - brother Simon, Grahame Dury, Simon Thorp and Davy Jones - were reluctant to tamper with his "train set" in his presence so he bowed out gracefully.

He insisted yesterday that nothing more sinister than boredom had led to his departure. "I stopped having ideas. In the early days, I would get out of bed almost every night and put a light on and write an idea down. I burnt myself out."

His passion for Viz is still obvious as he reminisces about the moment it overtook Private Eye in the circulation war. The magazine, which now has a circulation of 300,000, reached 1.25 million copies and was valued at pounds 10m at its peak.

Now aged 39, he says he is "completely out of touch with yoof culture". His plans for the future, he said, are still hazy though he thinks he might write a book.

"I feel like I have just jumped off a speeding train and I am still tumbling down the embankment. I am going to have a rest and then start to think about what I am going to do for the next 20 years," he said.

And he has no intention of selling his half of Viz. "I will hold on to it until it has shrunk to nothing," he said.