Britain's most famous "Adult" comic (it is the only non-porn title to be considered an "adult publication" by the British Professional Publishers Association), Viz began as a satirical fanzine in Newcastle and has grown hugely since.Many of the characters and stories are deliberately exaggerated stereotypes, and there is a solid core of people in the UK who can't get enough of the sight of the word "fuck" in a talk balloon in what looks like a children's comic.A typical issue will contain a few strips that appear in virtually every issue, a few more that are less frequent, and a few one-off strips that only appear once. The one-offs often feature celebrities or historical figures in ludicrous or obscene situations.At its best, Viz can be funny, well written, downright witty and even occasionally thought-provoking. At its worst... let's not go there.During the 1980s, Viz was repeatedly threatened with prosecution by DC Thomson, the Scottish publishers of famous British children's comics The Beano, The Dandy and The Broons, for copyright infringement over their coarse parodies of DC Thomson characters. Viz retaliated by printing a one-off strip featuring "DC Thomson", a cartoon Scotsman obsessed with intellectual property. DC Thomson responded with an issue of the Dandy that parodied the "war" in a strip featuring their recurring Scots vs. Sassenachs characters "The Jocks and the Geordies". More seriously, the publishers of Viz were threatened with criminal prosecution for incitement to racial hatred in 1990 because of the content of a one-off strip called "Thieving Gypsy Bastards". Ironically, the gypsy gentleman who tried to sue the Viz for this comic was later found guilty of handling stolen property. (They had also printed a strip called "The Overwhelming Majority of Honest Gypsies" on the very next page.)Not to be confused with North American anime importer Viz Media.Viz contains so many tropes that one can confidently predict that this page is going to grow. Here are a few obvious ones for a startoff.
All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": One strip titled "George Best Is a Cinema Pest" was about the late footballer George Best disclosing "spoiler" endings to certain films (all of which fit the trope, including The Crying Game) to incensed people in a cinema who didn't know the ending.
Black Comedy: Many, many examples across all features of the magazine. Some of the best remembered examples include a strip about serial killers Harold Shipman and Fred West competing to be the first to murder a new neighbour; and a spoof advert for "Mummy, This Lemonade Tastes Funny!", a collectible china doll that comes with a bottle of bleach.
Brainy Brunette: Baz's wife Thelma in "The Fat Slags" fits this trope in appearance at least. Strangely enough, most of the time in "The Fat Slags" Tracey is almost the Brainy Brunette by default. She's no intellectual, but she's much smarter than Sandra, and appears to have more common sense than Baz.
Mind you, there are things growing on damp bread which are smarter than Sandra and Tracey put together...
British Accents: many, mostly Geordie, but also cockney, Essex, Glasgow, Yorkshire etc.
Brother Chuck: Several strips will add new characters who then never reappear. Examples include Spoilt Bastard's stepfather and stepsister (see below) as well as Biffa Bacon's new baby brother and Knacka the dog.
Butt Monkey: Sting and Bono are often ridiculed for being egotistical pretentious hypocrites who claim to help the poor whilst spending a lot of money on extravagant luxuries. In the 1980s, Shakin Stevens was the Butt Monkey but he is considered a 'has been' nowadays, he is usually brought up in articles when someone wants to milk their connection to a minor celebrity.
Cerebus Syndrome: "George Bestial" began as an occasional one-joke four-panel strip about a guy who looked like the footballer George Best and liked having sex with animals. After Best's real-world death, the strip didn't appear for a while. It then came back as a full-page strip featuring a character who looked a lot less like Best, and whose zoophilia was clearly just the most obvious sign of his pathetic and frightening psychopathy.
Christianity is Catholic: Parodied in a Goldfish Boy strip, where a hotelier demands that the Reverend Brown, the strip's actual main character perform the last rites on a dying guest. Brown points out that he's a Church of England priest and therefore has no idea how to do the Catholic last rites, but the hotelier is completely unable to grasp this point.
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Jack Black, who regularly turns against Aunt Meg and/or PC Brown, and has even callously murdered them (though they are always resurrected in time for the next strip.) The ending of a Big Vern strip is very often triggered by Vern's belief that Ernie and/or Vern's wife has betrayed him to the police.
Clothing Switch: In one issue Sandra and Tracey after realising they hadonly one outfit each, decide to go to a swishing party, where women meet up to exchange clothes as a way of getting different clothes and getting rid of their old ones in one go. However there were no other women as large as Sandra and Tracey, so they had to swap clothes with each other. They then go and get new haircuts to go with their new clothes, and when they come out it looks like they've just swapped hairstyles as well.
The artists have admitted that it has sometimes been difficult to tell Sandra and Tracey apart as they look so similar other than their hairstyles. On at least one other occasion Sandra and Tracey were drawn wearing each other's outfits and it wasn't referred to in the strip, so the above example may well be a case of Lampshade Hanging.
Comically Missing the Point: Letterbocks thrives on this. "These so-called speed bumps are a joke. If anything, they slow you down" and "This evaporated milk is a con. I bought a can and it was completely full" being just two examples.
Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Cockney Wanker is visually based on the actor and comedian Mike Reid, who tended to play that type of character.
Crapsack World: Many of the strips comedically tend this way, but Barney Farmer's and Lee Healey's ones ("Drunken Bakers", Hen Cabin", "George Bestial", the "We..." strips about the balding businessman) are unbelievably bleak.
A Day in the Limelight: Mrs. Brady, Old Lady's friend Dolly Earnshaw got her own one-off strip once, The Adventures Of Dolly Earnshaw which consisted of Dolly going to the corner shop to buy a scratchcard.
Death by Irony: Happens at the end of every Suicidal Sid strip after Sid regains the will to live.
Biffa Bacon's father and mother have exactly the same stubble on their faces, and on occasion the artist has accidentally drawn them wearing each others clothing and left it in for comic effect. They both enjoy hurting Biffa and both enjoy blaming him for doing something the other told them to do. The only difference between their personalities is that 'Mutha' tends to be much more violent than 'Fatha'.
The Ditz: Sandra in "The Fat Slags" fits this trope well. She can be quite sweet at times, but she is always extremely stupid.
Double Entendre: the whole point of the strip Finbarr Saunders and his Double Entendres. Fnarr Fnarr etc.
Downer Ending: Gordon's Grandad, which ends in the death of the Grandad. It's notably absent of the toilet humour of the usual strips and paces itself in such a way that makes the ending a shock.
Drunken Master: Parodied with the Brown Bottle, who undergoes his heroic transformation by drinking six bottles of Newcastle Brown and gains the ability to...slur incomprehensibly, stagger about and piss himself, albeit in a superhero costume. He ends up inadvertently saving the day anyway, usually because the villains leave in pity and disgust.
The one off strip Yankee Dougal pokes fun at British kids who want to be American because of outdated stereotypes from old American shows they had seen on TV. The strip dates from 1990, when most British kids had never met an American in real life. With the internet, many have befriended them online and realised that there isn't that much difference after all.
Everything Is Big in Texas: A one-off strip had the Pope get a visit from a Texan archbishop, who spent the whole time saying that everything there was smaller than what he had in Texas, including the Vatican and even when God himself appeared he said that they had fairies at the bottom of the garden bigger there. The Pope and God eventually team up to get rid of the archbishop using a clockworkdinosaur.
Early-Installment Weirdness: In the earliest Jack Black strips, Jack's aunt was named Jessie and was married to Jack's uncle, and the humour of the strips was based around his attempts to solve ridiculous "mysteries" such as why there was a cabbage lying in the roadside. The setup soon changed to its current format as a parody of Boy's Own-style adventures and middle-class hypocrisy, with his aunt named Meg and apparently a spinster. The art style was also very different until the current and best-known artist (Simon Ecob) took over the trip.
The comic's creator Chris Donald considers the characters of Billy Britain (a fanatical right-wing nationalist) and Eric Daft (a boy with very low intelligence) to be early prototypes of Major Misunderstanding and Terry Fuckwitt respectively.
Fake Rabies: One comic strip ran a story about the then recent opening of the Channel Tunnel. An apparently rabid French dog emerged on the English side, and the main character exclaims "Oh no! In a million to one scenario, a rabid French dog has made it through the Channel Tunnel!" The dog is shortly followed by its owner who explains that far from being rabid, it ate some soap, which it had mistaken for cheese because we do not have soap in France.
The Film of the Book: The Fat Slags (already adapted into claymation shorts in the early 90s) received a critically-mauled live movie adaptation in 2004.
Football Hooligans: In one Billy the Fish story, rival boss Gus Parker and his henchman Wilf try to get Billy's team Fulchester kicked out of the European Cup by dressing as Fulchester fans, getting drunk and smashing up the city where they're playing their next match. Unfortunately for them Fulchester are playing in a People's Republic of Tyranny, and no sooner have they stepped off the boat than they get a thirty year prison sentence for insulting a local police officer.
Gargle Blaster: The "Cuntbuster," which is the Fat Slags' cocktail of choice. The exact description of it tends to vary from issue to issue, but basically it's pretty much every spirit (and a few different mixers) you can think of all put into the same drink.
Lethal Eatery: Hen Cabin. Also the Drunken Bakers on the rare occasions when they manage to actually cook something.
Literal Genie: Mr. Logic had this role at least once. The Critics also encountered one who was more of a Jackass Genie as he misinterpreted their wish out of spite, but it should be noted that he only did so because they were rude to him first.
Nephewism: Jack Black is always shown spending every school holiday staying with his Aunt Meg. The "Ferdinand the Foodie" strip includes Ferdinand's nephew Jamie as a regular character. The trope is used in an interesting way in "The Modern Parents". Malcolm and Cressida's sons find their parents so irritating they wish they would disappear forever so they could be adopted by their Uncle Eddie, and in fact they end up staying with him and his family quite often after the parents have got themselves into trouble yet again. When Eddie's wife appears she makes no secret of the fact she hates Malcolm and Cressida and would rather their kids came to see them on their own.
Never My Fault: Spoilt Bastard. He usually blames his poor put-upon mother if anything goes wrong because of his actions. On one occasion he picked a fight with a bunch of other kids and at the end claimed "Everybody else started it!"
No Celebrities Were Harmed: the comic regularly runs one-off strips showing celebrities in ludicrous or vulgar situations, or starring in parodies of cheesy old-style action-adventure strips. 2000s issues include a longer-running strip depicting Sir Elton John engaging in petty crime. Sometimes it is very much a Take That, such as in the early '90s when radio DJ and TV presenter Danny Baker was depicted as Danny Wanker.
No Communities Were Harmed: Originally, most of the comic's strips were set in Fulchester, a stand-in location that was meant to be just a generic British town, with some occasional similarities to Newcastle, the comic's hometown. In more recent years though, most strips actually are set in Newcastle, the main exceptions being Roger Mellie (mostly set in London), The Fat Slags (set in Mansfield, according to Word of God) and The Boy Scouse (set, as you'd expect, in Liverpool). The only strip that seems to still be regularly set in Fulchester is Billy the Fish.
Nominal Hero: Jack Black and his dog Silver. He's an amateur detective who gets people punished often using legal Loophole Abuse to see if they have accidently commited a minor technical crime, and he usually commits worse crimes in order to do this, up to and including murder. Sometimes the people he is investigating are people who are doing good for the community, such as one case where he had a man who was giving soup to homeless people arrested for a tax error. Other times they are actual villains who are using their own Loophole Abuse to make sure their apparent crimes aren't really illegal, forcing Jack to find some alternate way of getting them convicted. In any case, they will suffer Disproportionate Retribution often at the hands of a Torches and Pitchforks mob. A 2012 issue took it even further by having Jack and Silver flat-out murder some The Famous FiveCaptains Ersatz just because he wanted to be the one and only Kid Detective around.
Nostalgia Filter: a running joke in editorial columns and cover tag lines is that it "isn't as funny as it used to be".
Not Even Bothering with the Accent: An unusual case with regard to two of the adaptations, as they did bother with accents, but not the correct ones. As mentioned above, Fulchester is based on Newcastle, where the locals usually have a Geordie accent. However, the Billy the Fish animated series had everyone speaking in Scouse accents, while the Fat Slags film had the Fulchester locals speaking with a Lancastrian accent. The latter was doubly wrong since the Fat Slags don't even come from Fulchester to begin with, but Mansfield (the locals of which don't speak in Lancastrian accents either).
Oop North: In the 30th Anniversary issue they lampooned the way London based media tends to present the whole of northern England as one place by having The Critics comment on Viz's anniversary. They referred to Newcastle as a "tiny Lancashire mill town" (a jab at the Fat Slags film, where Fulchester was depicted this way even though it's meant to be an Expy of Newcastle) and having "Merseyside Docks".
Cockney Wanker, a portmanteau of everything northerners hate about London. Money-obsessed, trendy, greedy, materialistic, selfish, having the financial/political power to ravage the North purely to enrich themselves, as anyone who gets hurt is two hundred miles or more away and probably brought it upon themselves anyway...
Reality Is Unrealistic: In one Sid the Sexist strip, Sid and his friends get ensnared by a clip joint — a club which lures you in with attractive women, then charges you an extortionate amount for otherwise inexpensive drinks — and are then charged £1,400 for four pints of beer. Although it was intended to be an exaggeratedly huge amount, the artist later found out that £350 per drink is actually normal for a clip joint, and that the only unrealistic thing in the strip was that most clip joints don't actually bother serving any real alcohol, and just serve various mixtures of fruit juice instead.
Reality Warper: Terry Fuckwitt is such a stupid twat that he forgets how the laws of physics work, leading to Mind Screw stories.
Roger Mellie sent up the 'nice on screen, horrible person elsewhere' television presenter by not even pretending to be nice on screen.
Even Doctor Who wasn't safe; a one-shot had Dr. Poo - "He flies round the universe looking for somewhere to have a shit". More affectionate than the rest, it featured the Fourth Doctor and enough Shout Outs to choke a Sea Devil.
Rhymes on a Dime: Most of the characters and strips have rhyming names, often lampshaded with absurdly contrived rhymes like 'Tony Slattery and his Phony Cattery'.
Snowlems: In the '90s the comic would feature a seasonal parody of The Snowman, in which the snowman is a violent, drunken pervert who takes the young boy drinking and gambling with him.
Sound Effect Bleep: As in the Unusual Euphemism example below, visual Sound Effect Bleeps (not always involving actual sound effects) are often employed on the cover so it can be displayed in shops, or simply for humorous effect. One recent cover featured the word "bollocks" partly obscured by a smoke cloud. And then there's the "Continental Europe" poster, in which the first O quite possiblycertainly wasn't an O but had a seagull hovering over the top of the letter.
Spoonerism: often used on the cover to refer to strips whose title includes swearwords, like "Boilt Spastard" or "Wockney Canker".
Springtime for Hitler: Baxter Basics finds out that he'd make more money as an ex-MP than he would if he won his seat. So he tries his best to not get re-elected, openly saying he hates the voters, pissing on war memorials and vowing to close down the only hospital among other things. However he is re-elected in the end. It's implied that his plan would have worked, had his only opponent in the election not been TV presenter Noel Edmonds.
Straw Critic: The "The Critics" strip consists entirely of this trope.
Strawman Political: Millie Tant (lesbian feminist), The Modern Parents (trendy liberal/environmentalist), Victorian Dad (reactionary), Major Misunderstanding (reactionary), Billy Britain (racist/fascist), Meddlesome Ratbag (right-wing Moral Guardian), Young Jack Black (leans towards fascism). All are buffoons and/or hypocrites.
Actual politician Baxter Basics isn't an example of this, as his strips tend to be more about his corruption than partisan politics.
In fairness, those strips started out as parodies of people who claimed to hold a certain political stance while not actually understanding anything about the stance in question, and they tended to make some very valid and well thought out points. Unfortunately, Flanderization set in afterwards...
Strong Family Resemblance: In the Sid The Sexist strip, the siblings of his friends look very like each other. Joe's brother is identical to Joe, in fact the only difference in appearance is that his brother is unshaven! He is also only referred to as "Joe's brother". Bob's sister Bobette resembles Bob but with Tertiary Sexual Characteristics.
Subverted Kids Show: The art style owes a lot to British children's comics. The content... less so.
Occasionally occurs with Terry Fuckwitt as well, but something always stops him succeeding.
Take That: the notorious "Gypsy" strip was based on an individual who had stolen something from one of the artists and the character of Postman Plod was based on a bus driver who had been rude to another artist (as well as being a parody of a popular children's show.) Similarly, Farmer Palmer was inspired by a farmer who had been rude to one of the artists.
As mentioned above, the response to D.C. Thomson's copyright complaints, the full title being D.C. Thomson the Humourless Scottish Git.
Tar and Feathers: In "Jack Black And His Dog Silver" in one issue, a palaeontologist is tarred and feathered for believing in evolution.
The Verse: Drunken Bakers and Hen Cabin appear to be set in the same universe as well as having similar premises and being drawn by the same duo.
Universal-Adaptor Cast: It's fairly common for there to be strips where the characters are out of their usual setting and in other scenarios such as Victorian times or the far future, or are used in parodies of other work. Examples include The Fat Slags in a parody of Batman and Jack Black in a parody of manga.
Unusual Euphemism: Most characters curse explicitly, but Sweary Mary had to invent a new oath ("fitbin", apparently really rude, if it meant anything) in order to appear on the cover which would be displayed in shops. Raffles the Gentleman Thug renders all obscenities into Edwardian English, "Fornicate this ordure!", "It's micturating down" "Onanists!" etc.
The Vicar: parodied and inverted to the nth degree in the person of Paul Whicker the Tall Vicar, a violent, dishonest, lecherous, foul-mouthed hypocrite.
Somewhat also with Reverend Brown in Goldfish Boy. He once spent a strip getting hugely annoyed with his parishioners for interrupting him when he just wanted to spend the day drooling over a Calendar Girls video.
Viewers Are Morons: Inverted by Roger Mellie; the TV executives are usually the ones insisting that viewers want to watch highbrow material, whereas Roger's pornographic retoolings of popular shows inevitably end up being massive hits.
Roger Mellie: Why bother feeding the pigs cherries when they are happy with shit?
Sometimes you get both. One of the strips featuring Biffa Bacon had him at a restaurant, where he thought the chef was insulting him by giving him such a small amount of food, which Biffa decided to respond to with violence. Unfortunately the owner of that particular restaurant happened to be Gordon Ramsay, who promptly beat the crap out of Biffa and tossed him out on the street.
Write Who You Know: The comic's creator Chris Donald has said that, among others, Brown Bottle is based on one of his friends and Biffa Bacon on an incident he witnessed where a young boy began an unprovoked assault with the approval of his parents shouting and cheering him on.