magazines, satirical

magazines, satirical
   The most influential humorous and satirical magazines in Britain are Private Eye, Viz and the revived Punch. The original Punch, founded in 1841, became a national institution but then began to go into decline. Alan Coren, editor from 1977–87, though dubbed ‘the funniest writer in Britain’ by the Sunday Times in 1976, failed to arrest its decline and, despite the appointment of a young editor, David Thomas, in 1989 with the brief of capturing the yuppies, it eventually ceased publication in 1991. It was supplanted by Private Eye, which does what Punch did when it was first published: attack the Establishment. Punch was revived in 1996, but with a much different format, a bland mixture of topicality and humour.
   The fortnightly magazine Private Eye was founded in 1961 by Richard Ingrams, Christopher Booker, Nicholas Luard and Willie Rushton. Its humour was much more savage than that of Punch, and it was not afraid of libel actions. It was nearly closed on several occasions by successful libel suits, notably from Sir James Goldsmith and Robert Maxwell (‘Sir Jams’ and ‘Cap’n Bob’, as the Eye called them). Ingrams appointed his own editorial successor, Ian Hislop, then 26. In 1989 £250,000 was awarded against Private Eye for alleging that the wife of the Yorkshire Ripper was paid for her story. This again nearly led to closure. The circulation in 1995 had reached a healthy 183,216 copies, sold to a readership which was 70 percent male and 30 percent female.
   Viz came out of the punk movement in 1979. It is aimed at a young male audience and consists largely of ‘schoolboy’ humour about bodily functions. However, its humour is in many ways genuinely iconoclastic and zany. Thus it has kept a wider and more intelligent audience than its remit would suggest. Part of its originality and ethos may come from its Newcastle upon Tyne base, away from the vogues of London. Viz has been accused of sexism, but it has nearly half as many women readers as, for example, Good Housekeeping. Its bimonthly circulation in 1995 was 3,354,000 copies, with about 15 percent of its readership being female. Attempts were made to introduce magazines which copied the Viz formula (such as Zit, Poot, Gas and Smut), but they were of lower quality and failed. Oink (1988) was of higher quality, but failed because it was wrongly associated with the top-shelf magazines among which it was sold.
   See also: comics; comics culture
   Further reading
    Riley, S.G (ed.) (1993) Consumer Magazines of the British Isles, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
   MIKE STORRY

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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