From 1989: an attack of GAS!
The rags to riches (and massive circulation) success of VIZ (the local fanzine that became a sensation) promoted what seems like dozens of other publishers to have a punt at producing their own wannabes. And it seemed like WH SMITH and indie newsagents were happy to devote acres of shelf space (normally near the top shelf and titillating close to the topless mags) to them.
Although Viz occasionally tickled my fancy, I had no interest in this deluge of clones and didn't give any of them more than the most cursory of glances at the time. With good reason in many cases as there was certainly a lot of unfunny dross served up in the race to the top shelf. However, I recently stumbled across a stash in a secondhand bookstore so I snapped up the various first issues so that I could shine the STARLOGGED spotlight on them.
One thing that did become clear as I flicked: the town I grew up in was a hitherto unknown (at least to me) hotbed of VIZ-alikes with several hailing from Witham, Essex.
Gas was published by an outfit called Tristar whilst BRAIN DAMAGE (We'll get to that one in a future post) came from Galaxy. These may have actually been the same people but it certainly seems like the relatively sleepy Essex town (once voted Britain's Worst Town by the GAY TIMES purely on the basis that the mag's editor used to live there) was once a centre of subversive smut. Hurrah.