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Saturday, August 8, 1998 Published at 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK


MP's fury at Viz's Diana strip

Character assassination: Viz has been attacked as puerile and smutty

A comic that pokes fun at the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, has been condemned as being in "very bad taste".

The latest edition of Viz contains a strip with the princess taking the place of Hopkirk in a spoof on the TV series Randall and Hopkirk Deceased.

[ image: Alan Campbell: Many people will be offended]
Alan Campbell: Many people will be offended
The Randall and Diana Deceased strip has Diana wanting to become the 'Ghost Private Detective of People's Hearts'.

Her "mission" is to help a man who believes his wife, who works in a launderette, is having an affair.

Diana and her partner seek out the woman - who turns out to be taking landmines to Africa.

16 holidays a year

The comic shows Diana saying: "And dead or alive, I'm determined to put a stop to it."

In one frame the concerned husband says he is suspicious because his wife takes 16 holidays a year - to which the character says: "Sixteen holidays a year. Nothing unusual about that."

[ image: Princess Diana: Anniversary soon]
Princess Diana: Anniversary soon
Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell said: "I am aware Viz does go close to the boundary of bad taste for a good laugh, but on this occasion they have crossed that boundary.

"It sounds like it is in very bad taste indeed."

Mr Campbell, who said he was not a fan of Viz, said: "Millions of people felt a great sense of loss and grief when Diana died.

"Her anniversary which is approaching soon should be a low-key event so people can remember Diana the way they want to."

'Not offensive'

Mr Cambell added: "Many people will be clearly offended by this article."

But Viz editor Chris Donald, who thought of the idea and wrote the script, said: "I don't think it is offensive.

"It is geared at our readers who should not find this offensive.

"Some people will find it offensive if they cannot understand our humour and take the article out of context.

"When Diana died she was on our front page, but we took 80,000 comics off the shelves."

'Sexist, sick, reactionary'

This is not the first time that Viz comic has come in for criticism.

"Puerile, smutty, rude, sexist, sick, reactionary, malodorous, politically incorrect, licentious, mind-rotting crap," was how the London Evening Standard's media critic, Neil Norman, described Viz.

Viz shot to overnight infamy in 1986 when Mr Donald sent a copy of the magazine to Richard Branson, the Virgin airline boss.

"I couldn't handle the circulation, which had reached 7,000," said Mr Donald, who had been publishing Viz as a hobby after work as a welfare services clerk in Newcastle.

Virgin helped set up a company to publish Viz and within two issues its circulation had climbed to 280,000.

Auberon Waugh, the Daily Telegraph columnist, sees the magazine as a legitimate heir of Swift.

He said: "Somewhere in Newcastle there are five or six men who are producing extremely brilliant work, in the British guttersnipe tradition of making a mockery of everything."

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