Let’s Read Deadline UK, Summer 1994!

Deadline grew out of the alternative comics anthology Strange Days, both created at least in part by 2000 AD creator Brett Ewins. Founded in 1988 by Ewins and Steve Dillon, Deadline published underground comics like Tank Girl and Milk and Cheese and helped to popularize them to the general comics-reading public, along with coverage of alternative music and news features. With a strong focus on Britpop bands, the magazine is credited with making bands like Blur popular, and through shared connections the magazine brought together Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn, the creators of Gorillaz. The magazine folded in 1995, probably because the people making the magazine were all obsessed with having a million projects at once.

Standard disclaimer goes here that this magazine has a lot of stuff that requires a lot of you-had-to-be-there background to fully understand, and I was nowhere near there when it was happening. In the summer of 1994 my taste in comics was as edgy as the inside of a Bazooka Joe wrapper. A lot of this magazine is also very British in its references to music and politics. So if I gloss over or am glib about something hugely important to the 90s alternative comics scene in this review, please be nice.

Additional note: many, many cartoon boobies ahead.

I bought this magazine from a comic book store in Sunnyvale, digging through bin after bin of $1 Spawn behind-the-scenes fanzines. They couldn’t give those things away. Imagine that. The promised Tank Girl poster (yes, it still had the poster inside!) is just a nice print of the cover art here.

“Manga in motion”…I don’t think that means what you think it means, people.

A little hard to read, thanks to the exuberance for piling graphics on top of each other, but well worth the effort. This is the kind of content that I crave in a British comic magazine from the 1990s.  Sounds like Jamie Hewlett really does need a break, if he’s writing contents copy while on set for the Tank Girl movie. Something that I noted while going through this magazine a few times is that there’s virtually no mention of the Internet, which I find a little weird since every non-children’s magazine I’ve read from the 90s likes to scream SEXXXXX IN CYBERSPACE! Dear god, we were so obsessed with sex’s role in the Internet. Some light research tells me that UK consumers got access to dial-up Internet in 1992 and the growth of households with internet was slow, with something like only 9 percent of households having internet by 1998. 

Damn David Singh, who hurt you? Let people cry!

The Ambient 3 album is a rarity now, but some nice person compiled it on YouTube so enjoy it here. Much of it feels like something to drink a cup of tea to while staring existentially out of a window at a damp, grey English sky.

Love that sassy Newcastle ad.

This may be the most typo-filled magazine I’ve ever reviewed here. They did have spell check in 1994, you know.

This is all a little too British for me. Love those ATTN:s.

Frasier: “actually pretty good” and apparently one can be just fazed, in England (you can also be unfazed – can you be overfazed?). I like the caution that Kids In The Hall May be a tough sell to British people because their humor has depreciated to the point of “what’s the deal with milk cartons?”

Someone out there will understand all of this. Maybe some of it. Ok, they’ll get the part where you need to bring lots of money to a music festival. I think I got something about raising giant frogs and also toilets? Anyway I like this style, it reminds me of stuff I’d see plastered up all over the walls of used record stores as a little one.

I miss them. Highlights:

  • Mike D’s idea for a competition show where children remix and loop samples, Chopped style, would KILL today.
  • MCA’s story about bullshitting the clueless interviewer about Frenchmen on bicycles with baguettes is hilarious.
  • Futterman’s Rule sounds perfectly reasonable to me.
  • Space people, drunken Japanese people, same diff.
  • “Greek Disco” was not proved in the long run to be the concept for for the next album, but the opening track on Hello Nasty WAS called “Super Disco Breakin”.

Milk and Cheese by Evan Dorkin. Where was this comic in my life when I was ten? I would have absolutely lived for this. Yeah, so what if 70% of it would have gone over my head! The adventures of two foul-mouthed best buddy dairy products? Yes!

“My enthusiasm is the color of sin!”
This seems written in response to pressure from publishers to make the comic more child-friendly and thus commercially viable.

Whoever these people are, they make me feel just astonishingly uncool.

Let’s move on to Tank Girl

This isn’t the whole strip, but it’s enough to get the idea. Tank Girl is fun – it’s gross, it’s crass, but it’s original and it has a lot of heart. I am still absolutely flabbergasted that Hollywood made a movie out of this.

The next feature has a lot of icky things like depictions of sexual assault, big cartoony R. Crumb nipples, and the word TITS in gigantic unscrolleable-past font, and all that uncomfortable for work stuff, so I’m hiding it under a spoiler tag for your easy scrolling convenience to read later.

CW: sexual assault

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This is very 1994-style radical feminism by Avedon Carol, who is mostly known for approaching pornography from a woman’s empowerment perspective. I feel like a lot of this article was inspired by the heroin chic 90s (history has shown that Marilyn was closer to a modern size 8-10, but whatever), and I feel like the 2019 feminist argument is that boobs are entirely inconsequential and if you have them at all, cool. I feel like Carol probably should have actually talked about the depiction of breasts in comics, as this is a comics magazine, and including images from the most problematic comic artist in history without building an argument around that doesn’t cut it.

Mmmkay, so…when I suggested that you have a bowl of Special K for breakfast every morning, you know I meant the cereal right?

Beatles from hell? I gotta check that out!

Oh nevermind they sound exactly like everyone else from 1994.

I like that kind of honesty in a magazine.

I’m not familiar with this band, but I feel like they’re really nailing the typical alternative rock band balance between asserting “we acknowledge that selling albums and being successful makes you a shill and a sellout and makes you justifiably hateable…but we’d also like to be able to pay rent.”

Uh, this band is from Glasgow?

Reader mail! These seem like fun people. Love, hugs, peace and substances!

I want all of these. It occurs to me that the site of Slave Labor Graphics is less than two miles from where I’m sitting right now. I could probably go there and be like “Hi, do you have any moldering old Milk and Cheese t-shirts in a box in a closet somewhere from like thirty years ago? It’s for the internet!” I’ll keep you posted.

The back cover is an ad for The Crow. I like the throw down to Batman at the top – It’s kind of like a scrappy goth kid trying to pick a fight with the school football hero.

Thank you for reading! If this was totally incomprehensible, I hope you at least learned something? Next time we’re looking at something that everyone can keep up with – Cat Fancy!