ALL POINTS BULLETIN: The ZINE cartoonists missing in action… Can you help find them? #3: Joseph Champniss
Talk about synchronicity. Since first posting about The ZINE – which provided an early outlet for many talented cartoonists, including The Dandy‘s Jamie Smart, Matt Saw and Alex Mason – the artist I was planning on next mentioning has been (tangentially) mentioned in relation to the big British news story of the moment. So to Joseph Champniss.
In Charlotte’s Mag and The ZINE, Champniss specialised in these beautiful, almost puppet-headed caricatures of musicians, which he used to great effect in slightly unhinged biopic strips that were four-fifths feverish imagination, 15% teen bile and the rest back-of-a-fag-packet facts – in contrast to the hideously anodyne examples of the form that had previously filled the pages of Look-In, TV Tops and the like. It wasn’t just the likes of Zappa, The Smiths or Pink Floyd that were rendered in the Champniss way.
He also illustrated articles by others, including a delicious one on the nexus of tabloid papers and the royal family (which resonates rather well in the wake of the recent Prince Harry/Duchess of Cambridge furores); and his own strip ‘Verity’s Point’ demonstrated that he could easily handle the long form as well – and in painted colour as well as black line (with a lovely ‘3D’ sequence thrown in for good measure).
I never met Champniss, but The ZINE‘s editor Bo spoke glowingly of him and his talent. It wasn’t until the early 00s that I came across him again. This time it was via the Some Of The Corpses Are Amusing website he was involved in. Devoted to television comedy, SOTCAA – along with Glebe’s Thrift Funnel, Cook’d And Bomb’d and Off The Telly – was a fine way to while away the hours whilst the boss was out of the office. It was particularly good on why channel controllers were often the very worst people to have in positions of authority when it came to deciding what was funny enough to end up on television. I would imagine that this line of thinking made the young Champniss a philosophical confederate of Lee & Herring, whose own TV careers came to an abrupt halt when (despite decent ratings and a firm following) they came up against the likes of Jane Root. However the hook-up came to be, Champniss notched up his one and currently only IMDb credit through his L&H connection, with art department work on This Morning With Richard Not Judy.
Since then, though, I had heard not a jot. I know that there is a SOTCAA Twitter account, but whether that is Champniss or his oppo Mike Scott, I knew not. Then, whilst I was in the process of putting together this serious of blog posts on former ZINE artists, the Jimmy Savile child abuse thing blows up (overseas readers: find out more here). A somewhat plausible (yet also clearly faked) transcript of outtakes from an episode of topical comedy show Have I Got News For You supposedly recorded back in the 1990s, featuring an angry Paul Merton berating guest panelist Jimmy Savile in relation to underage sex, resurfaced, after years of floating around the interwebs. It had of course been cooked up on SOTCAA. However, only today did I discover the full story behind it, thanks to an excellent blog post about it by John Fleming, which features Champniss’ own account.
(On a related note, Pat Mills was only today talking about who inspired his hyper-sadistic character Torquemada.)
Anyway, so at least we have established that Champniss is still around! Let’s see some pics…
You know the score: CLICKEN to EMBIGGEN. For more Champniss delights, check the archive at SOTCAA.