SITE Issue 1 (the pilot issue) 1987


The charity had already paid a designer to produce an HIV leaflet by the time I and another of the charities workers, Mark Gilman, came up with the idea of producing a comic for drug injectors.


The look of Smack in the Eye (SITE) was as near to a popular 80’s comic ‘Viz’ as the designer could get. Not that he was a bad designer, he just wasn’t an illustrator or cartoonist and had already been paid so we were stuck with him for the first two pilot issues of the comic. Incidentally although it was considered outrageous at the time, even Viz sent us a complaint about the swearing in SITE.


The feel and content of ‘Smack in the Eye’ was based on what drug users told us they wanted and were likely to read rather than what middle class professionals felt was least likely to cause offence or get them into trouble. Asking drug users what they wanted in a leaflet aimed at them is more common today, but was a complete novelty back then.


To say the comic had an impact is an understatement. It had been banned by the probation service, reviewed by The Times Educational Supplement and had featured on BBC 1 before the 500 pilot copies were even distributed. By the time a Director of Social Services had reported us to the police and we had been interviewed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (twice), it had been discussed in the House of Lords, commend by the World Health Organisation and photocopied ‘fakes’ were sold at a Pink Floyd concert at Manchester City’s old ground ‘Main Road’.


The back page originally contained the contact details of every drug service in Greater Manchester, but during the pilot stage every single service wrote to us asking for their contact details to be taken off.



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> Smack in the Eye

SITE Issue 1 (the pilot issue) 1987
SITE Issue 1 (the pilot issue) 1987 SITE Issue 2 1988 SITE Issue 3 1989
SITE Issue 4 1989 SITE Issue 5 1990 SITE Issue 6 1991
SITE Issue 7 1992 SITE Issue 8 1992 SITE Issue 9 1993