8Ace is star of his own strip in famous British adult comic Viz. Drawn by stalwart contributor Simon Thorpe, 8Ace has become one of the faces of the comic in recent years.

Octavius Ace, to give 8Ace (or 'Eight', as his harridan of a wife calls him) his full name, is a fat, unemployed Geordie. He wears a filthy vest and blazer up top, with torn tracksuit bottoms and tweed slippers south of the equator. He has a large, greasy bouffant mullet hairdo, untrimmed moustache with sideburns and stubble. He has dark, sunken eyes and wears a cursory dressing around his hand (which is why he can't work, natch). He lives in a rundown shed in the overgrown, refuse-strewn front lawn of his derelict terraced council house, as his wife refuses to let him in the house.

The typical 8Ace adventure is very simple. 8Ace acquires £1.49, buys eight cans of Ace lager, becomes drunk and falls asleep in his shed, ready to begin the cycle anew the next day. Quite often the £1.49 (which is always key to the plot, as it's exactly the price of... er... eight Ace at Patel's NanoMart) comes from 8Ace's wife rather than the benefits agency. Similarly, that £1.49 is never intended for Ace - it's been intended for everything from chips and bonfire night bangers to job interview bus fare, ice cream and even an ambulance for 8Ace's wife in labour. 8Ace always wants to do the right thing, and in spite of repeating to himself he'll never touch the Ace again, his virtue always falters when confronted by the cheery Mr. Patel and his shop full of Ace.

Such a theme would grow stale quickly - especially given it's always exactly the same story - were it not for the clever plays and variants by the writers on the familiar story. Sometimes eight Ace costs £1.50, sometimes 8Ace only has £1.48. In one strip, 8Ace himself even restarted the story under the moniker '32Eiger' after spotting an even more ridiculous amount of beer for an even lower price. Couple this with brilliantly realized drunken rantings in thick Geordie accents, and the fantastic drawings (8Ace's stagger in particular stands out) and it's no surprise the character is a favourite.

Like so much of Viz, 8Ace is based on real life. Viz co-founder Simon Donald saw a similar man approach a shopkeeper and utter, "Eight Ace". Money and brew exchanged hands, and no other words were spoken. 8Ace has scores of doppelgangers across the UK - I have personally seen him in a post office in Bradford and in (surprise!) a Bottoms up booze shop in Cardiff.

In his adventures, 8Ace has burned both his house and his shed down, poisoned his brood of snot-nosed children, actually worked for the Federation Brewery who make Ace, won a fortune on the penny waterfalls at the seaside, lost and found God in the same 30 seconds, won the lottery, and even cleaned up his act.

8Ace is best enjoyed in Viz Annuals as Simon Thorpe has sadly left the magazine along with most of the artists of old. Be prepared for an uphill battle with the dialogue if you're not from Newcastle upon Tyne as the Geordie dialect is tricky enough without it being slurred.

Oh, and if you're wondering, Ace lager really does exist. At 3.0% ABV it's a bit stronger than the 1.2% ABV horse piss that Viz has 8Ace drinking.

See a sample strip of 8Ace at the Viz website in the 'Archive' section, www.viz.co.uk

Sources: Cook, William - 25 Years of Viz: Silver Plated Jubilee
personal knowledge
www.beerme.com

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