Phantastique # 1 debuted in 1985. The final issue appeared on the newsstand late in 1986. Issues #3 and #4 were banned in QLD, SA and WA. The contentious items were - The covers of both issues, the stories Integration by Steve Carter in #3 (a scene from which was highlighted on the cover of #3), Shark Attack by Des Waterman and Jungle Ghoul Girls by Steve Carter, both of which appeared in # 4.
The original intention behind Phantastique was to present to Australian mainstream readers a specific style of SF, Horror and Fantasy that had at that time not ever been seen on the national newsstands, magazine racks, etc. Initially, the intention was not to shock and offend, but, for the first time in Australian publishing history, to make the more graphic style of horror more widely available to those readers who preferred their horror fiction and comics to have that kind of impact. This was stated on several different occasions at the time. And it must be said: for every detractor, there were at least ten who loved it.
Phantastique was financed by a small grant ($5,000) and a Loan ($20,000) from the Office of Small Business. The $5,000 grant was for the purchase of capital only such as a bromide camera, etc. These funds were not to be used for production costs such as printing or the payment of contributors, etc.
The $20,000 loan was paid out in increments as the necessity arose. Specific portions of these funds were allocated to printing, advertising, etc. They were also to be paid back in monthly instalments. These funds were not paid out to the recipients in a "lump sum".
The loudest critics did not come from the Right, as one would expect, but from the authoritarian Leftists, such as feminists and those who would be seen today as being the precursors of the "politically correct". In hindsight, this is somewhat ironic, because at least 50% of SCAR's readers today are female. However, this is not to say that conservatives and moral reformists did not complain loudly about the content of Phantastique. Rather, there was an unholy union of feminists and fundamentalists at that time.
Phantastique was inspired by SF pulp mags, pre-code horror comics, 1970s underground comix and "splatter" movies. Other inspiration came from the Surrealists and Dadaism, the punk rock ethos and the belief that while one is advised to drink alcohol in moderation if they wish to maintain their physical and mental health, in art and fantasy restraint leads only to the stifling of imagination and mediocrity.
It is impossible for art that offends the viewer to be as offensive as the censor who destroys it in the name of the greater good. The Arbiter of Taste is nothing more than a prohibitionist that stands against any level of societal and cultural progressiveness. It is also important to remember - art that is a slave to popular opinion and fashionable ideology can only contribute to a stagnant culture.
With the possible exception of Shark Attack by Des Waterman and Jungle Ghoul Girls by Steve Carter, Charnel House was probably even more confronting than Phantastique. In terms of depicting explicit violence and bloodshed along with the themes and concepts it explored, no-one batted an eyelid when it appeared on the news-stand.
Charnel House was originally released in 1991 and re-released in 1993. Both releases were nation wide and available through the newsstand and in comicbook specialty shops. The comicbook was a success, covered its costs and made a small profit.
There is no explicit sex whatsoever in Fantastique #1. Although there is an obvious sexual component within the imagery and the stories, all of the visual sexual elements are implied. It was not our intention with this specific issue to portray explicit sex. Fantastique #1 is primarily a collection of science fantasy and fantasy works with an emphasis on horror, hence the explicit gore and violence.
When it comes to portraying images of horror and gruesome death we refuse to do "cut-aways", seeing them as a cop-out (within the context of visual horror). We wanted Fantastique #1 to maintain an edge, hence the weird themes and gore but no blatant sex. It's also an aesthetics thing - violence is drama and action. Despite any sexual themes, Fantastique #1 is not a sex magazine, it is a horror fantasy magazine.