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The Old Cartoon That Would Have Outraged The Internet In 2016

RIP Richard Neville.

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Richard Neville (centre), Australian journalist, icon of the countercultural movement, and key figure in a landmark obscenity trial, has died aged 74.

David Cairns / Getty Images

Neville was one of three men behind the infamous magazine Oz, which published a controversial "schoolkids" edition in 1970, put together by 20 high school students in the UK.

The publication prompted Britain's "Obscene Publications Squad" to raid the Oz office. The publishers were charged with producing a magazine that would "debauch and corrupt the morals of children and other young persons within the realm and to arouse and implant in the minds of those young people lustful and perverted desires".

At the centre of the highly publicised trial was this parody comic in which children's character Rupert Bear was pasted into a cartoon series by artist Robert Crumb. (Warning: It's a bit graphic.)

London Oz / Via

Wendy Bacon, an activist, journalist, and Australian contemporary of Neville, told BuzzFeed News there were things published in Oz that would shock people now.

"Looking back on it, Neville had an approach to children and sexuality that would be disapproved of in 2016," she said.

"It raises interesting questions. Maybe looking back it was sexist and maybe on the other hand it was just more open, and right now we are living through a puritanical era with the internet."

Neville, Jim Anderson, and Felix Dennis were found guilty and sent to prison. Officers cut their hair, prompting the men to show up at an appeal wearing women's wigs.

Dennis Oulds / Getty Images

Speaking to the ABC years later, Neville said the hair-cutting was a turning point that saw them win the support of the British public.

"That changed everything. [Lawyer] Geoffrey Robertson arrived, he saw the situation straight away, gave it to the tabloids. The British public changed sides overnight. They really lost the case there and then."

The men had their convictions overturned. Bacon said Neville had a profound impact on underground publishing in the UK, the US, and Australia.

Supplied / PR IMAGE

"We felt like we were breaking through a repressive culture," said Bacon. "People have to remember this is when books like Lady Chatterley's Lover were still banned.

"[Oz] did it with a huge amount of flair and it was stunning."

Neville told the ABC the countercultural movement ended and the "moment had passed" but he was "grateful to have been a part of it ... now there's something different in the wind."

Sergio Dionisio / AAPIMAGE

"I'm definitely feeling some other zeitgeist in the air of some sort. I'm certainly not going to try to be the master or mistress of that. I've got hope that better change is on its way."

Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at

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