30 YEARS OF THE BUG/FROM THE ARCHIVES:
The Trapezoid Issue
They say imitation is the finest form of flattery so maybe The Bug should have been flattered when its position as the No.1 family favourite tabloid newspaper in Brisbane – street or mainstream – came under attack in June 1992.
That’s right. The Bug, by then in its fourth year and already the darling of the Queensland capital’s print-media newspaper market, suddenly found itself threatened by the announcement that The Sunday Mail up at Bowen Hills would ditch its historic broadsheet format after more than three centuries and become a tabloid too.
The Bug thought that one good thing at least would come out of the Sunday Mail move: as a newspaper it would, from then on, be only half as bad – a view that proved tragically wrong in the years that followed.
And The Bug‘s boardroom could have done nothing at the time, of course. It had Doctor Dick, the world’s most famous sex therapist on staff and countless men worldwide were asking Doctor Dick if their penis size was okay and Dr Dick was replying: “If it gives you pleasure, yes.”
The Bug was covering the city, the state and the nation’s news in an unparalled way with great reporters and expert columnists who had become household names. Basher Brown was doing over rugby league like no-one before or since, and columnists with similar names to those up at Bowen Hils – Clarrie Lavendah, for one – were writing far better shit.
But doing nothing is not part of The Bug‘s psyche, so its owners set in train the move to a brave new format that would leave the newly minted tabloid Sunday Mail trailing in its wake!
“We’ll go trapezoid (main picture above),” the owners declared.
Look it up. They had to.
The brave new shape was announced in the issue the month before it happened, with Queensland Premier Wayne Goss (right) tickled pink to come on board and promote the worldwide publishing first.
Premier Goss was more than happy to lend a hand as The Bug had earlier in that year virtually saved his life after the Sunday Mail‘s sister paper, The Courier-Mail, had deliberately and maliciously put him at risk by not disclosing one of the very unpleasant downsides of the state leader’s penchant for jogging long distances.
With the Premier’s imprimatur, The Bug the following month launched Brisbane’s No 1 “biggest circulation Sunday trapezoid street newspaper delivered on a Wednesday morning”.
The Bug’s production manager at the time, now in a home for the destitutely insane and who cannot remember his name, explained the process: “Our publishing software had to be completely overhauled because, until that moment in publishing history, all design templates were on precise horizontal and 90deg vertical lines.”
“The image area on the spine of the trapezoid newspaper was only some 35cm which then splayed out to some 41cm on the outside of each page.
“Even working out how to insert the folios at the bottom of each page was a nightmare.”
Sadly, The Bug had to ditch the breakthrough trapezoid after just the one issue.
Explained a current Bug executive on day release: “Just like newspapers, sheet-fed printeries have guillotines that also work very, very much on precise 90 degree angles and squared-up documents.
“It took our printer much of a day to set up his guillotine so that each bundle of papers from our web printery could be untied, stacked in small lots and cut on an angle top and bottom, and then rebundled.
“The cost would have become prohibitive if we had ever paid his bill, especially as our one and only trapezoid issue had fuck-all advertising in it anyway.”
The Goss Penis Risk! issue.