Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ken Reid, Genius

  
I'm sure that most people reading this blog will regard Ken Reid as one of the greatest comic artists that ever lived. In fact I can't imagine anyone not respecting his talents. To me, he was the best humour artist this country ever produced, and is ever likely to produce. Some people may say that today's comics aren't a patch on his work but neither was most of the material in yesterday's comics. Ken Reid was always head and shoulders above the crowd.

Although his work on Fudge, Jonah, and Faceache is rightly respected for the comic masterpieces they are I think his best strips were for Odhams in the 1960s. That's when he really let loose with his ability for comic horror. Here's just a handful of his many pages produced for the company. This is the stuff many of us grew up on, and as you can see we were really spoiled. British comic humour at its best. In a better Britain there would be volumes of Ken Reid Archives to buy. Sadly, there is nothing.

SMASH! No.36  8th October 1966


WHAM! No.122  15th October 1966

POW! No.10  25th March 1967

SMASH! No.156  25th January 1969
  
One of Ken's funniest episodes of The Nervs.

You can see some of Ken Reid's earlier work on a thread currently running on the Comics UK forum

29 comments:

Peter Gray said...

they are amazing..

Ken Reid book is a must..there must be a way..surely americans would like this as well..or Europe..maybe they could finance it..?

Lew Stringer said...

I think the first hurdle would be sorting out who owns the rights (presumably IPC), then convincing them to allow a publisher to do it for a reasonable licence fee.

Then there's the question of would there be enough people willing to pay for such a book. From what I've read online most UK fans wait until books turn up in Poundland or The Works. That's not going to support anything like this I'm afraid. If we take similar archive books as an example, a 200 page Ken Reid Archive done well would cost at least £30 a book.

Rob Wells said...

I often wait for stuff to turn up cheap somewhere because I have a very low income at the moment and a lot of comics are too expensive, but I would happily pay £30+ a book for the Ken Reid Archives.

Anonymous said...

I now look at Ken Reid's art and stories as an adult and I am impressed by his draughtsmanship and the pacing of the stories, both in art and writing, but, I remember vividly when i was first exposed to his work in the 1970s, I was a little kid and i found it very sophisticated and each page was too choreographed, too careful, too precise. This is not a complaint. just for me at that age I could not relate to it, also there was the phrasing used by the characters, I could not work out if it was Scottish or Northern English, just a little too foreign to my still developing brain. I guess his work was not as comicy as his contemporaries, but for an older reader the multi layers and comedic timing is engrossing. But, as I said I remember his work, its stamped indelibly on my brain.
I suppose you could compare it to "Fawlty Towers" tv show. You can see the workmanship in it from the writers and the actors - compare it to "Monty Python", which ofcourse was funny too, but in a different way.

Yes, there were few "Fawlty Towers" shows, just as there are few examples of Ken Reid's mastery of the comics medium, i suppose it adds to the mystique.

Yes, this guy deserves a book, a testament, some form of recognition of his skill and his lofty place in the British comics industry.

Manic Man said...

of course.. should you have commented a bit on Weird Fantasy #1? which printed the first printing of the 'rejected' dare-a-day Davy strip due to being deemed 'too gruesome'?

Anonymous said...

Lovely stuff Lew, haven't seen a couple of these pages before so thanks for showing them here. the "Frankie" and "Queen of the Seas" strips are just amazing (that last panel ( the face) in Queen of the seas is so funny ! - I never fail to smile when I see Ken Reid's work - not many artists would I pay £30 and above for a book Ken Reid is one I would but I doubt we will see this - McScotty

NP said...

I see you've chosen the 'Hello, Putrid Date' Nervs story. These two pages were the pinnacle of British humour comics. It was never as good again. We must give thanks to Alf Wallace and Alf Cosser for allowing Ken such free rein on those Odhams/IPC pages which led up to this glorious moment!

Lew Stringer said...

Indeed. This seems to be The Nervs strip that people remember the most fondly, - and deservedly so. We were so lucky to have this quality of comics when we were kids Nigel. We were just the right age for Power Comics and they worked perfectly.

Dr Andy Oliver said...

This is lovely stuff. Im currently buying the old 70s Whoopee which has Ken Reid on the back cover - World Wide Weirdies. I wish I could afford the 60s stuff from whihc these were taken though.

George Shiers said...

I'd love to see a Ken Reid book - and would certainly support the project! I'd really like to see a book with all of his comic work in it!

But you never know - there may be another Reid, Baxendale or Watkins yet!

George Shiers said...

It would be nice if in the book was Reid's unfinished Faceache strip, which was only half done when he passed.

Lew Stringer said...

I'm not sure about that. Wouldn't it be a bit tasteless to publish that one?

George Shiers said...

I was actually thinking that - maybe it is one strip that should never be published...

Phil Rushton said...

Somehow I don't think Ken would mind too much as he seemed to revel in all kinds of tastelessness. One strip I'd have loved to see was his proposed series about a would-be suicide who attempted to kill himself every week, only to fail in hilarious fashion in the final panel. Needless to say IPC rejected it out of hand!

Incidentally, you can read my response to that stunning episode of 'The Nervs' over on the Comics UK Forum.

Anonymous said...

@Phil_Rushton that sounds just like Suicidal Sid in Viz

Graham Exton said...

I got two volumes of Fudge the Elf (probably from The Works or similar) so some of Ken's work has been collected. It wasn't as mad or entertaining to me as the Davy or Nervs stuff so I gave my Elves to a Mancunian pal who had grown up appreciating Ken's stuff in the local paper. I was very thrilled to write a few Faceaches for Ken, but have no interesting anecdotes on that topic. (Boring, eh?)

Lew Stringer said...

The fact that you wrote for Ken Reid is interesting enough in itself Graham. Fantastic!

Dr Andy Oliver said...

Is there a listing of the strips Ken worked on, including the dates started and ended? I'd like to buy some of his stuff from Smash and Wham, especially Nerves and Frankie but am aware there these strips were cancelled at some point and I dont wish to buy copies without any of his stuff in.

Lew Stringer said...

Basically Andy, if you only want the Ken Reid issues of Smash! avoid the IPC issues. (The ones after March 1969 with the typeset logo.)

Ken did 'Queen of the Seas' in most issues of Smash! from No.1 to 43. He didn't return to the comic until issue 137 (the first combined Smash! & Pow! issue) when he took over The Nervs up to No.162 (the last Odhams issue) with the exception of issues 143, 151 and 154 which were fillers by other artists.

He's also in most issues of Pow! drawing Dare-A-Day-Davy.

Frankie Stein began in Wham! No.4 and Ken drew it fairly regularly I think up to 1966 when Fantastic Four reprints shoved it aside some weeks and a substitute artist also drew it for a while after that. But if you just focus on 1964/65 issues of Wham! for now you shouldn't be disappointed. (If there's any specific issues that you find on eBay and you want me to verify if Ken Reid is in them, let me know and I'll check my collection.)

Hope that helps.

Dr Andy Oliver said...

Thanks very much Lew - some good tips there especially with the dates. I may wander outside of these dates as Im a fan of Baxondale as well. I suspect this is the beginning of a life long obsession - to be honest I have been holding off a few years. Could I be really cheeky and enquire about Reid run in The Beano - Jonah? Round about 1962 I think? anyway thanks again for the info.

Lew Stringer said...

Be careful on buying back issues of Odhams comics from dealers claiming they feature Leo Baxendale work as not all of them do. (He didn't contribute to Pow! for example.) Again, if you see any listed, run them past me and I'll check to see if they contain any strips by Leo.

Jonah ran in The Beano Nos.817 (15th March 1958) to No.1090 (8th June 1963) although I think some of the mid to late ones were by ghost artists.

Dr Andy Oliver said...

Thanks for this Lew. Much appreciated, especially the issue numbers.

Dr Andy Oliver said...

Well Smash issues 22, 34 and 48 arrived in the post today. Very exciting. Some good Ken Reid stuff - great detail on Queen of the Seas, though slightly marred by the colouring being blurred. And some lovely Baxendale stuff - Nerves and Grimly Fiendish. Interestingly I can see where other artists have imitated his style - hence why the issues were described as having Baxendale attributed strips.

Lew Stringer said...

The Feendish and Nervs strips in those issues are not by Leo Baxendale I'm afraid. The Nervs is by Graham Allen.

Feendish in No.22 is by Mike Brown, No.34 by Mike Lacey, and No.48 by Stan McMurtry.

Bad Penny in No.34 might be by Leo though, but I wouldn't swear to it.

Dr Andy Oliver said...

Really - certainly fooled me. Good art though anyway. Can I ask is there any Baxendale in those issues? Still doesn't detract from them to be honest :-)

Lew Stringer said...

Apart from the possibility of the Bad Penny in No.34, no. Leo wasn't doing a lot for Odhams by then.

It is annoying when dealers continue to claim Leo Baxendale worked on issues that he didn't, but Graham Allen's Nervs strips are always worth a look.

As I said earlier, if copies come up again, run the issue numbers past me and I'll check them.

Dr Andy Oliver said...

Have just got hold of Smash issue 7. Wow. A splendid piece by Ken. A double spread of Queen of the Seas. I see what you mean when you say that the 60s was his heyday - a great amount of detail and story. Im thinking that being this issue is early in the run then the great Leo himself would have drawn some of the strips?

Lew Stringer said...

Haven't time to check right now Andy but in those early issues Leo signed any strips he drew, if that helps.

Dr Andy Oliver said...

Wow. Thanks of the tip Lew. There's a Baxendale signature on Bad Penny. No other strips have an obvious signature. Cheers, Andy.

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