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Friday, June 01, 2018

The Power Pack of Ken Reid, - ready for your support!

As reported a few weeks ago, Irmantas Povilaika has secured the license to publish two hefty volumes of Ken Reid strips, reprinting all of the material that Ken produced for Odhams in the 1960s. Yes, that's Frankie Stein, Jasper the Grasper, Queen of the Seas, Dare-A-Day Davy and The Nervs! This news has been warmly welcomed by the many fans of Ken's work as most of the material has never been reprinted and back issues of the comics are becoming increasingly expensive and hard to find. 

You can now back the project on Indiegogo at:

I caught up with Irmantas to ask him a few questions about this exciting venture and he's also supplied me with a few exclusive shots of some of the spreads...

Hi Irmantas. When did you discover the work of Ken Reid? Were his strips published in Lithuania or have you always had an interest in British comics?

Hi, Lew. My first encounter with British comics in general, and Ken’s work in particular, was when I was 10 or so and a pen-pal from Britain sent me an early issue of Whoopee! comic which had one of those splendid World-Wide Weirdies by Ken Reid. I vividly recall it was The Whacky Hand. Us kids didn’t have comics in Lithuania back in the day – it was part of the Soviet Union then, and the authorities probably thought it wise to protect their very young against Western influences, or whatever… Anyhow, the comic made a huge impression on me, I read and re-read that issue (the only one that I had) countless times until it fell apart. I eventually became a freelance cartoonist and drew comics for the country’s humour magazine for a few years in my twenties. Looking at my drawings now, I can clearly see influences of Robert Nixon, Terry Bave, Mike Lacey and Ken Reid – it’s amazing how much inspiration I drew from that single issue of Whoopee! Then other things came up and I abandoned the hobby. I picked it up again in 2007, but not as an artist – I started collecting British comics, and I blame that particular issue of Whoopee! for that. It didn’t take me long to re-discover Ken Reid, and I started reading about him online. I have to say that it was on your blog that I first found out about his Odhams strips, and was fascinated by them – the combination of quality artwork and the untamed sense of humour was explosive! It took me a few years to collect the complete sets of the Power comics titles and thus acquire the full runs of all of those brilliant strips that Ken drew for Wham!, Smash! and Pow! – all of them now to be presented in The Power Pack of Ken Reid that I am doing.

For many of us who grew up with these strips, the Odhams era represented Ken Reid at his most creative. Manic, funny, over-the-top humour that has never been equalled in British comics. There have been attempts to get this material reprinted before, but there were obstacles. How difficult did you find it to gain the license from Time Inc. (UK)?

To me the biggest obstacle was finding out who the rights belonged to and whom I should contact about the license, but when I did, things developed rather quickly and I wouldn’t say it was particularly difficult to arrange the permission. The people in charge at Time Inc. (UK) Ltd were 100 per cent professional and efficient, and paperwork didn’t take very long.

Did Ken's pages present any challenges for remastering? I'm thinking in particular of the colour Queen of the Seas pages which suffered from muddy printing on a few issues back in 1966.

Poor paper quality alongside with the quality of print of the comics did present certain challenges. The thin paper of the early issues of Wham! produced a see-though effect on quite a few of the pages, and it had to be handled carefully to try and preserve the gray shading of Ken’s art. The coloured pages of Queenie and Dare-A-Day Davy were also an issue but I think it was addressed in the best possible way. The remastered images that will go into the book are crisp, clean and look very nice, but don’t expect all of them to be flawless – they were scanned from original paper comics, and this is what buyers of the book should bear in mind.

I understand you're in touch with Ken's son? Can you tell us more about that? Has he been able to provide information and items for the books?

Antony was very helpful indeed. He wrote funny intros for both volumes and even drew an illustration for one! Most importantly, he allowed me to use his dad’s archive material when I was researching and writing Ken’s detailed biography for his Odhams years (1964-69) that will go into the two volumes of The Power Pack. In fact, Antony is actively involved in a separate project that we are doing together with another fan in the UK, and it’s the full and complete biography of Ken Reid, covering his WHOLE life and work! The piece that will be presented in The Power Pack of Ken Reid is just a ‘taste’ of what fans will find in the Complete Biography when it eventually comes out – Ken’s legacy (both published and unpublished material) is huge and diverse, and it will all be covered in detail, with unseen illustrations, etc. I really look forward to the completion of the Biography project and am very excited about it.
I gather that there are other extras too?

Comic archivist Steve Holland has provided the introduction for Volume One (Frankie Stein + Jasper the Grasper) and artist Nigel Parkinson the introduction for Volume Two (Queen of the Seas + Dare-A-Day Davy + The Nervs). My contribution is the detailed biography of the artist on the period – The Odhams Years of Ken Reid. It will be illustrated with some sketches and drawings. You will even find some scripts of Frankie Stein, hand-written by Ken! Last but not least, supporters of the crowdfunding campaign will receive free prints of original artwork. Oh, and there will be some bright colour pages in Volume One because all four of Ken’s Frankie Stein episodes in Wham! Annuals will be reprinted in full colour!

Can you tell us about the Crowdfunding campaign to back the book?

The crowdfunding campaign is now live and open to all on IndieGoGo platform. The books can be pre-ordered either individually or as a beautiful boxed set edition, with free prints of original artwork, as mentioned before. They will go into print immediately after the campaign ends and will be shipped two or three weeks later, when I receive them from the printing house. The slipcase edition will take a bit longer because the slipcases will be manufactured only after the books have been printed.  I plan to post regular progress updates on IndieGoGo, my blog and ComicsUK Forum to keep people up to speed. Folks may be wondering what happens if the campaign doesn’t reach its target. I can assure you that the books will be printed anyway, and that’s due to the considerable investment already made (license fees, the services of the various people involved in the project, etc.). The platform only allowed me to use US dollar as my main currency, but I hope this won’t be an inconvenience to fans in the UK or discourage them from supporting the campaign.
Finally, I'm sure I speak for readers of this blog in thanking you, Irmantas, for getting this excellent work back into print. Do you have any plans to publish other strips from that era by other creators? 

Thanks Lew, I have strong faith in the project and sincerely hope that people will find it interesting enough to support the campaign. There are quite a few other strips by other creators that I believe deserve to be celebrated in a similar way, and I would certainly be looking into this, provided my first publishing project attracts enough attention. Thanks for talking to me and helping me spread the word. I would like to encourage your readers to share this on social media, etc. and join me in my effort to make this project a success. I am happy to answer any questions, so feel free to contact me via my blog or IndieGoGo platform! Cheers!

There's another interview with Irmantas here, on the Down the Tubes blog:


Manic Man said...

I was humming and harring cause of the price and it being on indiegogo but decided.. I can earn the money in about 2 months and it's not bad for what it is, so went all in ^_^ Complete with art prints.. hell, it's Ken Reid and it's an amazing looking collection.

Good luck Irmantas!

Lew Stringer said...

I think you'll really enjoy it, Ryan. In my opinion those stories are Ken Reid at his peak; better than Jonah, better than Faceache. (That said, a complete Jonah would be nice, shot from the 1950s Beanos, NOT from the edited 1980s reprints in Buddy.)

Brian Meenan said...

i'm looking forward to this and if successful many more books to come,i have never read any of the oddhams stuff unless they were reprints in cor and whoopee etc

Brian Meenan said...

i'm looking forward to this and if successful many more books to come,i have never read any of the oddhams stuff unless they were reprints in cor and whoopee etc.good luck

Manic Man said...

Oh, if he reads this good, but as I don't have an account with indogogo thingy when I ordered, I can't ask a question..

What are the physical dimensions, mostly the page size?

Lew Stringer said...

It might be better to ask Irmantas on his own blog, Ryan. I'm not sure how often he reads this one. You'll find him at:

Irmantas said...

I read it regularly :)

Lew Stringer said...

That's good to hear, Irmantas! :)

Kevin Larkin said...

I find it very disappointing that, with all the big publishers in the UK, it's down to an individual in Lithuania to do something like this. And from the sound of it, it wasn't too much of a palaver. So, if the audience is clearly there and the rights-owners seem happy for a project like this to happen, it seems like the only ones who aren't interested in collections of old comic reprints ARE the big publishers. Good luck to Irmantas (and those of his ilk - if there are any) : I hope that this project is such a success it leads to more like it, and he can give the disinterested big publishers a run for their money (or at least a long overdue wake-up call).

Lew Stringer said...

Others have tried. Publishers and individuals, but the copyright holders just wanted far too much money. Perhaps they've relented somewhat. I hope so. It would be good to see more specialised books like this focusing on certain artists or collecting a serial.

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