Ken Reid was an artist who worked on British Comics from the late 1930s until the late 1980s. He is best known as the original artist for Jonah and Roger the Dodger in The Beano and Faceache in Jet and later Buster. His work often featured egregious use of the word spiflication, large numbers of panels on a single page and would often end with the main character(s) running away from an Angry Mob.
Born in Manchester in 1919. He began drawing at an early age. However disaster struck at the age of nine when he was diagnosed with a tubercular hip and Reid was bedridden for six months, during this time the young Reid drew constantly and eventually recovered. He left school in his early teens and earned a scholarship at Salford Art School but was expelled shortly before graduating for truancy.
After his expulsion he set up his own studio with little success. After a short time as a Starving Artist, Reid had his first big break when his father bluffed his way into an interview with the Art Editor of the Manchester Evening News. Reid was hired and his comic strip Fudge the Elf made it's first appearance in the Evening News in April 1938. This strip immediately proved popular and Fudge dolls were released in 1938 as well as annual hardback collections of the strip which continued until The '50s and the strip itself continued until 1963.
In 1952 Reid turned his attention to comics. Drawing a couple of strips for Amalgamated Press' Comic Cuts (Comic Cuts had been running since the 1890 and was for a time thought of as the world's longest running comic). Unfortunately Comic Cuts folded in 1953 but this turned out to be for the better and thanks to some help from his brother in law note Reid began drawing for DC Thomson in 1953.
The first strip he drew for the publisher was Roger the Dodger in The Beano. This strip is still running today although Reid stopped drawing it in 1959.In 1958 Reid began drawing Jonah for The Beano. This strip is highly acclaimed and was about a clumsy sailor who sank every ship he came into contact with. The strip proved popular and was put onto The Beano's back page briefly replacing Dennis the Menace. Jonah's success wasn't all down to Reid, the strip's writer Walter Fearne was also excellent and Reid often expanded on the scripts putting in more panels than necessary. Jonah ended in 1963 before it could become a Franchise Zombie. After Jonah finished a Spinoff strip featuring Jonah's sister Jinx appeared this character was similiar to Jonah in her clumsiness but didnt involve sinking ships. Jonah did appear again but not until the 1980s and only as reprints or being drawn by different artists.
Jinx would prove to be Reid's last strip for DC Thomson and he began drawing for Odhams and their power comics note in 1964, because they paid him more money. Reid began by drawing Frankie Stein for a comic called Wham!. Reid had always wanted to draw Comic Horror and he had his chance with this strip although Frankie Stein was very much a mix of comedy and horror with the comedy very much dominating. Frankie Stein proved a popular strip and after Wham's demise was brought back in a number of other comics but the horror elements were toned down and it was drawn by a different artist. During this period he often tried to push the envelope and one famous Dare-a-Day Davy strip was considered too horrifying to print and was never printed until the fanzine Weird Fantasy published it in 1969.
IPC took over Odhams and the power comics all merged together and by 1971 they had all disappeared. But this wasnt to be the last of Ken Reid because he began drawing Faceache for a new comic called Jet in 1971. Faceache was about a boy who could Scrunge his face into any shape. Although Jet was a very shortlived comic merging with Buster in 1971. Faceache was popular enough to continue in Buster after the merger. During this period he also drew a number of single page pieces of artwork known as Wanted Posters, World Wide Weirdies and Creepy Creations the first two of which appeared in Whoopee! and the latter in Shiver and Shake. These featured large detailed drawings often of some grotesque monster. However Faceache would prove to be his longest running comic strip and ran until Reid's unfortunate death whilst drawing a page of the strip in 1987. The strip continued briefly afterwards albeit under a different artist.
List of Comic strips he drew
- Fudge the Elf for The Manchester Evening News
- The Adventures of Dilly Duckling this was a small pamphlet advertising rubber ducks
- Foxy for Comic Cuts
- Super Sam for Comic Cuts
- Competition pages for the Irish Sunday Express
- Billy Boffin for Comic Cuts
- Roger the Dodger in The Beano
- Angel Face in The Dandy This strip didnt last very long partly because Reid didnt like drawing female characters
- Grandpa in The Beano
- Bing Bang Benny in The Dandy This strip set in The Wild West was about a cowboy who loved playing with explosives
- Ali Ha-Ha and the Forty Thieves in The Dandy This strip was popular enough to appear on the Dandy's back page
- Big Head and Thick Head in The Dandy
- Jonah in The Beano
- Jinx in The Beano
- Jasper the Grasper for Wham!
- Queen of the Seas for Smash! this strip was very much an Expy of Jonah
- Dare-a-Day Davy for Pow! this strip involved readers sending in suggestions of dares for Davy
- The Nervs for Smash! this was a darker version of The Numskulls from The Beezer
- Faceache in Jet and Buster
- Martha's Monster Makeup for Monster Fun (this strip was something of a Distaff Counterpart to Faceache)
- Tom Horror's World for Whoopee!
- Challenge Charlie for Valiant (this strip was very clearly an expy of Dare-a-day Davy and on a number of occassion used the same script)
- Banger and Mash for Valiant
- Sub in Scorcher
- Football Forum in Scorcher
- Manager Matt in Scorcher
- Hugh Fowler (the man who hates football) in Scorcher
- The Soccer-nauts in Scorcher and Score
- The Soccer Spook in Scorcher and Score
- Jimmy Jinks in Scorcher
- The Triptoe Tryers in Scorcher
- Wanted Posters in Whoopee!
- World Wide Weirdies in Whoopee!
- Creepy Creations in Shiver and Shake
- Depending on the Artist: Roger the Dodger changed vastly when drawn by a different artist.
- The trope also applies when Ken Reid took over drawing a strip his distinctive style is easily discernible from that of other artists (unless they happen to be Frank McDiarmid).
- However this trope is averted somewhat with Frank Mcdiarmid who's artwork was almost identical to Reid's.
- The Perfectionist: Reid was obsessed with putting in as much detail into his work as possible. This was most apparent in the Jonah strips where it's been reported that he often added more panels than what the original script demanded. Unfortunately, this took a toll on his mental health in later years.
- Slapstick: Comedy violence featured heavily in his strips.