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Becoming Ken... 
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Joined: 30 Mar 2008, 20:26
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philcom55 wrote:
here are a selection of Ken's earliest drawings from the very first Fudge book that was published way back in 1939.


Thanks, Phil – this first Fudge volume is the only one that I haven’t got a copy of yet… As for a book or a feature on Ken, I don’t think I have anything to add to the excellent piece by Peter Hansen that can be found on the net and is available in printed form in the True Brit book. But I certainly wouldn’t mind helping researchers of Ken’s work.

What I might do one day is a detailed index of his printed work to assist collectors. For instance, we all know that Frankie Stein originated in Wham! but there was quite a large number of issues in which the strip did not appear or was illustrated by another artist. As of now my “private” index includes full details of Ken’s art in Wham!, Smash! and Pow!, the complete Faceache series in Jet and Buster, football strips in Scorcher as well as Creepy Creations and World-Wide Weirdies features in Shiver and Shake and Whoopee!

With Jonah and Jinx collections now complete, my next big ambition in terms of collecting is to complete the sets of Ali Ha Ha (9 episodes remaining) and Big Head and Thick Head (6 episodes remaining) from the Dandy. I know I'll get there one day! :)

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Last edited by klakadak-ploobadoof on 15 Jul 2012, 18:50, edited 1 time in total.



15 Jul 2012, 16:57
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:shock: what an amazing collection you've already got..

What a great idea focussing on an artist you like to collect..

there must be a way we could all fund this book some how..
come on DC Thomson you did brilliantly with Black Bob best of book..
Now for Ken Reid at DC Thomson.. 8) special book..

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15 Jul 2012, 18:25
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http://www.petergraycartoonsandcomics.b ... -size.html

See Jonah in large size...it shows off Ken's work in a new way...and its worth looking at each panel on there own..

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15 Jul 2012, 22:16
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I'm grateful to Lew for posting that amazing 'putrid date' episode on his blog as it's not one that I have in my own collection of Smash! It really is remarkable how many people have managed to convince themselves that Ken Reid was the principal artist on the Nervs all along, in spite of the fact that it had been running for well over a hundred issues when he took over, and that it only lasted for six months after that before IPC pulled the plug.

This set me wondering why the Reid version has burned itself so indelibly onto people's memories, so I looked back over the strip's history and realized that, by contrast, the previous appearances had made almost no impression on me at all. When it was introduced in Smash! no.1 it's clear that The Nervs was intended as a near carbon copy of Leo Baxendale's Georgie's Germs from Wham! (a strip that already owed more than a little to DC Thomson's Numskulls, which had been appearing in Beezer since 1962). Whereas Georgie's Germs introduced a number of significant twists to Mal Judge's endearingly simple model - notably a varied collection of Leo's fanged and tentacled monsters as the Germs, and the likeable character of Georgie himself as the scruffy schoolboy whose body they inhabit - The Nervs added almost nothing new to the formula at all. The only apparent difference was that these microscopic creatures lived inside a grown man called 'Fatty', and that he had an appetite for junk food that matched his girth.

As the series progressed, drawn throughout in a sub-Baxendale style (though never by Leo himself), even these distinguishing features were eroded away as we discovered that Fatty, just like Georgie, still lived with his long-suffering mother; what's more he seemed to get significantly younger over time, though never to the extent that he was shown going to school. Fatty was a lazy slob - but beyond that he was something of blank cypher: the real stars were supposed to be the Nervs.

Then along came Ken and everything changed! Suddenly, miraculously, Fatty became all too real - I realized that he reflected the lives of a million adolescent school leavers who still lived at home, unable and unwilling to get a job, constantly appalled at their own awkwardness and lack of social graces. In effect he was myself! - but like all great comic creations he was myself writ large and caricatured, so that I could identify with the toe-curlingly embarrassing situations that were caused by his unruly emotions, nervous tics and bodily incontinence (all byproducts of the Nervs' secret actions), while yet being relieved that it was happening to someone else.

And, of course, the most excruciating encounters for any spotty-faced, self-hating, nerdy, adolescent male tend to be those with the opposite sex - even when the female in question happens to be their own mother:

Image

For me, encounters like the one above are comparable to Basil Fawlty whacking his unresponsive car with a tree branch or Ricky Gervais 'dancing' for his incredulous staff in 'The Office': one cringes with intense embarrassment even as the tears of laughter roll down one's face!

- Phil Rushton

(n.b. - the above is obviously an example of Ken Reid's work after he'd become 'Ken', and is therefore something of a departure from this thread's main theme!)


16 Jul 2012, 10:41
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philcom55 wrote:
As the series progressed, drawn throughout in a sub-Baxendale style


Nice work by Graham Allen though. Although influenced by (or more likely instructed to draw like) Leo Baxendale I always felt his work was funny in its own right. The Nervs was my favourite Smash strip before Ken took over, but I enjoyed it even more once Ken took it into a brilliant new direction.

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16 Jul 2012, 11:46
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philcom55 wrote:
I doubt if Ken had anything to do with that rather crude Angel Face preview, though as Lew suggests part of it was probably based on his designs. In some ways the idea of a heroine whose 'angelic' exterior masked her inner Machiavellian tendencies was poorly suited to an artist who specialized in drawing wildly expressive faces, so it's unsurprising that Ken was never very happy about the strip (in fact he admitted to being uncomfortable with most female characters). Even so he pulled off a remarkable feat by developing a kind of subliminal leer that briefly twisted Angel's doll-like features when nobody but the reader was looking.

In many ways Angel Face (along with Minnie the Minx and Beryl the Peril) could be seen as a proto-feminist role-model who was years ahead of her time - something sadly lacking in most contemporary publications that were aimed at older women.

- Phil Rushton


Going slightly off topic, I found this strip in a 1904 issue of Illustrated Chips it has the title Sunbeam the Innocent. It's seems to be a strip with a similiar premise to Angel Face (it could possibly be an inspiration for it but I think thats unlikely because of the approximately 50 year gap between the strips appearances) but it is apparent it is not as well drawn as Ken Reid's strip with Sunbeam in particular looking a bit weird most of the time in this strip except in the title panel. So this is clearly by an artist who cannot draw females particularly well.


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16 Jul 2012, 17:07
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I was one of the many comics fans who wrongly assumed that Georgie's Germs was drawn by Ken: it must have been the case that if any one strip reflected the REID style in the 60s Odham's era, it must surely have been the style of this offering.

well, either that or the Nervs!

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16 Jul 2012, 18:17
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I thought the Robot Maker (originally from Cor!! but I saw it reprinted in a Monster Fun annual) was by Ken Reid but it turns out it was by Frank McDiarmid. It seems a few artists must have attempted to ghost the Ken Reid style but not to the same extent as Leo Baxendale.


16 Jul 2012, 20:57
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ISPYSHHHGUY wrote:
I was one of the many comics fans who wrongly assumed that Georgie's Germs was drawn by Ken: it must have been the case that if any one strip reflected the REID style in the 60s Odham's era, it must surely have been the style of this offering.

well, either that or the Nervs!



Ken actually got a bit mixed up himself, saying in an interview that he did Georgie's Germs. He didn't, so he must have confused it with The Nervs.

Tin Can, Frank McDiarmid could do a fairly close Ken Reid style. He mastered it when he took over Big Head and Thick Head in The Dandy in 1964 when Ken left to work on Wham!

Years later, Frank also drew a strip called Challenge Charlie in Valiant, which was basically a renamed Dare-A-Day-Davy but nowhere near as violent.

Frank also ghosted Faceache later IIRC.

Incidentally, some of will have seen this before but I own the original artwork to Ken's very last Nervs strip, kindly sent to me years ago by an IPC editor. Here's some images of it:

http://lewstringer.blogspot.co.uk/2007/04/ken-reid-and-nervs.html


16 Jul 2012, 21:38
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philcom55 wrote:
As the series progressed, drawn throughout in a sub-Baxendale style (though never by Leo himself), even these distinguishing features were eroded away as we discovered that Fatty, just like Georgie, still lived with his long-suffering mother; what's more he seemed to get significantly younger over time, though never to the extent that he was shown going to school.

The final strip posted by Lew contradicts that in its third panel - although it is true that he never actually makes it as far as school.

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17 Jul 2012, 01:12
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Yes I noticed that. And yet as you can see from Fatty's first appearance in Smash! no.1 he was clearly intended to be an adult when the series began:

Image

What's more, he even acquired a mustache and a son in Smash! no.9! (though these were both something of an anomaly as neither were ever seen again).

Image

In fact there seemed to be as many versions of Fatty as there were artists during the early days so that he would look like a middle-aged man one week, then a boy in short trousers and a school cap the next (off hand I don't remember when his Mum became a regular supporting character). Oddly enough I can't find any mention of school or a job in any of the pre-Reid episodes and, while I don't have many copies of the later Odhams issues, Lew's marvelous pages are the only ones I've yet seen that definitely show Fatty as a schoolboy.

- Phil Rushton


17 Jul 2012, 10:16
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Just as a drowning man is supposed to see his whole life flash past his eyes I can't help wondering whether comic strip characters sometimes experience fleeting moments of self-awareness 'Smart Art' style. If so, just imagine the sheer existential horror that would have overtaken poor old Fatty as the putrescent waters closed over his head in that final episode of The Nervs - realizing that his entire existence had been no more than a sadistic joke composed by vast, multidimensional beings with godlike powers but no consciences. And that, from a grown man he'd been progressively twisted and reshaped into a helpless child by the greatest and cruelest of those unseen artist-gods, who now chose to leave his victim stripped of all dignity and exposed to the most appalling situation he could devise...presumably for all time!

Fortunately, in sewage no-one can hear you scream! :shock:

- Phil Rushton (...who's now starting to look over his own shoulder for signs of a gigantic, ethereal brush! :roll: )


19 Jul 2012, 14:55
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Lew Stringer wrote:
Years later, Frank also drew a strip called Challenge Charlie in Valiant, which was basically a renamed Dare-A-Day-Davy but nowhere near as violent.
This comic art seller is incorrectly attributing a Frank McD page to Ken.

EDIT: decided to remove link to site to avoid costly lawsuit :lol: Search for Challenge Charlie Valiant

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19 Jul 2012, 15:26
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Anyone fans of Ali Ha Ha..

I think it has its moments... :)

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20 Jul 2012, 20:19
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Ali Ha-Ha's dad deserves an honourable mention for his prolific employment of the word "spifflication". In fact, characters being chased by furious other characters seems to be one of Ken Reid's very favourite punchlines. I thought he overused it, myself - from what I've seen of Ali Ha-Ha in particular it seems as if almost every week ended up with the protagonist running away from and/or being caught by his father.

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20 Jul 2012, 21:12
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