Often cited as one of Britain’s greatest comic book illustrators, KEN REID was born in Manchester in 1919.
An avis artist from an early age, Ken was constantly drawing, even when confined to bed for six months after developing a tubercular hip at the age of nine.
After leaving school at the age of thirteen, he won a scholarship to Salfod Art School.
His father, who had always offered Ken a tremendous amount of encouragement, became his agent and got his son an interview over at the Manchester Evening News.
Ken submitted several strip ideas for the children’s section of the newspaper, which led to them commissioning The Adventures of Fudge the Elf.
Originally appearing in 1938, Fudge’s adventures were published right the way through to 1962, only stopping in 1941 during WWII until 1946 when Reid was de-mobbed.
In the 1950’s, Ken was courted by Scottish publishers D.C.Thomson (his brother-in-law, Bill Holroyd was already working for them), where he starting working on a new strip for The Beano called Roger the Dodger.
Grandpa, Jonah and other strips followed in The Dandy.
Then in the 1960’s, Ken and another member of the British comics royalty – Leo Baxendale, left the company to work for Odhams Press on the new titles Smash and Wham!
A major draw for Ken was that he was being allowed to both write and illustrate for these titles.
It was at Odhams on such strips as Frankie Stein, The Nervs and Dare-a-Day Davy that Ken really got to show off his skill at drawing the beautifully grotesque that he would later become synonymous with.
Dare-a-Day Davy was particularly great. About a schoolboy who couls never say no to a challenge, readers were encouraged to send in a dare and if selected would be paid a pound for their contribution. This led to 86 strips including a Marvel crossover (of sorts) with Nick Fury and an unpublished episode featuring Frankiestein that ended up in the pages of Weird Fantasy magazine.
In the 1970’s, Ken created his most popular character working for IPC. First published in the pages of Jet, Faceache became an instant fan favourite. The adventures of Ricky Rubberneck and his malleable mush ran through Jet and into Buster when the two titles merged. Faceache (Ricky Rubberneck) was a strip that Ken both wrote and illustrated (though Ian Mennell wrote two of the early instalments).
In 1978, Ken’s brilliance was recognised when he was presented with two awards by the Society of Strip Illustration – Cartoonist of the Year and Humorous Script Writer of the Year.
His great work continued through to the next decade where he worked on strips such as Robot Smith, Martha’s Monster Make-Up and Tom Horror’s World.
He passed away on 2nd February 1987 whilst working on a page of Faceache.