The Unseen, Rejected art of Ken Reid?

Here’s a beautifully rendered piece of unpublished, original art created by the hugely talented comic creator Ken Reid, that publishers may have rejected – yes, rejected! – back in 1969…

It is, unfortunately, undated, but author and publisher Irmantas Povilaika speculates that it was, perhaps, created in 1969, when Ken, a prolific contributor to a host of British weekly humour titles, was looking for work after the demise of Odhams comics, and pitching new ideas to various publishers.

“This one looks like a new version of his favourite elf theme,” Irmantas muses, referring to Ken’s early comic creation, Fudge the Elf, a strip first published in The Manchester Evening News, some stories collected over 27 books from publishers such as Savoy Books. (You can find sometime copies on services such as AbeBooks).

An episode of “Fudge and the Magic Book” by Ken Reid, with thanks to Irmantas Povilaika

Talking of Ken Reid, there’s a chance right now to own another “rejected” artwork by this master of macabre mirth, what the seller on eBay suggests assumes is a speculative piece created for either MAD magazine or Topps, for a monster series that never came to fruition.

Although “Home Horrors” foundered in the United States, luckily for us it was revived as “Creepy Creations” for the weekly humour comic, Shiver and Shake, in 1972.

Readers were challenged to contribute ideas and sketches for Ken to draw, winning themselves a £1 prize. Ken went on to draw 73 of the 79 episodes for the weekly (two were by Reg Parlett and four by Robert Nixon), plus a handful of others for annuals and specials. Rebellion released a collection of those back in 2018, which is still available.

Now someone just has to find copies of the strip Pat Mills considered for 2000AD, a strip centring on the mutated survivor of nuclear war. Yes, apparently, Ken was up for making even nuclear holocaust a topic of tittering.

“‘There was the mysterious dummy strip Ken drew, which I heard about when I was starting 2000AD,” Pat recalled as part of a homage to Ken compiled by Paul Gravett back in 2019.”It was about a ghastly survivor of nuclear war, who tries to commit suicide in a different way every week, but he is prevented by a foul growth on his body which could turn into different shapes – a propellor, parachute, etc.

“I was mad keen on it, but The Powers That Be refused to let me see it and, as far as I know, it’s still locked away in some IPC vault…”

Did anyone at Rebellion ever find it when they bought the remaining archive? Or is lost forever?

You can still buy Irmantas’ terrific Power Pack of Ken Reid collections here via his fantastic Kazoop! site

Check out Creepy Creations on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

With thanks to Irmantas Povilaika and Richard Sheaf

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: Art and Illustration, Auctions, British Comics, Comic Art, Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

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2 replies

  1. What a wonderful find! Perfection, as ever, in Ken’s work. 1969 sounds like a good bet. What’s outrageous is when the Odhams comics ended, IPC editors wouldn’t give Ken any work for a while, axing his regular two page Nervs strip in 1969 (which IPC found distasteful) and not giving him anything to replace it. Their Humour Group wouldn’t employ him for years, but fortunately he found work on the adventure comics Scorcher (1970) and Jet (1971), and then in 1973 on Shiver and Shake, and 1974 on Whoopee and Buster. A genius like Ken Reid should have been the *first* artist they contacted for their new humour comics Whizzer and Chips, Cor!!, and Knockout, but he’s notable by his absence there.

    • Appalling treatment, was it some kind of absurd revenge, you have to wonder, or did the bean counters ascribe Odhams failure to those working on the titles?

      Do you know if other Odhams contributors were similarly treated?

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