Earlier this year, after years of waiting, a crowdfunding campaign was launched to collect all of humour cartoonist Ken Reid‘s Odhams comic strips of the 1960s – featured in Wham!, Smash!, and Pow! – into a pair handsome official hardback books. Those collections have now been printed, I’ve received advance copies – and they are everything I expected them to be, just brilliant!
The books collect every original “Frankie Stein”, “Queen of the Seas”, “Jasper the Grasper”, “The Nervs” and “Dare-a-Day Davy” from the comics – and having snorted coffee up my nose as I read them, I think I can safely say that these strips are as funny now as they were when I first read some of them, especially “The Nervs”, as when I first encountered them.
The Power Pack of Ken Reid project is the work of Irmantas Povilaika (interviewed here), the man behind the Kazoop! blog, which has long celebrated the very best of classic British comics (and has some great items about Ken Reid’s work, including many rare artworks). He’s rightfully delighted the campaign to bring these strips back into print has been such a success, and he should be, because the books are excellent.
Comic archivist Steve Holland has provided the introduction for Volume One and artist Nigel Parkinson the introduction for Volume Two, and by Ken’s son Antony has also introduced both volumes.
To say these strips are “madcap” doesn’t even come close to describing how good they are, It’s no wonder Rebellion sensibly decided to make a collection of Ken’s later characters, “Faceache” their first humour collection from the Fleetway archive characters they now own. Like me, Alan Moore, Pat Mills, Lew Stringer and many others, I’m sure they knew just how good Ken’s work is.
The continuing story arcs that you see in strips such as “Frankie Stein” – rare in British humour comics of later decades, and today – gave Reid every opportunity to draw out a joke without over working an idea, throwing more and more insanity into every strip as the characters he created developed.
I described the work to one friend as “The Goons on acid”, but I don’t think you can really compare much of Reid’s work with anyone else – he’s a unique talent and these strips prove it, and certainly on a par with artists like Leo Baxendale, for example.
These collections, which include some wonderful bonus material – pencil art and original scripts – are beautifully printed and the reproduction of the strips is excellent. If you’re a Ken Reid fan, then you seriously need to get yourself copies of these books.
And if you want to snort coffee up your nose, then buy them for that reason, too. Totally recommended!
• If you didn’t back the project like I did, the good news is, you can order the books (but not the original IndieGogo backers only slipcase edition) here from the Kazoop web shop, or eBay (Amazon links coming soon)