Ken Reid (comics)

Ken Reid
Born (1919-12-18)18 December 1919
Manchester, England, UK
Died 2 February 1987(1987-02-02) (aged 67)
Pendlebury, Greater Manchester, UK
Nationality British
Area(s) Cartoonist, Writer, Artist
Notable works
Roger the Dodger
Fudge the Elf
Awards Best Writer and Best Artist, Society of Strip Illustrators, 1978

Ken Reid (1919–1987) was a British comic artist and writer, best known as the co-creator of Roger the Dodger and Jonah for The Beano and Faceache for Jet (later appeared in Buster).


Born in Machester, Reid drew from an early age. At the age of nine he was diagnosed with a tubercular hip and was confined to bed for six months, during which time he drew constantly.[1] He left school at thirteen and won a free scholarship to Salford Art School,[2] but was expelled shortly before graduation after being caught in a local café when he should have been in class.[1] He set himself up in a studio as a commercial artist, with little success until his father offered to act as his agent, and bluffed his way into an interview with the art editor of the Manchester Evening News. Reid was invited to submit ideas for a new children's section for the paper, and proposed The Adventures of Fudge the Elf, which first appeared in 1938 and ran until 1963,[3] with a break from 1941 to 1946 when Reid was on National Service.[1]

After a brief period contributing to Comic Cuts in the late 1940s, Reid proposed a full colour strip called "Zooville" to the Eagle.[2] At the same time, Dundee-based publishers D. C. Thomson & Co., to whom he had been introduced by his brother-in-law, fellow cartoonist Bill Holroyd, invited him to contribute to The Beano. Their managing editor, R. D. Low, travelled to Manchester to discuss a proposed new strip, "Roger the Dodger", with him. Reid accepted their offer, and "Roger" first appeared in The Beano on 18 April 1953.[1]

Over the next decade he drew a number of successful strips for The Beano and its sister comic The Dandy, including "Jonah", a strip about a jinxed sailor who brings bad luck to every ship he sails on, written by Walter Fearne. Reid later recalled how much Fearne's scripts made him laugh, but he made many visual alterations to them, cramming as many as thirty panels to a page.[1]

In 1964 Reid and fellow artist Leo Baxendale left D. C. Thomson to work for Odhams Press' new titles Wham! and Smash, which allowed Reid to write as well as draw his strips. He began to explore his interests in "comic horror" and gruesome imagery, which would characterise the latter part of his career, with "Frankie Stein" and "The Nervs", the latter of which he took over from Baxendale.[1][4] For Pow! in 1967 he created "Dare-a-Day Davy", a character who could not resist dares set for him by readers. One episode, in which Davy was dared to resurrect Frankenstein, was too gruesome for the editors and eventually saw print in the underground comic Weird Fantasy in 1969.[1]

In 1971 he created "Faceache", a boy who could "scrunge" his face into any shape, for Jet, which later moved to Buster where it continued until Reid's death. Through the 1970s and 1980s he created horror-themed strips for a variety of comics, including "Creepy Creations" for Shiver and Shake, "Martha's Monster Makeup" for Monster Fun and "Tom Horror's World" for Wow!. He was named Best Writer and Best Artist by the Society of Strip Illustrators in 1978.[1]

On 2 February 1987, while drawing a page of "Faceache" at his home in Pendlebury, Greater Manchester, Reid suffered a stroke and died in hospital.[1][3]


Manchester Evening News

Comic Cuts

D.C. Thomson



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Peter Hansen, Ken Reid, the Comic Genius (1919-1987) at the Wayback Machine (archived 4 March 2009)
  2. 1 2 Ken Reid interviewed by David Britton, Savoy Books, 1979
  3. 1 2 "Father of Fudge Dies" at the Wayback Machine (archived 9 March 2009), Manchester Evening News, 7 February 1987
  4. Lew Stringer, Ken Reid and the Nervs, 3 April 2007
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