welcome and enjoy!

Hi and welcome to my blog about comics from other people’s childhood! It is dedicated primarily to British humour comics of the 60s and 70s. The reason they are not from my childhood is simply because I didn’t live in the UK back then (nor do I live there now). I knew next to nothing about them until fairly recently but since then I’ve developed a strong liking for the medium and amassed a large collection, including a number of complete or near complete sets. My intention is to use this blog as a channel for sharing my humble knowledge about different titles, favourite characters and creators as I slowly research my collection.

QUICK TIP: this blog is a sequence of posts covering one particular comic at a time. The sequence follows a certain logic, so for maximum results it is recommended that the blog is read from the oldest post up.

Copyright of all images and quotations used here is with their respective owners. Any such copyrighted material is used exclusively for educational purposes and will be removed at first notice. All other text copyright Irmantas P.

Showing posts with label Faceache. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Faceache. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Last week I received my copy of Ken Reid’s Faceache published by the new copyright owner. I am proud I had an opportunity to make a small contribution to the preparation of the book, and I am pleased that the editor included a special thank you to me in the credits.

I like nearly everything about the book: introductions by Alan Moore and Ken’s son Antony are an entertaining read and offer some fresh insights; I like the endpapers and the back cover (not so thrilled about the front one); reproduction quality is impressive, considering that the stories were scanned from newsprint comics; it is nice the book is printed on plain paper rather than the glossy stock used for Marney the Fox collection published earlier this year.

The sub-title says “The Ken Reid Years”, so I would have preferred if they had left out the poorly-drawn pages by the substitute artist (16 altogether) and filled the book with Ken Reid’s art from cover to cover. 

That aside, it’s an excellent volume, a must for every Ken Reid/Faceache fan! I very much hope it does well in the bookstores and Rebellion find it worth their while to release Vol. 2, 3, etc. of this great character that happens to be one of my favourites in British comics.

P.S. - Have you noticed that the actual front cover differs from the version used in the various online articles and blogposts that promoted the book when it was first announced? Amazon and eBay sellers are still using the first version of the front cover. I am glad Rebellion changed it because as many as five scrunges in the first version were drawn by the substitute artist, while those appearing on the actual book are all by Reid! 

Monday, December 8, 2014


Ken Reid is widely recognised as one of the great UK comics illustrators but he is sometimes overlooked as a brilliant scriptwriter. In this post I will focus on Mr. Reid’s IPC work.

He only wrote two strips for the publisher – the first one was SUB in SCORCHER (the first of Mr. Reid’s eight soccer strips that he drew in 1970 - 1974). Ken wrote scripts for all but the first two of the 31 episodes of this hilarious feature. Here is an example:

The second was of course Faceache – the long-running strip that began in JET and transferred to BUSTER when it absorbed JET. The first two episodes were written by Ian Mennell (I think they were episodes one and three in the JET run of the strip) before Ken took over as the writer and continued for more than a decade until BUSTER became BUSTER AND JACKPOT. The last episode of Faceache that Ken drew to his own script appeared in BUSTER cover-dated January 30th, 1982. Here’s an example of an early one from JET:

I contacted Dez Skinn who was the BUSTER sub-editor in the seventies and asked him how he remembered Ken as scriptwriter.  Here is what he had to say: as the Buster sub-editor I dealt with Ken on a weekly basis, sometimes chasing him for his finished artwork, which would arrive with the pencilled lettering that he wanted. Sadly he was deemed to have overwritten his work (invariably his narrative panels) making it too detailed for little 'uns so we usually had to cut it back by at least 25%. Like Alf Saporito on Cor!!'s Gus Gorilla, Terry Bave, Leo Baxendale, Reg Parlett and many other writer/artists, his scripts were drawn up full twice-up size on thin paper for the editor’s approval... Given that IPC considered his work dark, they'd never give him - of all people - carte blanche!

Faceache was a big success, as evidenced by its spectacularly long run. After 8 years of writing and drawing Faceache, Mr. Reid was presented with two awards for the feature by the Society of Strip Illustration. One was Cartoonist of the Year and the other one – Humorous Script Writer of the Year. The ceremony took place at the Y-Hotel in London on Sept 23rd, 1978 where Ken’s prizes were handed to him by Michael Bentine. Untypically, IPC celebrated Ken’s achievement and recognition by including this short article in BUSTER cover-dated Nov. 18th, 1978:

When researching for this blogpost, I remembered Peter Gray’s old website where he showed Ken’s letter to his penfriend Chris. In the letter Ken tells Chris about the S.S.I. awards ceremony and his misadventures at the Y-Hotel. Here is the first-hand account by the man himself (click to enlarge): 

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Looking through the 1,000th issue of BUSTER I noticed that the coupon for readers to write down three of their favourite strips and send them to the Editor was marked B319:

The coupons in the neighbouring issues also have similar marks so I decided to trace them back to see when and why the numbering was introduced. Here are my findings...

IPC started keeping the number of their BUSTER weeklies from the issue with the cover date of 22nd Sept., 1973 (although the coupon was only marked with the date yet). Why they chose that particular issue for their reference point remains a mystery to me because BUSTER AND JET cover-dated 22nd Sept. 1973 was not remarkable or special in any way. On the other hand, the numbering was clearly intended for internal use to help the editorial team in sorting the coupons chronologically to see which strips were doing better when. In all likelihood they started doing this as soon as they realised it might be convenient and therefore they didn’t need a special issue to assign the first number to.

The first numbered coupon can be found 22 weeks later in BUSTER issue dated 23rd March, 1974 (B22). The practice continued for a while and was abandoned after issue B322 (8th April 1980). Since then (as well as before the numbering was introduced in 1973) the coupons were either unmarked or marked with a date (month and day but not the year). I haven’t checked every issue but I believe the first coupon with a date was in BUSTER of 12th May, 1973.

This ‘momentous' 'discovery’ also solves the puzzle on my original FACEACHE page from the 1978 Christmas issue of BUSTER. Some of you may remember AN OLD POST in which I showed some scans of the artwork and wondered why it was marked ‘No. 262 FLY’. It turns out the piece of paper with the hand-written text is in fact glued to the artwork. Underneath, the original page is marked like this:

No 264 fits nicely into the numbering sequence that starts from the issue of BUSTER dated 22nd Sept., 1973, and the coupon in the BUSTER of 30th Dec., 1978 is appropriately marked B264. I still can’t understand why they had to cut off the corner of FACEACHE original artwork from two weeks before (‘FLY’ episode in B262 dated 16 Dec., 1978) and glue it to the ‘SANTA’ episode:

…and then glue another piece on top of it. That other piece has yet another piece glued to it and you can see “in The Pied Piper” written underneath. ‘The Pied Piper’ was a two-part episode that appeared in BUSTER in the first two weeks of September 1978. They were surely fond of cutting and pasting at IPC…

IPC also numbered the coupons in SHIVER AND SHAKE weeklies but I haven’t found evidence they did that in other IPC children’s comics at the time. They definitely reintroduced the practice in TAMMY in the late 70s.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


A little behind the schedule due to the various Christmas functions, etc., here is the last part of the Faceache Christmases series.

IMHO, Ken Reid’s artwork suffered a decline in quality in the 80s, hitting its low in 1983 – 1985. His characters gradually became static and ‘tired’, panel layouts monotonous and boring. Mr. Reid must have been dissatisfied with his work as well because he stopped signing his Faceache sets in the beginning of 1982. Weekly installments became increasingly irregular with Frank McDiarmid stepping in more and more frequently as the substitute artist.

As the 80s progressed, Mr. Reid developed a new style that I find quite appealing in its own way, especially if not viewed in the context of his work of the 6os and 70s. I therefore completely understand the fans who like the later version of Faceache too. The last Christmas episode from 1986 serves as a nice example to illustrate the point.

Below is the chronological sequence of Faceache Christmas episodes from 1979 till 1986: