Faceache – the boy with a hundred faces (although I would argue far more!) was the Lon Chaney of British comics. Able to morph his face into any kind of grotesque feature he liked and later learned the ability to even ‘Scrunge’ his entire body into a myriad of imitated characteristics – even a dodo! This ability brought him into many extreme comedic situations and brought much laughter into the homes of those who purchased any magazine featuring this wild, rebellious boy who terrorised the adults and authority figures around him – but also charmed our hearts.
Sometimes, when reviewing comics – I come across artwork or writing which evokes something I thought I had lost, in my mid thirties and recently married, I’ve passed through a lot of the ‘milestones’ of life. It’s when I flick through Ken Reid’s work that I realise these milestones are an illusion, I’m still the seven year old enthralled by the adventures of these outlandish characters who have incredible abilities and yet is someone completely relatable. Thanks to this publication, I realise that I have never lost my sense of fun but can appreciate these classics of my childhood with a completely new perspective of depth.
Rebellion’s latest compilation opens a comic book treasury which features the first years of the Faceache character. In this collection we have the complete run of the character from Jet magazine – which was a shortlived publication by IPC lasting for 22 issues before merging into another popular comic – Buster, of which we are also treated to all his early appearances. Faceache was the stand-out and most popular character in both publications and stands today as a might testament to the creator – the Late, talented and wonderful Ken Reid.
There’s often talk of the term ‘genius’ when it comes to many comic book creators, but with Ken – the term is completely justified. A drawing prodigy, at the age of two he was drawing and although suffered from debilitating ill health when a young boy – which left him in a spinal carriage, he continued to hone his skill. Throughout his young career, he crafted his own characters, bringing unique qualities and quickly became a favourite cartoonist of the era. It was shortly after his father – who had been acting as his agent – that he received his biggest opportunity. Working for Dundee based DC Thompson, he began to craft bombastic, memorable and unique characters for the revered Dandy and Beano. Creating characters and environmental scenarios which were perfectly suited for humour matched with detailed and evocative artwork he brought laughter and a touch of a rebellious streak out in many young readers – even including me!
With this compilation there’s a beautiful tribute given by Alan Moore as the first introduction to the character of Faceache, illustrating his love and fascination with the character and how Ken Reid’s work influenced his own development as a writer and artist. The second introduction is penned by Ken’s Son – Anthony Reid and having read through it, there’s no doubt in my mind that this entire collection is a form of special tribute to his father. The words are touching and allow the reader and fan a glimpse of his father working life and what it was like to be around him, growing up with a famous cartoonist and a loving father.
It’s also worth mentioning that Faceache had also been drawn by a few other artists apart from his creator, and these strips are included here as well, it’s nice to put Ken’s work in the context of other Artists and writers and it gives a sense of completeness with the first volume of this anthology.
I utterly, completely recommend this title – for fans of comic books, for those – who like me, decided to pick this up and read it due to nostalgia or for those who just want to laugh at a beautifully constructed character placed in ridiculous circumstances.
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