You can keep your Dennis the Menace and Desperate Dan. If there was one British comic character that stirred my curiosity and had me hunting through piles of Buster’s whenever I came across them, it was Faceache.
Created by the esteemed cartoonist Ken Reid, Faceache was a riot of anarchistic action, hideous ‘fizzogs’ and grotesque goings-ons, all superbly rendered with Reid’s immaculate ink pen.
There was little rhyme nor reason to the strip other than an excuse for Faceache to pull a face, but rather than this hinder the story it made the possibilities varied and quirky. Sometimes he’d be up to no good, being either cheeky or downright naughty, other times he’d be trying to do the right thing, but either starting point could culminate in rich reward or a chase across the final panel. As far as the scripts go, they’re pretty good stuff, packed with daft doings, retired colonels and oiky schoolboys, but with a satisfying resolution and snickering wit.
To begin with, the first few strips gave Faceache the name of Ricky Rubberneck and his scrunges were relatively tame approximations of gurning and skull distortion, but as the weeks went by Reid became more and more daring with his monstrous doodling, creating the horrific visages that make the strip so memorable.
The book includes all the strips since it’s inception in Jet in 1971 until March 1973, so inevitably there are a few uncredited, or rather now unknown, stand-in artists amongst the pages, and it’s on these pages that you really get to appreciate Reid’s storytelling and fantastic cartooning skill as not a single stand-in strip comes close to capturing the magic and visual impact of the original.
Long overdue and superbly presented, may this be the first of many.
And if you liked that: Tantalisingly, at the back of the book we’re teased with an upcoming volume of Ken Reid’s Creepy Creations. Cor!