The Chip Chomping Tater Terror of Tring! The Fanatical Fungus Grower of Frogpool! The Boggle-Eyed Butty-Biter of Sandwich! The Barmy Wellington Boot Bee Monster from Barnsley! The Vampire Banana! And the Flying Haggis from Hamilton! Just some of the “Creepy Creations” brought to life in the early 1970s, mostly by legendary British comics creator Ken Reid alongside the readers of weekly humour comic Shiver and Shake.
Just a few short years ago the lack of any in-print collections of the work of as important an artist as Ken Reid seemed an absolute travesty. Since 2017 however we’ve seen a mini-explosion of reprint editions celebrating this UK great with Rebellion’s Tresury of British Comics series giving us the Broken Frontier Award-nominated Faceache Volume 1 and the crowdfunded volumes of Reid’s 1960s Wham!, Smash! and Pow! strips in Irmantas Povilaika’s Power Pack of Ken Reid hardcovers. Ken Reid’s Creepy Creations gives us more insights into the wonderfully wicked and expansive imagination of this comics genius with a follow-up volume of his similar World Wide Weirdies pin-ups to follow in 2019.
The aforementioned Povilaika gives us a fascinating introductory piece in this edition detailing how the Creepy Creations feature evolved via Reid’s own attempts to sell similar concepts to Mad Magazine and the Topps Cards series in the States. Filling out the back page of each issue of the anthology weekly Shiver and Shake it gave Reid a chance to extend his artistic muscles in different directions on a regular basis. The comic’s readers would send in concepts and titles for bizarre beasties which Reid would re-imagine and bring to gruesome life on the page.
Running for 79 issues, Reid drew the bulk of the entries with Reg Parlett and Robert Nixon chipping in for half a dozen or so. Bringing this detailed and grotesque beings together in one place was an inspired move from Rebellion who continue to make the canniest of choices in putting together these handsome reprint books. While some of the reader descriptions give Reid far more to play with than others his fertile imagination conjures up in full colour some of the most gloriously distorted, mishapen and ghoulish creatures ever to grace the comics page.
It’s the kind of book that is timeless in its appeal and will be enjoyed equally by the nostalgists and kids coming to Reid’s art for the very first time. Included herein are also a number of extra illustrations broadly fitting in with the Creepy Creations theme from other IPC publications of the time. With Reid’s centenary coming in 2019 these impressive volumes are a most welcome celebration of one of the most brilliant imaginations to ever take root in the British comics industry.
Ken Reid with Reg Parlett and Robert Nixon (A) • Rebellion/Treasury of British Comics, £17.99 (print)/£9.99 (digital)
Review by Andy Oliver