Thursday, 16 November 2017


Ken Reid is deservedly a bit of a legend in British kids comics of yesteryear. If you're of a certain age you will have come accross many of his creations as I did when I was a kid. There was Frankie Stein, Jonah, Roger The Dodger (Great dodge, eh readers!) and perhaps the most fondly remembered of all, Faceache.

First appearing in Jet in 1971, Faceache moved to Buster and stayed there until Reid died in 1987. Contained here are, as it says in the title, the first 100 single page strips, starting with Jet. For those who never had the chance to read it, Faceache is a boy who can manipulate his face and body into almost any shape, the more grotesque the better. Naturally he uses these talents to con people out of cash or sweets (often ending up a croppe) or in many cases he's just out for revenge on a miserable adult or a bully.  The 'scrunges' of the title come from the sound effect used when he contorts his features, and although it's a northern slang word for filth it fits perfectly and will stay with you for the rest of your life, probably because it's such fun to say. Scrunge. See!

What follows after the nice introductions (from Alan Moore and Reid's son Antony) are 100 very silly and very creative giggle fests. The joy of Reid's work was always his illustrative genius, and he had a way with detail that put him up on a par with Leo Baxendale as one of the most innovative creators of the times. The amount of fun on each page is breathtaking, as are the wonderful forms that Faceache takes every week. I'm amazed at how much I enjoy it over 40 years later, to be honest, and am convinced that even today's litte 'orrors would have a lot of fun with this. Given the choice of another crappy modern annual or a scrumptious, scrunge filled hardback copy of this (for only £14.99 readers!) I know what I'll be buying this year.

Official Shop Link

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

BRUCE DICKINSON – 'What Does This Button Do?' - BOOK REVIEW

One of the criteria for writing a good autobiography is that it helps if you have led an interesting life, and Paul Bruce Dickinson has certainly done that. Another is actually being able to write the bloody thing well enough to make it fun to read, and blow me if he hasn't gone and done that as well. 

The book landed in my lap with the satisfying thump of 350-odd pages, satisfyingly unintimidating yet beefy enough to get stuck into on a cold afternoon. Dickinson's mantra of 'No births, marriages or divorces' is interesting, and he never divulges any of that information about himself, or indeed anybody else, concentrating on much more interesting stuff. For 'more interesting stuff' read 'school, Iron Maiden, solo stuff, flying and cancer' – in that order. Existing fans will likely be well aware of these five stages in his life, but this doesn't make it any less interesting to finally get the truth about, for example, exactly what he did to his headmaster's beans that got him kicked out of public school.

Dickinson has always come across as a man happy to speak both his mind and the truth, and this comes across throughout the book, as does his continuing amazement at a life that has given him opportunities and obstacles that have all been grasped and embraced or despatched as appropriate. The early days of Maiden are given suitably in depth treatment, and as his career goes on he wisely scales back the Maiden stuff, such as in depth album introspection, and wanders off into other interests and experiences, most notable fencing, his solo career and, in the latter part of the book, flying. The last section concerns his battle with cancer, and it's brutally frank and often laugh out loud, as Dickinson spares no faecal detail. It's like watching highlights of a football match, in that I was cheering him on even though I knew what the result would be. 

'What Does This Button Do' is a quite a read, and of course the perfect Christmas present for any Iron Maiden fan. As with Bruce himself, though, there's so much more to it than Iron Maiden, and I can honestly say that he is a genuine role model and inspiration for his sheer determination to attack life with determination, honesty and a sense of humour. Short hair, no tattoos, no drugs (well, not these days), this is what rock and roll is all about!