As a boy in Dundee, Ian Kennedy will sketch the Spitfire and Hurricanes that he saw from above in wartime skies and one day dreamed of passing through the clouds under the control of his own fighter jets. Little did he know then that his career was not in flying planes but in photographing them.
In a career spanning nearly three-quarters of a century, Kennedy drew attention to various comics, such as Bunty and 2000 AD. It attracted the attention of Dan Derr and Judge Dread. But Kennedy is perhaps best known for his work for the Commandos, DC Thompson’s famous pocket-sized comic book, for which he produced more than 1,600 covers in five decades.
Kennedy was dubbed “Master of Comics Medium” by DC Thompson, where he began working at the age of 16, ink on the Sunday Post’s crosswords.
In 2019, DC Thompson published a coffee table book entitled The Art of Ian Kennedy, and his work has been featured in exhibitions. The official comic website of 2000 AD called him a “legend of British comics”.
But a modest man, quietly working in his home studio just a few miles from his hometown, had only recently realized that Kennedy’s art was so highly regarded.
He recently revealed in 2011 that he did not even have a computer. In another interview, last year, he talked about receiving messages from loving fans asking about the cover he was struggling to remember the painting. It’s been a few years since she attended her first fan convention and found herself behaving like an experienced pop star.
He was born Charles Ian Kennedy in Dundee in 1932. An only child, he attended Clippington Primary and Morgan Academy in the city. He spent most of his childhood in the countryside cycling, reading comics and drawing. “I just wanted to draw attention to myself, especially the airplane, which is my home, not the fanatic, the love,” he said.
“Dundee was surrounded by airfields. Of course, there’s Leuchars, and Montrose was Britain’s first airbase. But there were lots of other closures at the pilot training ground. I wanted to be with the boys. “
Her intentions to join the RAF were thwarted by chronic ear problems. He eventually needed a mastoid operation, although he met his fiance Gladys while he was a patient at Dundee Royal Infirmary. She was one of his nurses.
He attended evening classes at Jordan
Stone College of Art in Duncan, but maintained that he learned most from the people around him in his early years at DC Thompson.
“It was like a workshop for medieval artists,” he said. “You had Michelangelo or anyone and he had his secretaries around to fill jobs or whatever. You sat down and sucked it all up.”
He and Gladys married in 1953, and with a son along the way, Kennedy decided to go freelance in an effort to increase his earnings. He discovered a ready market for his abilities, although part of his initial commissions were for Wild West stories and he hated making horses.
“I learned very quickly to provide what I needed, to the best of my ability. But when Air Ace changed, boy, the world was my shell and I was finally in my element.
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The AirS Picture Library was similar to Comics Commando and was published in the 1960’s. And it was Kennedy’s job at the Air Force that led to his long association with the commandos. It painted its first commando corps in January 1970, an action shot of a Luftwaffe Stuka Daewoo bomber flying through the skies.
Commando was a publishing trend in its time. Launched in 1961, each issue had a self-made story and was selling 750,000 copies a month at its peak in the 1970s. This is still going on, albeit with very little rotation.
Kennedy prepared the detailed work. One of his great powers was the airplane and the other the war machinery, although he also painted amazingly dramatic human figures and his work was revived by the bold use of colors.
“Imagination is a great asset, but the details need to be accurate,” he said in an interview. “I have an extensive collection of references, photography and other forms.”
“They must have thought I was crazy about Jasper, because I’d only give them 36 spools of clouds. I’ve always loved fixing clouds,” he said on another occasion.
His mastery of his craft, and especially his excellent aircraft photography, made him a regular contributor to the annual Lutheran Air Show in the 1980s and 1990s, and even He was also commissioned to produce art that showed what the Lutheran Air Show looks like. Over a period of 100 years.
Although an expert on World War II aircraft, Kennedy was equally adept at imagining the aircraft of the future and was recruited in the 1980’s when Eagle Comics revisited the old favorite Dan Der – the pilot of the future. Launched and revived.
Kennedy also worked on the most famous strip of 2000 AD comics, drawing Judge Dread, future judges, jurors and executioners who starred in various films by Sylvester Stallone and Carl Urban.
He even managed to get the World War II Messerschmitts through the time tunnel and into the skies above Dredd’s Mega-City One, with a distraught pilot shouting, “Hail! This is not Stalingrad.”
Kennedy is survived by his wife, Gladys, and their children, Neil and Galen.
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