Monday 6 September 2010

More of Ian Kennedy's Aeronautical Artistry

Ian Kennedy's first love was aircraft and his ambition as a boy was to join the R.A.F. and become a pilot. Unfortunately a trip to the swimming baths rendered that an impossible dream when he contracted a mastoid infection in his ear which spelled finis to any hopes of meeting the stiff requirements of an R.A.F. medical.

But what was aviation's loss was the gain of comic enthusiasts the world over and growing up in Dundee the home of DC Thomson and possessed of an amazing aptitude and passion for drawing, the young Kennedy soon found himself via an introduction from friend and mentor  David Ogilvie, working alongside a bunch of old sweats all busily drawing strips for a variety of Thomson comics. In many ways it was the best kind of tutelage as Ian was learning on the job and with a large chest of drawers at the top end of the studio filled with choice artwork to occasionally haul out and drool over (when time permitted) and seasoned comic artists sitting either side of him at the long benches, the young artist wasn't short of advice.

But his first job was indeed very humble, literally filling in the solid black areas on crossword puzzles for The Sunday Post, but from there it wasn't too long before Kennedy found himself working on strips for The Hotspur and The Wizard. His enthusiasm for aeronautical subjects was quickly recognised and if there were any header artworks requiring aircraft it was Kennedy that they usually came to.

At the age of twenty two and feeling the need to stretch his wings (if you'll excuse the pun)  he started working for the Amalgamated Press on cowboy themed stories but when Fleetway's Air Ace Picture Library was launched he was an obvious choice of artist.

Here's some exquisite examples from those early years of Air Ace and as a special treat a reproduction of a superb painting for a private commission.


  1. from 1987 to 2002, Ian drew a strip for Swedish comic book, it was first named "Hunter" and later renamed and retooled into "Tybalt". Written by Norman Worker, this was my only exposure to Kennedy's art since I newer saw any of his other work here in Sweden. But boy, was I impressed! I have read an interview later where Ian himself wasn't so fond of these strips himself, but I have to say, I had no complaints. Would samples of this be interesting to post here? And is there any publisher in the UK that might be interested in publishing it?

  2. What a great idea Andreas!

    I haven't come across Hunter/Tybalt and it would be great to run a feature on this strip - so let's see what we can do.

    Perhaps if you email me and we can take it from there.

  3. A wonderful artist. I suspect that if he'd worked in America instead of Britain he'd now be something of a superstar, regularly attracting huge crowds at San Diego and able to charge four figure sums for cover recreations.

    Very few people are able to achieve such dramatic effects with colour, yet he makes it all look so easy (at least until you sit down and try to do it yourself). Were yesterday's illustrations taken from original art Peter? Oddly enough when I first saw his work 'in the flesh' I would have sworn blind that he was using gouache rather than acrylics.

    To my mind his latest covers for Commando are as good as anything he ever produced, yet even during the 1950s when, as Charles I. Kennedy, he was drawing Battler Britton stories for Sun he was already head and shoulders above most of his rivals. Definitely an Artist for All Seasons - and let's hope he continues for many more!

  4. Yesterday's illustrations were only semi taken from the originals Phil, as they were in fact scanned photocopies of Ian's original paintings from Commando HQ. The editors at Commando have been very helpful to fans over the years in supplying scans of color artwork and in this case they came up trumps.

    Today's color scan was taken from the original art and took a lot of jiggling as it was on my A4 scanner, so lots of fiddling piecing the whole thing together from 8 scans. The painting which sadly is one of the few in Ian's possession is a monster.

  5. The best air war artist I have seen, most dramatic action in night scenes. Beautiful.

  6. What was the commando comic about Taregt 'X' with Professor Clegg inventing the radio guided mosquito?