In 1949, Ian Kennedy was taken on as a trainee illustrator in the art department of D. C. Thomson & Co; Scotland’s leading publisher of newspapers and periodicals for all-ages, where the former schoolboy’s first published work was inking the black squares on the crossword for The Sunday Post newspaper. He would also attend the Dundee College of Art part-time basis, and eventually, come 1953 begin freelancing for Amalgamated Press (later Fleetway/IPC) drawing for Knockout and the wild west pocket strip book Kit Carson, prior to specialising in illustrating war strips on titles such as Air Ace and Thriller Picture Library. Two years later he was also freelancing for D.C. Thomson, and in the coming decades his work would routinely be found in weekly comics like The Hotspur and the story paper Wizard. The artist having proved popular with readers and editors alike early in his career, with no let-up in sight.
By the 70s there was a science fiction boom on and Ian Kennedy swopped drawing the likes of Jeff Craig Detective in Buster for Ro-Busters and Time Quake in Starlord, and the M.A.C.H.1 and Invasion series, as well as Judge Dredd, for the early 2000AD. He would also illustrate a comic strip based on the TV programme Blake’s 7 for Marvel UK and contribute to Dan Dare annuals, prior to drawing the actual series for The Eagle in the 80s. The Victor, Wildcat, Buddy, Thunder, M.A.S.K and even the girls’ comic Bunty would feature his artwork but he was to solidify his position as a premier war comics artist drawing for IPC’s Battle Picture Weekly and D.C. Thomson’s Commando and Warlord, as well as gathering fans in Scandinavia where his work was published in Fantomen, otherwise known as The Phantom.
During the late 1980s, Kennedy began painting covers for the annual RAF Leuchars Air Show’s programme, such had become the national recognition of his talent in depicting aviation. Page upon page of artwork that has seen publication and subsequent reprint attests to the many years of service Ian Kennedy has given to the British comics industry and the medium as a whole, over the decades, but even now, in semi-retirement the great artist still produces around 20 covers a year for Commando.
Ian Kennedy will be making an incredibly rare visit south of the border to the heart of the Midlands at Edgbaston Cricket Stadium, as a very special guest for the city of Birmingham’s inaugural Comics Festival on Saturday April 18th 2015.
For more information on Commando, where Ian Kennedy’s work still appears visit: www.commandocomics.com