Phil Vaughan interviews Ian Kennedy and Gordon Tait

Book Launch: The Art Of Ian Kennedy

The Art of Ian Kennedy - Cover

The Art Of Ian Kennedy
from DC Thomson’s new Heritage Comics brand is a celebration of the 70 years of work that artist Ian Kennedy has provided for the Dundee company.

The book was first put on sale to the public at the Dunfermline Comic Con on 30th March 2019 where Ian was a guest and was interviewed for the attendees, it sold out at the Eagle Society Dinner in Dundee on 10th April, where Ian was Guest of Honour and was interviewed for the society members. It had its official launch in front of a group of invited guests at DC Thomson’s recently refurbished Courier Building headquarters in Dundee city centre on 25th April where, for the first time, Ian’s interview at an event was live streamed for the wider public to listen to.

Phil Vaughan interviews Ian Kennedy and Gordon Tait
Phil Vaughan interviews Ian Kennedy and Gordon Tait

Given the number of DC Thomson publications that he has contributed to over those years, from filling in the black squares on The People’s Friend crosswords to still painting new covers for Commando 48 years after his first was published, it was unsurprising that many of Thomson’s ‘old guard’ were in attendance along with many current staff as well as members of the Kennedy family.

DC Thomson staff and contributors with Ian Kennedy
DC Thomson staff and contributors with Ian Kennedy

Organised by the Heritage Comics team, including Gordon Tait, Kate McAuliffe, Georgia Battle and Rhiannon Tate, who run Commando as well as the Sunday Post’s Fun Section with its perennial “The Broons” and “Oor Wullie”, and with current Beano editor John Anderson roped into sentry duty at the door handling out name tags, the audience for Ian’s talk included Warlord editor Bill Graham, Starblazer editor Bill McLoughlin, Commando editors George Low and Calum Laird, Classics From the Comics editor Garry Fraser, and humour artist Jim Glen. Indeed, Jim joined Thomson’s around the same time as Ian 70 years ago, the pair having known each other beforehand, and while Ian left to go freelance some five years later, Jim stayed with the company and eventually worked first on the Dandy and then on the Beano.

Andrew Thomson, chairman of DC Thomson and Co Ltd, with Ian Kennedy and Jim Glen
Andrew Thomson, chairman of DC Thomson and Co Ltd, with Ian Kennedy and Jim Glen

Long-time Commando writer Ferg Handley was also there as were three of the newest Commando cover artists, Keith Burns, Graeme Neil Reid, and Neil Roberts, who were all established artists in their own right before getting their Commando call up papers. With large prints of the original artwork from Ian’s covers from both Red Dagger and Lucky Charm on display, Keith, Graeme and Neil spent quite some time examining his techniques on these covers before Ian himself joined their discussion.

Ian Kennedy talks to the new Commando cover artists Graeme Neil Reid, Neil Roberts and Keith Burns
Ian Kennedy talks to the new Commando cover artists, Graeme Neil Reid, Neil Roberts and Keith Burns

A few days after the event, Ian took to Facebook to give his thanks and thoughts on it which he has given downthetubes permission to reproduce here.

“Time for the feet to get back on the ground ! I read recently that we should not complain about growing old as it is a privilege few of us enjoy. I am one of that fortunate few! Two days ago, in the building where it all started, and in the company of so many friends, I was greatly privileged to celebrate the launch of The Art of Ian Kennedy  commemorating my life in illustration etc. Published by DC Thomson & Co Ltd, all credit is due to editor Gordon Tait and his team for the quite beautiful arrangement and presentation.”

Ian Kennedy listens to book editor Gordon Tait during the interview
Ian Kennedy listens to editor Gordon Tait during the interview

“As to the event itself, to say I was overwhelmed by so much friendship is, without doubt, a huge understatement. To renew acquaintance with so many friends from the past as well as those of more recent times brought a lump to the throat more than once during the evening! To anyone in the company that I was unable to spend time with, please accept my profuse apologies. My thanks must also go to the apparently tireless crew who ensured the smooth running of the evening – especially the constant supply of ‘goodies’!”

Ian Kennedy with Phil Vaughan, Senior Lecturer, Duncan Of Jordanstone College of Art And Design
Ian Kennedy with Phil Vaughan, Senior Lecturer, Duncan Of Jordanstone College of Art And Design

“Finally, re: the Q and A session, I am sure Gordon will agree with me that my great pal Phil Vaughan did a pretty good job in presiding over a somewhat nervous panel. As for the complete surprise presentation of the gorgeous cake and canvas print – what can I say???”

Ian Kennedy Cake
Ian Kennedy Cake!

The Art Of Ian Kennedy is available from the DC Thomson on-line shop for £40 cover price with free postage in the UK, and from bookshops and Amazon here (Affiliate Link, using this helps support downthetubes, thank you)

• The recording of the Facebook Live stream of Phil Vaughan’s interview with Ian Kennedy and Gordon Tait at the book launch is available here

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Jeremy Briggs

News, reviews, interviews and features for print and on-line: Spaceship Away (since October 2005), Bear Alley (since February 2007), downthetubes (since June 2007), and Eagle Times (since October 2008). Plus Titan’s Dan Dare and Johnny Red reprints, Ilex’s War Comics: A Graphic History and 500 Essential Graphic Novels, and Print Media’s The Iron Moon and Strip magazine.

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