When Kennedy’s Collide: the Commando work of Cam and Ian Kennedy

Commando 860 - Massacre at Mendhi Passs
Commando 860 – Massacre at Mendhi Passs. Art by Cam Kennedy

When it comes to staying power, it is hard to come up with a better definition than comic artist Ian Kennedy’s career. Ably supported by his family, Ian has delighted generations of comic fans since he went freelance in the 1950s.

By his own admission, if he accepted all the commissions he received, he might be able to retire completely this side of 110…

Today, of course, he’s best recognised for his stunning covers for DC Thomson’s Commando comic. But Ian isn’t the only Kennedy whose work has featured in the comic.

Cam Kennedy - 2018
Cam Kennedy

When I saw Cam Kennedy at the Comics Masterclass in Dundee organised by Phillip Vaughan, one of the questions asked was asked if there were many Commando comics that featured both Kennedys doing the art.

For a self-confessed Commando geek, that is a question that demands an answer – not that I really needed one to look at Cam’s work in the title again.

Cam, better known to most downthetubes reader s for his 2000AD and Star Wars work, drew 28 issues of Commando – a fair body of work to enjoy and some 315 pages of his art that some people might not have seen or even heard of.

Now that I have looked at my research, I am kicking myself a wee bit, because if I sat on this article until July 2019 then I could be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first publication of Cam’s work in Commando, but that would be unfair on the rest of my fellow Cam fans, who may want to create their own tribute to the artist.

Of the 28 Commando stories illustrated by Cam, 14 had covers by Ian with the other 14 being split between Carlo Jacono (one), Jordi Penalva (10), Ken Barr (one), Jordi Longaron (one) and Ricardo Sanféliz Permanyer (one).  Of these, only three of those have never been reprinted.

With two of them, I can make an educated guess as to why.  One is issue 448 – “Come Out Fighting” which has how shall we say … scripting issues?  The second is 590 “Revenge Of The Viper” which has a Carlo Jacono cover and, as I mentioned in my article “By The Way” on my own blog, Nothing But a Fan, no Jacono Commando cover has ever been reprinted.

Issue 504, “Storm Of Steel” features a cover by Jordi Longaron, whose covers I recently discovered, thanks to an incredibly helpful chap in North Fife, have never been reprinted, either.

(This is part of the reason I love my hobby of British comics as I am always learning something new and I never know what I am going to learn next!)

But back to Cam Kennedy. When I mentioned that I was writing this article on social media, I got plenty of immediate feedback, so I had to do a list of the issues and the cover artists.

Here I am going to build on the work of Jeremy Briggs’ article published here back in 2011 The letters at the end denote the initials of the cover artist before anyone asks.

417 – DESERT SQUADRON (July 1969, reprinted as 1277) RSP

431 – THE FUGITIVES (October 1969, reprinted as 1279) JP

448 – COME OUT FIGHTING (December 1969) JP

469 – DEATH OF A WIMPEY (April 1970, reprinted as 1335 and 4462) IK

471 – MIGHTY MIKE (April 1970, reprinted as 1355 and 4368) KB

Commando 491 - Last Laugh
Commando 491 – Last Laugh. Art by Cam Kennedy

491 – LAST LAUGH (August 1970, reprinted as 1427) IK

504 – STORM OF STEEL (October 1970) JL

522 – BIG MIKE (January 1971, reprinted as 1507 and 4439) IK

545 – DIARY OF A HERO (April 1971, reprinted as 1555 and 4375) JP

556 – TWO MEN WENT TO WAR … (June 1971, reprinted as 4719) JP

568 – BOSS OF THE BARBARY APES (July 1971, reprinted as 4433) IK

590 – REVENGE OF THE VIPER (October 1971) CJ

604 – DESERT DOUBLE-CROSS (December 1971, reprinted as 1780) IK

613 – HERO ON HORSEBACK (January 1972, reprinted as 1739) JP

629 – THE BLACK EAGLE (March 1972, reprinted as 1732 and 4889) IK

642 – THE WAR-DEVIL (April 1972, reprinted as 1748) IK

652 – CHARIOT OF WAR (June 1972, reprinted as 1788) JP

666 – WHERE THE ACTION IS (July 1972, reprinted as 1827) JP

676 – ACTION STATIONS (September 1972, reprinted as 1811) IK

702 – VALLEY OF THE LOST (December 1972, reprinted as 1876) JP

729 – BRING ON THE TANKS! (March 1973, reprinted as 1924) IK

750 – HURRI TO THE RESCUE (June 1973, reprinted as 1940) IK

765 – TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SAILOR (August 1973, reprinted as 1987) JP

785 – LET BATTLE COMMENCE! (October 1973, reprinted as 1996) JP

Commando 804 - Gas-Bag Gunmen. Art by Cam Kennedy
Commando 804 – Gas-Bag Gunmen. Art by Cam Kennedy

804 – GAS-BAG GUNMEN (January 1974, reprinted as 2036 and 4523) IK

Commando 825 - From out of the Sea. Art by Cam Kennedy
Commando 825 – From out of the Sea. Art by Cam Kennedy

825 – FROM OUT OF THE SEA … (March 1974, reprinted as 2099 and 4562) IK

860 – MASSACRE AT MENDHI PASS (August 1974, reprinted as 2155 and 4630) IK

878 – PIRATES WITH WINGS (October 1974, reprinted as 2172 and 4626) IK

I can’t write an article on Cam and Ian Kennedy’s work article on Commando without featuring some art from my favourite pairing of the two – so enjoy the final page from Issue 469, “Death Of A Wimpey”, below.

Commando 469 - Death of a Wiimpey. Art by Cam Kennedy
Commando 469 – Death of a Wiimpey. Art by Cam Kennedy

Thanks to the team of Dundee Comics Creative Space who organised the Cam Kennedy masterclass on Wednesday 11th April 2018, I now have all three versions of “Death Of A Wimpey” signed by both Cover and story artist.

By the way, for the sake of his own sanity, just in case you were wondering, Ian Kennedy only takes enough commissions to keep him busy for the next six to nine months or so. So if you are one of those fortunates, feel proud that you are in an elite club!

• There are more details of Commando on the official DC Thomson Commando website

All art copyright DC Thomson

Colin Noble

Colin Noble

A life-long comic fan specialising mainly in UK adventure comics. I do my best to support my passion for the comics of my youth, Commandos (still going!) and any small press that interest me.

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