Lakes Festival Focus 2018: Ian Kennedy

Lakes Festival Focus 2018: Ian KennedyEvery year, in the countdown to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, we bring you a series of interviews with guests at the event. This “Festival Focus” for 2018 is Ian Kennedy, a British comic artist whose work most downthetubes readers will know very well.

Born in 1932, Ian grew up in a Dundee surrounded by wartime airfields which resulted in a burning ambition to fly with the Royal Air Force. Unfortunately, a severe and lasting ear infection put paid to any chance of realising his much cherished dreams. He admits now, that he probably would have been a “lousy” pilot anyway, so his long career in illustration can be viewed as more than just an unsatisfactory alternative!

On leaving school in 1949, he was taken on by DC Thomson as a trainee illustrator, spending the next five years with what he describes as “a most talented group of experienced professionals” whose invaluable influence laid the foundation for what was to be a lengthy, fairly successful career in commercial art. Incidentally, his first professional job was inking in the black squares in the Sunday Post crossword!

Having married in 1953, and a son coming on the scene the following year, an increase in income became imperative, so Ian went freelance, working initially for Amalgamated Press on the Knockout then inevitably, shortly after, getting back with Thomsons.

Since those early days, he has been fully occupied during what he terms “The Golden Times”, of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, with work appearing in quite a variety of publications – Knockout, Air Ace, Battle, Hotspur, Wizard, Warlord, Football Picture Monthly, Judy, Bunty, Blake’s 7, M.A.S.K., 2000AD, Eagle and Commando (providing 1500+ covers), to name but a few!

In the meantime, he has maintained his abiding interest in aeronautics, producing the covers for RAF Leuchars’ Annual Airshow Programmes until the onset of computer designs in 1998.

Ian Kennedy's cover for the 1990 RAF Leuchars Programme

Ian Kennedy’s cover for the 1990 RAF Leuchars Programme

Now in “semi retirement”, Ian still accepts commissions as well as enjoying a new career meeting fans and friends, old and new, at various comic conferences which will, this year, include his first visit to Lakeland – a date he is looking forward to with much anticipation!

Ian, what are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?

Ian Kennedy: Must be discreet. Working on a series connected with anniversary of 1918 Armistice  –  publication?  Guess!

Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?

Ian: So many, but recently, the cover for 2000AD prog 1961, published in 2015.  I’m not sure it is still available.

2000AD Prog 1961 Ian Kennedy cover artwork

2000AD Prog 1961 cover art by Ian Kennedy

How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)

Ian: These days?  You’re joking!  Back in the old days when one was purely an illustrator it was more or less office hours but now, anything goes, preparing for such events as the “Lakes” etc!

What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?

Art by Ian Kennedy for "Smasher", for the first issue of the DC Thomson title Bullet

Art by Ian Kennedy for “Smasher”, for the first issue of the DC Thomson title Bullet

Ian: The all round variety.

And the worst?

Ian: When I fail to achieve.

Dan Dare centre spread art by Ian Kennedy for Spaceship Away Part 45

Dan Dare centre spread art by Ian Kennedy for Spaceship Away Part 45

What most distracts you from getting your work done?

Ian: The little interruptions that are, I’m afraid, part of everyday life.

Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?

Ian: Undoubtedly much more difficult  –  my heart goes out to those talented young people who will never get the opportunities I was given.

Ian Kennedy's variant cover for Johnny Red #2 from Titan Comics

Ian Kennedy’s variant cover for Johnny Red #2 from Titan Comics

Have you ever been to the Lake District before and if so what did you think of it? If you haven’t, what are you expecting?

Ian: I’ve never been to the Lakes Festival, so I await my visit with keen anticipation.

Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?

Ian: There are so many I admire, it would be invidious to select one.

How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?

Ian: I feel that meeting members of the public who have grown up deriving pleasure from our efforts does us a power of good!

What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?

Ian: Given the opportunity, be prepared to spend a lot of time and effort for sometimes little reward  –  there are no short cuts!

What’s your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?

Ian: Don’t have any real favourite  –  anyone who wants my stuff is OK by me, but Commando comes near the top!!

Commando 5166: Silver Collection: Fighting Civvy

Ian’s cover for Commando 5166, on sale now in all good newsagents!

Ian, thank you very much for your time and we look forward to seeing you in Kendal.

• The Lakes International Comic Art Festival will be back in Kendal 12th – 14th October 2018. Tickets for the Festival are on sale now from: 

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2000AD © Rebellion Publishing Ltd | Commando © DC Thomson | Dan Dare © Dan Dare Corporation

Categories: 2000AD, British Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Events, Lakes Festival Focus - Comic Creator Interviews

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