Every 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.
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.
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?
Ian: The all round variety.
And the worst?
Ian: When I fail to achieve.
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.
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!!
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: www.comicartfestival.com
IAN KENNEDY ONLINE
2000AD © Rebellion Publishing Ltd | Commando © DC Thomson | Dan Dare © Dan Dare Corporation
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.