The UK – and, indeed, the worldwide – comics landscape lost an incredible talent and generous soul in legendary artist Ian Kennedy, best known for his work on titles such as 2000AD, COMMANDO and the 80’s EAGLE revival.
Born in Dundee in 1932, first started with DC Thomson as a teen before establishing himself as a strong-styled and dynamic artist, freelancing for Amalgamated Press (known later as IPC/Fleetway) as a twenty-two-year-old on titles such as ROVER, BUNTY, JUDY, WIZARD, COMMANDO and AIR ACE. The World War II battle and air scenes that marked Ian’s early work was a mainstay throughout his entire career but he developed that kineticism to other genres as he worked on 2000AD, STARBLAZER and EAGLE strips such as Judge Dredd, M.A.C.H. 1 and Dan Dare in the ’80s.
Ian went into semi-retirement in 1997 (still producing occasional covers for DC Thomson’s COMMANDO until his death) but found a new audience in recent years when Time Bomb Comics’ Steve Tanner, in organising the first Birmingham Comics Festival, approached Ian to attend – Steve describes in his Facebook tribute post that Ian was ‘surprised […] to be invited outside of Scotland because, astonishingly, nobody had’.
Ian then became a welcome face at many shows where fans showered him with much-deserved admiration and praise. Ian became a Guest Of Honour at the last four IRL Thought Bubble Festival shows and was scheduled to attend the 2022 event when the sad news of Ian’s passing was shared.
The reactions of Ian’s death have been equally split between appreciation and acknowledgement of his formidable talent and that of his warm heart, humour and generosity. The oft-told phrase is ‘you don’t truly appreciate what you have until it’s gone’ – I suspect that that phrase will ring most true the further from Ian’s passing will demonstrate, the further we get. We send our deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to Ian’s family and friends at this sad time.
As part of Thought Bubble’s 2020 digital presentation during lockdown, Phillip Vaughan produced a cracking documentary/interview video, showcasing Ian and his work. Enjoy and celebrate the man’s life and legacy.