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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ken Hunter 1917 - 2008

Peter Gray on the Comics UK Forum reports the sad news that another veteran British comic artist died last week. Ken Hunter, whose strips adorned many issues of The Topper and The Beezer died on October 20th aged 91.

I'm afraid I know very little of the range of Mr.Hunter's work, but I do remember being completely absorbed by two serials he drew for The Topper during 1967-68. During this period the comic ran a full colour adventure serial on its centre pages and due to its huge tabloid format this allowed for large dynamic panels emphasizing the excitement.

The two serials I remember of Ken Hunter's were Circus of Fear and Back to Zero (which later became Back From Zero). Circus of Fear was the sort of mystery yarn that DC Thomson excelled at; an unknown saboteur was causing mysterious "accidents" at a circus and young Jimmy Comet, who had inherited the circus, had to get to the bottom of it. This gave Ken a fabulous opportunity to do great figurework on the circus performers and animals.

Back to Zero told of a tropical valley in Antarctica inhabited by prehistoric creatures and a race of ice men led by King Zero. This was a sequel to the discovery of the valley in Kingdom of Zero that appeared in the comic in 1957. Back to Zero (Topper 787, March 2nd 1968) began the story of the return to the valley in order to bring back a Pterodactyl to prove to the world the valley existed. Very similar to King Kong in plot, the pterodactyl eventually goes on a rampage in London. Again, the strip provided Ken with the chance to draw creatures in dramatic settings with large powerful artwork.

As well as his dramatic work, Ken Hunter also drew humour strips for DC Thomson in a similar but lighter style, such as Sir Laughalot and Big Fat Boko for The Topper. Amongst his other very popular adventure strips were The Iron Eaters and The Jellymen, for The Beezer.

See Peter Gray's blog for more fantastic Ken Hunter pages:


Anonymous said...

Great to see the Circus of fear..etc..

love these big pages in colour...
If a reprint book ever comes out on The Best of Beezer and Topper...I hope it will be in the large page size of the past...when its reproduced black and white...bleached..loosing red lines...action wording and colour...reduced to looses soo much..

I just love the strong colour visuals by Ken..
Peter Gray

Stewart Kenneth Moore (Booda) said...

I totally agree. Large format reprints are the way!

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