Illustration Art Gallery

The very best from the wide, sometimes overlooked, world of illustration art, including original artwork for book illustrations and covers, comic books and comic strips, graphic novels, magazines, film animation cels, newspaper strips, poster art, album covers, plus superb fine art reproductions and high quality art prints.

Our gallery brings together artists from all over the world and from many backgrounds, including fantasy, horror, romance, science fiction, education, sport, history, nature, technology, humour, glamour, architecture, film & tv, whimsy, even political satire and caricature.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ken Barr

Born in Scotland in 1933, Kenneth John Barr was the son of a Glasgow-based sign-painter to whom he was apprenticed from the age of 15. A reader of adventure, horror and war stories, Ken Barr found post-War Glasgow full of the machinery and drama of war he enjoyed painting. His first covers appeared on Nebula science fiction magazine in the 1950s.

After his National Service—which he served with the Army in Egypt—and several years working in London, Barr moved to the USA in 1968 where he became a regular penciller/inker and occasionally writer of strips for DC's various war comics, including Our Army At War, Our Fighting Forces, Battle Album and Star Spangled War Stories in 1969-74. He also produced covers and back-up features for the Warren magazines Eerie, Creepy and Vampirella (1970-72) before becoming a regular cover artist for Marvel, working on Doc Savage, Incredible Hulk and The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu (1975-78). In the mid-1970s, he found more lucrative work producing books covers (Avon, Random House) and as a movie poster artist, primarily in the fields of fantasy and science fiction, although he returned to comics in the mid-1980s as the writer of Windfall, Geo-Force and Metamorpho in around 1986 (and the merged Geo-Force and Metamorpho in 1987).

A trading card set reprinting some of his best fantasy and horror artwork, The Beast Within, was issued in March 1994. A book of the same title, published by SQP, appeared in 2007. Barr has also produced fantasy artwork for the Danbury Mint.

Amongst British comics' fans, Barr is best known for the many years he spent producing cover for Dundee-based D.C. Thomson's Commando. Barr was their chief cover artist for most of the 1960s. Commenting on his work in those early years, Peter Richardson has recently said: "Barr really was the perfect choice as cover artist, if Commando had commenced publication utilizing the same cover artists as their Fleetway rivals (which they would eventually do with the arrival of Jordi Penalva on their rosta a few years later), the distinctive difference would not have been so vividly flagged up. But Barr was right from the off an enthusiastic student of US pulp and comic artists and relished the opportunity to immerse himself in sweat sodden musculature, gritted teeth and buggin' eyeballs. Which is why these covers are still so amazing and powerful some half a century on."

In recent years he has worked on a fully painted graphic novel adaptation of Dracula, which was said to be “due shortly” in 2008.

Examples of Ken Barr's work can be found for sale here.

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