Thursday, February 05, 2009


News of Yore 1968: Comics Page Gets The Bird

Anglo-American Pair Create Bird Comic
(E&P, 1/20/1968)

A grounded bird whose only flights are fancy is the principal character of a far-out but also close-in new comic strip created jointly by an Englishman and an American.

The cartoon: "Kiwi"
The creators: Brian Charles Kirby and Kenneth Alan Montone
The format: Three-column daily strip
The release: Feb. 12
The distributor: Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate.

“Kiwi” is a zesty bird with a piquant and uproarious sense of fun that never falters. He chirps away at feathered friends, clouds and just about anything he can lay his beak on. He’s mostly warm-hearted— sometimes barb-tongued, oh-so-gently pecking fun at his cohorts.

Humans Parodied
The breezy bird’s “subhuman” state seems right for parodying our own so-called “human” doings. The fact he is “once-removed" makes his poking fun at our follies so much easier to grin at. Although hatched from an egg, this bird’s no scrambled egghead. His sparkling humor is champagne to the spirit.

The art is pithy and catchy to the eye of the beholder.

Kiwi is the brain chick of two sparklingly original young men: Britisher Brian Charles Kirby and American Kenneth Alan Montone. They met while working at the McCann-Erickson advertising agency in Sydney, Australia.

Kirby was born in London (1939). His father was a Wing Commander in the RAF during the Battle of Britain and the son was evacuated from London for two years during the bombings. Upon his return, he completed primary and secondary schooling and attended Hornsey College of Arts from which he received a National Diploma in Design in 1960. He worked as a graphic designer in various advertising agencies, and as part of the “London Gang” was on many tv shows and took part in the Royal Variety Performance.

Overland to India
He was married in 1963, and a year later he and his wife and another couple drove overland in an old London taxi to India. After six months, the Kirbys arrived in Australia via Singapore. They returned to London by way of Tahiti and Panama in 1966.

While working in Australia, the kindred spirits of Kirby and Montone found time to mesh and the result was the funny comic strip, which was begun in an Australian newspaper. Later on, after both had left Australia, the strip began running in the London Daily Sketch.

Hatlo Helped
Montone was born in Chicago (1938) and traveled extensively through Mexico and Canada as a child and lived in California two years. Cartooning and ham radio were his major interests as a teenager. School cartooning led him to correspond with Jimmy Hatlo of ‘They’ll Do It Every Time” fame, and finally Hatlo even used one of Montone’s ideas.

After high school Montone enlisted in the Navy and served for three years as an air crewman in an anti—submarine aviation squadron. Upon discharge, he enrolled in the University of Illinois as an ad design major.

He was graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honors and worked two years as a graphic artist for ABC-TV, Chicago. Then he and his wife and child set off for the far-away romance of Australia. He now works in the U.S. for CBS-TV as staff graphics designer.


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