He was not known as a comic artist, but was a well-known and well-loved science-fiction and fantasy illustrator. Even so, I planned to publish a one-off special of his comic strips, for which he provided me with good copies - unfortunately this never came to pass, mostly due to funding issues on my part. My last contact with him was in June 1997 when I returned his prints to him, but he came into my thoughts again in June of this year after I read Jeremy Briggs' article on Near Myths, a comic that Alan had contributed to (Private Eye in issue 5), and I discovered, thanks to Steve Holland, he was still living at the same address as he was in the 90s. Sadly I never got round to writing to him again, as I intended.
Alan was born in Coventry in 1923 and, inspired by some of the best pulp artists, particularly Virgil Finlay, got into science-fiction and fantasy illustration in the early 1950s. His work appeared in both professional and fan publications and he started the Fantasy Art Society. In his day job he worked as a technical illustrator for the Ministry of Supply, though he later had his own shop, a newsagent and stationers, at which point his illustration work all but disappeared due to work and family commitments.
In the late 1960s he left retailing and returned to drawing, this time for a large electronics firm, eventually working in computer graphics. He also made a welcome return to illustration for the SF/fantasy fan scene. He retired from work in 1989, though continued drawing. His wife, Joyce (Kirkham), sadly died in May 1994. They had a son, Christopher.
Alan was a superb illustrator. You just have to see his work to know the care and dedication he put into every piece, no matter how small. He was also a lovely chap, and very supportive of my own, then quite amateur, scribblings. I have put a few samples below, including the strip he contributed to Cosmorama 3 (Broken Contact, 1980) and a strip that would have appeared in the planned special (The Big Oak).
My condolences to Alan's family, friends and fans, the latter of which I most ardently include myself. You can read a little more on the British Fantasy Society website.
Broken Contact by Alan Hunter