Ken "Battefield" was born John Kenneth Battefeld on January 22, 1905 in New York City. His father, John Heinrich Battefeld, was born 1874 in NYC of German ancestry. His mother, Sophia Trace, was born 1878 in NYC. His parents married on September 16, 1904. He was their only child. They lived in a mortgaged home at 80-63 90th Avenue, Woodhaven, Queens, NYC. The family attended German Lutheran Church in Queens. His father was a receiving clerk at a steamship company.
In June of 1918 Kenneth Battefeld graduated from the 8th Grade at Public School 59 of Woodhaven, Queens.
In 1920 Ken Battefeld was a fifteen-year-old sophomore in Brooklyn public high school, where he became interested in a career as a commercial artist.
In June of 1924 Kenneth Battefeld graduated from high school in Brooklyn, after which he entered the workforce. He worked as an artist at an engraving shop, where he produced line art illustrations for newspaper advertisements.
In the evenings he attended art classes at the Art Students League of New York, at 215 West 57th Street in Manhattan.
In 1930 at the age of twenty-five he was unmarried and lived at home with his parents, and continued to work in an engraving shop that supplied graphic designs for newspaper advertisements.
In 1939 he began to provide drawings to the Harry A. Chesler comic shop. Kenneth Battefeld worked under the professional name "Ken Battefield." He contributed drawings to several golden age comic books, such as Wow Comics, Exciting Comics, Master Comics, Whiz Comics, and Mystery Comics. He went on to draw for almost all NYC publishers of comic books.
According to the cartoonist Carmine Infantino, "When I was still in high school Ken Battefield got me my first job in comics after a chance meeting at a coffee shop."
He also worked with another high school art student, Everett Raymond Kinstler, who inked Battefield's drawings for Cinema Comics in 1943. According to Kinstler, "Ken did all the penciling for Fighting Yank. He was helpful and easy to work with. He was a big guy with poor teeth. It was wartime, but I don't know why he wasn't in the service. I don't think Ken was married nor had children. It was Battefield who urged me to study painting. Initially he suggested the Grand Central School of Art. Regrettably, the Harvey Dunn class was full, so I attended the Art Students League, where I studied with Frank V. Dumond."
In 1943 Kenneth Battefeld provided work to another independent comic shop, Funnies Incorporated, which was owned by Lloyd Jacquet.
In 1945 he began to provide work to the Sangor Studio, which was owned by Benjamin William Sangor (February 5, 1889 - January 26, 1953).
In 1948 Ken Battefeld began to work for the Iger Studio, owned by Jerry Iger. Through these four comic shops, "Ken Battefield" contributed drawings to many golden age comic books.
On June 17, 1948 The Queens Leader-Observer reported Ken Battefeld's mother, Sophia Battefeld, had died one week earlier, at the age of seventy in Woodhaven, Queens, NYC. After this tragic death the forty-three-year-old artist continued to live alone with his elderly father, age seventy-four.
Illustrations signed and credited to "Ken Battefield" were published in post-war pulp magazines, Leading Western and Fighting Western. These were published by the Trojan Publishing Company, of which the owners were Harry Donenfeld, Paul Sampliner, and Frank Armer. The art director was Adolph Barreaux. "Ken Battefield" received printed credit for an eight-page comic, "Fighting Bob Dale - Sheriff of Canyon County," which was specially featured on the covers of these pulp magazines.
On November 9, 1950 The Queens Leader-Observer reported the death of the artist's father, John H. Battefeld, two days earlier, at the age of seventy-six in Queens, NY. After this tragic death, the artist continued to live alone in his childhood home at 80-63 90th Avenue in Woodhaven, Queens, NYC. He never married and he had no children.
By 1953 the pulp magazine and comic book industries suffered hard times, due to lost readership, who had grown fascinated with television, and a widespread concern that uncensored comic books promoted juvenile delinquency. As the publishing industry shrank, most artists needed to find new sources of income.
In 1953 the popular children's book, "Mr. Jolly's Hotel For Pets" by Beth Brown, had become a popular radio show that starred Frank McHugh, and was sponsored by Puss 'N Boots Cat Food. The producers developed a syndicated newspaper comic strip entitled, "Mr. Jolly's Hotel" by Ken Battefield. Unfortunately the radio show did not maintain not sufficient popularity for the comic strip to go into production.
In 1958 Ken Battefeld contributed to the revised edition of The Man in the Iron Mask for Classics Illustrated Comics, published by the Gilberton Company.
In 1962 a collection of drawings by Ken Battefeld, entitled, "Manhattan: Pen Impressions of New York," was published by Herbert Von Dorpf.
John Kenneth Battefeld died at the age of sixty-one in his home at 80-63 90th Avenue in Woodhaven, Queens, NYC, on December 19, 1966.
© David Saunders 2016