Peter Kay (Bruno Kleinzeller)

Even when an artist is credited for their work, it doesn’t necessarily mean we know a lot about them. Such is the case for Peter Kay, whose work people may recognise from the 1950s Girl comic. Girl was initially published by Hulton Press as a sister paper to the Eagle, and it was one of the few publications that actually credited those that worked on the stories, which helps us identify what else an artist may have worked on. Peter Kay worked on many of Girl‘s prominent stories including Susan at St Bride’s, Wendy and Jinx, and Lindy Love. He also did cover work for Princess, and Schoolgirls picture libraries, as well as work on Mandy covers.


Thanks to a relative of Peter’s getting in contact we now have some background information on the artist, who led quite an interesting life. Born Bruno Kleinzeller circa 1906 in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia, he and his older brother Erich started  their careers as commercial artists. As well as work on magazines and advertisements, Bruno worked on movies posters. One example of these posters is from the 1938 Czech film “Svět kde se žebrá” (The World Where She’s Married). Bruno moved to Prague and then to England, escaping the rise of the Nazi party and before the German annexation of the Sudetenland. His brother Erich and sister-in-law, were not so lucky and unfortunately were arrested and sent to Auschwitz, where they died in the gas chambers. Bruno meanwhile changed his professional name to the more British sounding “Peter Kay” and worked for magazines in London. It was there that he met his future wife, Mary “Tommy” Thom, who was from Aberdeen originally.  Bruno/Peter continued to work on various publications, doing illustrations for The Scotsman, as well as numerous girl comics and the occasional film poster. He often signed his work off as “Kay”.

Bruno and Tommy lived in London during the Blitz and later had a son, David, who tragically died young, during the polio epidemic in the late 1950s. On a more happy note he was able to reconnect with his older sister Steffi in the late 1960s, they had lost track of each other when they had left their home country for different parts of the world. It is Steffi’s granddaughter who was able to provide information and photos of Bruno. Bruno died in the early 1980s after some health problems, Tommy died in the 2000s. Bruno/Peter was a talented illustrator with a large body of work and I am happy to be able to bring some of his work and life into the spotlight.

(Tommy and Bruno – 1944)  

(Susan at St Bride’s – Girl)

(Wendy and Jinx – Girl)


12 thoughts on “Peter Kay (Bruno Kleinzeller)

  1. This is so lovely, Lorraine! It’s wonderful to see some memory of Bruno and his decades of work out on the Internet. Hope some of the people who collect and are into these comics will appreciate it.

  2. Such beautiful art – very recognizable and memorable too, especially the covers. Many thanks to the artist’s family, and to you for putting this on the blog.

  3. An iconic artist. My sister got ‘Mandy’ and his clear style was always recognisable. Great to be able to know more about him!

  4. Hello. I would like to have my message forwarded in kind to the relative of PETER KAY, in relation to some 1940s pieces I have signed as KAY . . . I should like it if they could review the items and confirm whether these earlier KAY pieces are by the very same PETER KAY. Cheers,

  5. This is great to see. Bruno was my wife’s uncle . Molly, her aunt ! I never met Bruno, but Molly was a shining star! Loved her to bits – she danced at our wedding!

  6. Very interesting to read and see his really good artwork, what an amazing life he had, that glamorous 1950’s photograph, such a good looking couple as well, thank you for posting this.

  7. Is this “Kay” the same as the one who illustrated the cover of the very first colour Radio Times for Christmas 1923? I suspect not as Bruno/Peter would only be 17 at the time, but I cannot find any information about that “Kay” at all. Any help would be appreciated!

    Here’s the image in question:

  8. Yes, I remember Peter Kay from working on the girls’ comics at Fleetway House in the late 1960s for Mavis Miller and Len Wenn. A quiet and polite, very handsome fellow,
    Coincidentally I spoke to him in Woolworths of Fulham one Saturday, not realising he lived in the same area as myself. Very good artist, clear and attractive art like himself,
    maybe that’s why we don’t see his work in the grittier comics of the 70s.

  9. When I think about it, it’s shameful Bruno(Peter)isn’t given the recognition he deserves. As I’ve said before, the artists and writers and even editors of the pre-late 1960s got pushed back into the shadows by the over-assertive bunch of the 70s, blast them they take all the limelight!

    1. It is a shame so many creators went uncredited and particular those working on girls comics. Bruno’s work will be recognisable to a lot of people at least for his iconic Mandy covers that ran for such a long time.

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