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Comic artist Leo Baxendale, whose characters like the Bash
Street Kids and Minnie the Minx entertained generations of
young readers, has died.
With his sense of anarchy and humour, Baxendale and his
creations became a big part of the appeal of comics like Beano
from the 1950s.
He was regarded by aficionados as one of Britain’s greatest and
most influential cartoonists.
His creations also included The Three Bears, Little Plum and
the comic Wham!.
Hailing from Preston, Lancashire, Baxendale helped the Beano
appeal to children in an otherwise austere post-war Britain –
first with Little Plum then Minnie the Minx, a female answer to
Dennis the Menace.
Cuthbert, Smiffy, Fatty, Plug and the rest of the Bash Street
Kids came next. Like Minnie, they revelled in running riot
across the comic panels and outwitting grown-up authority
figures like their teacher, named Teacher.
Fans were drawn to the fact that Baxendale’s strips were packed
with detail, gags and light-hearted rebellion.
Baxendale left the Beano to create the comic Wham! in 1963. It
featured characters liked Eagle Eye Junior Spy, his arch enemy
Grimly Feendish and The Barmy Army.
Cartoonist Lew Stringer told the Downthetubes comic
blog that Baxendale was “quite simply the most influential
artist in UK humour comics”.
He said: “The impact of his work on British humour comics is
incredible, as other artists were encouraged by editors to
mimic Leo’s style.
“The Beano simply wouldn’t look like The Beano without Leo’s
influence, and it’s debatable whether the Beano would even
still be around if it had never featured The Bash Street Kids
or Minnie the Minx.”
Comic archivist, author and publisher Paul Gravett wrote on Facebook: “He
did so much more than revolutionise British comics. He inspired
in his readers, young and old, an anarchic, free-thinking
spirit to challenge authority and be yourself.”
In the 1970s, Baxendale moved on to Willy the Kid and Baby
Basil, the latter of which also featured in The Guardian in the
In the 1980s, he fought a seven-year battle for the copyright
to his Beano creations with publisher DC Thomson. They settled
out of court before a three-week trial began.