It is Cult Faction’s sad duty to report that comic artist Leo Baxendale, who created among others The Bash Street Kids and Minnie the Minx has passed away following a long battle with cancer at the age of 86 years old. The news was broke by Baxendale’s son Martin, who is also a cartoonist.
Baxendale and his creations became a big part of the appeal of comics like The Beano from the 1950’s. He was regarded by aficionados as one of Britain’s greatest and most influential cartoonists.
Baxendale was born 27th October 1930 in Whittle-le-Woods, Lancashire, and was educated at Preston Catholic College. After serving in the RAF, Baxendale took his first job as an artist for the local Lancashire Evening Post drawing adverts and cartoons.
In 1952 he began freelance work for the children’s comic publishers DC Thomson, creating several highly popular new strips for The Beano including Little Plum, Minnie the Minx (started in 1953, taken over by Jim Petrie in 1961), The Three Bears, and The Bash Street Kids (initially called When the Bell Rings). Baxendale also co-operated on the launch of D.C. Thompson’s The Beezer comic in 1956. Baxendale’s time with D.C. Thompson came to an abrupt end in 1962 when, overburdened with work he, in his own words, “just blew up like an old boiler” and left.
In 1964 Baxendale began work for Odhams Press as they set up a new children’s comic Wham! and, two years later, its sister comic Smash! In 1966 Baxendale worked for Fleetway (IPC Magazines), creating Clever Dick and Sweeny Toddler.
Baxendale left the world of mainstream British children’s comics in 1975, going on to create the more adult-orientated Willy the Kid series, published by Duckworths. In the 1980’s he fought a seven-year legal battle with D.C. Thomson for the rights to his Beano creations, which was eventually settled out of court. His earnings from that settlement allowed Baxendale to found the publishing house Reaper Books in the late 80’s. In the same year he brought out THRRP!, an adult comic book.
For a year before he fully retired from cartooning to focus on publishing in 1992, Baxendale drew I Love You Baby Basil! for The Guardian.