Leo Baxendale, the British cartoonist known for creating The Beano strip the Bash Street Kids and Minnie the Minx, has died aged 86.
Born in Lancashire on 27 October 1930, Leo began his cartoon work after leaving the RAF, when he worked as an artist for the Lancashire Evening Post. In 1952 he was hired at D.C. Thomson’s weekly comic The Beano, where he went on to create series including Little Plum, The Three Bears and When the Bell Rings, which later became the Bash Street Kids. He also made Minnie the Minx, and in 2003 wrote in The Guardian that editor George Mooney wanted this character to be “a female version of Dennis… Instead, I made Minnie the Minx into a kind of Amazonian warrior. Unlike a lot of the comics at the time, she didn’t have special powers, or superhuman strength – she was just a sturdy 12-year-old girl. She had will and ambition.”
Leo later went on to aid D.C. Thomson in the launch of another comic The Beezer, and left The Beano in 1962 before helping to launch weekly comic Wham! by Odhams Press in 1964 and Smash! in 1966. He published the Willy the Kid series, which the British Comic Awards says was “aimed at older readers but still full of childish, gross-out humour and juvenile invention”. Leo later set up publisher Reaper Books with money from a settlement with D.C. Thomson over copyright. He was inducted to the British Comic Awards Hall of Fame in 2013.
Cartoonist and writer Andy Fanton wrote on Twitter that Leo was “a British comics legend” and a huge influence on him and the industry.
Kev Sutherland, a comic artist and comedian also known for his work on The Beano, commented on Facebook: “Aged a rather admirable 86, I’d forgotten quite how long ago he started in comics. Creating Minnie and the Bash Street Kids over 60 years ago, then Wham! comic and all its characters ten years later, then Sweeney Toddler and Willy The Kid in the 70s, which is where I first came across him, he’s done more than most to leave their mark on our business… stumbled across randomly, his strips are always a delight, and his designs live on in the house style of The Beano.”