A THANK YOU TO COMICS ARTIST LEO BAXENDALE

by Richard Worth

The Beano was a part of my childhood I took for granted. To be clear, that’s not to say I didn’t value every issue I had, more that it was a fundamental part of my existence. It was always around and I assumed everybody read it in the same way I assumed everybody had tea in the evening. The Beano and its characters were accepted, not considered. Which brings me to a shameful point: I never thought about who created them.

The death of Leo Baxendale is a sad loss for the nation. On a personal level it was also somewhat confusing for me. In the same sentence I learned the identity of a man who had had a profound effect on my life, who had anonymously contributed to how I think about the world, and who was no longer with us.

what the unteachable ne’er-do–wells of class 2b taught me was the benefit and fun of questioning authority

Because of my swottish nature I was unlike any of the Bash Street Kids, in fact you should worry if you know a child who would fit in with that motley crew. But what the unteachable ne’er-do–wells of class 2b taught me was the benefit and fun of questioning authority.

Baxendale’s brats, along with Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx and Rodger the Dodger, helped formed my belief that adults are pretty useless and not to be trusted, and as such they should be mocked, ridiculed, and have vicious pranks played upon them. It’s a belief I still hold today – though perhaps slightly less violently than the denizens of Beano Town.

( Bash Street Kids © PA / DC Thomson )

Leo Baxendale’s influence stretches beyond my childhood into generations of childhoods across Britain (and even abroad, I’m told). His style, design, and approach towards comics have had an effect on countless creators and is embedded in our nation’s psyche.

I’m sorry we’ve lost him and I’m sorry I didn’t think to look for the maker of such marvellous mayhem and rebellion at the time. But I’m thankful for the chance to now discover more about Leo’s work, art, and attitude. And I’d like to thank him for his influence on mine.

Featured image © Robert Judges/REX/Shutterstock

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