Cartoonist Leo Baxendale, who brought youngsters delight with the likes of Minnie the Minx and Bash Street Kids, has died.
Born in Whittle-le-Woods and educated at Preston Catholic College, Baxendale served in the RAF before deciding he wanted to be an artist, where he took his first job at Lancashire Evening Post and Chorley Guardian, drawing adverts and cartoons.
His major break came in 1952 when he began freelance work on Beano for Dundee-based publishers D.C. Thomson & Co, creating Little Plum.
His bear characters became so popular he was asked to create a strip just for them and The Three Bears began. He was then asked to come up with a female equivalent of Dennis the Menace, and he unleashed the naughty and ever-so-popular Minnie the Minx.
In 1954 Baxendale began work on When the Bell Rings about an army of unruly school children, which later became The Bash Street Kids
He was also a key part in the launch of The Beezer in 1956 and worked on the new Wham! (Odhams Press) in 1964.
He left after 10 years and he did work on Clever Dick and Sweeny Toddler through Fleetway (IPC Magazines).
Baxendale, who had five children, left the world of traditional comics in 1975 and went on to create Willy the Kid through Duckworths using the hardback annual format.
In 1987 he founded the publishing house, Reaper Books, releasing THRRP!, an adult comic book and created I Love You Baby Basil! for The Guardian in 1990.
Mike Stirling, head of Beano Studios Scotland, paid tribute, saying: "It’s very sad news and everyone at Beano and DC Thomson would like to share our deepest condolences. I had the pleasure of speaking to Mr Baxendale while we were writing the History of The Beano, something he was obviously a massive part of. I was thrilled when he kindly sent an incredible personalised illustration wishing Beano a happy 75th birthday in 2013. I’m really sad he won’t be here in person to celebrate our 80th with us next year, but his legacy will be. We’ll proudly continue to share his creative brilliance as an inspiration for everyone."
Tributes have also been pouring in on social media following the news of his death.
Scottish Comic book writer Kev Saunders, who also worked on The Beano, posted: "Sad news that Leo Baxendale has died. Aged a rather admirable 86, I’d forgotten quite how long ago he started in comics. He’s done more than most to leave their mark on our business. His strips are always a delight, and his designs live on in the house style of The Beano.”
Children’s books writer Danny Pearson wrote: “Sad to hear that Leo Baxendale has died - a British comics legend. Thoughts are with friends and family.”
Comic writer Fraser Campbell commented: “Leo Baxendale RIP. Probably the most influential creator in British comics. He created comics and characters the entire nation adored.”
Columnist for IB Times James Bloodworth said: “Farewell Leo Baxendale. You created some of my closest childhood friends.”