Leo Baxendale (1930) is a British comic artist mainly known for his many contributions to The Beano, The Beezer, Smash!, Wham!, Valiant, Whizzer and Chips, Monster Fun Comic, as well his own books.His notable works include “Little Plum,” “Minnie the Minx,” “The Bash Street Kids,” “The Three Bears,” “Eagle Eye Junior Spy,” Willy the Kid, “Baby Basil,” and many more. Though he began his work with children’s comics, he is known for incorporating a subtle complexity into his style, thus his many works have appealed to adults as well.Some of Baxendale’s comics have also been translated into other languages.

Inspired by David Law’s “Denis the Menace” comic, in 1953 Baxendale created “Little Plum” and submitted it to The Beano, a British comic book. He was accepted as an artist and went on to create many notable characters and titles including “Minnie the Minx” and “The Bash Street Kids.”Both “Minnie the Minx” and “The Bash Street Kids” became critical successes for The Beano, and are some of the longest running comics in the publication’s history.

Baxendale created the comic book WHAM!in 1963 and started working on “Eagle Eye Junior Spy,” an action/comedy story about a spy put in outrageous situations. In 1966, he began working with publishers Fleetway and IPC (International Publishing Corporation)to create more than fifteen titles including: “Sweeny Toddler,”“Clever Dick,”“Swots and Blots,”“Bluebottle and Basher,”“Champ,”“Sam’s Spook,”“Nellyphant,”“The Bad Time Bed Time Books,”“The Pirates,” and“The Cave Kids.”He also submitted work for WHAM!’s sister comic, SMASH!After working for different publishers, Baxendale began creating characters and titles for himself.

In 1975 Leo Baxendale released the first in a set of three Willy the Kid novels, all ofwhich were released by Duckworth Publishing.He also published his autobiography A Very Funny Business in 1978 with the same publisher. In 1988 Leo Baxendale started his own publishing company: Reaper Books. Two years later, in 1990, he was asked to revive the Baby Basil character in a new segment entitled “I LOVE You Baby Basil!” for The Guardian. The strip was filled with cultural observation and political humor. After the one-year stint, all of the new Baby Basil comics were collected into a book:I LOVE You Baby Basil!,published by Reaper Books.

Baxendale broadened his expertise in 1998 and created a multimedia experience called the “CD ROMIC Down the Plughole,” an interactive comic book. Since 1987, he has participated in several exhibitions across the world. Baxendale’s work in comics remains an inspiration to many artists and creators. He continues to release his comics and art through his independent publishing company.

— Michael Baker

Further Reading

  • Baxendale, Leo. A Very Funny Business – 40 Years of Comics. London: Duckworth, 1978.
  • Baxendale, Leo. Hobgoblin Wars: Dispatches from the Front. Stroud: Reaper Books, 2009.
  • Chapman, James. British Comics: A Cultural History. London: Reaktion Books, 2011.