For many children a comic book is one of the first pieces of literature they buy for themselves, and one of the starting blocks to encouraging a love of reading for pleasure. For British children, Leo Baxendale was the man who made much of this possible with his creations of The Beano, Minnie the Minx, Willy the Kid, and The Bash Street Kids (formerly “When The Bell Rings).
Sadly Leo passed away in April 2017, aged 86, but has left behind him a legacy of legendary characters still in comic book circulation today. I, personally, owe him a debt of gratitude for my first heroine of literature I looked up to: Minnie the Minx, a violent, rebel girl who hated snobby parents and boring kids.
Image credit to the BBC
Leo Baxendale was born in Lancashire, spent some time at a Catholic school, and served time in the RAF. His cartoonist career started in the local paper where he drew cartoons and images for adverts and in 1952, he began freelance work for the children’s comic publishers DC Thomson. There he created very popular comic strips for The Beano including Little Plum, Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids.
Baxendale joined Odhams Press in 1964, working on the children’s comic Wham! and in 1966 worked with its sister comic Smash! Also in 1966 Baxendale created Clever Dick, and Sweeny Toddler for Fleetway.
In 1975, Baxendale created the Willy the Kid series, a favourite among the more mature-minded children, and comic-loving adults.
Leo Baxendale is seen as a pioneer in his field: “A lifetime of original, anarchic, hilarious and revolutionary comics” with an “incalculable” influence on children readers, and comic book artists. His work is celebrated all over the country for being “an integral and inseparable part of the history of British children’s comics.”
The BBC reported that Leo Baxendale was “one of Britain’s greatest and most influential cartoonists”, and British cartoonist Lew Stringer is quoted as saying that Leo was “quite simply the most influential artist in UK humour comics”.
So, thank you Leo Baxendale for all the decades of hard work and innovative comic creations you brought into the world. Who knows what the British comic book industry would have been without you? What would we have done with The Beezer, or The Beano, or Willy the Kid? Thank you for such an imaginative introduction into graphic novels, comic strips, and anarchic humour.
Born David Clive King in Richmond, Surrey on 24th April 1924, King grew up in Ash in Kent and was educated at the King’s School, Rochester before eventually graduating with a BA in English. From 1943 to 1946 King served as a Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, which took him to many places around the world including Japan where he saw the then recent devastation of Hiroshima.
Censorship is a topic we do not shy away from here at For Reading Addicts, and everyone in our community has an opinion on it. It has been quite a black and white issue for most readers- either they want all books to be published and none to be banned- or they feel it is fine to ban some topics (depending on their own political/moral leanings).
Either way it causes some discussion among book clubs and literary groups alike.
One such group is Family Rhetoric on Facebook, run by Amber Leventry- an LGBTQ advocate- who was disturbed by a title while looking for children’s books on Amazon. Amber discovered a children’s book that horrified her so much that it had to be shared with her followers on Facebook, and drove them to report the title en-masse in hopes of banning it from the major book distributer.
Ever the supporter of new artists and ambitious, young people, Stormzy has teamed up with Penguin Random House to create his own imprint #Merky Books. This will be added to his other projects: his record label, #Merky Records, and his own music festival in Ibiza, #Merky Festival.
That isn’t stopping us from lapping it up of course and if you’ve been eagerly awaiting season 6 then here’s the trailer. Read More