July 16, 2014

Leo Baxendale - Art is theft

Giles cartoon 25th July 1954
Leo Baxendale wrote:
"The catalyst for my creation of Bash Street was a Giles cartoon of January 1953: kids pouring out of school, heads flying off and sundry mayhems. Straight away, I pencilled a drawing of 'The Kids of Bash Street School' and posted it from my home in Preston to R. D. Low, the managing editor of D.C. Thomson's children's publications in Dundee. I received an offhand response, a dampener. It was only after I'd created Little Plum (April 1953) and Minnie the Minx (September 1953) that the Beano editor George Moonie travelled to Preston on 20 October 1953 and asked me to go ahead with Bash Street (he gave it the provisional title of 'When The Bell Goes'; when it appeared in The Beano in February 1954, it was titled 'When The Bell Rings'."
He also wrote:
"Alan Moore, Steve Bell, Savage Pencil and others have taken the ethos of my work, The Beano Spirit, that uninhibited outlook, and they’re carrying it on in their own work. I think that’s wonderful."
And also:
"[Steve Bell still draws those belly-buttons on his penguins like I did on the bears in Little Plum!”
And:
"The natural process of young artists who model themselves on somebody more mature whom they admire, then developing their own style.”
Someone wrote:
"Credit should go to David Law for leading Leo Baxendale into the world of children's comics. Impressed by Davey Law's strip, 'Dennis the Menace', Leo submitted an idea for a character of his own, loosely based on 'Dennis the Menace', a relatively cute but cunning American Indian boy.The Beano liked the idea and ran it as 'Little Plum - Your Redskin Chum'. When a female version of 'Dennis the Menace' was asked for, Leo came up with the irrepressible 'Minnie the Minx'. However, it was a Giles cartoon, printed in the Daily Express newspaper, which inspired his most important creation, the 'Bash Street Kids'. In fact both Giles and Baxendale seem to have been great fans of Billy Baggs and his gang whose comical adventures were given free rein in the busy one-pagers of'Casey Court' which ran in Illustrated Chips for about fifty years."
He also wrote:
"The strong influence of cartoonist Carl Giles (1916-1995) on Leo Baxendale is very clearly illustrated in this 'Tiddlers' artwork (see above top), by the presence of a farmer who appears to have walked right out of one of Giles's mid-1950's cartoons! (see above illustration of Giles cartoon on 9th October 1955). In fact, the bull and the shed resemble ones found in an earlier cartoon - Giles cartoon of 25th July 1954 - why even the pigs on the front page of Smash! issue 77 could live on Giles' farm - see Giles cartoon 3rd April 1956."
Look at Giles above, and then look at Leo Baxendale's work below:



Then compare the two below, the work of Giles and Baxendale in that order:



Giles above and Baxendale below:




Leo Baxendale said in January 2011:
"I long ago gave away my Giles books to our offspring, but your observations don't surprise me. My drawing didn't travel along a natural progression, but was on a ricketty roller-coaster with ridiculous highs and lows of metabolism. My turning back to try to refresh myself at the Giles well was a recurrent desperate feature of the low points."
And now we turn to Bash Street Kids. Explained by someone like this:
"But of course, it was a 1953 Giles cartoon, of kids tumbling out of school and 'lamming each other', that inspired Leo to draw The Bash Street Kids in the first place. The kids first appeared in The Beano on 13th February 1954 in a set entitled 'When the Bell Rings', however, in November 1956, the title was dropped and swapped for the now familiar title of 'Bash Street Kids'."
See that cartoon below:



Leo Baxendale explained in his own words here
"Inspiration [for the Bash Street Kids] came from the Warner Brothers cartoons: it didn’t matter whether a character was a victim of Daffy Duck or a victim of Bugs Bunny; if they were driven to the brink of insanity and delirium, there was no pulling back, they were pushed over the brink."
And on creating little Plum, he said:
"When I created Little Plum, I started him off as an amalgam of Dennis and Hiawatha, drawn in David Law's style."
David Sutherland took on art duties for The Bash Street Kids in 1962 when their artistic creator, Leo Baxendale, left DC Thomson's Beano to work on Odham'sWham!, and fifty years later he is still drawing the same characters week in, week out for The Beano.



Bash Street Kids was created in February 1954 by the 22-year-old Leo Baxendale and was initially called "When the Bell Rings," until 1956, when it changed to "The Bash Street Kids".



In an article, 'Comic Crossovers - The Bash Street Kids meet Colonel Crackpot's Circus', George Shiers wrote:
"Comic Crossovers are always fun, and here's one where Leo Baxendale's Bash Street Kidsmeet Malcolm Judge's Colonel Crackpot's Circus. This particular crossover appeared in the 1962 Beano book, and the artist is Leo Baxendale but basing some characters on Malcolm Judge's style."
James Dyson here:
"Developing new technology is incremental; little by little, you inch closer to the right answer. You build upon the work of those before you, thinking about what could be done better; what could be improved. It’s an unending task. Michael Faraday invented the first electric motor. But Faraday’s breakthrough followed William Sturgeon’s invention of the electromagnet, and Alessandro Volta’s invention of the battery before that. Faraday would have expected future engineers to pick up the baton later down the line."
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