(Updated 29/8/14 to include tribute from Mike Stirling)
We’re sorry to report the passing of artist Jim Petrie, an artist perhaps best known for his work on The Beano‘s “Minnie the Minx”, a strip he took over from original artist Leo Baxendale in 1961 and drew for 2000 issues before his retirement in 2001.
Jim’s first “Minnie the Minx” strip appeared in The Beano dated 6th June 1961 and featured Minnie destroying her mother’s feather duster to make a “Red Indian” head dress and taking her friends captive. It ended with Minnie caught by her father and subsequently slippered, and it wouldn’t be the last time that happened until corporal punishment passed from society’s accepted punishments.
“Political correctness has moved in,” said Jim of the strip in 2011. “You could not get away with Red Indians now, nor with corporal punishment.”
In total, Jim drew 2000 weekly instalments of “Minnie”, plus 400 annual stories, 35 summer specials and seven libraries.
Jim’s other work for DC Thomson included “Sneaker” for The Dandy, and “Says Smiffy” and “Fatty Fudge” for The Beano, the latter published between 1989 and 1991 featuring one of the regular characters from “Minnie the Minx”, offering food-based parodies of popular films and folk takes such as The Hound of the Baskervilles (re-titled “Hound of the Picnic Basket”), The Pied Piper of Hamlin (“The Pie Swiper of Hamlin” below, published in Issue 2500), Ghostbusters (“Toast Busters”) and You Only Live Twice (“You Only Eat Rice”). It was a strip he returned for a one-off special appearance, in “The Tummy Returns” in 2011, a story suggested by Beano reader William Clyde. The Beano has published the strip online as part of their tribute to this great artist.
Jim was also the artist on the brilliant “The Sparky People” for the eponymous comic, which for me offered a weekly and hugely enjoyable glimpse of life behind the scenes on the comic (all of it true, honest).
A former art teacher for 10 years at Kirkton High School before entering comics after meeting “The Three Bears” artist Bob McGrath, he also drew “The Incredible Sulk” for Jackpot comic from 1979 to 1982. His last “Minnie the Minx”, published in the issue dated 13th January 2001, consisted of Minnie meeting her former artist and bidding him farewell, and Jim transforming Minnie’s mop of unruly ginger hair into blonde ringlets and her black and red stripy jersey becoming a fancy pink party dress, prompting Minnie to rue the day she annoyed her artist.
“Little Minnie has been very good to me,” Jim, then 68, told The Guardian at the time. “She has kept me in porridge all these years.”
“I never met him, but I’ve been looking after the character most associated with him for a couple of years now,” noted Nigel Parkinson, the current “Minnie the Minx” artist in a tribute posted on his blog earlier this week, “and I’m always try to get in at least some of the energy he achieved every week!”
Beyond comics, Jim was fond of painting and exhibiting his watercolour “dreamscapes” – figures of angels and other objects on a background with no horizons. “I took up gliding some years ago and the floating sensation probably inspired me to do this type of work,” he said of the work. He was an active member of the Dundee Art Society and the Style Dance Club.
“Jim had retired from his fantastic work on ‘Minnie the Minx’ before I came to work on The Beano,” Michael Stirling, The Beano’s editor-in-chief told the Evening Telegraph, paying tribute. “but we were fortunate to persuade Jim to return to bring Fatty back in 2011.
“Jim wasn’t only a brilliant artist he was also a lovely gentleman.”
Jim’s funeral will take place at Dundee Crematorium on 2nd September, to which all relatives and friends are invited.
• Jim Petrie, born 2nd June 1932, died 26th August 2014
• Lew Stringer has posted a wonderful tribute to Jim on Blimey! It’s Another Blog About Comics, choosing some great examples of this dedicated artist’s work on “Minnie the Minx” and “The Sparky People”
Special thanks to Commando editor Calum Laird for his help compiling this tribute. All art and imagery © DC Thomson