Artist David Sutherland OBE’s final “Bash Street Kids” strip for the weekly BEANO will appear in No. 4170 on Wednesday, completed late last year, written by Andy Fanton.
It will be the the only piece of his art to be bylined in the weekly comic as David Sutherland OBE, in recognition of the award he received in the New Year Honours.
(The BEANO has credited its creators in the comic for a number of years: but this issue of BEANO was the first opportunity to note David’s OBE).
David, who has died aged 89, was the creative force behind BEANO’s “The Bash Street Kids” from 1962 until he drew his final weekly comic strip at the end of last year.
(We’re assuming he may also have drawn some strips for this year’s BEANO annual, which will be published in August).
The artist who has died aged 89, as we reported earlier this week, gave life to some of Britain’s best-loved comic characters, and further deserved tributes to the legendary artist have now been published.
“David was a tremendously talented artist and creative and we are immensely grateful for the outstanding contribution he made over the last 60 years,” commented Christopher Thomson, Chairman of DC Thomson.
“He brought joy to our beloved audiences – children and adults alike – and to those who were fortunate enough to work alongside him. He will be much missed and his legacy will undoubtedly have a lasting impact for many years to come.”
Mike Stirling, creative director of Beano Studios, said: “David had been very much part of the work to modernise the Bash Street Kids in terms of inclusion and diversity.
“In his late 80s he was as enthusiastic and as energetic as anyone in adopting our new characters, giving them a provenance that is very important.”
“If you read the Beano in the last 60 years you will have been entertained by this man’s artistry,” noted comic artist Peter Bangs. “A sad loss.”
“David Sutherland was an unsung hero to me when I was a boy, avidly devouring and copying his wonderful Bash Street Kids, as I learned how to draw by sketching in his footsteps,” said Steve Bright, a long-standing DC Thomson artist, who has posted his own affectionate tribute to David online, a caricature intended to mark the veteran artist’s 90th birthday, at the suggestion of BEANO artist John Anderson.
“Every line taught and inspired me more and helped determine my ambition to one day draw comics and cartoons as a career.”
“Our thoughts are with Dave’s family,” commented BEANO Content Editor Claire Bartlett, who sub-edits all script and feature content for the comic and works with John Anderson to determine which should be included in each issue. “The comic community has lost not only an immense talent, but also a wonderful, humble and gentle soul I was privileged enough to call a colleague and friend.”
David and his future wife, Margaret, met in Glasgow through friends and married in Kilsyth in 1958. They went on to have two of a family, Lorraine and Fiona and, in time, grandchildren, Lily, Angus and Liam.
Margaret recalls how, in 1959, “the editor of The Beano, Harry Cramond, came to Glasgow to interview him and offered him a job.
“Harry was an older man who was an inspiration to David and became a great mentor. When David was awarded the OBE, Harry’s family got in touch to congratulate him.”
David officially retired from DC Thomson in the late 1990s but continued to work on a freelance basis.
“David only put his pen down last month when he took ill. Drawing was his life; it made us forget the age he was.
“He was getting older but we never noticed it. He just kept going and the editors remained happy with his work.”
After he took over “The Bash Street Kids” from one of his mentors, Leo Baxendale, in 1962, the quality of his work saw the strip promoted from a single page to a double page, before they were rewarded with the coveted centre spread.
Over the years he drew well over 3,500 individual instalments in the comic. When you include annuals and other specials this takes the total to over 4,000 episodes.
“David, even when he was in his late 80s, was still delivering a Bash Street Kids comic strip every week,” notes BEANO editor John Anderson, commenting on the artist’s dedication to his work.
“Across such a stretch of time David has worked through many life events, including working from Australia for several weeks while visiting his family.
“His pages were delivered weekly via airmail with only the occasional squished mosquito making the journey. Dave also had some health issues that would have forced even younger artists to hang up their pencil.
“David was a man of enormous warmth. He cared not just about the quality, but also about the readers themselves and this came through in the work.
“No matter how well you imagined your script would look in comic strip form, he always made it better with subtle background details and unexpected perspectives.”
• BEANO: “The Bash Street Kids”
• From the BBC Archive: Back in 1995, David Sutherland spoke to Around Scotland on his process in bringing “Dennis the Menace” and the “Bash Street Kids” to life each week. Watch the video on Facebook here. The video shows David at work, as he reflects on his career, and we get to see the old BEANO offices, too!