BBC News reports Scottish cartoonist David Sutherland died yesterday, Thursday, January 19, at the age of 89. Sutherland was best known for drawing ‘The Bash Street Kids’ comic strip for 60 years, beginning in 1962; he ultimately penciled over 4000 comics starring the troublesome kids of Class 2B. The news comes a few weeks after Sutherland was awarded an OBE for services to illustration in King Charles’s inaugural New Year Honors list.
Sutherland was born in Invergordon, Highland, in 1933, five years before DC Thomson launched “The Beano.” He apprenticed at Rex Studios in Glasgow, illustrating adverts, and took night classes at Glasgow School of Art. During the early 1950s, he worked on movie posters, and became the only artist allowed to draw Disney characters in the UK.
He joined “The Beano” after winning third place in an art competition in 1959, and initially penciled adventure comics before taking on the magazine’s trademark comedy characters, taking over from ‘Bash Street Kids’ creator Leo Baxendale as the comic’s artist. He also drew Dennis the Menace’s strip from 1970 to 1998, taking over from the character’s co-creator David Law, and worked on the magazine’s sister title “The Dandy” in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Sutherland was married to his wife Margaret from 1958 until his death, and had two children, and three grandchildren. According to Margaret, he “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.”
“Beano” editor John Anderson was among those who paid tribute to Sutherland, stating, “No one will ever repeat what David achieved over 60 years. He was one of a kind, a genuine legend. It is the end of an era. Given that David started working in 1959 and had been drawing ‘The Bash Street Kids’ since 1962, he is the single most important illustrator in ‘Beano’ history.”
On hearing he had received an OBE last month, Sutherland was quoted as saying, “When I entered the DC Thomson art competition more than 60 years ago, I couldn’t have guessed where it might lead. I’ve been so lucky to be able to do something I love for a living, and work with so many talented writers whose words have helped bring these characters to life.”
Sutherland’s final ‘Bash Street Kids’ strip is set to appear in next week’s edition of “The Beano,” due out Wednesday, January 25. For more on Sutherland’s life and legacy, head to The Courier newspaper.