Here's a book that everyone should read, although lovers
of comics fortunate enough to have grown up any time during the
'50s, '60s & '70s will be particularly able to relate to it. To those too
young to have experienced the times first-hand, this engrossing tome
will still manage to conjure up images of a long-vanished era when
there were more weekly periodicals for children on sale in British
newsagents than you could shake a stick at.
aspiring cartoonist, and his ultimate triumph as one of Britain's
pre-eminent contributors to the U.K. comics scene - arguably 'the'
pre-eminent contributor. He shone at D.C. THOMSON's (where
perhaps the only strip artist held in greater esteem was DUDLEY D.
WATKINS) and then led the charge against his erstwhile employers
by creating a 'Super BEANO' for ODHAMS, although, sadly,
the comic (WHAM!) managed to survive for only three
and a half too-short years.
|From The Beano, dated 21st June 1958|
Next was IPC/FLEETWAY, where once again he stood
almost atop the heap - until he decided to quit comics because of
his dissatisfaction over not being paid for reprints of his work. What
should have happened next is an unending line of hilarious WILLY
The KID Annuals, but alas, 'twas not to be; after only three books,
his contract with DUCKWORTH's was not renewed and, as far as
mainstream comics were concerned, he languished in limbo, only
known through occasional reprints of his earlier comics work
and other artists emulating his style.
Simply put, this is a great book and, as I said, if you were
a youngster in the times Baxendale re-creates in startling clarity
through his rigorously-recalled reminiscences, this is a 'must-read'
for you. I got my copy back in 1978 in GRANT'S Bookshop in
Glasgow, but one thing I regret doing at the time is purchasing the
softcover edition instead of the hardcover volume. (I should
really have bought both!)
Nevertheless, if you're a comics fan of yesteryear, or an
admirer of the man who helped change the face of traditional
British comics forever, then you should get straight onto
eBay and see if you can track down a copy.