Beano cartoonist behind The Bash Street Kids dies aged 89

Beano cartoonist David Sutherland, who drew some of the UK’s most beloved comic strips, has died aged 89.

The artist is known for his drawings for The Bash Street Kids and Dennis The Menace.

He was a cartoonist with Dundee-based DC Thomson, who announced his death on Thursday.

Beano editor John Anderson described Mr Sutherland as “the single most important illustrator in Beano history”.

Dundee Bash Street
The Bash Street Kids (DC Thomson)

Paying tribute to the artist, Mr Anderson said: “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.”

Mr Sutherland’s wife, Margaret, said her husband “only put his pen down last month when he took ill”.

She added: “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.”

Nigel Parkinson, current Dennis & Gnasher illustrator, paid tribute to the fellow cartoonist, saying: “The nation and its children and grandchildren and great grandchildren have all loved David Sutherland’s joyous, happy, teeming-with-life, hilarious drawings nearly every single week in Beano for 60 years, he has touched the heart, tickled the funny bone and amused the eyes of millions.”

Mr Sutherland made this year’s New Year Honours list, and had been made an OBE for services to illustration.

From 1962 to 2023, the first and last comic strip of the Bash Street Kids by David Sutherland (DC Thomson/PA Media)
From 1962 to 2023, the first and last comic strip of the Bash Street Kids by David Sutherland (DC Thomson/PA Media)

After his award was announced in December, the cartoonist said: “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.”

A 1988 Beano cover by Sutherland (DC Thomson/PA Media)
A 1988 Beano cover by Sutherland (DC Thomson/PA Media)

Christopher Thomson, chairman of DC Thomson, said: “David was a tremendously talented artist and creative and we are immensely grateful for the outstanding contribution he made over the last 60 years.

“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.”

Mr Sutherland’s work with DC Thomson began in 1959 when he entered a drawing competition organised by the Dundee-based company.

Although he did not win, his entry made a good impression and he was offered the chance to illustrate adventure strips for the comic.

It was at then that he began to work on The Beano on adventure strips including Danny On A Dolphin and The Great Flood Of London.

His talent was recognised and he was soon working on some of the most famous Beano strips, and understudied for established comic creators.

Between 1970 and 1998, he drew well over 1,000 episodes of Dennis The Menace.

But it was on The Bash Street Kids, which he started in 1962, and continued to draw every week for 60 years, that he created his legacy.

He drew his final comic strip at the end of last year which will appear in next week’s issue of Beano, to be published on Wednesday.

Mr Sutherland was born in Invergordon in the Highlands in 1933 and was the youngest of three children.

At the age of two, his mother died, so his father, with his three children, moved to Stirling to be with family to help raise them.

Shortly afterwards, the family moved to Kirkintilloch near Glasgow.

There, Mr Sutherland joined Rex Studios where he learned about art and illustration while attending evening classes at Glasgow School of Art before going to work at DC Thomson.