David Sutherland At 89, Celebrates 60 Years Drawing Bash Street Kids

David Sutherland took over drawing The Bash Street Kids for British weekly comic book The Beano in 1962 at the age of 29. Sixty years later, aged 89, he is still drawing them.  As well as The Bash Street Kids for The Beano, he drew Dennis the Menace from 1970 to 1998, and still does work for annuals, Fred's Bed from 2008 to 2012, and the second version of Jak for The Dandy in the early 2000s.

David Sutherland began as an advertising art director at Rex Studios, and also illustrated cinema advertising posters and, the only artist approved to draw Disney characters in the UK. In 1959, he entered a drawing competition organised by The Sunday Post's publishers, DC Thomson in Dundee. He started out as an adventure strip artist, drawing strips such as The Beano's The Great Flood of London in 1960–61 and Billy the Cat before replacing Leo Baxendale as the artist for The Bash Street Kids, who were given the two pages in the centre of the comic at the same time. He has been the strip's main artist since then, during which time he has drawn more than 3000 individual strips for the weekly comic. He also replaced Dudley D. Watkins on Biffo the Bear after his death in 1969, and continued to draw the character through the 1970s, after his strip relinquished that cover of the comic to Dennis in 1974.

David Sutherland, Aged 89, Celebrates 60 Years Drawing Bash Street Kids

In 1977, Gnasher was given his own strip in the Beano, Gnasher's Tale, which like the main Dennis strip was drawn by Sutherland. Similarly, when Dennis's pet pig, Rasher, received his own page in 1984, Sutherland was again the strip's artist, as he was when Gnasher's Tale was replaced by Gnasher and Gnipper in 1986. Sutherland began to draw The Germs for the comic in 1988, although in the early 1990s he was replaced by Vic Neill. He also stopped drawing Gnasher and Gnipper in 1992, with artistic duties being handed to Barry Glennard.

In 1998, Sutherland stopped drawing Dennis the Menace after 28 years, handing over to David Parkins, although he has continued to draw the Bash Street Kids. Over the next few years, he drew Korky the Cat for the Dandy, as well as the second incarnation of Jak.

In 2009 it was confirmed that he was the new artist for the Beano's Fred's Bed strip. Initially taking over for a three-month period as replacement for Hunt Emerson, he later shared the workload with Tom Paterson before taking over as the strip's main artist during 2011.

To mark Sutherland's 50 years as the illustrator of the Bash Street Kids, an exhibition of original artwork from publisher DC Thomson's collections was held at the University of Dundee in 2012, with David Sutherland appearing for a Q&A event on 13 Jun. Might he be due another one for his sixtieth?

David Sutherland told The Sunday Post, "From an artist's point of view, Plug is my most favourite character because he has fantastic pliable features and actions that illustrate his character. I don't really have a favourite strip as there have been so many good ones over the years that have made me chuckle. In recent years some new characters have been added. It takes time to develop new personalities and that can be challenging. However, I always try my best to bring the characters to life as if they have always been there. It was strange to begin with as I have known the original characters for more than 50 years but times change. I am happy to go with what is required."


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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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