Beano's Bash Street Kids artist David Sutherland dies

David Sutherland
David Sutherland joined The Beano after entering a DC Thomson art competition in 1959

The artist behind the Beano's Bash Street Kids has died, aged 89.

David Sutherland was described as the "single most important illustrator in Beano history" by the editor of the children's comic.

Mr Sutherland, who was from Invergordon in the Highlands, spent more than 60 years with Beano and began illustrating the Bash Street Kids in 1962.

He was made an OBE for services to illustration in the New Year Honours' list.

The next edition of the comic will feature Mr Sutherland's final illustrations, drawn at the end of last year.

Mike Stirling, Beano Studio's creative director, told BBC Scotland's The Nine the illustrator landed the job after entering a competition run by the comic's Dundee-based publisher, DC Thomson.

"He actually came third in the competition and yet he's become our most beloved artist ever," Mr Stirling said.

"And from my point of view one of Scotland's greatest artists not just in terms of comics, but completely."

He worked on some of the most famous Beano strips, including more than 1,000 Dennis The Menace stories between 1970 and 1998.

But it was on the Bash Street Kids, which he drew every week for 60 years, that he created his legacy.

One of his comic strips was one of the original exhibits at The V&A design museum when it opened in Dundee.

"That was going right into high culture and David deserved that," Mr Stirling said.

Announcing Mr Sutherland's death on Thursday an official statement from Beano thanked the illustrator for "so many lols, laughs, giggles and guffaws over the years".

His wife, Margaret, said her husband "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," she added.

"He just kept going and the editors remained happy with his work."

After his OBE was announced in December Mr Sutherland 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."

Editor John Anderson said Mr Sutherland's contribution to the comic and British comic history would never be matched.

"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," he said.

"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."

Nigel Parkinson, current Dennis and Gnasher illustrator, said: "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."