Finally, collected here for the very first time, it’s one of Leo Baxendale’s greatest creations, the demon baby, the toddler of terror, Sweeny Toddler!
With his faithful dog Henry, Sweeny terrorises the neighbourhood, a mischievous minor causing chaos wherever he goes… and all of it the creation of one amazing British comics genius, the incredible Leo Baxendale.
Leo Baxendale was a comics genius. It’s that simple. He created so many of the most incredible comedy comic strips across his life, including The Bash Street Kids, Little Plum, The Three Bears, Minnie The Minx, Eagle Eye Junior Spy, Grimly Feendish, Bad Penny, Willy the Kid, and I Love You Baby Basil.
One of the most well-loved, most recognisable of these incredible creations was the fabulous Sweeny Toddler, created in the early 70s. According to the introduction in this collection of his work by his son, Martin Baxendale, Sweeny Toddler was one of their favourites – Martin later drew Sweeny after Leo left the strip. He describes them both being, ‘Very tickled by the idea of a demonic, out of control baby creating mayhem in the adult world’.
And that’s Sweeny Toddler, a whirlwind of chaos, the toddler from hell, always funny, always silly, always so beautifully drawn by Baxendale (both of them!)
Sweeny Toddler’s misadventures ran in British comics from 1973-2000, appearing in Shiver & Shake, Whoopee!, Whizzer and Chips, and Buster. The later work, by Martin Baxendale, Graham Exton, Jack Edward Oliver, and Tom Paterson, is wonderful, but I’m quite certain all of these talented artists would recognise the creative and artistic genius that was the strip’s creator.
Up until now, there’s not been a definitive collection of Leo Baxendale’s Sweeny Toddler. That, frankly criminal, lack of a collection of some of the finest work of a genuine British comics genius is over this July, with Rebellion’s Treasury of British Comics finally collecting the material. It is long overdue. And it is wonderful to finally be able to put this incredible work on the shelf.
Leo Baxendale really was one of a kind. Sadly, he passed away in 2007, but his legacy, as a true comics genius, as a wonderfully inventive artist, and, perhaps most importantly to him, as someone who brought joy and laughter to millions of children through his work, lives on in his work.
This Rebellion collection features Leo Baxendale’s Sweeny Toddler material originally from Shiver & Shake (March 1973-October 1974) and Whoopee! (November 1974-7th June 1975).
Leo Baxendale’s Sweeny Toddler – writer and artist, Leo Baxendale. Published by Rebellion and the Treasury of British Comics, 25 July 2019.