Orcadian artist known for his work on comics including 2000AD

Born: February 28, 1940;

Died: December 29, 2017

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JIM Baikie, who has died at the age of 77, was one of Britain’s most adaptable and reliable comicbook artists with a career that stretched from the 1960s to the 21st century.

Best known for his work on 2000AD and for DC in the United States, Baikie was one of the great storytellers of British comics. His style was unflashy but never stolid. The unfussy dynamism of his artwork never confused nor confounded.

“Jim was the ultimate professional, a great artist and an excellent storyteller,” comic writer and comic editor Pat Mills told The Herald. “Storytelling is a skill that we all too often take for granted, but requires years of development to perfect.”

Born on Orkney, Baikie sold his first work when he was just 14, but by 16 he had joined the Royal Air Force and was posted to Cyprus where he worked as a cartoonist for the local paper and playing bass in a rock and roll band. The money he earned playing with the band allowed him to return home and marry his girlfriend Wendy.

He later joined an R&B band Jaymes Fenda and the Vulcans who reached the semi-finals of a TV talent show, once supported The Kinks and even released a single Mistletoe Love in 1964. He would continue to play in bands when he returned to Orkney in 1970; he lived there for the rest of his life.

But by 1967 Baikie was becoming established as an artist in Britain’s then thriving comics scene. He drew for titles including Valentine, Look and Learn and TV 21 before spending much of the 1970s drawing for the girls’ comic Jinty, turning out family stories, science fiction, horror and humour strips. “He was a fantastic all-rounder,” notes Mills.

He also regularly worked on TV tie-in strips, including The Monkees, Doctor Who and, for a short time, Star Trek. Another indicator of his versatility.

After working on Charlie’s Angels and Fall Guy TV tie-in strips for Look-In, he began to contribute to 2000AD in 1983, most notably with writer Alan Moore on Skizz.

Moore has claimed that he was asked to do a version of Steven Spielberg’s film ET. Not having seen the film, the writer came up with a story about an alien in Birmingham which owed as much to Boys from the Blackstuff as Spielberg.“There’s an awful lot in there that owes far too much to Alan Bleasdale,” Moore later admitted.

Baikie was more than capable of juggling the strip’s mixture of post-punk grit and sci-fi spectacle and so enjoyed the experience he himself wrote and drew two sequels for 2000AD.

He went on to work on Judge Dredd, DC’s Batman, Electric Warrior and The Spectre, as well as John Smith’s political superhero strip The New Statesmen in Crisis magazine in the late 1980s.

It is possible that Baikie’s artistic versatility may have meant that his talent was not always as celebrated as it deserved to be, but news of his death triggered many fond tributes on social media and comics blogs.

Jim Baikie is survived by his wife Wendy, children Jacqueline, Jane, Vaness, Caitrian and Ellen, 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.