Skizz by Jim Baikie
Skizz

Jim Baikie was a Scottish comics artist, who worked in the industry from the mid 1960s until the early 2000s. He began his career working for several British girls' and tv-related comics, before working on more hardboiled sci-fi material for 2000AD ('Skizz') and Crisis ('New Statesmen'). He was also part of the British invasion in American comic books, with notable work on 'Electric Warrior', 'Nightbreed', 'Star Wars: Empire's End' and 'The First American'.

James George Baikie was born in 1940 on the Orkney Island of Hoy. He showed an early talent for drawing, and saw his first illustration published in a science fiction magazine in his early teens. The self-taught artist left his homebase by enlisting in the RAF in 1956. He served for seven years, and was stationed in Leuchars in Fife, Dundee and Cyprus. He then got married and moved to London, where he first worked in a printing company and then began his career as an illustrator. By 1964 he was affiliated with the Morgan-Grampian studio, and in the following two years he served an illustrator for the National Savings Committee. He additionally picked up music, playing bass for James Fenda and the Vulcans, Compass and other groups until the 1980s. He hung out in the same circles as the Rolling Stones, Ritchie Blackmore and Screaming Lord Sutch, but he eventually decided to stick with his career in arts, while continuing to play music on the side.


Star Trek (TV21 & Joe 90 #25, 14 March 1970)

He began his career as a comics artist in the Fleetway TV magazine Valentine in 1967, drawing biographical features about bands like the Small Faces and the Monkees. He furthermore took over the 'Monkees' feature from Harry Lindfeld in Lady Penelope in 1968, and did additional work for the TV Tornado, Dan Dare, Doctor Who and Lady Penelope annuals. Most of these productions were written by Angus Allan. He is sometimes credited for drawing 'Space Family Robinson' in Lady Penelope as well, but this was in fact John M. Burns signing with "JB". More tv-related work appeared in TV21 & Joe 90, for which he drew 'Star Trek' (1969-1970) and 'The Adventures of Tarzan' (1970), although the latter was mostly drawn by Harry Bishop and Antonio Borrell. He illustrated both text and comic stories starring 'Doctor Who' for the annuals and holiday specials of Countdown and TV Action in the period 1971-1973. In 1969 and 1970 he furthermore drew the travel adventure story 'Passport to Adventure' for Look and Learn.

Baikie and his wife moved back to Orkney in 1972. Baikie had already become a regular in Fleetway's girls' titles at this point. He had been drawing 'Gymnast Jinty' for June and Schoolfriend since 1969, and by the early 1970s he was also drawing serials like 'The Reluctant Nurse' (1971-1972), 'No Time For Pat' (1972), 'Melody for Mimi' (1973), 'Stranger in the Family' (1973) and 'Tilly's Magic Tranny' (1973-1974) for the magazine. He also made his appearance in Tammy, Sandie ('Our Big Secret', 1972) and Judy ('Sampan Susie', 1974) before becoming a staple in Jinty from 1974 to 1981, when the title merged with Tammy. As one of Fleetway's several girls' titles, Jinty had a strong emphasis on fantastical stories. Therefore, several of Baikie's serials regularly contained spooky or science fiction elements, while more dramatic themes like troubled family relationships were also present. His first contribution was 'Left-Out Linda' in 1974. It was followed by about a dozen more, including 'Ping-Pong Paula' (1975), 'Willa on Wheels' (1976), 'The Forbidden Garden' (1978) and 'White Water' (1979-1980). The two serials of 'Fran'll Fix It!' (1977, 1979) became especially popular because of their madcap trouble-making protagonist. Baikie was also one of many artists for the spooky story feature 'Gypsy Rose's Tales of Mystery and Magic' (1977-1981).


Charlie's Angels (Look-In, 17 January 1981)

In the early 1980s, Baikie returned to celebrity comics for ITV's Look-In magazine, for which he drew comics based on TV series such as 'Charlie's Angels' (1979-1981), 'CHiPS' (1981-1982), 'The Fall Guy' (1982-1984) and Gerry Anderson's 'Terrahawks' (1983-1984). The 1980s were however dominated by far more hardboiled stuff. Baikie made his first appearance in IPC's cult sci-fi comic 2000AD with 'Skizz' (1983), in cooperation with writer Alan Moore. The serial about an extraterrestrial who crash lands in Birmingham was strongly inspired by Steven Spielberg's hit movie 'E.T.' (1982), but then told from a working-class perspective in Thatcher's Britain. Baikie has especially been praised for his natural portrayals of characters and settings, and for his believable depictions of the fantasy elements. The story was such a success, that Baikie wrote and drew two sequels without Moore in the 1990s: 'Skizz - Book Two' (1992) and 'Skizz Book 3' (1994-1995). Rebellion released 'The Complete Skizz' in June 2017.


Skizz Book III (2000AD #917)

Baikie's further work for 2000AD include a couple of stories with the magazine's signature character 'Judge Dredd' in cooperation with writers John Wagner and Alan Grant. These included installments in the mini-series 'Oz' (1987-1988), one-shot short stories and the serial 'Midnite's Children' in Judge Dredd Megazine (1990-1991). For 2000AD's more politically and socially driven sister title Crisis, Baikie made 'New Statesmen' (1989), a story about genetically engineered superweapons, with writer John Smith. Baikie furthermore illustrated the first of John Wagner's serials about the tyrannosaurus Rex 'Bloodfang' (1983) in Eagle (the second was drawn by Carlos Cruz), as well as 'The Twilight World' (1983) with Steve Moore for Dez Skinn's anthology title Warrior.


The New Statesmen (Crisis #12)

By the mid 1980s Baikie was one of the several British authors who made the transition to the American comic book industry. His first US work was issues #17 and #18 of DC Comics' 'Vigilante' with Alan Moore. He then teamed up with writer Doug Moench for an eighteen-issue run on 'Electric Warrior' (1986-1987), a series about the gap between the rich and the poor, set in a dystopian future outside of the regular DC Universe. Inkers on duty were Baikie himself, Pablo Marcos and Dennis Janke. Baikie made two 'Batman' stories with writer Mike Barr for DC's 'Detective Comics' in 1987, and a long story with 'The Spectre' with Doug Moench for the Spectre Annual of 1988. Meanwhile, his British works 'Twilight World' and 'Skizz' had also found their way to an American audience through their appearances in 'Laser Eraser and Pressbutton' (1985-1986) and '2000 AD Presents' (1986), respectively.


Electric Warrior #3

In 1990 Baikie worked with Alan Grant and John Wagner on an adaptation of Clive Barker's dark fantasy horror film 'Nightbreed' (1990) for Marvel's creator-owned imprint Epic Comics. For Dark Horse Comics, he painted the two issues of the 'Star Wars' series 'Empire's End' with writer Tom Veitch in 1995. Back at DC, he made the three-issue mini-series 'Blackmask' (1993), about a masked vigilante during the aftermath of the Korean War, with writer Brian Augustyn. He worked with Alan Moore once again on the three-issue mini-series 'Deathblow Byblows' (1999-2000), a spin-off to the DC/Wildstorm series created by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi. Their final joint creation was the superhero satire 'First American and U.S.Angel' (1999-2002) in DC's Eisner Award-winning anthology series 'Tomorrow Stories'. Baikie drew issues #8 through #12 of Trainor Houghton's philosophical comics series 'The Victorian' for Penny-Farthing Press in 2000-2001.


Deathblow Byblows #2

Jim Baikie had to drop his activities in the early 2000s. He had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991, but managed to continue working for more than a decade. By 2004 he had begun writing a fourth installment of the 'Skizz' series, but the project remained unfinished. He passed away on his beloved Orkney Island at the age of 77 on 29 December 2017.

Jim Baikie had received the SSI (Society of Strip Illustrators) Award for "Best British Adventure Artist" in 1983 and an Eisner Award for 'Tomorrow Stories' in 2000.

The First American by Jim Baikie
The First American (Tomorrow Stories #2)

Jim Baikie on Jenni Scott's Jinty blog
Jim Baikie's stripography on John Freeman's Down The Tubes

Series and books by Jim Baikie in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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