Leo Baxendale was born in Whittle-Le-Woods, Lancashire, and directed himself into an artistic career after leaving school. His first job was designing paint labels for the Leyland Paint and Varnish Company. After his National Service days in the RAF, he got a job as an artist for a local newspaper, the Lancashire Evening Post, where he drew adverts and (sports) cartoons. In 1952 Leo Baxendale was hired to work for D.C. Thomson's comic magazine The Beano. He became one of the most important artists of this magazine, because of series like 'Little Plum Your Redskin Chum' (1953), 'Minnie the Minx' (1953, taken over by Jim Petrie in 1961), 'The Three Bears' (1959) and, most notably, 'When the Bell Rings' (1954). This last series was later renamed to 'The Bash Street Kids'.
Baxendale also co-operated on the launch of Beezer in 1956, for which he created 'The Banana Bunch'. Afterwards, Baxendale left D.C. Thomson and helped Odhams Press launch Wham! in 1964. Baxendale provided strips like 'Eagle Eye Junior Spy', 'General Nitt and his Barmy Army', 'Danny Dare' and 'Biff'. Later on, he also contributed to Smash!, for which he drew 'Grimly Feendish' and 'Bad Penny'.
Baxendale subsequently spent a few years working for the company Fleetway (IPC Magazines), creating the likes of 'Clever Dick', 'The Pirates', 'Big Chief Pow Wow', 'Nellyphant', 'Sweeny Toddler' and 'Badtime Bedtime Tales'. By the seventies Baxendale published his own book 'Willy the Kid'. Other artists, Tom Paterson and Martin Baxendale (Baxendale's son), adopted the technique and carried it on into the eighties. In the 1980s, Baxendale battled with D.C. Thomson over the rights of his characters, and he returned to drawing with a new book called 'Thrrp!' in 1987. That same year, Baxendale founded the publishing house Reaper Books, that published 'The Encroachment' and 'On Comedy: The Beano and Idealogy'.