Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Crimson Ball!

Until its later decades, The Dandy used to feature some distinctive adventure serials alongside its humour content. One of which was The Crimson Ball, which ran from issue No.1144 (26th October 1963) to No.1174 (23rd May 1964) and in The Dandy Book 1965 (published 1964). 

The artist was Jack Glass, who had been a frequent contributor to the weekly since the first issue in 1937. The plot was quite bizarre, and had a childlike quality that appealed to its readers; a giant ball appears one day and coaxes a schoolboy to lead it to the nearest airfield, whereupon it begins smashing up the aircraft.

Later episodes revealed that the ball had a "master"; a foreign spy inside the ball, controlling its mechanisms. Why this spy needed a schoolboy to lead him to the airfield isn't made clear, (didn't he know how to read a map?) but it was a way to introduce an ongoing young character that the readers could relate to and root for. 

Yes, the premise was very basic and naive but that was part of its charm. A story that readers could easily emulate with their toys. I loved this strip when I was four years old. It was actually the first adventure series I read. By the time I first saw it in 1964, I'd missed the early chapters but I recently bought The Dandy No.1144 where the story began in 1963, so I thought I'd show that first chapter here today. I won't show how the series ends in case D.C. Thomson ever reprint the whole saga, (although that's not looking likely). I hope you enjoy this peek into the past.

From The Dandy Book 1965, opposite a Ken Reid page.


Peter Gray said...

I hope we do!

The Dandy did some great adventure stories..and super two pagers in the annuals very dramatic stuff..

Nutty Big D said...

I marginally preferred the Beano comic to the Dandy, but the Dandy annuals to the Beano ones, due to the adventure stories. Crimson Ball made good use of the one colour printing.

Lew Stringer said...

I always preferred The Dandy. I think it was because it didn't have as much of a "house style" as the Beano. Dandy artists such as Jack Glass, Charlie Grigg, Bill Holroyd and Eric Roberts really appealed to me. They didn't work on the Beano, at least not to my knowledge or during the time I was growing up, so the Dandy was my favourite out of the two comics.

SID said...

A perfect example on why I had always preferred The Dandy over Beano.

Robert Carnegie said...

A particularly effective use of limited colour printing! The Crimson Ball really stands out!

Then again... if you haven't grown up with no-colour and one-colour artwork, then does it just look like a printing mistake? Nowadays it's easy to produce images in full colour, and monochrome is seen in archive images or as a special effect - will uncoloured images ever fall out of common experience altogether?

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