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.|