BILLY THE KID

Comic
Speech Bubbles
Drawn by Gordon Bell

87 appearances (over 87 pages) from issue no. 1 (18/01/75) to no. 87 (11/09/76).
All were printed in black and white.

What does it say on the tin (or in that rhyming couplet at the top of the first page)?
“He’s one of the best – at being a pest!”

Billy is the tousled-haired, mischievous lad; Pongo the dog with a liking for biting postmen and burying bones.

CRACKER readers get an insight into the workings (or otherwise – the staff are either not working or asleep) of the CRACKER office in the first issue where Billy announces, “We’ve come to join the comic!” Billy and Pongo set out their stall as Billy shoots a volley of peas at the editor’s backside as he flees under a desk, and Pongo chases the office cat.

Poor Pongo, a more than equal partner in the duo, had to wait until issue no. 5 until he was co-credited again. Pongo doesn’t appear at all in issue no. 18 (but he still got co-credited).

What sort of dog is Pongo? This is explored is issue no. 82 - a reader had written in asking and Billy considers it. After being spotted by Dad hiding behind a bush after stealing some sausages (“a sausage dog! a spotted dog!”), and then being chased round and round the bush (“a HOUNDed dog!”), Billy concludes he is a “HOT DOG!”.

Pongo doesn’t ‘speak’ (in the sense that the artist uses ‘speech’ bubbles) apart from sound effects such as “GRR!”, “Drool!”, ”Snarl! Snort!”, and the odd Mutleyesque “Snigger!”, or unless he’s speaking to other dogs (“They went thataway!” in issue no. 21) or himself (“Gulp! Oh no!” in issue no. 31). However, at the end of the story in issue no. 66 he urges Billy, who is in the dog pound, “Try a pyramid!” (Earlier in the story Billy had urged Pongo and several other dogs to do the same in order to climb out). He had said “Grrreat!” (in issue no. 2) and “GOTCHA!” (53) as he bit the backside of a ‘criminal’ in a Police dog training session, but it could be argued he was ‘speaking’ to himself. In fact, he did a lot of ‘speaking’ to himself in that latter story.

In issue no. 32, Billy and Pongo appeared in Fiends Beans. Billy 'persuaded' Fred to eat some beans, and made a drawing of the resulting ghastly metamorphosis. Billy tells Fred he’s going to send the drawing to the Ghastly Geezer Gallery. Billy did have a drawing ‘exhibited’ there (as did Fred and Little ‘Orror) in issue no. 46 – but it wasn’t the drawing he made on Fred’s page. That week he also appeared in Slojak (where he’d previously appeared in issue no. 27). In issue no. 40 he appeared in Joe Soap and for the following four weeks hosted Jest A Minute (Sammy and Flash were on holiday), before appearing in Joe Soap again (no. 44).

Apart from Sammy (who appeared with a joke at the bottom of the page in issue no. 15), no CRACKER characters appeared in Billy’s strip.

Billy The Kid and Pongo was one of seven strips to transfer to BEEZER AND CRACKER when the two comics merged. The other six were Iron Hand, Jest-a-Minute, Joe Soap, Little 'Orror, Scrapper and Young Foo.

Not to be confused with…Dennis The Menace and Gnasher.

BILLY THE KID
BILLY THE KID