Ball Boy (Beano)
|No image available|
|Current/last artist||Chris McGee|
|First appearance||Issue 1735
(18 October 1975)
|Last appearance||issue 3733 (10 May 2014)|
|Regular characters||Ball Boy, Titch, Dimmy, Benjy, Goalie, Chandra, Coach, Ball Boy's Mum and Dad, Ball Boy's Teacher, Wubbish Woy|
Ball Boy is a strip in UK comic The Beano and also the name of the main character. It first appeared in issue 1,735, dated 18 October 1975. It features a five-a-side football team who usually lose all their matches, often heavily, that includes:
- Ball Boy – the captain of the team, Ball Boy bears resemblances to The Dandy's Owen Goal. He plays striker for the team. He has a minor part in The Beano Interactive DVD, playing football with a globe in a geography lesson.
- Titch – A small boy who (surprising considering his height) usually plays in defence. Little is known of Titch, although he was given his own short strip in The Beano Annual 2002.
- Dimmy – A defender, who is quite dim, hence his name. He looks a lot like Plug from the Bash Street Kids.
- Benjy – A good player on the team, Benjy seems to be vice-captain and is Ball Boy's best friend.
- Goalie – the goalkeeper. This character is an enigma in the sense that in some strips he is a superb goalkeeper and in others he is comically awful, letting in everything. There are a few strips where he just sits in the corner of the goal, reading, because the rest of the team can't get a shot on target.
- Chandra Singh – joined the team at the end of 2008 and is the team's most skilful player.
Ball Boy's team kit was originally a red and black vertical striped shirt and black shorts, but it later changed to blue and black stripes. One annual used white and black vertical stripes, but that was before the strip became full colour. Sometimes they get guest players joining the team for a strip, like Bea, or Gnasher. The team sometimes also have other players featured, including a recurring black player called Elvis. Paul Gascoigne made a guest appearance in the strip in 1993 in the issue celebrating Roger the Dodger's 40th anniversary when Roger, who was appearing in every strip in that week's comic, arranged for Gascoigne to sign up for the team.
Ball Boy and his team have both been at two World Cups. Italy in 1990 featured in that year's Beano Book and a long running strip in the comic appeared during the 1998 finals featuring the team in France.
The strip was drawn by Malcolm Judge until his death in 1989. John Dallas took over from him afterwards, and drew it until his retirement in April 2003. Since then, the artist has been Dave Eastbury. Nigel Parkinson and Tom Paterson both occasionally draw the strip as well. In issue 3,481 (2 May 2009) a John Dallas reprint was used.
For issue 3,260, dated 8 January 2005, the Ball Boy strip was meant to feature a French footballer called Henry Thierry who wore a red shirt. In the strip he is shown a red card and then runs from the team bath when a snorkel appears close to him saying "Time to va-va-voom" – a reference to the Renault adverts in which Thierry Henry appears. The Beano editor Euan Kerr decided to destroy the entire print run of that comic so as not to risk the striker's wrath, the issue eventually going on sale with a different Ball Boy strip in its place.
Ball Boy also features in The BeanoMAX comic, drawn in the black and blue vertical striped kit, by Nigel Parkinson. This was explained in a March 2007 Beano. Ball Boy's Mum accidentally washed the kits with a blue garment, and it dyed the red stripes dark blue! But the team, who'd complained they needed new kits, were happy, so BB didn't admit what had happened. This strip was drawn by regular artist Dave Eastbury. Strangely Ball Boy was left out of the Beano Annual 2009. In 2008, Ball Boy's teammates went off on holiday, leaving him needing a new team for a Beanotown Summer League Championship. This team included – Ball Boy, Ronald Osbourne (who has a wealthy mother), Chandra Singh (who is the team's most skilled player), Lily, an unnamed goalkeeper and a kid who has hair hidden over his face. They also now have a proper name – 'Beanotown Juniors'. Ball Boy himself did not score any goals until the final match in this story arc.
After a lengthy undefeated run, Ball Boy's team were second in the league, because they were tricked by their long-time opponents Asbo Road, who disguised themselves as the scheduled, weak team of Chippy Crescent Athletic, and badly injured Beanotown Juniors. Then the real Chippy Crescent wrapped the defeated team up in bandages, so they couldn't move, making them lose, although only by two goals. Some other opponents then scored an own goal in the next match, putting Beanotown's spirits back up. The following week, Beanotown beat Asbo Road 1–0, giving Ball Boy's team the trophy. In the next issue, his original teammates returned, and BB showed off the trophy. This made Benji annoyed, and he tried to make him choose a team. But a discussion with Chandra made him realise both teams feel the same way about BB, and the two teams merged.
From May to August 2009, a number of early 1990s John Dallas strips were reprinted. In September 2009, Dave Eastbury returned as artist. However, the artwork style of the comic strip changed, instead of fairly tall characters, they have now been shrunk and made 'cuter'.
In July 2013, Ball Boy was taken over by Alexander Matthews who revamped the strip with a new look and a new emphasis on parodying specific incidents in modern football, such as the ownership of Premier League clubs by foreign investors.
- Beano scraps comic over Thierry cartoon – Telegraph, 25 January 2005