Thursday, 23 July 2009
Billy The Cat ( & Katie )
You'll have to bear with me on this one, as I'm really relying on 30 year old memories plus what little information I've managed to find on the net, but you really can't cover the '70's without talking about Billy The Cat ( and Katie ), so:
Billy The Cat ( and Katie ) ran in venerable british comic The Beano from 1967 to 1974, or thereabouts, and was a great fun little strip, at least as far as I remember it.
Cousins William & Kathleen Grange lived in the town of Burnham with their avuncular Aunt Mabel ( William's parents, both of whom worked for the old bill, having been killed in a car crash caused by the getaway car of a pair of bank robbers. ) Wanting to take over from Mum & Dad, William used the designs left by his inventor pop to strike terror into the hearts of, well, nobody at all really, as...Billy The Cat! He also managed to convince his strangely willing cousin to dress up in black leather with him & climb rooftops at night. Subtext, anyone?
Both kids could leap incredible distances, climb walls only Spidey would attempt, and could take on several adults with one hand tied behind their backs, as well as having their nifty backpacks utilizing all kinds of climbing equipment. And Aunt Mabel's packed lunches.
Neither Billy or Katie's incredible agility or strength was ever explained, and I doubt the readers cared much anyway, as long as they could jump all over the playground like the cavortin' catlike cousins.
Interesting that William & Kathleen were clearly the posh kids of British adventure heroes, popping along to lessons at their local academy in their smart little blazers. How different from Buster's The Leopard From Lime Street, who had to steal his costume from the school panto!
Billy returned in the '80's, in the pages of Buddy, older, minus Katie, and with considerably less powers. ( Puberty fucks you up. Fact. )
Unbelievably, the upper-crust crimefighter is still going, having appeared intermittently in The Beano's annuals, as well as the regular mag on occasion. Having not read this strip in 30 years, I'm not even sure if it was actually as good as I remember it, and I suspect maybe not. But I do remember sending in some drawings to the BBC's kid's art programme Vision On at the time, at least one of which was of Billy The Cat ( and Katie ). And I guarantee I wasn't the only kid who walked home weighed down by a heavy backpack, pretending that hidden amongst the maths homework, lay a costume of black leather, with a crash helmet with cats eyes painted on it. Hey, I still do that....