I Like Bouncing

There’s an archive of the Billy Bounce comic strip at Barnacle Press. I don’t think all of the strips are there, and some of the scans are of poor quality, but it’s definitely worth a look. The comic is notable to Oz fans because its creator was W.W. Denslow. He actually wrote and drew it for less than a year, after which a cartoonist named C.W. Kahles took over. Billy is a messenger boy and occasional circus clown whose fairy godfather, Mr. Gas, gave him a pump to inflate himself.

This allows him to bounce a mile at a step, and sometimes seemingly farther than that. As with a lot of these old strips, the characters can be pretty mean to each other, constantly playing nasty tricks on their supposed friends. There are several recurring characters in the strip, including the polar bear Fuzzy White, two lion cubs, and various figures from folklore and Mother Goose rhymes. Simple Simon’s Pieman, here named Crusty Prunes, is the closest the strip generally has to an antagonist; although that doesn’t mean the other characters are always in the right when it comes to dealing with him. In one strip, Prunes runs off to Mexico to sell tamales, and Billy drags him back because he and his friends want pies.

You generally don’t seem to like the guy so much, Billy, so why go through all that trouble to retrieve him? One of Kahles’ earliest strips has Billy and Fuzzy play a trick on Prunes that gets him sent to jail, then they rescue him and he’s really grateful. Good thing he doesn’t know that they were the reason he was there in the first place.

Later comics have Billy visiting the King of the Pollywogs on another planet, and being just as mischievous there.

It’s interesting that two strips give Billy a “lady friend” who looks to be inflated like he is, but there’s no indication of her back story.

Maybe that’s in one of the strips that the archive maintainer couldn’t find. In the book, Billy hooks up with the princess of a community of bee-people. Aside from Mr. Gas and a brief appearance by Fuzzy White, all the characters in the book appear to be original, and not in the strip.

Well, the North Wind appears in both, but he doesn’t really look or act the same.

Wonder if he’s the same North Wind who was a slave to the Snowmen of Icetown and whom the Wind-Satchel Man kept in a bag.

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1 Response to I Like Bouncing

  1. Pingback: Villains for Hire | VoVatia

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