Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Comic Football Heroes : From Roy of the Rovers to The Kangaroo Kid

Football-themed stories have been a staple favourite in British comics since the 50s with Roy of the Rovers the most popular. Roy Race appeared in the "Tiger (The Sport and Adventure Picture Story Weekly)" which was launched in the UK in 1954.

My personal favourite was a spin on the old fairytale Puss in Boots and was called Billy's Boots which appeared in Scorcher, Tiger, the Valiant and Eagle before finding a home in Roy of the Rovers (RotR). Billy Dane was a mediocre schoolboy player who suddenly develops an amazing skill and intuition whenever he wears the old boots of legendary striker "Dead Shot" Keen. The stories were remarkably moral with the hero often at odds with himself as he relied more and more on the wearing the old boots. The boots were a metaphor for cheating.

Another favourite was the Kangaroo Kid from the Scorcher comic. During Redstone Rovers successful summer tour of Australia the team are marred by an injury to their centre forward in the last game. With only two weeks left to the start of the English soccer season, Redstone's centre forward, "Striker" Short is out with a broken leg. On the way back to the airport, the Redstone team stop for a kick around in the outback. Suddenly, the captain spots a jeep coming towars them chasing kangaroos and trying to catch them. As the convoy moves closer they notice a boy running with the kangaroos. Suddenly the boy came across a loose football and launched it like a rocket at the driver of the jeep. With the driver knocked clear out of the jeep the kangaroos escape. Impressed with the kids ball delivery the Kangaroo Kid is signed as a replacement for the injured striker. Back in Britain he becomes a star.

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