Burglar Bill first appeared in Paul Grist's self-published small press title Short Stories in June 1986, and then again in the similarly self-published The Exploits of Burglar Bill in September 1986. He then appeared in a third short story in Harrier Comics' !Gag! #7, before moving to his own title with Trident's publication of Burglar Bill #1. Though intended to be the start of a 6 issue miniseries, no further issues were published by Trident. After a plan to continue the series with Tundra UK fell through, Paul Grist returned to self-publishing the character's title through his own company, Dancing Elephant Press, later gathering the previous short stories together in Burglar Bill's Summer Fun Special. The Dancing Elephant run also finished incompletely at #3, but Burglar Bill moved to Image, who reprinted the first three Dancing Elephant issues, plus a fourth installment, before sales again curtailed the miniseries' completion. Undaunted, the fifth chapter of the miniseries was serialised in the back pages of Grist's other Image title, Jack Staff.