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Joe Ballivan was a newspaper reporter in Dick Tracy's city. He had light hair and a moustache.

Joe's aunt was robbed of her jewels by members of the Little Face gang. Joe took an interest in the case, and became determined to recover the stolen gems. He secretly visited the injured Micky Stanley (the driver of the bus used as a getaway vehicle) in the hospital and coerced Stanley into revealing that the jewels were still hidden on the wrecked bus. Ballivan then left without being noticed.

Ballivan made his way to where the wrecked bus was being stored. he found the stolen jewels but was soon set upon by members of the Little Face gang who were also seeking the jewels. Thinking quickly, Ballivan dropped the jewels in a nearby mailbox. The criminals caught up to him and tried to make him reveal where he had hidden the jewels by holding his head next to a high-pressure stream of water from an opened fire hydrant, but he refused. The police arrived and the criminals fled.


Ballivan was recognized by Dick Tracy and Pat Patton, and he explained his involvement in the case. Ballivan then placed a notice in the paper alerting one of the gang members that he could be identified, which ultimately led Tracy to more clues.