Tank McNamara commenting on something or other. Artist: Bill Hinds.

TANK MCNAMARA

Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Universal Press Syndicate
First Appeared: 1974
Creators: Jeff Millar (writer) and Bill Hinds (artist)
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From Joe Palooka to Ozark Ike to Gil Thorp, the topic of sports has always been a presence on the …

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… newspaper comics page. In fact, the one that started the trend toward reliable dailies concerned athletes, tho not human ones — Mutt & Jeff was originally about a man who was constantly betting on the horses. Tank McNamara looks at the topic from another angle. Its title character is a former football star, now working as a sports commentator on TV.

Tank's strip began August 5, 1974, from Universal Press Syndicate, distributor of Ziggy, FoxTrot, Cathy and other top comics. It was created by writer Jeff Millar (a former film critic and humor columnist who can't draw) and artist Bill Hinds (who later created Buzz Beamer, a regular cartoon feature in Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine).

Tank is most frequently seen in front of a camera, reporting and commenting on one aspect or another of the sports scene — who's playing whom, who's dating whom, who's hiring whom, who's suing whom … everything from starting line-ups to steroids. But the strip isn't just talking heads. It frequently focuses outside the studio, on some of the more outrageous goings-on Tank talks about. A popular recurring feature is "Sports Jerk of the Year", for which readers annually offer thousands of suggestions.

Millar and Hinds do a good enough job with it to have had their strip named "Sports Cartoon of the Year" by The National Cartoonists' Society in 1987.

Tank has never been the subject of a movie, TV show or comic book, but he's been in his share of books reprinting the strip — as well as T-shirts, coffee mugs and other merchandised products. And he's enjoyed by millions daily, in over 300 newspapers.

— DDM

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Text ©2004-05 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Universal Press Syndicate.