TIGERMedium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
First Appeared: 1965
Creator: Bud Blake
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Comics starring kids were certainly nothing new in the mid-1960s. But they'd changed a lot since the days of Henry and Little Jimmy. Following in the footsteps of
Charles Schulz's Peanuts, Mell Lazarus's Miss Peach and other postwar comics, Bud Blake's Tiger concerned children who were, at their core, just kids, but somewhat more modern and sophisticated than Little Iodine, Buster Brown, the cast of Reg'lar Fellers, or for that matter, that of Just Kids itself.
Not that Tiger was as great a classic as the work of Schulz and Lazarus, but it was well received from the day King Features Syndicate launched it, May 3, 1965; and has been a familiar part of the daily and Sunday comics pages, in approximately 120 newspapers, ever since.
Blake's cartooning talents were originally used in advertising. But by 1954, when he was in his mid-30s, he'd grown tired of all the administrative details of that field (not to mention commuting), and opted for a less frustrating and annoying way of making a living. His first work in the funnies was a series of daily panels without continuing characters, simply titled Humorous Cartoons. A couple of years later, they received the only slightly more specific title Bud Blake Panel. Still later, it was titled Ever Happen to You? Meanwhile, he continued doing advertising art on a freelance basis. It was a comic titled Junior, part of a calendar he did, advertising aspirin, that inspired him to create Tiger.
The characterizations aren't strikingly original, at least in their broad strokes. Tiger himself is a pretty typical kid, about 8 years old or so. He has a younger brother, Punkinhead, who supplies the naive yet insightful observations. (For example, it was Punkinhead who named the spotted family dog "Stripe", because of his "round stripes".) Tiger's best pal is Hugo, who eats a lot and isn't especially bright. Hugo is balanced by Julian, a walking font of every kind of knowledge. There are also a couple of girls, Bonnie (loud and pushy) and Suzy (soft-spoken and well-liked).
Tiger has never been animated or turned into a TV sitcom. But it was one of several King Features strips (others included Hi & Lois and Flash Gordon) adapted into comic books by Charlton Comics in the early 1970s. Charlton's Tiger ran eight issues, March 1970 through January 1971, drawn by Frank Johnson (Boner's Ark). Later in the decade, Charlton and King collaborated on a series of comics to promote reading skills among young people, using such characters as Beetle Bailey and Hagar the Horrible. Tiger co-starred with Ted Shearer's Quincy in the first of them, and in a later one with Gordon Bess's Redeye.
The Tiger strip has received a lot of praise for the quality of Blake's artwork. "Deceptively simple" is a phrase frequently applied to it, much like that of Henry Boltinoff (DC Comics) or O. Soglow (The Little King). But the humor aspect has been praised as well. In fact, The National Cartoonists' Society has awarded him no less than three plaques for Best Humor Strip of the year.
Bud Blake retired in 2004, and Tiger went into reruns. It continued that way beyond his death in 2005. As timeless as the gags are, the reruns can go on for a long time to come.