One of several Tim Tyler's Luck Big Little Books. Artist: Lyman Young.


Original Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
First Appeared: 1928
Creator: Lyman Young
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Tim Tyler's Luck, the most famous comic strip created by cartoonist Lyman Young, was well established at King Features Syndicate by the time his …

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… brother, Chic, also a cartoonist, got his own prominent King Features strip going. And yet, today, Lyman Young's biggest claim to fame in the cartooning community is the fact that his younger brother created Blondie.

At the time, tho, being the man behind Tim Tyler was kind of a big deal. It wasn't one of the top strips around, but it was a very respectable one in both quality and circulation. It got into Big Little Books, movies and comic books. Blondie, on the other hand, at least before she married Dagwood, was just another pretty face.

Tim debuted on August 13, 1928, with the title character living in an orphanage, just as Little Orphan Annie had done almost exactly four years earlier, and Little Annie Rooney a good deal more recently. Like Annie (both of them), he quickly left the orphanage and took off on his own. Unlike Annie (both of them), instead of a dog as his constant companion, he had a human being, an older boy named Spud. By the time the Sunday version started (July 19, 1931), Tim and Spud were well away from the orphanage, living a life of adventure.

At first, their adventures tended to be light and cartoony, but later, with Buck Rogers, Dick Tracy and the like gaining popularity, the strip took a more serious turn. Tim and Spud traveled the world before settling for several years in Africa, where (having grown into their late teens or so) they joined the Ivory Patrol and spent their time chasing after poachers and the like. They returned to America during World War II, where they mostly dealt with spies and saboteurs. Afterward, they went traveling again, eventually returning to Africa, where they remained for good.

Along the way, they got into a 12-part serial from Universal Pictures (Tailspin Tommy, Don Winslow), which came out in 1937 with Frankie Thomas (Tom Corbett, Space Cadet) in the title role. The strip was reprinted in Ace Comics, along with The Phantom, Jungle Jim, and quite a few King Features strips that weren't about jungle adventures. Better Publications published a Tim Tyler oneshot comic book in 1942, and Standard Comics Bruce Gentry, Jetta) did an 8-issue series of Tim Tyler, Cowboy from 1948-50. Harvey Comics devoted a 1952 issue of Harvey Comics Hits to "Tim Tyler's Tales of Jungle Terror".

Young, more suited for the earlier, lighter style, employed a succession of ghosts, tho he continued to sign the strip himself. Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon, Secret Agent X-9) and Burne Hogarth (Tarzan, Drago) were the ones who went on to the biggest and best things, but Clark Haas (Clutch Cargo, Buz Sawyer) and Tony DiPreta (Joe Palooka, Rex Morgan) also worked on it. The longest stints were served by Nat Edson, from about the mid-1930s to the mid-'40s; and Tom Massey, from the late '40s until 1972. Edson and Massey also drew quite a few comic books for Dell.

In 1972, Young's son, Bob, started handling the strip, and sharing the credit with his father. Lyman Young died in 1984, after which Bob took over completely. Bob Young's version seemed to make little or no connection with readers, and the strip lost papers steadily. By the early 1990s, it seems to have gotten down to a single paper, a remarkable and perhaps unique achievement for a syndicated comic. But the Conroe (Texas) Courier, which published only three editions per week, carried it right through to the end — which finally came during August, 1996.

And nowadays, Lyman Young is known mostly for being Chic Young's older brother.


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Text ©2002-07 Donald D. Markstein. Art © King Features Syndicate.