TINY TIMMedium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Chicago Tribune Syndicate
First Appeared: 1933
Creator: Stanley Link
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There are many references, in books and on the Internet, to cartoonist Stanley Link's Sunday page, Tiny Tim. A hefty percent claim memory of the comic has been lost in the mists of time, and it would
be utterly forgotten today if not for the efforts of intrepid preservationists such as the writer. Some might take this as prima facie evidence that it has not been forgotten; but the fact is, it isn't as well known nowadays as its apparent contemporary popularity would suggest.
Sources differ on Tiny Tim's starting date, but the most reliable seems to be Sunday, July 23, 1933. The distributor, sources all agree, was The Chicago Tribune/New York Daily News Syndicate, which was doing Gasoline Alley, Winnie Winkle and Little Orphan Annie; and would soon add Terry & the Pirates, Smokey Stover and Smilin' Jack. The Tribune also syndicated The Gumps, where Link was assisting creator Sidney Smith at the time.
Link, whose other credits include Ching Chow and The Dailys, conceived Tim Grunt as a fantasy character aimed at young children. He and his sister, Dotty, were only two inches tall, and thus able to cater to juvenile daydreams of hiding from and spying on the adult world, from places of concealment beneath the grown-ups' notice. They could also bend ordinary things to their own neeeds, such as using pencils for stilts. And they were homeless orphans, which could be inconvenient at times, but did free them from adult supervision.
Link found their size, only slightly bigger than The Teenie-Weenies (who formed an entire community), less useful than it could be; so over the course of the first three months, he grew them to about eight inches. That, too, was less conducive to his natural tendency toward tear-jerking melodrama, so he had a gypsy spell turn them to normal kids, a little small for their age and therefore still appropriately called "Tiny". Dotty's disappearance touched off a series of cliff-hanging action stories, involving evil abductors, evil foster parents, and even evil would-be world conquerors.
Tim appeared in two Big Little Books, The Adventures of Tiny Tim (1935) and Tiny Tim & the Mechanical Men (1937). Also, starting in Super Comics (no relation) #1 (May, 1938), Tim, along with Dick Tracy, Little Joe and a bunch of other Tribune comics stars, got into comic books. He never was featured on the cover there, but in the back pages he reprised his adventures from back in his dimunitive days. During the early '40s, the same publisher, Dell, showcased him in several issues of Four Color Comics, which had a different star in each issue. That was the extent of his media break-out.
On April 13, 1941, Tim became a plainclothes superhero of sorts. The gypsy who had normalized him came back to de-normalize him. She gave him an amulet inscribed with the words "Nemesis of All Evil". By repeating those words, he could, like Dollman before him and The Atom after, shrink to unnoticeability, then grow himself back. He only had one alternative size, his original two inches, but the power was a big asset for a lad given to adventure.
Tim continued adventuring this way for well over a dozen years. Stanley Link died in 1957 and, apparently unable to make the rather quirky comic work with another writer/artist, the syndicate simply let Link's prepared work run out, then discontinued the series. The last episode appeared on March 2, 1958.