Tiger was a weekly British comics periodical published by Amalgamated Press, Fleetway Publications, and IPC Magazines. It ran remarkably from September 11, 1954, to March 30, 1985. The title was initially launched in a large tabloid size, mimicking newspapers. While it featured action-adventure stories, Tiger was primarily known for its extensive collection of sport-themed comic strips.
One of the most iconic features in Tiger was “Roy of the Rovers,” which debuted in the first issue and became the comic’s most popular and enduring Feature. “Roy of the Rovers” centered around Roy Race, a talented young English footballer who played for Melchester Rovers. This character resonated with readers and eventually had its standalone comic starting in 1975.
Title: Tiger (British Comics)
Publisher: Amalgamated Press, Fleetway Publications, IPC Magazines
Publication Dates: September 11, 1954 to March 30, 1985
Format: Initially launched in a large tabloid size resembling newspapers
Content: Primarily sports-themed with a mix of action-adventure stories
Notable Feature: “Roy of the Rovers,” which became the most popular Feature
Mergers: Merged with Eagle in 1985, becoming one of the longest-running titles with 1573 issues
Contributors: Columns by famous sports figures, including Ian Botham, Geoff Boycott, Tony Greig, Trevor Francis, and Charlie Nicholas
Creation: Created by editor Derek Birnage with the help of writer Frank S. Pepper and artist Joe Colquhoun. “Roy Race” was introduced as a gifted young football player.
Legacy: “Roy of the Rovers” continued its adventures until May 1995. Tiger remains notable as the birthplace of “Roy of the Rovers.”
The inception of Tiger can be attributed to the success of Amalgamated Press’s previous boys’ title, Lion, launched in 1952. Reg Eves, the managing editor of A.P.’s children’s division, tasked editor Derek Birnage with creating a new sports-themed comic. Given the growing popularity of football during that period, it was decided that the front cover should feature a footballer. Writer Frank S. Pepper was approached to create Roy Race, a gifted footballer who would become the face of the comic.
Initially, Pepper outlined Roy Race’s early career, but artist Joe Colquhoun, using the pen name ‘Stewart Colwyn,’ took over the scripting duties and sought technical advice from other A.P. staffers. “Roy of the Rovers” and the comic’s flagship feature quickly became popular.
The first issue of Tiger, priced at 3d and consisting of 20 large newsprint pages, hit newsstands on September 4, 1954. Early topics included diverse content, such as racing driver Len Dyson’s quest for justice, prize-fighter “Young Hurricane,” and cyclist Rick Howland’s adventures. The comic also featured school-themed strips, adventure stories, and sports-related feature pages.
In March 1955, Tiger absorbed another publication, The Champion, which brought the pugilist pilot “Rockfist Rogan” into the mix. Later mergers with comics like The Comet added Western stories like “Olac the Gladiator,” ” Frogmen Daredevils, ” and “Spike & Dusty.”
Tiger merged with Hurricane in 1965, resulting in a reformatting to a standard-sized 40-page weekly comic. New characters like “Typhoon Tracey” and “Skid Solo” were introduced. “Roy of the Rovers” remained a staple of the comic throughout these changes.
In 1976, “Roy of the Rovers” received its standalone comic, while Tiger continued to sell steadily in a shrinking market. The introduction of a new wit, Speed, in 1980 led to another merger, with Speed merging into Tiger in November 1980.
Despite efforts to rejuvenate the comic’s popularity, sales continued to decline, and on March 30, 1985, Tiger announced its merger with the relaunched Eagle.
“Tiger” holds a special place in British comics history for being the birthplace of “Roy of the Rovers.” The character of Roy Race continued to captivate readers in “Roy of the Rovers” until May 1995. The comic also introduced other memorable characters like “Billy’s Boots,” “Death Wish,” “Golden Boy,” and “Star Raider,” many of which continued their adventures after the merger with Eagle.
In 2012, Tiger was honored with a postage stamp featuring the first issue and Roy Race, recognizing its significance in British comics. In 2018, Rebellion Developments acquired the rights to the original material from Tiger, making it available for new generations through their Treasury of British Comics range.
Despite its eventual merger and discontinuation, Tiger’s legacy lives on through the enduring popularity of “Roy of the Rovers” and its influence on British comics.
FAQ about Tiger (British Comics)
Q1: What was Tiger, and when was it published?
A1: Tiger was a weekly British comics periodical that Amalgamated Press, Fleetway Publications, and IPC Magazines published. It ran from September 11, 1954, to March 30, 1985.
Q2: What was the initial format and content of Tiger Comics?
A2: Initially, Tiger was launched in a large tabloid size to mimic newspapers. While it featured some action-adventure stories, Tiger primarily contained many sports strips. One of Tiger’s most famous sports strips was “Roy of the Rovers,” which debuted in the first issue and became the comic’s most notable Feature.
Q3: What is “Roy of the Rovers,” and when did it debut?
A3: “Roy of the Rovers” is a famous sports-themed comic strip that debuted in the first issue of Tiger. It follows the story of Roy Race, a young English football player, from his early days at Milston Youth Club F.C. to his professional career with Melchester Rovers.
Q4: How many issues of Tiger were published before it was merged with Eagle?
A4: Tiger ran for a total of 1,573 issues before it was merged with Eagle in 1985.
Q5: Did Tiger feature contributions from famous sports figures?
A5: Yes, Tiger featured columns by numerous famous sports figures, including Ian Botham, Geoff Boycott, Tony Greig, Trevor Francis, and Charlie Nicholas.
Q6: What were some notable mergers and changes in Tiger’s history?
A6: Tiger went through several mergers and changes during its history. It merged with The Champion, The Comet, Hurricane, Scorcher, Score ‘n’ Roar, and Speed at various points. These mergers brought new characters and stories to the comic.
Q7: Who were some characters and stories introduced in Tiger comics?
A7: Tiger introduced various characters and stories over the years, including “Young Hurricane,” “Bulldog Bryant’s Amazon Adventure,” “Olac the Gladiator,” “Spike & Dusty,” “Football Family Robinson,” “Hot Shot Hamish,” “Nipper,” and many more.
Q8: What led to the decline of Tiger’s sales in the 1980s?
A8: In the 1980s, Tiger’s sales began to decline due to increased competition from television and changes in the comics market. Despite efforts to revamp the title, it struggled to maintain its readership.
Q9: What happened to “Roy of the Rovers” after it left Tiger Comics?
A9: “Roy of the Rovers” continued its adventures in Roy of the Rovers comics until May 1995. It remained a famous and iconic character even after leaving Tiger.
Q10: What is the legacy of Tiger Comics?
A10: Tiger is notable for being the birthplace of “Roy of the Rovers,” a legendary British comic character. Its contribution to British comics history is recognized through stamps and collections of its material, and the character of Roy Race remains an enduring part of British popular culture.
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