Whilst sci-fi fans were lapping up the
adventures of Dan Dare, IPC recognised that there was still a market for a
sports comic. September 11 1954 saw the appearance of Tiger comic and its free
gift of a 'Space Gun Novelty'. Stories featured 'Roy Of The Rovers',
'The Speedster From Bleakmoor', 'The Mascot Of
Bad Luck', 'Bulldog Bryant's Amazon Adventure',
'Tales Of Whitestoke School', 'Is Knowall Right
Or Wrong?', 'Young Hurricane', 'Captives
In The Fort Of Doom', 'Will Strongbow',
'The Two-Wheeled Whirlwind' and 'Dodger Caine -
The Lad With A Wheeze Up His Sleeve'.
Roy Race's first ever appearance in a British comic.
The most famous story in Tiger was Roy of the Rovers and
whilst playing as centre forward for the Milston Youth Club
team, Roy Race was being watched by Melchester Rover’s scout Alf Leeds. The
coloured cover of Tiger number one showed
Roy Race scoring the first goal of many for Tiger readers and the last for Milston Youth Club. Alf Leeds was impressed and Roy was given a chance in the
Melchester juniors on the back page. Roy was on his way to the longest
career in football strips and most probably in football history. Roy of the
Rovers was the invention of a writer called Frank S. Pepper who was also the
creator of Captain Condor, an Amalgamated Press (Amalgamated press became IPC in
1969) attempt to rival Dan Dare. Pepper, who used the pen name Stewart Colwyn,
conceptualised the Roy of the Rovers story to be that of an ordinary, humble lad
the readers would identify with who would be signed by a great team and
eventually become a star. In some ways, reality mirrors fiction in the fame and
adulation that David Beckham receives.
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Roy of the Rovers became synonymous with the Tiger comic and during the 1960’s
Tiger had a circulation of over 300,000 copies. Pepper didn’t stay with the
publication very long and numerous writers took up the story. The original
artist for Roy of the Rovers was Joe Colquhoon who is famous for his
collaboration with Pat Mills on Charley’s War. Colquhoon also drew such
characters as Johnny Red, Kid Chameleon (Cor!!), Football Family Robinson
(Jag) and Zip Nolan
to name but a few.
Tiger ran for
over 40 years and many readers of different ages will have their own
unique memories. The first comic I ever read was the first issue of
'Roy of the Rovers' comic in September 1976. 'Roy of the Rovers' the
comic was a spin off from 'Tiger and Scorcher' and also a sister paper
and this was how I was first introduced to Tiger. When I started
reading 'Tiger' in late 1976 I was introduced to such stories as
'Billy's Boots', 'Nipper', 'Hot Shot Hamish', 'Johnny Cougar',
'Martin's Marvelous Mini', 'Skid Solo'. I even had a joke printed in
'Tiger' highlighting my questionable sense of humour.
Tiger survived for 1555 issues and incorporated a
number of titles including 'Champion' (1955), 'Comet' (1959),
'Hurricane' (1965), 'Jag' (1969), 'Scorcher' (1974) and 'Speed' in 1980
before being incorporated itself into 'Eagle'
A joke sent in to Tiger
comic from a Darren Davies in Birmingham.
The Tiger comic banner lived on in 'Eagle and Tiger' dated 6th April
1985. To begin with the Tiger logo had equal billing with the Eagle
logo as can be seen in the first combined issue below, but over time
the Tiger logo became smaller and less prominent. Until, finally issue
221 of 'Eagle and Tiger' dated 14th June 1988 saw the last ever
appearance of the banner and any mention of Tiger comic. After nearly
fifty four years, the Tiger comic was gone forever.