On this day, 28 February 1976: Tiger and Scorcher
If you clicked through to the blog from Twitter this morning you may have found it unedited and without pictures, so apologies for that. I realised just as my son's Sunday league football match was kicking off so I was able to delete the post in a panic from my phone, but was unable to put it right until now.
On this day, 28 February 1976 ... There is an advert for the recently launched Action in this issue of Tiger, which may not have pleased some members of Team Tiger (despite their recent move to shiny new King's Reach Tower – see the Pete's Page editorial below), given the stories we hear from Pat Mills, John Wagner and others pioneering the new wave of 'boys'' comics at IPC (Action and Battle, soon to be followed by 2000AD) about the suspicion with which they were regarded by the old guard (principally Tiger and Valiant at this stage). Tiger had been around for twenty-two years and would last another nine before it was folded into Eagle so it was still a strong brand. Some might call it middle class and formulaic, others might say it was safe and familiar. While Action gave voice to the angry and disenfranchised, Tiger was better suited to those who valued convention and status quo (or perhaps an escape from dismal reality).
As I mentioned earlier in the week I didn't come to Tiger until late 1980 when it took over Speed. By that time I also had a reservation for 2000AD so I took both comics as unlikely mates at the breakfast table for a while (a minor example of the sorts of dichotomy that have been a theme of my life – something I'll probably explore further in a later blog post). The Galaxy's Greatest Comic was a weekly parcel of awe and wonder, yet I don't recall anticipating my Tiger with any less enthusiasm. There were stories I found interesting and characters - Billy Dane of Billy's Boots, Nipper Lawrence, Hot-shot Hamish – whose exploits, however unrealistic, I genuinely cared about. It's probably true to say that by 1980 Tiger had taken small steps towards some sort of credibility and relevance – Tommy's Troubles was in, Martin’s Marvellous Mini was out – even though the initial appearance of the comic was much the same as it had been in 1976 (in fact it had pretty much the same format and cover design from 1970 until 1982).
Looking back to the issue in question, it's easier to see why Mills et al felt IPC's output had become stale, patronising and out of touch. There is a placid, undemanding bonhomie about most of the stories. Skid Solo's young mechanic Tommy Carter has to pass his driving test, Martin and Tiny of Martin's Marvellous Mini take two down-on-their-luck kids on a boat trip to a holiday island, and even Roy of the Rovers' Melchester fans plot a pitch invasion with a degree of righteous civility. In common with the fantastical nature of the stories in brother paper Valiant, stories such as The Amazing Exploits of Tornado Jones and Johnny Cougar with Splash Gorton stretched the boundaries of credibility and physical likelihood (not unlike the Kid Pharaoh strip that I posted in full a couple of weeks ago). And, as if further evidence were needed that Tiger was suffering a severe infestation of thrill-suckers, the centre pages feature the 1975/76 Arsenal squad. Mancini, Powling, Rostron and Copley ... where's Mek-quake when you need him?