On this day, 6 April 1985: Eagle and Tiger
On this day, 6 April 1985 … And so two great comics merged; Eagle bolstered its readership and Tiger found a more suitable home for the sports-fantasy-adventure cocktail that it had become. I wrote last week about how I thought Tiger might have failed because it had abandoned its sports-only brand, but I’m sure it’s more than just that. IPC were rationalising their comics across the board by 1985, with fewer titles than ten years previously, and in 1987 would sell their comics list to Robert Maxwell suggesting they had little confidence in the future of this market. I had just about reached the age of moving beyond comics in 1985 (although clearly I never really moved beyond them or you wouldn’t be reading this now) so it’s hard for me to judge, but looking back I do find it harder to think of kids that were younger than me at this time being as into comics as I had been between the ages of about 6 and 13. Choices of leisure activity were changing – live football on the telly was on a dramatic rise, so sport itself was en route to becoming more of an observational pursuit than a participatory one – and there was a bit more pocket money around to allow for the purchase of toys and, crucially, computer games.
Gaming on home computers and consoles was where it was really at in the mid-1980s. And so the debut of The Ultimate Warrior, soon to be renamed Computer Warrior, is perhaps the most significant aspect of this Eagle-Tiger merger issue. Computer Warrior, in which a boy gains a secret code that allows him to physically enter the very games that he is playing would prove to be very popular and went on to become a long-running strip for Eagle (now edited, incidentally, by Max the super-computer from The Thirteenth Floor), and the very principle on which it is built, as described on the opening page below, is indicative of why Tiger and its ilk – and that includes the quintessential high adventure, outward-bounds comic for boys that Eagle itself once was – had had their day. ‘Comin’ down the park for a game of football after dinner, Martin?’ ‘Nah. Gonna play with my computer … See, there’s nothing you can’t do with a computer – if you just know how to make it do it.’