Bud Blake, Creator of Tiger

3 September 2004

    Tiger,the delightful, sweet comic strip created by Bud Blake, has been in publication for nearly 40 years. I’m sorry to say that I had not noticed it, had not taken a passing glance, let alone a good look. With my apologies to Bud Blake, let’s correct that regrettable oversight right now as we sneak a quick peek at the life of this dedicated cartoonist.

    Bud Blake was born on February 13, 1918, in Nutley, New Jersey.*(1) His father, George Blake, was an art director at an advertising agency. Bud attended school in Nutley, leaving high school to find adventure as a penknife demonstrator, doing carvings at state fairs, carnivals and other busy places. He developed his artistic streak studying at art schools including the National Academy of Design in New York City. He gained further life experience working as a soda jerk while at school and as a lifeguard. *(2)

Tiger 2

    At age 18 in 1937, Bud joined the Kudner Agency in New York City as paste-up boy. World War II came calling, taking the up- and-coming artist away into the infantry division for three years. He returned and continued his career with Kudner, rising to executive art director. Then, Bud had a change of mind about all those meetings, business drudgery and commuting. He went back to his heart’s desire, the drawing board.

    Leaving “good men and good pay” behind, Bud parted from his secure job with the ad agency to strike out as a cartoonist in 1965. He must have had creative bubbles waiting to burst out: he created a panel called “Ever Happen to You?” that was snapped up by King Features Syndicate, and drew freelance cartoons for commercial accounts and for prominent magazines. Bud’s desire to cartoon culminated in the creation of a comic strip.

    “Pencil in hand, he watched his children and the neighbourhood kids at play,” notes the King Features web site. Tiger was born, a comic strip of kind, gentle humour that let happy, little kids be happy, little kids. The strip received syndication through King Features, with distribution that began in May, 1965.

    The young characters of Tiger encompass the lead, Tiger, a kid who likes to play and fish; his younger brother, Punkinhead, who tries hard to follow along with his big brother; and several friends--some outspoken, some brainy, some just funny. Their actions and play are those of regular little kids--not showing off, not trying to be adult. Just kids being themselves. Tiger is reminiscent of what childhood should be, and could be again.

Tiger 3

    A recent comic strip (July 19, 2004) depicts Tiger’s friend Hugo peering into the horn-end of his trumpet, saying, “Something is stuck inside my trumpet.” Tiger’s response over two panels is, “I bet I know what it is… Some notes you forgot from your last song.” An August 14, 2004 strip in wide-panel form shows Tiger and little brother Punkinhead building airplane models on a cluttered table. Tiger says, “A model is easy to put together if you follow the instructions.” Punkinhead replies, “Not for me. I need instructions for the instructions.” How often have we felt that way? Bud's humour really hits the mark, and the heart.

    The art of Tiger is a pleasure to the eye. Bold, confident lines and bright colours on a white background bring life to the setting and heart-warming characters. The strip is easy to follow, producing an immediate smile of recognition.

    Tiger now appears in 400 newspapers world-wide. Bud Blake has earned the National Cartoonists Society nomination several times for Tiger, and the award for Best Humour Strip (Newspaper Comic Strips) three times, most recently in 2000.

    Bud Blake lives in Maine and is now a widower. He is the father of two, Marianna and Jay.

    I sincerely regret missing this charming comic strip for so many years. Tiger is now on my list of favourites, and I’m smiling all the more for it.

Tiger 1

    Cartooning Update:  Bud Blake passed away on December 28, 2005.  His kind heart and delightful talents will be missed.

A quick overview of Bud Blake:
*(1) http://lambiek.net/artists/b/blake_bud.htm

Read Tiger daily and Sundays, and find more about Bud Blake:
*(2) http://www.kingfeatures.com/features/comics/tiger/about.htm

A sample cartoon of “Ever Happen to You?” from 1965:
http://dlib.lib.ohio-state.edu/cga/html/101-200/0170.html

© Susanna McLeod 2004
TheCartoonists.ca  
     
(Originally published in The Cartoonists on suite101.com.)