Holiday greetings from the most famous cartoon dog of the early 1900s, Tige. Tige, a bull terrier who could speak to his owner and to other animals (but not to adults), belonged to the cartoon character Buster Brown, the little boy in the Lord Fauntleroy suit with the blonde pageboy haircut. Buster and Tige are accompanied here by Buster’s friend Mary Jane.
Created in 1902 by pioneering comic strip artist Richard F. Outcault (1863-1923), Buster Brown was the celebrity face of a popular line of children’s shoes. Buster Brown and Tige also hawked many other products; a quick web search suggests just how popular the character was. (I remember Buster Brown shoes in the late 1950s, although Buster and Tige didn’t register with me.) In fact, Buster Brown is still a brand name for children’s clothing, although the characters have disappeared from the labels.
Buster also appeared in the early Sunday comic pages, and some of the strips are really beautiful and are still quite funny today. This particular card, printed on cheap paper, is not one of Buster and Tige’s finer manifestations. It appeared in the American Journal-Examiner, a New York periodical that published many such postcards, along with joke books and early comics. I think that this postcard was part of a comic-page giveaway. This particular example was never mailed, and it is a small miracle that it even survived.
Buster was a sweet-faced jokester and naughty boy, but from what I can tell, it was Tige who really sold the strip. All sorts of bull terriers were popular pets in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Unfortunately, dog fighting was a popular, albeit outlawed, betting sport at the same time that Buster and Tige appeared, and bulldogs like Tige were the dogs of choice for the pit.
It is hard to find collections of Buster Brown strips today, but here is a link to Buster Brown’s Autobiography, published in 1907. It offers Buster’s story of meeting Tige at his grandmother’s farm and tells how Tige became his dog. The pictures throughout are wonderful.
Buster, Tige, Mary Jane and I wish you a happy holiday season!