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7 January 2024

When Tiger comic was just an idea

I spotted this auction too late to be able to highlight it on the blog in time but, for posterity, here are some images from a recent sale that are sure to be of interest to British comic fans...

The lot (200a) sold on 6th January 2024 by Bentley's Auction Rooms in Cranboo, Kent was described thus...

Roy of the Rovers: The collection of the late Derek Birnage, head of the team that created this iconic comic footballing hero, editor of 'Tiger' and 'Champion' comics, writer of the Roy of the Rovers scripts from 1954 -1959, to include original 1st edition 'Tiger' paste-up. bound comics, loose comics, letters, press cuttings, Birnage's typewriter he wrote the scripts on, etc. Provenance: Consigned by the family of Derek Birnage, a unique and rare collection and once in a lifetime opportunity for Roy of the Rovers fans and collectors. The vendor is happy to be contacted by the successful buyer, should they have any questions or require furthering information on its history.

Image on the left clearly shows the 'paste up' version of the dummy issue of Tiger - although at that time its proposed title was Champion. I wonder if this was a suggested re-launch for the ailing story paper The Champion which was just about still in existence (until 19 March 1955 says Wikipedia here - when it merged with Tiger)?

Perhaps the idea of changing from a story paper to a comic was too much for (The) Champion and instead a wholly new title, Tiger, was launched (in September 1954) and The Champion closed down shortly afterwards (in March 1955).

Image on the right shows a copy of Tiger issue 1, dated 11 September 1954

You'll see that Melchester Rovers aren't in their classic yellow & red colours, instead they're playing in pink & blue.

Presumed second page of the dummy (coloured), undated.
There are small differences in the final 2 frames to what was eventually published. This page was eventually published in black & white NOT in colour.

and there's also this...which can't be part of the dummy because it's got the actual publication date (11 September 1954) and there are no differences in this page to what was eventually published

A copy of Tiger issue 1

More pages from the dummy - albeit with the correct publication date again noted so maybe this is a 2nd 'dummy'?

Here's that Dodger Caine page from Tiger #1 [pages 18+19, of 20] 

Sportsfan looks like another dummy for a comic. Never published. a 4d price on it makes it later than the launch of Tiger (which was priced at 3d in 1954) and wouldn't go up to 4d until 1956. Art looks like Joe Colquhoun.

Clippings to do with Derek Birnage

his typewriter!

Bound copies from his collection

A box of ephemera related to Derek and his work - would love to know more about what was in this box!

The hammer price for all the above? £3,600 (before fees)

Derek Arthur William Birnage (13th June 1913 – 18th January 2004) was the founding editor of Tiger, and co-creator of Roy of the Rovers. You can read an obituary by Alan Woollcombe for The Independent here.


  1. Absolutely fascinating. I hope the material has gone to a good home - a treasure trove of our British comics history there!

  2. Sportsfan could've been what ended up being Hurricane perhaps? that also re-used Roy strips from the early Tiger issues.

  3. What an amazing find. Love that extra colour Roy of the Rovers page. I can confirm that The Champion merged with Tiger. Issue 29 of Tiger was the first to be subtitled ‘incorporating The Champion’ and carried over Rockfist Rogan from the story paper.