Buster Brown

By | Saturday, November 26, 2011 Leave a Comment
If you're at all like me, you're probably more familiar with Buster Brown via the shoes than anything else. Though certainly not as popular as they once were, I distinctly recall a time when "Buster Browns" were the 7-year-old's equivalent of Air Jordans or Crocs. However, Buster Brown was actually a comic strip character BEFORE become a shoe mascot.

Buster Brown debuted as a comic strip in the New York Herald in 1902. It was created by Richard Outcault, who is perhaps better known as the creator of the Yellow Kid from almost a decade earlier. The character was then bought by the Brown Shoe Company in 1904 and debuted as the company mascot at the World's Fair in St. Louis. Outcault continued drawing the character in the comics until 1921.

But the character continued on. Beginning in 1925, a series of live-action comedy shorts were produced featuring Arthur Trimble in the titular role. Tige the dog was played by Pal the Wonder Dog, who would later go on to become the iconic Petey in Our Gang shorts. Here's "Knockout Buster"...

There were, I believe, 49 Buster Brown shorts in all. "Knockout Buster" was #43 and was first released on March 6, 1929. Buster Brown didn't receive any notable media exposure again until a radio show in 1943, and then a television program in 1951. The Buster Brown comic book ran from 1945 until 1956, with a handful of additional one-off issues throughout the 1950s.

After that, the only new Buster Brown material I'm aware of are commercials. There were a few reprint books in the 1970s, but nothing new that I can find. Which would probably explain why many folks my age or younger aren't aware of Buster Brown's history as a bona fide comic character!
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