TIGER GIRLMedium: Comic books
Published by: Fiction House Magazines
First Appeared: 1944
Creator: unknown writer and Robert Webb, artist
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Superheroes weren't the only genre that proliferated in American comic books during the 1940s. Jungle heroes in the Tarzan mold, too, were popular, even in the very early days, but growing more so as the super guys began to lose their footing. Fiction House Magazines, where Kaanga, Camilla, Fantomah and many more thrived, was one of their leading
purveyors. In fact, Fiction House was the company that put a new wrinkle on the old genre — that was where Sheena, the first female Tarzan knock-off in comics, got her start.
It was undoubtedly Sheena who inspired Fiction House's Tiger Girl, and not Republic Pictures' 12-part serial, The Tiger Woman. The former debuted in Fight Comics #32, dated June, 1944, while the latter was first seen on May 27, 1944 — which, the way comics have traditionally been dated, means it's likely the comic book came out first. The writer who co-created Tiger Girl is unknown, but the artist was Robert Webb, a prolific contributor to Fiction House, who also worked for Fox Feature Syndicate. Other artists who worked on her over the years include Matt Baker (Phantom Lady) and Jack Kamen (EC Comics).
Like Wambi the Jungle Boy, another Fiction House jungle guy, Tiger Girl mixed African and Indian jungle motifs (except Wambi was more haphazard about it). Her original name, Princess Vishnu, ties her to India, as does the tiger theme itself — not to mention her constant companion, a real tiger named Benzali. Her other constant companion was Abdola, sometimes referred to as a Hindu and sometimes as a Sikh, which reinforces impressions of India. But the jungle she operated in was mostly African. Even without Benzali and Abdola at her side, Tiger Girl was pretty good in a fight, especially when she used her whip and her tiger ring, which gave her added strength when she looked at it.
Tiger Girl was a redhead at first, but had become blonde by the time she began her stint on the Fight Comics cover, which she did in #49 (April, 1947). She wrested the position from Señorita Rio, a U.S. government agent who masqueraded as an ordinary actress. She stayed on the cover until her very last appearance in Fight, #81 (July, 1952). The following month, she was transferred to Jungle Comics, where her adventures consisted mostly of reprints. Her last appearance altogether was in Jungle Comics #163 (Summer, 1954).
She didn't have a title of her own at Fiction House, nor was she even subjected to unauthorized reprints by Israel Waldman's IW or Super Comics, as so many Fiction House characters were. She was later appropriated by AC Comics, which did the same with The Avenger, Fighting Yank and many other comic book characters that weren't protected by copyright.