Remember the Uniroyal Tiger Paws? They had the coolest animated commercials when I was a little kid.
I had all but forgotten about this one-of-a-kind character, but thanks to Pau Medrano Bigas in Barcelona, not only are we seeing this great old cartoon advertising mascot today...
... but Pau has pointed out that the Tiger Paws was born out of the fertile imagination of cartoonist Robert Osborn.
Osborn had a knack for seeing an edgy, slightly ominous quality in his subjects. His characters were never just funny or cute. They often exposed something a bit... unsettling.
In Gene Byrnes' 1950 book, The Complete Guide to Cartooning, Osborn writes, "It seems to me that any cartoon or painting, or piece of sculpture, can do more than merely copy nature..."
"... a copy never has the 'zing' of the real thing and inevitably seems dead compared to nature. But and artist can bring out of his imagination a new and real thing..."
"... which can stand on its own feet and isn't an imitation of something else."
Osborn could easily have been talking about his Tiger Paws creation.
Talk about 'zing'! This bizarre hybridization of aggressive predator and aggressive muscle car, born out of Osborn's seemingly limitless imagination, was unlike any other cartoon mascot ever conceived.
Cartoon mascots are typically friendly and inviting. Not Osborn's Tiger Paws. They were designed to appeal to those looking for the cool, the aggressive, the powerful. No cartoonist of the day could have been a more perfect choice to design such a character than Robert Osborn.
And here's a first for Today's Inspiration: video! I found a couple of those tv commercials from back in the day. Now that I know the Tiger Paws character was created by Osborn, it gives seeing these again a new depth and perspective.
Enjoy, youngsters! They don't make 'em like this any more!
*Over on Drawger, Stephen Kroninger shares a multitude of examples of Robert Osborn's work. Well worth taking a good long look.
*Robert Osborn's biography on Wikipedia
* My thanks to Pau Medrano Bigas for his Uniroyal Tiger Paws scans which appear in today's post.