|Mister Tawky Tawny|
|Publisher||Fawcett Comics (1948–1953)
DC Comics (1972–present)
|First appearance||Captain Marvel Adventures #79 (December 1947)|
|Created by||Otto Binder
|Team affiliations||Marvel Family|
|Supporting character of||Captain Marvel|
|Abilities||Traditionally none; some versions of the character give him shapeshifting abilities from man to tiger, or the ability to transform into a giant smilodon.|
Mister Tawky Tawny is a fictional character, an anthropomorphic tiger who appears as a supporting character of Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family in superhero/funny animal comic book stories published by Fawcett Comics and later DC Comics. Created by Otto Binder and C.C. Beck in 1947, the traditional version of Tawky Tawny is a humanoid and well mannered tiger who wishes to be a part of human society. A friend of the Marvel Family, Tawny often participates in the adventures. Later versions introduced in the 2000s and beyond often feature Tawny as more tiger-like, though typically retaining his ability to talk.
Fawcett Comics and pre-Crisis DC Comics
Mr. Tawny made his first appearance in Captain Marvel Adventures #79 (1947), published by Fawcett Comics. The story "The Talking Tiger" introduced Mr. Tawny as a humanoid talking tiger who travels from his native India to the United States in hopes of integrating himself into American society. The presence of the talking tiger terrorizes the public, leading to Captain Marvel intervening. Upon learning that Tawny is a friendly and reasonable fellow, Marvel helps Tawny become a respectable part of society and secures a job for him as a tour guide at the local museum.
Tawny became a regular recurring character in Captain Marvel Adventures, appearing as the best friend of Captain Marvel and his juvenile alter-ego Billy Batson, until it ceased publication in 1953. As a respectable gentleman, Tawny typically dressed in a tweed suit, and spoke and acted in a dignified manner. His second appearance, "Captain Marvel and the Return of Mr. Tawny" (from Captain Marvel Adventures #82 in 1948), featured Tawny's origin story: Tawny had been a regular tiger who was accused of killing a man. In order to allow the tiger to clear his name, a local hermit gave Tawny a serum that gave him the ability to speak and stand upright like a human. A contest was introduced in Captain Marvel Adventures #90 for the readers to submit entries for what Mr. Tawny's first name might be, with the winning entry by Mary Garrisi and Pat Laughlin of Detroit, MI, "Tawky" (a deliberate misspelling of "talky"), being introduced in Captain Marvel Adventures #90. Writer Otto Binder and artist C. C. Beck unsuccessfully attempted to launch a newspaper comic strip featuring Mr. Tawny in 1953.
Following the end of the publication of Captain Marvel Adventures when Fawcett Comics discontinued all of their superhero comics (see National Comics Publications v. Fawcett Publications), Tawny later resurfaced when DC Comics licensed (and later bought) the rights to the Fawcett characters and began publishing new Captain Marvel stories, along with Fawcett reprints, under the comic book title Shazam! beginning in 1973.
Post-Crisis DC Comics
Tawky Tawny was written out of continuity following DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths maxiseries in 1985-86. A new version of the character was introduced by Jerry Ordway and Peter Krause in DC's The Power of Shazam! graphic novel in 1994 and its subsequent comic book series spinoff in 1995. In the graphic novel, "Tawky Tawny" was a popular children's toy doll owned by Billy Batson's sister Mary Batson; the doll plays a key part in the origin story of Black Adam by being used to hide part of the scarab necklace which allowed him to first access his powers.
The subsequent comic series features the stuffed doll gaining the power from the evil demon Lord Satanus to transform into a six-foot anthropomorphic tiger who self-describes as a pooka, with Power of Shazam! #4 being his first appearance in the series. Tawny is given life by Satanus to help Billy Batson and the Marvel Family in their fight against his sister, the demon Blaze. Under Satanus' spell, Tawny only appeared sentient to Billy, Mary, and Uncle Dudley; everyone else only sees a doll (similar to how only Calvin can see Hobbes as a real tiger in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip). Towards the conclusion of this story arc in Power of Shazam! #11, Tawny is given permanent anthropomorphic form by the magical superhero Ibis the Invincible, after he proves to be more of an aid to the Marvels than Satanus intended.
Following the cancellation of The Power of Shazam! in 1999, Tawny only appeared sporadically in DC Comics stories. In 52 #16 (2006), he appears as a guest of the wedding of reformed Marvel Family villain Black Adam and his bride Isis. In The Trials of Shazam! #10 (2007), Tawny helps Freddy Freeman (formerly Captain Marvel's sidekick Captain Marvel, Jr) fight the evil Sabina, revealing a new ability to transform into a giant and powerful smilodon. In Final Crisis #6, the key miniseries of DC's 2009 Final Crisis crossover event, Tawky Tawny joined up with the All-Star Squadron and faced off against Kalibak and his Tigerman. Tawky manages to slay Kalibak and gain leadership of the Tigermen.
Following DC's company-wide New 52 reboot, Tawny appears as a recurring character in the Shazam! backup stories published in Justice League (vol. 2) from issue #7 through #21. In these stories, Tawny is a regular tiger at the Philadelphia city zoo who is a friend of young Billy Batson. When Billy gains the power to transform into Shazam (the Captain Marvel character's name was changed at this time), Shazam finds that he can share his power with anyone he considers family. When a fight with Black Adam lands them in the zoo, Shazam attempts to give Tawny the power to turn into a giant smilodon but casts the spell incorrectly.
In Jeff Smith's 2007 miniseries Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil, Tawky Tawny was presented as an ifrit disguised as a homeless man who can take the form of a tiger. Tawky, in human form, was a friend of Billy Batson when the boy was homeless living on the streets. He became the voice of reason for Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel, a role the character continued in when DC began publication of a Monster Society of Evil continuing series spin-off, Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!, which ran from 2008 to 2010.
In the Flashpoint reality, Tawky Tawny is a companion of Captain Thunder. He appears to be an ordinary tiger, kept on a leash by one of six children who each possess one of the powers of Shazam. When the children transform into Captain Thunder, Tawny becomes a Smilodon in armor. Pedro Peña, the child who keeps Tawky on a leash, claims that due to the magic surrounding the tiger, most people only see him as a regular tabby cat.
In other media
- Tawky Tawny was a supporting character in the 1981 Saturday morning cartoon series, The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam! voiced by Alan Oppenheimer.
- In the 2010 episodes "The Power of Shazam!" and "The Malicious Mr. Mind" from Cartoon Network's Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Tawky Tawny appears as Mary Batson's stuffed toy tiger.
- Tawky Tawny appears in the Young Justice episode "Alpha Male" (2011) with its vocal effects provided by Dee Bradley Baker. This version is a genetically-enhanced Bengal Tiger that Captain Marvel freed from the mind-control collars planted on it by Brain and Monsieur Mallah. Captain Marvel later befriends the tiger. He tells the tiger he will visit it again and calls it "Mr. Tawny".
- Tawky Tawny appeared in the animated short Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam (2010) voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. He appears as a grungy homeless guy calling Billy Batson "Captain." But when Black Adam threatens to continue his wave of destruction, Tawny reveals his real identity as a mystical tiger to Superman and Captain Marvel. Black Adam recognizes Tawky Tawny as a lackey of the Wizard Shazam, who gave Adam and Marvel their powers. To evade being banished by Shazam upon being threatened by Tawky, Black Adam quotes "Shazam" and turns into a withered old man that turns to dust. Tawny then hints that there may have been more to Shazam's death than previously thought before leaving.
- Sims, Chris (September 12, 2013). "Otto Binder And C.C. Beck’s Mr. Tawny Captain Marvel Newspaper Strip Spinoff That Never Was". ComicsAlliance. Archived from the original on September 17, 2013.
What you might not know is that in 1953, Binder and Beck tried out a newspaper comic strip starring Tawny as a solo act, completely without his superheroic pal.
- Final Crisis #6 (January 2009)
- Justice League (vol. 2) #21 (August 2013)
- Flashpoint #1 (July 2011)
- Kingdom Come #2 (June 1996)