God, that kid's creepy.
Buster Brown was brought to life in 1902 by The Yellow Kid creator Richard F. OutCault. He is, by all means, the opposite of Oucault's other creation, The Yellow Kid. Buster is an upper class bratty and petty kid who gets into trouble from time to time. Usually at the end of the comic he gets spanked, and then comes up with some moral or advice as to why he thinks he's in trouble. A good deal of the time these morals have nothing to do with why he's in trouble. They morals however can be applied to a number of things going on in the world, specifically politics, world events, trends, all that.
His talking bulldog Tige was also a first in comics. Before then animals didn't talk in comics. But Tige was different. He knew what Buster was doing was wrong (but he was still there helping him from time to time), but he could only convey that to the reader.
Buster Brown had original run in the New York Herald, but when Outcault left for another paper, the Herald kept publishing Buster using different artists and writers. After a possibly intense lawsuit, Outcault was also publishing Buster stories…just not using his name. The Herald's Buster lasted until 1911, but Outcault's went untl 1921, because he was a bad ass. He was such a bad ass that at the Saint Louis World's Fair of 1904, he brought the strip with him to sell to market to various companies. He sold 200, a testament to the power of merchandising creepy kids.
You could find Buster and Tige on a number of items. He was the Hello Kitty of his time, only I don't think there were any Buster Brown condoms. He had bread, clothing, various toys, stockings, Valentines Cards (why would you ever give someone you like a card with this creepy kid on there), and honestly anything and everything. He was a marketable motherfucker, and Outcault probably died rich and happy. The most famous of these items though, were Buster Brown shoes. Buster and Tige were their mascots up until the 1990's. I tried to see if the company ever went under, but no. They're still alive and kicking. Apparently they also marketed the first Mary Jane shoes (based off of the shoes his sister wore in the comics) which I still wear. Buster Brown shoes are kids shoes, and can be found at a number of stores including Sears, Target, and Amazon, since really who goes out to shop anymore. And from the looks of it they just have a paw print on the side, probably to keep from giving your kids reoccurring nightmares from the kid and dog living in their shoe.
There were also stage shows, a radio show, and TV shows/commercials for this brand. And to be fair these didn't quell my irrational fear of this kid. The pics you can find online of the stage show are nothing short of nightmare fuel. Not even because of Buster Brown, but because they would have someone in a dog costume to be Tige. The Buster's were usually played by dwarfs. On the rare chance they did have a real dog, well, you were in luck. Dogs usually cancel out really creepy kids. Usually.
If you're looking for another thing to collect, Buster Brown items won't break the bank. Platinum Age comics in general don't go for a large sum of money. I've owned a number of Platinum Age books over the years, and the most I've paid for a book was maybe $50 for a Smitty #1. Of course it falls on the condition of the book as well. I've seen Buster Brown items range from $5-500 just on eBay alone, and almost any antique store in America will have something Buster Brown. They are a staple of Americana, one that had endured for 100+ years.