Weary Willie and Tired Tim, by Tom Browne
From: Illustrated Chips (1899).

Thomas Arthur Browne was born in Nottingham in 1870. He started out working as a milliner's errand boy in 1882. He became an apprentice at a lithographic printer and earned a small living by doing freelance cartoons for London comic papers. His first strip was prophetically called 'He Knew How To Do It', and was published in the magazine Scraps, who paid Browne 30 shillings for it.

Weary Willy and Tired Tim versus the Cavalry, by Tom Browne

In 1890, Alfred Harmsworth started Comic Cuts magazine. It provided an ideal market for Browne's humorous style, which used bold lines that were much more suited to the cheaply-printed new comic magazines than the more intricate cross-hatched cartoons of his contemporaries. Browne's work quickly became popular. He moved to London and set up a studio in Wollaton House at Westcombe Park, Blackheath, where he made six full-page comics a week, as well as many illustrations and short gags for several British magazines.

Weary Willie and Tired Tim, by Tom Browne 1898

Founding the London Sketch Club, he gained great popularity and was made a Royal Illustrator. Tom Browne made several bicycle trips all around the world, and his drawn adventures were published in the newspapers. Back in his home town, he established his own color printing business and joined the Territorial Army.

Another comic Tom Browne created was 'Weary Willy and Tired Tim'. This comic appeared on the front page of magazine Illustrated Chips from 1896 to 1953. It was also translated in Dutch as 'Job & Bob' and ran in the Flemish comic magazine De Kindervriend in the early 1910s. Tom Browne has been a major influence on the development of the British comic style. His 'Airy Alf and Bouncing Billy' (which appeared in The Big Budget around 1900), was later continued by Ralph Hodgson, who signed his work with "Yorick". Browne also created the first "real life" comic, 'Dan Leno', in Dan Leno's Comic Journal in 1898.

Dan Leno, by Tom Browne 1898

Among his other comic characters are 'Little Willy and Tiny Tim', 'Mr. Stankey Deadstone and Company', 'The Rajah' and 'Don Quixote de Tintogs'. Tom Browne died after an operation for an internal illness at the age of 39, and was buried with military honors at Shooters Hill.

Interviewed by The Daily Herald in 1957, Charlie Chaplin revealed that the 'Weary Willie and Tired Tim' comics were a strong inspiration for his own comedy character, the Tramp. 

Airy Alf and Bouncing Billy  by Tom Browne

Series and books by Tom Browne you can order today:


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