Tiger Tim and the Bruin Boys (Tiger Tim's Weekly, 31 March 1925)

Herbert Sydney Foxwell was a British comics artist, who was mostly associated with the nursery weeklies published by the Amalgamated Press in the early 20th century. He was highly regarded for his talent of drawing funny animals. This was especially showcased in his work on Julius Stafford Baker's 'Tiger Tim' (1914-1933) and his run on Charles James Folkard's 'Teddy Tail' (1933-1941) in the Daily Mail. While they were created by other artists, it was Foxwell who made them iconic.

Herbert Sydney Foxwell was born in 1890 in Camberwell, London. His father was journalist and publisher Sydney Harold Foxwell. He grew up in Eltham and studied fine arts at Addey and Stanhope College of Science, Art and Technology. He debuted as a comics artist in 1912, when he drew 'Jumbo and Jim' (1912) for the children's magazine The Penny Wonder, a halfpenny comics magazine published by Alfred Harmsworth's Amalgamated Press. A year later he also drew 'Artie Artichoke' (1913) for the AP's The Favourite Comic and 'Harold Hazbean' (1913) in Comic Cuts. In 1914 Foxwell became a graphic contributor to The Rainbow, the first colour comics magazine aimed specifically at children. It was also famously the first comics magazine to be read by the children of the British Royal Family. Foxwell drew several short-lived series for The Rainbow, including 'Sam the Skipper' and 'The Dolliwogs' Dolls' House' (1914). In 1915 he drew 'Helpful Horace' for the Sunday Pictorial, the weekly sister paper of The Daily Mirror. His productivity is quite amazing, considering he also served in the army during the First World War around the same time.


Tiny Toy Boys (Tiger Tim's Weekly, 3 March 1928)

In 1914 Foxwell got his big break when The Rainbow's home cartoonist Julius Stafford Baker II was fired. Baker had drawn the succesful comic strip 'Tiger Tim' for many years, but in the Rainbow it had been retitled as 'The Bruin Boys', since the titular character - a little tiger - often had gags with his animal friends who were all students of a teacher who was a female bear, Mrs. Bruin. Foxwell continued the series for three decades and made it even more popular than it already was thanks to his talent for drawing funny animals. On 1 June 1919 the characters received their own children's magazine, Tiger Tim's Tales, which was rebooted as Tiger Tim's Weekly from 31 January 1920 until 18 May 1940. A series of annual book publications was additionally launched in 1921. 'Tiger Tim' was also popular in translation, even though side character Jumbo Jim - an elephant friend of Tiger Time - was now the focus. In 1932 an Italian children's magazine was established named Jumbo e i Compagni. It received a Spanish version in 1934, Yumbo, and a French one a year later, Jumbo.


Wonder Tales of Tinkle-Bell Tree (Tiger Tim's Weekly, 17 March 1928)

Foxwell contributed two other comics series to the Tiger Tim weeklies, namely 'Pinky and Patsy' (1919), 'The Tiny Toy Boys' (1920) and 'Tales from Tinkle-Bell Tree. Foxwell later humanized 'The Bruin Boys' into 'The Bunty Boys' (a.k.a. 'Mrs. Bunty's Boarding House', 1921-1941), a spin-off which appeared in the magazine Bubbles. For the magazine Playbox he created a feminine counterpart called 'Tiger Tilly and the Hippo Girls' (1925), as well as a new series called 'Chummy Boys (1930). He made a celebrity comic about Hollywood star Lloyd Hamilton in Kinema Comic (1920), and additionally created 'Merry Merlin' (1919) in Children's Fairy and 'Mrs. Croc's School' in Bubbles. Such was his stature at the time that he was one of the few British comics artists at the time who was allowed to sign his work, which he usually did with the pen names "Foxwell" or "HSF".


The Bunty's Boys (Bubbles, 22 October 1932)

In 1933 Foxwell was asked to continue another popular comics series: 'Teddy Tail', originally created by Charles James Folkard in 1915, but continued by his son Harry Folkard since 1926. This fantasy comic about a little mouse with a knot in its tail was published in The Daily Mail supplement The Boy's & Girl's Daily Mail. This led to Foxwell leaving Amalgamated Press for Associated Newspapers. 'Teddy Tail' became popular enough during this period to inspire a fanclub. Children who were members received greeting cards starring Teddy and personally signed by Foxwell himself. During Foxwell's run, the title character was remodelled into a schoolboy, and several new cast members were added, such as Mrs. Whisker the mouse, Piggy the pig, Kitty Puss the cat and Dougie the duck. Foxwell's art furthermore appeared on postcards, jigsaw puzzles and other merchandizing.

Teddie Tails, by Herbert Foxwell
Teddie Tails Annual (1936)

Foxwell also worked as an illustrator for Jolly Jack's Weekly, a comics supplement of The Sunday Dispatch, drawing the title character on the front page and creating features like 'Professor Simple' and 'Chubby'. Foxwell's comics were popular enough to be translated in French and Italian. In 1941 Foxwell dropped most of his comics series to enter the Royal Army Service Corps. The United Kingdom had been involved in the Second World War for two years and he was called up as an army reservist at Aldershot Military Town. Foxwell moved up to the rank of captain and died in 1943. Some sources incorrectly claim that he was killed in action, but instead he died of natural causes. 'Teddy Tail' was continued by Arthur Potts from 1945 on, until William St. John Glenn took it over from 1954 until 1962. 'Tiger Tim' had been continued by Bert Wymer since Foxwell's departure in 1933, and was subsequently drawn by Julius Stafford Baker III, Peter Woolcock and a host of anonymous Fleetway artists.

Tiger Tim and the Bruin Boys, by Herbert Foxwell 1922

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