The original Tom Thumb was a character from English folklore, a
boy no bigger than his father's thumb, whose adventures had
appeared in print as far back as the Seventeenth Century, though
the tales themselves went back much further.
The editor and writers of the early Beano took both the name,
and the miniature size of the character and created a whole new
series of adventures for tiny Tom. The first of these, beginning in
the first issue, was a text story, with illustrations by Dudley D.
Watkins, and preserved much of the fairytale feel of the original.
A second text story series, titled 'Jungle Leader of the Lost
Little Ones', with Tom leading a tribe of six inch tall men across
Africa to find a new home, followed, before the story, titled 'Tom
Thumb' once more, became a comic strip. Watkins still supplied the
artwork, with occasional strips by James 'Peem' Walker.
In 1948, Tom tackled tasks set to him by the king in his
attempts to become 'Sir Tom Tumb', with James Crighton on artwork.
Fred Sturrock took over for the following year's tale of Tom and
the blind boy, Eldred, and their mission to foil a plot to kill
Richard the Lionheart.
1950 saw 'Tom Thumb's Schooldays', the title a play on the
famous 1857 novel 'Tom Brown's Schooldays' by Thomas Hughes. George
Drysdale illustrated Tom's adventures and misadventures in trying
to run a school when a wicked baron bans education - Peterkin the
cat was Tom's trusty ally, and trusty steed throughout.
A final series, 'Tom Thumb - The Brave Little One', featured our
half-pint hero's adventures at sea, with art by John Nichol.
Dudley Watkins would later illustrate a series of adventures for
Tom Thumb for nursery title, 'Bimbo' between 1961 and 1969, with
more big adventures for the little star in (appropriately) 'Little
Star' starting in 1973.