10 Most Asked Questions about Charley’s War

Steve Beeny coloured frame

Steve Beeny coloured frame

When did Charley’s War start and when did it end? Was it repeated in Eagle, or did it continue? I’m confused as to where to start collecting the whole thing.

Charley’s War started in the 200th edition which came out 6th January 1979. It started with three other new stories, HMS Nightshade, about a ship (see our Pat Mills interview) drawn by Mike Western and written by John Wagner; Glory Rider, a highly dubious story about a US tank commander and finally True life Heroes which usually was just text with a photograph, or a tasteful drawing to depict it.

Needless to say, Charley’s War was the only one to stand the test of time and the others rushed back into obscurity relatively quickly, although Nightshade is thought by many to be a classic.

Charley’s War then went on to run right through to 4th October 1986 when the story was pulled due to lack of funds. In that time the strip had spanned most of World War 1, the invasion of Russia and the start of the World War 2 up until Dunkirk. Battle merged with Eagle and 23rd January 1988 marks the end of the comic officially. (It was dead already though — just running often ridiculously censored reprints of the original strip Eventually this ground to a halt as well, but we’re not sure how much was reprinted before it ended. At the most it ran another year, we think.

Part of Charley’s War was rerun earlier this year in the 2000AD spin-off the Judge Dredd Megazine. The reprints went down extremely well, obviously enough to begin reprinting the series. Seven volumes have been published so far with Book 7 released in November 2010, all them including commentary by Pat Mills.

How old is Charley supposed to be in the strip?

Charley is 16 in 1916 and he lies about his age to get in the army. in World War Two he’s a very young looking 39 with a son len of 19. He sounds like Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses after Mills ceased writing it: “When I was in the trenches son….”

How did it end? Is it true he had a leg blown off and dies?

No. That rumour came from a question asked in the magazine Comics International. Charley’s War ended in a bit of a rush actually: Charley ends up at Dunkirk – and eventually finds his son Len who is shellshocked. Charley tries to reach him and is nearly crushed by two ships crashing together. After they are both hauled to safety we see Charley thinking that he’s far too old to continue fighting wars anymore and that that was it. He then starts remembering how and where it all begin… and so begin the reprints of the original stories.

What happened to the Artist that drew it?

Sadly Joe died in 1987, almost imediately after he retired. His last ever comics work was on the short lived Mask comic.

How do you pronounce Colquhoun?

Aha — good one. It’s pronounced CO-HOON!

What’s the score with the Graphic Novels? How many are they reprinting? Can I get them in the USA?

Titan Books have published seven volumes of Charley’s War featuring the stories written by Pat Mills so far. They have previously said they will release them until they are ‘no longer economically viable’ — so if you keep buying them, they’ll keep releasing them! For more information check out this page on our site

Where can I buy some original artwork by Joe Colquhoun?

Ha! Good luck with that quest. You won’t, we’re afraid. Neil Emery had been looking for years to find some of his work and never seen it. However, we recently discovered that some art still exists and it may eventually end up in a British Museum. We can’t say too much about this yet – but it’s in very safe hands. We just wish Neil was still here to enjoy it.

Why do you never see baby pigeons?

We think your in the wrong FAQ mate! That’s an old one anyway – more to the point is why do you never see an ice cream van refuelling?

Where is the best place to buy old Battles?

Try Ebay i think, and 26pigs.com and the bookpalace.com. Ebay is the main one to get them cheap though.

How did Neil wangle writing that bit in the graphic novel?

Neil sent them threatening letters demanding to do it . “They just asked me actually and of course I was beside myself with glee for the chance to be a part of it,” Neil said. “Pat Mills was the driving force though, he had been pushing from the beginning for me to be involved. He’s a top man.”

Volume 7 of Charley’s War is dedicated to Neil.