Charley's War was quite simply THE comic strip for me as a small boy. Battle comic would regularly pop through the family letter box in the days of yore and I would race downstairs to eagerly catch up on the various characters that then dominated my world. Charley's War left an indelible mark on me whilst I was growing up, the strip was illustrated by an artist quite beyond this sphere, the legendary Joe Colquhoun R.I.P. and scripted by the equally talented Pat Mills. Charley and his fellow Tommies burst off the page, the mud, the bombs, the mustard gas were so real that it seemed you were there, surely a comic, especially a British comic could not have the emotional power to do this? These men elevated the standard and quality of a media that had previously only dealt in single dimensional one man armies,plastic heroes and downright fantastical piffle. A mere 12pence comic printed on cheap paper surely had no place or indeed right to conjure up such a raw,emotional and graphic image of a horribly obscene war that would forever colour my young mind did it?? Left in the hands of anyone else that would probably have been the case but in the hands of Colquhoun and Mills the spotty faced oiks (me and others like me) got about as close to the festering boil of World War One as was conceivable in the new age of the 1980's. These two gentlemen of the dying art were most definately not sensationalists cashing in on other peoples misery to make a few quid.Indeed Pat Mills vigourously researched his subject matter, and Joe Colquhoun would devote all his creative zeal to bringing Charley and co alive, often turning down other assignments that would have increased his wages to create the believable story world. For these two men it was more important to represent the atrocity of war in the most real way possible.A new level in comics had been attained, surely nothing could be the same again? For real read, deserters shot by firing squads,read tackling the class divide between Private and Officer, read rats and horses wearing gasmarks, read the emotional frailty of many of the young men and indeed boys who fought the war.Boys war comics were supposed to be full of gung ho, up and at 'em, home in time for tea thrills and spills. There was no place for 16 year old soldiers crying because they miss the folks back home or on the verge of breakdown having seen a comrade blown to bits in a rat infested trench was there? Charleys War was the real deal, it could have been your Great Grandfather telling you all about it 20 years ago, indeed Battle used to receive letters from WW1 veterans praising the comic for the accuracy of the strip after their grandsons had shown them, it was praise indeed. As the years passed I found new thrills in life but the memory of Charley's War stayed with me, years after my Battles were thrown out I searched specialist stores to try and discover my lost youth and I found a few old copies, here in lay the real test; would Charley's War still do it for the 30 something now used to glossy war films and video games? So many things you remember as a callow youth never seem nearly as great with the passing of years, could Charley's War buck this depressing trend? The answer was a resounding yes it could, in fact it was better because now I understood it all more and it seemed more real. When I found out that this superb book was to be released it exited me tremendously. Charley really deserves the platform of high art that he now occupies, Titan Books have taken a lost treasure and preserved it anew. This book is the most awesome work you will experience for years, do yourself a big favour and buy it.
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