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1001 Stories Collection

Charley’s War

1001 Charleyswar
Added on 06th August 2020

Author Pat Mills
Illustrator Joe Colquhoun
First published 1979
Publisher Battle Weekly

A comic story that shows the reality of life in the trenches in World War 1 through the eyes of a young, working class, underage recruit.

Story

The story takes Charley Bourne, an underage British soldier, into the trenches of World War 1. He first sees action in the Battle of the Somme but the story follows him to the end of the war and beyond, including time posted to Russia in 1919. Idealistic when he first signs up Charley soon realises the reality of brutal trench warfare where ordinary people are losing their lives in a bitter conflict.

Why we chose it

Charley’s War is one of the most important war stories to appear in comics. It is an anti-war story, which ran in a comic full of more traditional war time heroics and has been praised for being honest and realistic. Pat Mills, who created Charley, wanted to write a story that would counter the war comics that glorified war.

Where it came from

Meticulously researched by both writer and artist, the story shows the brutal reality of the WW1 trenches through the eyes of an unusual hero – an illiterate, underage boy who joins up in the fervour of recruitment. Mills had seen the film Oh What A Lovely War many times and could see a great comic story in it. It was inspired by letters home from ordinary soldier. He wanted readers to identify with Charley- a typical working class boy of the time.

Where it went next

Pat Mills intended to finish the story with in 1933 with Charley on the dole and Hitler coming to power but he was replaced as writer by Scott Goodall who had Charley entering the second World War and being evacuated from Dunkirk. Its final end came when artist Joe Colquohon became too ill to continue working.

Charley’s War was repeated in comics Battle and Eagle. The series was collected into graphic novels between 2004 and 2013 by Titan and Rebellion Publishing began new series of graphic novels in 2018.

Associated stories

It has been compared to other denunciations of war and WW1 in particular.

Pat Mills also wrote for Judge Dredd, The ABC Warriors, Dan Dare, Dr Who, and Slaine

Added on 06th August 2020

Author Pat Mills
Illustrator Joe Colquhoun
First published 1979
Publisher Battle Weekly