“Charley’s War” auctioned art defies estimates, sells for over £1000

Charley's War original artwork by Joe Colquhoun for Battle-Action No 297 Page 3 (1980). Written by Pat Mills The French legionnaires fight a ferocious battle during the German Siege of Fort Vaux in Verdun. Krotowski hides himself in the observation turret above the tunnel, desperately trying to buy water from a German soldier outside but Blue forces his comrade away knowing he'll be shot if the commandant finds out 18 x 15 ins. Black ink on cartridge paper £250-300
“Charley’s War” original artwork by Joe Colquhoun for Battle-Action No 297

Charley’s War” artwork does not come onto the market very often and Pat Mills stories of World War One’s Charley Bourne, brilliantly illustrated by Joe Colquhoun, first published in Battle Picture Weekly, have legions of admirers, so it’s no surprise some recently offered at auction sold for a good price.

From a conservative estimate of £250-300 an action piece featuring Charley and rebel French soldier Blue rocketed to £1320 at the recent Compalcomics auction.

Three more consecutive, grouped “Charley’s War” pages, accompanied by their Battle-Action comic front cover layout and they soared to a triple estimate £2450.

Charley's War original artwork by Joe Colquhoun from Battle-Action 321 (June 27 1981). Written by Pat Mills It's April 1917. During the battle of Ypres Charley witnesses Captain Snell killing a wounded German soldier in no-man's land during an unofficial truce. The Germans respond with withering fire power whilst Snell metes out 'justice' to his own command 2½ page complete episode artworks (18 x 15" x 2, 9 x 15" x 1) With original Battle-Action front page colour layout and acetate overlay

If you’d like to see original art from this ground-breaking, critically acclaimed comic strip (much of the art returned to Joe post publication thanks to Pat), then head to the Tank Museum in Bovington, where there is some on permanent display. The whole World War One series has been collected by Titan Books. The strip is now owned by Rebellion and we have a full sub section devoted to the strip here on downthetubes.

Comic art collectors were clearly out in force for the auction – one of four held each year by the London-based company. Artwork for the “Timeslip” comic strip by Mike Noble, originally published in Look-In, sold for £720.

Timeslip original colour artwork by Mike Noble for Look-in No 5 page 17 (February 6 1971)
Timeslip original colour artwork by Mike Noble for Look-in No 5 page 17 (February 6 1971)

A Broons original artwork page signed by Dudley Watkins may also have had Pa singin’ he belongs to Dear Auld Glasgow Toon – but £680 took it back to a collector from Edinburgh.

The Broons original artwork (1958) drawn and signed by Dudley Watkins for The Sunday Post 8 June 1958 The Broons go to the record shop to have a record made of their own voices. Daphne sings Love's Old Sweet Song, Maggie Rocks, Horace reads poetry. Joe shouts fitba’ chants, Paw Belongs to Dear Auld Glasgow Toon but Maw disnae want to play anythin' til the morn...! [Illustrated in Broons Book 1964, lot following] One inch repaired tear to top margin Indian ink on cream card. 18 x 15 ins £450-500
The Broons original artwork (1958) drawn and signed by Dudley Watkins for The Sunday Post 8 June 1958
Rare British comics were also part of the auction of course, which we trailed here on downthetubes. An issue of Tiger Number One, published in 1954, featuring the first appearance of Roy of the Rovers, with its free gift Space Gun and 5 out of six Flying Saucer projectiles shot to £940 reflecting the rarity of this highly contested lot.

Tiger Issue 1 with Gift

Early issues of The Dandy and a 1940s Magic-Beano book, also commanded high prices, and a The Beano comic Number Two is a rare item, with only eight copies known to exist, so even in its well-worn condition the copy offered doubled its lower estimate to £1220.

US comics in the auction also did well for the most part. A copy of X-Men Giant-Size #1 mutated to £300, the special featured the first “modern” X-Men story (published in 1975!), written by Len Wein and illustrated by Dave Cockrum.

X-Men Giant-Size #1

There were still, of course, bargains to be had. A copy of Gold Key’s US Secret Agent sold for just £16, the buyer aware more than others that the comic was in fact the adventures of Danger Man, the hugely successful black and white TV series starring John Drake as the eponymous hero, coolly played by Patrick McGoohan. The show was re-named Secret Agent for its initial US broadcast.

Gold Key Secret Agent Comic
Danger Man starring Patrick McGoohan became “Secret Agent” for Gold Key in the 1960s

You can read the full market report here

• If you’d like to see original art from the ground-breaking, critically acclaimed comic strip” Charley’s War” then head to the Tank Museum in Bovington, where there is some on permanent display. The whole World War One series has been collected by Titan Books. The strip is now owned by Rebellion and we have a full sub section devoted to the strip here on downthetubes.

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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