Charley’s War Reviews

Charley’s War: What People Have Said…
“Anyone unfamiliar with the series really should get hold of a copy of this beautiful graphic novel – anyone who is familiar with it won’t need any encouragement to buy this. 9/10′
Direct Publications website

“The first hardback reprint of Charley’s War is out. I meant to catch the strips when they were reprinted in the Judge Dredd Megazine, but it was so expensive and there was so little else of interest in it that I stopped. This is far better value, and hopefully they’ll reprint all the stories this way.”

Amazon review

Word Magazine, December 2004, review by Andrew Harrison

“The attention to detail is mesmerising… Charley’s War is simply the greatest British comic strip ever created.”
Diamond Previews (about Volume 1)

Charley's War Volume 1Reviews for Charley’s War Volume 1

• Review by Neil Emery: Well, it’s finally here, after many months of badgering them and hassling them, bombarding them and strafing them with your email demands for a reprint (or else), those poor people at Titan have finally given in, I received in the post this morning a brand spanking new
copy of the new book and WOW! It’s brilliant.

This quality hardback edition is resplendent in black with a single poignant poppy superimposed onto one of the most famous of the photographs from World War 1 (of the tommy in silhouette saying goodbye at the grave of his mate). Underneath the title the cover tells us it runs from 2nd June 1916 until the 1st of August 1916 (published from the 6th of January 1979 until 28th July 1979). This means that this collection is bigger than the previous two releases in the 1980s, and falls only about four issues short of being both previous books combined.

Some have said they imagined that the book would be just a re-release of books one and two to cash in on the interest to the website. That couldn’t be more wrong, Titan have truly excelled themselves making it contain almost both the previous chapters (1 & 2),plus a veritable wealth of great articles – which include Pat Mill’s forward, his strip commentary, a little bit by me (a stripped down stripography) and an excellent historic piece about the background to the Somme by Steve White who put this package together. That’s some collection and it makes for a damn impressive book.

Mills writes a strident almost damning foreword to the story in which he acknowledges his peer’s compliments on the strip but asks why no-one was influenced enough to take it and make something in its mould, with an equally subversive subtext. As a result it’s “a creative cul-de-sac” says Mills a series that “led nowhere”.

After Pat’s forward there’s my modest little effort, all I can say to that is thank you to the kindness of Steve White at Titan for giving me the chance to be involved, and to Pat Mills who always has kept me informed and at the sharp end of the whole thing. It’s a very strange feeling to be a part of it, after all these years.

In addition to that at the back of the book is possibly the best thing about this release; Pat Mill’s strip commentary, an issue by issue explanation to the content, who, what’s, wheres, etc. its a wealth of details about the story that have never been told before and a great read.

Lastly Steve White’s article on the Somme is highly accurate and informative and gives the new reader some background and context to the strip, which anchors it back where it should be-reality.

Many people were worried that without the original art to print from then the quality of the strip would be compromised. I’m very pleased to say that’s not true and the the printing is superb throughout, clear and crisp allowing Joe’s work to impress new generations who discover it..

As you know this website is completely independent and not owned by anyone and not part of Titan at all, but I intend to use this as an advert complete with links, flashing lights and pay now signs. Why? Because Titan have said that depending on the sales of this release they will continue reprinting until it “no longer is economically viable’.

If the rest are anything like this I want the entire story in my bookcase, so my advice to you Charley’s War fans is buy it now

BBC review with a Pat Mills video interview

• Ninth Art: “Charley’s War is one of those ‘classic’ comics that I’ve never read. My only consolation is that to the best of my knowledge, the same is also true for most comic readers in North America.

Now getting distributed to us poor sods on this side of the Atlantic, Charley’s War is about a 16-year old boy who lies about his age to fight in the trenches of World War I. I’ve got no idea what happens beyond that, and I don’t want to know until I read it for myself. With all the raves I’ve heard about the book over the years (heck, the ad alone has Alan Moore, Garth Ennis, and Dave Gibbons raving about the book, and if that’s not a pedigree I’m not sure what is), I think this is very much a must-have.

Travelling Man Comic Shop Review: “In 1916, Charley Bourne lies about his age to fight on the battlefields of France. But thoughts of glory and patriotism are swept aside by the bloody artillery barrage of horror and needless sacrifice amidst the trenches of the First World War…

“Just about every war story has been told and the genre has very little surprise left. Charley’s War, when it was originally printed in Battle, was a breath of fresh air in a crowded marketplace. An antiwar story in a pro-war comic. And it is great to see that it still holds its own.

“There’s plenty of emotion tied up in this hardback graphic novel – and many critics have already heralded this story as an outstandingly realistic portrayal of life on the front lines of the First World War. Charley’s War is a beautiful collection of strips which that show the horrors and stupidity of war in all their twisted glory. By the time you’ve finished reading this you’ll feel as though you were alongside Charley in the trenches.

“Anyone unfamiliar with the series really should get hold of a copy of this beautiful graphic novel – anyone who is familiar with it won’t need any encouragement to buy this. 9/10.”

Charley's War Volume 2Reviews for Charley’s War Volume Two

Charley’s War: 1 August – 17 October 1916

Collects episodes 30-59, November 2005, ISBN 1-84023-929-8

Renowned UK comics writer Pat Mills (Marshal Law, Slaine) and legendary artist Joe Colquhoun (Johnny Red) continue the thrilling, humorous and horrifying story of World War One soldier Charley Bourne.

It is now the late summer of 1916. Though Charley has survived the early days of the Somme, with treachery on both sides of the wire and a dangerous new commanding officer, triumph and tragedy lie in store as he desperately tries to survive…

Rich in the detailed minutiae of the terror-punctuated existence of a ‘Tommy’, this second volume of Charley’s War features a brand new introduction and ‘director’s commentary’ by Pat Mills, plus exclusive extra content.

The Gateway: “If you remember reading this as a kid then this is a must. If you’ve never heard of it until now, this book is the perfect place to start.
“Titan’s second hardback volume is as excellent as the first published last year, with a re-cap page to enable easy entry into the story and a number of extras: a feature on the development of tanks, commentary by Pat Mills and an afterword from Garth Ennis. All are excellent and highly informative further enhancing the high quality printing and binding.
“The story? To say too much would be to rob it of its impact so let’s keep it simple: Charley Bourne lies about his age to enlist in World War 1 in 1916, just in time for the Battle of the Somme! The story follows him as he battles to survive the western front, with dangers all around – not just from the enemy. In World War 1 the average soldier was at as much risk from his own side, with seemingly insane orders coming through and the risk of being shot for not following them proving as risky as the German army awaiting them.
“Mills’ script is amazingly balanced. You’d think a story that is unflinching in its depiction of war would be too dark, yet Mills levels it out with brief moments of humour and friendship. At the same time we get a vivid and very accurate picture of World War 1.
When it first was published the comic ended up receiving letters of praise for the accuracy from World War 1 veterans. Colquhuon’s art is similarly stunning in its intensity. Every panel is packed with detail, several to a page yet are always clear. You could easily flick through the book and find yourself noticing a detail you hadn’t seen previously on just about any page.
“Given what he is asked to depict it would be easy for the art to become too gruesome, even in black and white. Yet Colquhuon shows it all but restrains his depiction, managing to not reduce the impact one bit as your own imagination fills in the rest of the picture.
“There is only one flaw with this collection: It ends. You get utterly sucked into the tale, even though it regularly puts you through an emotional crusher, to the point where you simply want to read the whole thing. It was the same with the last volume, doubtless it’ll be true of the next one also. And although it’s a pity that so far Titan are producing them annually, when the quality’s as high as this it’s understandable, if frustrating!
“Titan are intending to print the entirety of the story, but only if sales make it successful enough to do so. If you’ve never read this, I strongly urge you to do so, you’ll find one of the best war stories going and a stunning example of what comics can be.”


1 reply


  1. Trade Books: Charley’s War: 2 June 1916 – 1 August 1916 « YA Lit Practice-based Journal

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