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Joe Colquhoun (1926-1987)

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Charley's war

"Charley's War", from Battle Picture Weekly, 1978-86

Joseph William Colquhoun (pronounced co-HOON; b. Harrow, Middlesex, 7 November 1926; d. Poole, Dorset, 13 April 1987) wanted to draw comics from a young age. He was accepted into Kingston School of Art in the early years of World War II. He served in the Royal Navy from 1943 to 1947, and then returned to Kingston to complete a course in book illustration. He joined a small studio called King-Ganteaume, which supplied art to comics publishers: his first published comics work was "Carver of the Islands", which he wrote and drew, in Jungle Trails Colour Comic in 1951. Over the next year he wrote and drew strips in Conqueror Comic, High Seas Comic, Daring Hero Comic and Cowboy Comics.

In 1952 he got an interview with Marcus Morris, editor of the Eagle, who turned him down but advised him to try Amalgamated Press, which had started a new title, Lion. Lion's editor, Stan Boddington, took him on. He created "The Naval Stowaways" and "Legionnaire Terry's Desert Quest" for Lion, and "Biff Benbow" and "Wildfire" for The Champion, also edited by Boddington, over the next two years. He also wrote and drew the first ten issues of Masterman in 1952-53.

In 1954 he was assigned to draw the lead strip in a new weekly, Tiger - football strip "Roy of the Rovers". The opening four episodes were written by Frank S. Pepper, after which Colquhoun was persuaded to write his own scripts, under the pseudonym Stewart Colwyn, despite having little interest in football. He wrote and drew "Roy" until 1959, after which Derek Birnage took over the writing and Paul Trevillion the art. Colquhoun returned to the strip, as artist only, in 1965-67.

He returned to Lion to draw World War II fighter pilot "Paddy Payne", "Saber, King of the Jungle" and "Adam Eterno", among others. He also drew "Football Family Robinson" in Jag in 1968. In the early 1970s he drew adventure strips for Buster and Cor!!, including "Kid Chameleon", "Zarga, Man of Mystery" (written by Scott Goodall), "Sammy Brewster's Ski-Board Squad" (which he co-wrote with Goodall), "Sam's City Jungle", and TV tie-in "The Goodies". At some point in the 1970s he had moved into a disused lighthouse in Swanage, Dorset, where he spent much of his time pottering about in his boat as a member of Swanage Sailing Club.

In 1975 he drew "Soldier Sharp - Rat of the Rifles", written by John Wagner, for Valiant, and followed it into Battle Picture Weekly when Valiant merged into it in 1976. It was for Battle he did his most celebrated work, drawing World War II aviation series "Johnny Red", written by Tom Tully (1977-78), and then hard-hitting First World War strip "Charley's War", written by Pat Mills, which began in 1978, with a hiatus in 1982 while Colquhoun recovered from a heart attack. Mills left the strip in 1985, and asked Colquhoun to join him on 2000 AD to draw his new fantasy strip, "Sláine", but Colquhoun, nearing retirement, preferred to stick to Battle. "Charley's War" continued for a while, written by Scott Goodall, but brought to a close in 1986 by Colquhoun's failing health. He contributed to toy tie-in strip "Mask" after that, until he died after another heart attack on 13 April 1987.

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