|omnibus 2014 ©Egmont UK Ltd|
Publisher: Titan Books
Published: August 2014 (first edition)
Size/binding: glossy softcover (27 x 20 cm)
Cover: public domain
Title: A Boy Soldier in The Great War
Artists: Joe Colquhoun
- 319 pages, strip 1 to 86
- From Titan Deluxe collection previous volume 1: all 29 strips (captions and dialogues from strips 1, 2 and 11 not redone)
- From Titan Deluxe collection previous volume 2: all 30 strips (captions and dialogues from strip 15 to 30 not redone), note that no man's land map at the end of strip 27 has not been reprinted
- From Titan Deluxe collection previous volume 3: all 24 strips (captions and dialogues not redone)
- From Titan Deluxe collection previous volume 4: strip 1 to 3 (captions and dialogues not redone)
- Neil Emery's A Chronology of Charley's War from Titan Deluxe collection previous volume 1
- Steve White's The Evolution of the Tank from Titan Deluxe collection volume 2
- Stephen Oldman's Joe Colquhoun In Conversation from Titan Deluxe collection volume 3
- All Pat Mills commentaries for these 86 strips from previous Titan Deluxe collection
Comments:This omnibus was advertised with this cover but saddly they have change the title in the meantime.
Although reduced in size, the quality of reproduction is enhanced from the latest Titan Deluxe edition with deeper blacks and better resolution, mostly because Titan has had the opportunity this time to used Joe Colquhoun original art. Oddly they have kept their warning statement regarding the fact that source material is exceedingly rare and quality of reproduction can vary (which I haven't spotted).
For many strips of Titan Deluxe collection volume one and two, dialogues and captions originates from different source material (see pictures below and mostly the end of this article), in a none type-writer style which is nicer. On the cons side, re-done balloons hide more art than the ones used in Battle. Note that sometimes dialogues or captions have been changed, for example I have spotted that the word 'Blimey' has one time been erased and another time replaced by 'Heck'. Also bold police is used in the revised version to accentuate some part of dialogues or captions.
Starting from volume 3 some pages of the series have been published in color in Battle Weekly, and printed in murky shades of grey in the previous collection. Here, they are printed in pure clean B&W (except the opening page of strip 12 although the printing texture has been smoothed). Note that the French edition has re-coloured versions of these pages.
|2005 Titan Deluxe edition Vol 2|
|2014 Titan Omnibus|
The new captions and balloons were not done by Titan. IPC reprinted the early strip in later issues of Battle, and had the original art re-lettered to fit in with the look of the rest of the comic, hence these re-lettered episodes are almost exactly as they appeared in Battle, second time around. I say almost, as in reprint form they were heavily censored, with large areas of strip exposed to the horrors of 'process white' to remove blood, body parts and corpses. Some pages simply had panels and captions removed entirely. The final episode in this collection is a fine example of that. I had to piece the pages together from a pile of individual panels, as the scene with Charley tearing up draft papers, pouring beer over the recruitment officer and getting into a fist fight were deemed unsuitable for a juvenile audience (yet graphic scenes of war were not).
The later stories reproduced in Eagle were cut up and pasted back together to fit the different page size and count. Cover pages were cut down and merged with half pages, and on occasion, pages were missed out entirely, sometimes by mistake. This is why there is sometimes a clash of typeset and hand-lettered work in a single episode. Roll call on story page 53, and Charley and Ginger under the walking boards on story page 70 have different fonts on the same page, for the same reason. Some of the Judgement Troopers storyline was published in Eagle, where the page budget did not stretch to the luxury of re-lettering. Reprinting strips was cheaper than commissioning new material, and re-lettering strips cost additional money that Eagle didn't have. These pages are presented in the book with the original typeset lettering. The strip moved to a hand-lettering process from 12th July 1980, when typesetting was abandoned.
When restoring the art from Joe's originals, I used a mixture of digital blending to manipulate multiple scanned images, or old fashioned scalpel blades and glue to remove or replace sections missing from the original pen and ink pages. Several pages arrived with envelopes full of captions and balloons, that had fallen off over time, untidily taped across the artwork, causing a lot of damage. Many of the mastheads were missing or damaged, particularly on covers. To save money, the titles and mastheads were ripped off the artwork to be used again in later issues. Joe's daughter allowed me to remove some of these, to better show the art concealed beneath. Obviously where original art was available, it was better to present the strip in black and white. This was not always possible, and so the odd grey version of a colour page slipped in. Sometimes pages were reproduced from clear film cell, or from the colourist's original work, but this was not always possible, and so, on occasion, the original comic page was used. Where this was the case, each frame has been restored by hand to remove the yellowing of age, and the ink splatter created by the cheap letterpress printing process. With letterpress, colours were normally misaligned, areas of heavy shading did not always align with the fine line work, and in large areas of shading, the ink simply didn't make it to the page. I have not touched the line work if possible, but most of the shading has been restored digitally.
As we progress through the story, more and more art becomes available. It was unfortunate timing that whilst this book was being prepared, the tank section from Volume 2 was unavailable to me, as it was gifted to the Tank Museum in Bovington. Since completing this first omnibus, a number of missing pages have come to light, but a number have been sold into private collections, including my own. I have completed scanning to the end of WWI, and I believe the rest of the story through to the Russian conflict will be collected in two further omnibus editions. At the behest of Pat Mills, there are no plans to reprint M. Scott Goodall's WWII story, despite excellent artwork, much of which survives.
I also provided the materials for the French editions (La Grande Guerre de Charlie) from Volume 3 onwards, and this portfolio http://labeldelirium.com/book/la-grande-guerre-de-charlie-portfolio/. In most cases the pages are not recoloured. I was able to use the original colourist's work on some, and simply cleaned up the colour on the others.