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Black Country comic artist behind Desperate Dan brought to life in new book

By Jamie Brassington | Dudley | Entertainment | Published:

His cartoon drawings have been adored by millions of children throughout the decades.

Dr Brian Dakin with, from left, Steve Grigg, Simon Grigg, Emma Butler, Roger Grigg, Carol Millington and Cerol King

But despite his iconic artworks appearing in the likes of The Dandy and The Beano, the Black Country roots of Charlie Grigg are not widely known.

However that could all change with the launch of a new book by Dr Brian Dakin.

The book, called “The Life and Story of Charlie ‘Chaz’ Grigg, a Black Country Artist”, is going on sale at the Black Country Living Museum and Waterstones.

Charlie Grigg and one of his drawings, as seen in the book

Dr Dakin, a writer and singer called Billy Spakemon, said: “This book is about how Charlie came from a very poor background, growing up in humble beginnings, to becoming a comic book artist for The Dandy and The Beano.

“Charlie was an engineer in Oldbury until he was offered the chance to become an artist. He had always drawn since he was a kid and he gave up his work to follow his dream.”

Charlie’s comic drawings included cartoon characters such as Desperate Dan and Korky The Cat, the latter of which appeared on the front cover of The Dandy for 20 years.

He was the son of a rail-fitter and worked as an engineer before going to work full time for publisher D C Thomson in 1951, which was the home of The Dandy and The Beano.

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Charlie Grigg and one of his drawings, as seen in the book

Family and friends of Charlie attended the launch of the book which took place at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley.

They had helped Dr Dakin to compile the book, while he also used 40 pages of hand-written notes from Charlie about his life.

Dr Dakin said: “The launch event was fantastic. I was signing copies of books for over one hour.”

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He continued: “At its height, The Dandy used to sell two million copies per week.

Dr Brian Dakin, aka performer and broadcaster Billy Spakemon

“The idea of this book is to raise the profile of Charlie and his Black Country roots.

“Also, as he came from a very poor background, I want this book to inspire children. If they have a dream then follow it.

“If they work hard enough then they will make that happen.” The book contains photographs of Charlie and some of his drawings.

Charlie was recognised with a plaque in 2017, which was unveiled at his former school, called Rood End Primary School, based in Oldbury.

Proceeds from the book will be donated to a group called ‘Me, Myself and I’, which meets at the museum and supports people living with alzheimers.

Charlie, who suffered with alzheimers, used to attend that group before he died in December 2013 at the age of 97.

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Senior Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star. Contact me at jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

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