Happy 20th Birthday, Charlie Chick!
Campbell has a very special announcement to make. One of its best-loved characters is having a very important birthday. Can you guess who?
He’s cheeky, he’s chirpy, he’s feathery and he’s TWENTY.
The endearing little yellow fellow was first published by Campbell as Charlie The Chicken
on 23 May 1997. And what a high-flyer he’s turned out to be… with over 1.5 million copies
of his feathery tale sold the world over!
He has 4 spin-off titles; Charlie Chick Goes to School, Charlie Chick Learns to Fly
, Charlie Chick Wants to Play,
and Charlie Chick Finds an Egg
with another title winging its way for 2018.
We’ve asked Charlie Chick’s equally endearing creators, illustrator Ant Parker and paper engineer Nick Denchfield, 20 questions to celebrate Charlie Chick’s 20 years of feathery fun.
How do you know each other?
AP: We met at college in about 1980, then again when I came to live in London and lived in Nick’s mum’s house for two years.
ND: We were at Bath Academy of Art together and at some stage lived in a flat that was also shared by Bee Willey and Axel Scheffler. Ant lived in my mum’s house for two years when he first left college. When Macmillan were looking for someone to illustrate Charlie Chick, Alison Green asked me if I had heard of an illustrator called Ant Parker.
What and where did you study at college, Nick?
ND: Visual Communication @ Bath Academy of Art (2:1!)
And you, Ant?
AP: I studied at Bath Academy of Art same as Nick. I started in Fine Art doing sculpture, then I quickly transferred to Visual Communications. I think I met Nick whilst doing my fellowship year.
How was the first Charlie Chick book hatched, Nick?
ND: He appeared to me as a dream @ 41 Alderidge Road Villas W11.
Why is he called Charlie?
ND: After my Dad.
How would you describe his character?
AP: Charlie Chick is both confident and naive, he has big ideas about himself and is full of optimism.
ND: Cheeky (beaky in his case!) slightly self-delusional but with a big heart.
Where do you both work?
ND: In my head while walking and on a massive old drawing desk.
AP: I have worked in a tiny room at the back of the house for the last 25 years, just big enough for a table and lots of shelves. As from next month I will be working in a new studio built over a swimming pool. It is very big and I don’t know where to sit or work within it! I may have to grow lots of plants to make it small!
What do you use to illustrate your pictures, Ant?
AP: I use a dip pen to do all the outlines and then colour the drawings in with Dr Martins inks which are very bright and run into one another if they touch. Sometimes I use watercolour as well, especially if I want to do layers.
Tell us how you devise your pops, Nick.
ND: I reach for magic in a chickeny frame of mind. I make a huge amount of mess with lots of card and take plenty of time to explore options!
Tell us something about yourself that we wouldn’t know, Nick.
ND: I used to find Chickeny foot prints on my work in my studio. I later discovered Molly (my hen) used to escape from the pen and come and check up on me. She spent a lot of the day standing on top of a grain bin watching me through the window...
Have you got any secrets to share with us, Ant?
AP: When Charlie Chick is with his friends he likes to be called John.
What do you remember about your first day at school?
AP: I remember making heads with eggs and wool and a glue called Secotine.
ND: I was seven and a half and knew I wasn't going to see my family for a month.
What were your three best subjects?
AP: Art, Geography and Technical Drawing (not at primary school)!
ND: Art, Geometry (not Maths) & Physics
Who was your favourite teacher and why?
AP: Mr Griffiths who showed me how to translate an OS map with contours into a 3D model.
ND: Both my art teachers at big and little school - they had exciting lives outside of teaching.
Charlie likes cereal in the morning, what do you eat for breakfast?
AP: Toast, yoghurt and an orange.
ND: Banana and a carrot!
How do you like your eggs cooked?
AP: soft boiled then mashed up with bread in a cup, especially if I’m not well.
What is your favourite colour, Nick?
ND: Yellow makes me happy.
And yours, Ant?
AP: Red and green.
Do you have any unusual hobbies?
AP: I like growing tomatoes.
ND: I play the accordion.
How will you both be celebrating Charlie’s 20th birthday?
AP: I shall start the day with an omelette!
ND: Campbell are taking us to lunch at The Ivy. Or was that just a rumour?!
Editorial comment: Egg sandwiches on a park bench, more like (which may have ivy growing on it). We will cut off the crusts as it’s a special occasion. ;)