Charlie’s London: From the East Lane to the Limelight is an original presentation of Charlie’s Chaplin story told from a different angle.
This was a unique crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo that I backed last year. The final product is a labor of love: a very engaging story and captivating art. It is a great way to learn about the life of Charlie Chaplin, one of the most iconic cinematic legends.
THE CREATIVE TEAM
The main story was written and edited by Ayse Fennelly. There are three covers to choose from created by the following artists:
- Donal DeLay, who worked on Death Of Love and many other projects, gives us a beautiful young and vulnerable child Chaplin and his iconic tramp his ever-constant in the London rain. With Colors by Kyle Ritter, this cover is a totally different take on the Tramp we used to know.
- Vinnie Tartamella, co-creator of Through the Woods, brings the classic Tramp image together with the Victorian streets of his youth in this stunning color variant.
- Karl Stephan, the creator of Mary Boys, brings the Tramp home and makes London town his playground in this stunning black and white cover.
The internal art was done by Micky and the coloring was done by Ink Spots & Billy Bacsko. Additional support was provided by William Crowford Hasle. The lettering and creative format were done by Fernandina Fernando. In addition to the main story, we also have 2 side stories from “The Tramp Tales” created by Statistical Zero and Ayse Fennelly with cover art by Peter Gilmore.
Knowing about the campaign from the creators is not a difficult task. Charlie’s London has a YouTube channel where you can get all the details. The enthusiasm for this project is clearly visible and it can be seen in the final product. Paying attention to detail and being critical of your own work are very difficult tasks but when done properly the effort adds value to the final product.
Charlie’s London: From the East Lane to the Limelight is a 64-page graphic novel officially licensed by the Chaplin Estate, based on Charles Chaplin’s own autobiography and “Chaplin: His Life and Art” by David Robinson The book is amazing!
The quality is outstanding. From all the books I received so far, It’s in competition with the Lucent on the quality front. It slightly wins because this book is numbered! It’s the first graphic novel that I received with page numbers. It may seem like a trivial thing, but it does help to have page numbers when you’re reading.
The book has on the cover what I think is called a comic stamp with the face of Charlie’s character: The Tramp” and his birth date. The spine of the book is also printed/labeled. On the back are a simple black and white image of the Tramp’s silhouette.
In my opinion, the book has a very different and unique style to it. The art is captivating. No single panel is wasted. The story flows naturally through the pages. I couldn’t believe it ended so fast!
A SPECIAL READING
We will find a short dedication followed by a foreword from the author at the beginning. At the very end of the book, we will also find the author’s final thank you notes which gives you a little insight into how this book came about and how much it means for the creator.
From all the books I backed so far this is the most unique one. Maybe because it’s about the life of a real person. I know of Charlie Chaplin from my mother. I remember watching some of his films with my mom as a kid but that was it. I’ve never revisited his films or read about his story.
This would be the first time learning about his past. My mom loves the book and is quite amazed at how it looks. But she also tells me that there is much history left. She used to watch his movies with my grandmother who greatly enjoyed his comedy when she was alive. She was quite the comedian herself.
BRIEF OVERVIEW OF CHARLIE’S LONDON
It’s 1952 and the West is in the grip of social and political fear of Communism and the Red Scare, Hollywood finds itself in an uncomfortable spotlight that will cast a shadow on many names in the industry and many will never recover.
Dogged by the continuous accusation of Communist sympathies, Chaplin is informed that unless he declares his political leaning in front of HUAC (House of Un-American Activities Committee) he will not be allowed to return to the United States of America.
All this and the fear of rejection on his home soil he finds the London streets of his youth are both a source of comfort and a painful reflection of a time once forgotten. With every step, he remembers, and with every step, we see it with him.
As the world awaits the premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s eagerly anticipated motion picture Limelight, the most famous comedian on the planet finds himself at a professional and emotional crossroad.
LEARNING ABOUT CHARLIE
We learn about Charlie’s childhood and all the struggles he and his family went through. Most of which was caused because of the absence of his father. Back then it was even more difficult for a single mom to raise children. Despite the difficulties, there were happy moments that will never be forgotten.
We learn how Charlie had to grow up too fast at an early age and how he saw his life experiences as learning curves. Despite experiencing the worst, he still finds beauty and inspiration from the world around him.
HIS LIFE LESSONS
There are many life lessons in this story. A significant one that helps him further develop his art is the life lesson about alcoholism. Watching people get wasted and living through the consequences of their behavior is impactful to any kid. How they decide to live their life growing up is very much based on their own principles.
As kids he and his brother were very considerate kids, they learn to earn money at an early age, took care of their mother, experienced separation from their mother, became a kid of the state. They have been through so much at such an early age that the idea of playing like other kids seemed strange to Charlie.
As an adult he learned to work hard and build his craft, he experienced rejection, heartbreak, betrayal, media scrutiny, success, and found true love.
THE TRAMP TALES
By the end of the main story, we also get the “The Tramp Tales” two original stories, illustrated in a cartoonish style titled “By any other name” and “Legacy”. In Tramp Tales, we meet Buster, the Tramp’s loveable scamp sidekick. He is a loyal and loveable dog who keeps his master safe and out of mischief, most of the time. Through these stories, we learn about the daily adventures of Charlie and Buster.
THE VALUE OF HIS ART
When you are finished reading the stories, you are left with a positive feeling, a feeling of hope, and a desire to become a better human being. His comedy has made many people happy. Some enjoyed his work until their last days.
Making people genuinely laugh and smile without caring about how ridiculous it may look to the outside world is an unmeasurable gift that only a few people have the courage to do. Charlie was one of those people. His life experiences changed him and his art. He tried the best he could to find ways to help ordinary people through his craft because he lived that life and has that understanding.
Comedians like him are very special and are valued by many people. This style of comedy requires courage and hard work. It is a style that sadly is disappearing. These comedians conquer hearts through their work and their impact is indescribable. It means something when you see a loved one smile after going through difficult times.
Sadly, the way Charlie was treated back then by the media would not be different today, it may be even worse but at least he would know that the media didn’t represent the sentiment of the people and that he still had fans that loved and appreciated him.
EXPERIENCE WITH THE CROWDFUNDING PROJECT
When I finally decided to back “Charlie’s London: From the East Lane to the Limelight” last year I was only able to back one of the simple tiers. I chose the book tier with the Ink Spots colored variant cover.
In addition to the book, I also got some additional rewards known as stretch goals which include 2 beautiful art prints (A4 size) from Karl Stephan’s beautiful cover, one as a virgin print and the second one as the colored version, a mini ‘Silent Edition’ format of the book with no words and random title cards with an incredible new cover by Peter Gilmore, 3 trading cards, a thank you card, and stickers by SIX AM Comics.
The tracking number for the package was timely provided and arrived with no issues. The packaging itself was well done. When I finally got it, everything was still in perfect condition. The project management was overall very well done.
Having the vision of how everything will be assembled and distributed obviously helps. The backers were constantly updated about the status of the project through Indiegogo and through the YouTube channel. It is very important to keep backers updated about the status of the project, this should be a general best practice.
Charlie’s London: From the East Lane to the Limelight was a very enjoyable read. As the reader, you can see and feel the dedication and love for this project. All the efforts made by the team resulted in engaging stories and captivating art.
From what I’ve learned the crowdfunding campaign will be closing by the end of February, and the book will be available at the Charlie Chaplin’s Museum in Switzerland or wherever the Estate decides to distribute it. Keep note that it won’t be available for sale later on like we see with other creators. It’s unique.
The book, its mini version, and all the prints are interesting collector’s items so make sure you get yours. The campaign also includes a 24-page one-shot comic “Charlie and Stan: From Kennington to Keystone” that I missed. I will order it before the campaign closes.
Looking forward to the next chapter hoping it won’t be too long before we learn more about the life of Charlie Chaplin. And hopefully, we will also get more adventures of Charlie & Buster.
Interested in more titles? Check more COMIC BOOKS and GRAPHIC NOVELS under the “EYES ON” series wherein I documented my experience with crowdfunding entertainment and shared my notes on the products I received.
All photographs from Chaplin films made from 1918 onwards © Roy Export S.A.S. All Rights Reserved. CHARLIE CHAPLIN, the LITTLE TRAMP, certain images on this publication, and the names of some of Mr. Chaplin’s films are trademarks and/or service marks of Roy Export and/or Bubbles Inc. S.A. All Rights Reserved.