West Sussex cartoonist and illustrator launches Charlie’s Ark book ahead of animated series

Award-winning international cartoonist and illustrator Mike Payne – who lives in Rustington – has launched his new book Charlie’s Ark, perfect timing with the forthcoming animated version looming large on the horizon.
Mike Payne at Georgian Gardens Primary School - pic by Rob Goldsmith of Dream Vision MediaMike Payne at Georgian Gardens Primary School - pic by Rob Goldsmith of Dream Vision Media
Mike Payne at Georgian Gardens Primary School - pic by Rob Goldsmith of Dream Vision Media

Mike is perhaps best known as the creator and original artist of Tatty Teddy – the charcoal bear with the blue nose – from the Me To You concept, which he drew under the pen name of Miranda for 17 years.

But who knows, Charlie’s Ark could yet prove even bigger. There is even talk of the animated series being the new PAW Patrol.

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As for the book, Mike was delighted to launch it at Georgian Gardens School where the children were entranced by his story-telling.

Mike created Charlie’s Ark in June 2004, after waking up at 3.30am with a poem going round and round in his head about a five-year-old boy named Charlie and his ark-shaped toy box full of animals.

He got up, went straight to his art studio and started writing and drawing, and the book and the audio CDs – which Mike narrated – were born.

Mike self-published the book back in 2010; now it has been amended and edited and released through Austin Macauley Publishers.

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There are 24 stories in book one of Charlie’s Ark, and Mike is writing more, inspired by the nostalgia and the moral in each of Charlie’s adventures with the animals in his magical ark. In the book, the animals come to life when Charlie whispers a Wordspell…

The book comes as Mike counts down to the concept hitting the screens, perhaps in spring 2025, as an 11-minute weekly children’s TV series in partnership with FUTURUMKIDS.

“The writers’ and artists’ strike has affected a lot of people that work in the industry and the series has been delayed a bit but it's still going to go ahead and it's all very exciting. The first episode will probably be sometime early in 2025 and they are now talking about four series which is really, really good and they are also talking about it being the next PAW Patrol which is fantastic.

“What is so exciting is to see my imaginings. I did all the Tatty Teddy stuff but I've never done anything like this. I wrote a book in rhyme and now it is coming to life and they are doing it in the same way that Toy Story was done in 3D animation. If you can imagine Toy Story but with Charlie's Ark and all the animals in the ark.

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“I really don't know why it works so well. It started a long. long time ago, in about 2004 when I woke up in the middle night. My stepdaughter was pregnant and I suppose that was praying on my mind and I woke up and just started writing this poem in my head. I thought if I don't start writing it down then I will forget it and that's how it happened.

“It felt a bit like in the 60s when you remember all the lyrics and how all the rhymes just seemed to come together. It was a bit like that. I just seemed to know what the next line would be and what the next rhyme would be.”

And now the book, newly published, will start setting up expectations nicely for the animated series the year after next.

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