He’s lived the schoolboy dream working as a writer, illustrator and editor on every comic book on the news stands from the last 40 years. We spoke to Tim Quinn as he prepared to bring his one-man comic book show to Oswaldtwistle.

EVERY child — and grown-up for that matter — has a favourite comic book character.

From superpowers to mischievous pranks, newsagents shelves were once packed with the weekly adventures of the most popular comic book characters of the moment.

But the superhero comics that we once knew and loved are on the decline. Notwithstanding Hollywood's infatuation with big-budget superhero movies, many comic books have folded and those that remain have suffered from shrinking readership and plummeting sales.

From Desperate Dan and Dennis The Menace to Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk — you name it, artist Tim Quinn has drawn a sketch for it.

And so with his experience under his belt, the comic book specialist has embarked on a tour of theatres to reignite memories with a one-man comedy show based on the history of comics, coming to the Civic Arts Centre in Oswaldtwistle next Friday.

Having started hisa career on such titles as The Dandy, Beano and Bunty, the 57-year-old has spent the last 25 years working out of New York City for the Marvel Comics company on superhero characters X-Men, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man and as the editor of Spider-Man.

“A lot of the comics I've worked on have been made into huge hit films, but for me the original comic book is always going to be far better," said Tim, currently working on a new comic titled The Exploits of Gordon Brown.

"To this day the little boy inside me still can't believe the comics I've worked on. When I was a lad reading Spider-Man, a 15-year-old who was bullied and laughed at by girls, he was the same as me. I just didn't get bitten by a radioactive spider and get superpowers.

"But then I became Spiderman's editor. Comics have been a magical world for me to escape into."

With a lifelong love and encyclopaedic knowledge of comic books, Tim takes audiences at his touring show on a nostalgic trip through the last 150 years, screening images of the best and the worst strip creations, starting in the Victorian era.

Revealing secrets from behind the editorial scenes, Tim will tell how he teamed up with Queen guitarist Brian May to create a comic book without pictures. He'll reveal a banned Spider-Man cover and detail his time as the editor on Barbie’s comic book.

The artist's career has taken him from a 17-year-old trainee working for Dundee-based DC Thomson & Co on Sparky, The Beano and The Dandy before moving onto Bunty, Playhour, Jack & Jill, Buster, The Topper, the Daily Mirror’s Jane and Garth.

Then a move across the Atlantic took him to America’s Marvel Comics where Tim worked on all the top US comic titles and newspapers and as a producer on the South Bank Show.

"If you think comic books are bonkers, wait until you hear about the comic book publishers," he laughed. "Some of the people I worked with have been like Bond villains. It's crazy.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it though. I've never had to grown up."

Now he's back in the UK running his own comic book company alongside Enid Blyton's elder daughter Gillian, creating magazines and holding arts workshops across the country.

Having lost faith in modern day comics and magazines, Tim and his business partner are setting about moulding a new generation of designers, starting by going back to Tim's old school St Mary’s College in Crosby, Liverpool.

Tim explained: "In the last few years I've become so disappointed with what's on offer these days. I was inspired by what was on the news stands as a child. Everything offered so much. As a little boy I would get lost in the artwork of the comics.

"I've had a fantastic career and worked with some fantastic people but things have changed and now I'm happier working with the next generation to get a fresh approach. I'm launching a new magazine with my old school this week and it's really taken off. The children have interviewed some top names and, of course, it has a comic strip.

"Children deserve better than what is currently being given to them on the news stands. I'd eventually like to see all schools start their own magazines and comics. There's a gap in the market. And how good does a Captain Oswaldtwistle sound? I'll be suggesting it next week at the theatre and hopefully it might start a new comic movement in Lancashire."

Argh! The Ups and Downs Of Life As A Comic Book Creator with Tim Quinn — Civic Arts Centre, Oswaldtwistle, Friday, September 23, 7.30pm. The audience is invited to attend wearing capes and masks. Tickets priced at £7 are available to reserve on 01254 398319.