Saturday, 25 October 2014

Frank Bellamy and the Cartoon Museum and Supermarionation

TV21 #214 Page 10

TV21 #214 Page 11

Richard Sheaf kindly alerted me to this news item that might have passed you by

The original art from TV21 #213 (1st of the two pages appearing in that issue of the comic) was up for sale at the Comic Postal Auctions website - as previously mentioned (and I'll enter the result when and if that's published) but I infer from a press release that it has been bought as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund "Collecting Cultures" initiative. I haven't had an answer to my email enquiry so if someone knows the answer please get in contact. Are you listening Anita?

The banner used in the cartoon Museum's announcement

The Cartoon Museum was set up in 2006 - you can learn more about it on their webpages and you might remember I helped put a few people in contact with them regarding their Doctor Who in Comics exhibition. They have an article on the Lottery's initiative on their website in which they state:

The Cartoon Museum is delighted to announce that it has been awarded £164,300 for its Comic Creators project by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The project is part of HLF’s £5m funding package to a range of museums, libraries and archives across the UK.  Under HLF’s Collecting Cultures programme, 23 organisations, from Glasgow down to Brighton, will be able to enhance the scope of their collections and the Cartoon Museum is one of them.


Amongst the characters the museum is hoping to collect are Dennis the Menace, The Bash Street Kids, Desperate Dan, Ally Sloper, Belle of the Ballet, Dan Dare, Judge Dredd, Watchmen, The Four Marys, Lord Snooty, Roy of the Rovers, Captain Hurricane, The Fat Slags, Slaine, Gemma Bovery, Modesty Blaise, Doctor Who, Thunderbirds, Rupert, Marvelman, V for Vendetta and Tank Girl. [Emboldening mine]

So to me this isn't clear if the represented piece has been bought or not!

On the 7th October, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced "23 museums, libraries and archives – large and small – benefit from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) £5million investment." Their site states "Collecting Cultures supports museums, libraries and archives to develop their collections through strategic acquisition projects. The first programme was in 2007 and the second in 2014"

So I'm hoping they have bought this piece but shall wait and seek confirmation

The Supermarionation boxed set

The other bit of news that I haven't said anything about, and to be honest there is no Bellamy in it, that I've found yet, is that Network DVD's release of the Supermarionation boxed set has now been shipped to those who pre-ordered - and that's me!. The whole box job is not cheap but I absolutely loved unpacking the contents - especially the book by Stephen La Riviere and of course the latest (and one off) TV21 comic (reviewed by Downthetubes and Lew Stringer)! Great fun and congratulations to all involved on a great product. My wife is sympathetic and admits to still loving Thunderbirds - we have not yet bought the Thunderbirds boxed set - so we are enjoying watching these miscellaneous episodes!

And just in case I forget to include any Frank Bellamy artwork I've placed the next two episodes of the story "Zoo Ship" mentioned in the previous article

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Frank Bellamy and the Story World War One

Have you had enough of World War One nostalgia? Let me get my bit out of the way then. I have just finished watching the excellent "37 days" production by the BBC which was broadcast in March this year.  The three part mini-series had episode titles:
  1. One month in Summer
  2. One week in July
  3. One long weekend
and was an excellent overview of how the early 20th Century political situation and manoeuvrings worked between the UK, Germany, Austria, France and Russia. Now I knew about the Black Hand, Archduke Ferdinand and of course Kaiser Wilhelm II but had not appreciated General Moltke and Sir Edward Gray's roles in the Prussian aggression (the former) and diplomatic negotiating (the latter) prior to the start of World War One.

It was whilst reading another blog that I realised I missed a great opportunity to highlight Bellamy's work on World War One, so let's make amends.

I've written about the adventures of Geoff West, Peter Richardson, Steve Holland, Stuart Williams (and some guy called Norman Boyd) before, so there's no need to repeat myself.

Frank Bellamy's Story of World War One

But I've never outlined the chapters and episodes written by Michael Butterworth and illustrated by Frank Bellamy so here goes, and along the way I've mentioned key characters in the hope those searching for a simple and beautifully illustrated introduction WWI may choose to purchase a copy. It's available in two editions - Amazon has the paperback of  Frank Bellamy's the Story of World War One (ignore the silly Used version price!) but Geoff West deserves your business, so travel over to the Book Palace where you'll see offers galore and the limited edition hardback too. Librarians, Dawsons have the paperback at £25 (ISBN:9781907081002). Lastly I must say thanks to Peter Richardson for allowing me to link to various spreads on his blog.


The Story of World War 

An introduction to the Schlieffen Plan and Moltke's part in the start of WWI
German troops move west

'That contemptible British army'

Kaiser Wilhelm was not impressed by the British Forces. We meet Kitchener and King George IV and Field Marshall Sir John French and the march to the River Meuse
Nice layout based on the next page
being a double page spread
British troops march across France

The clash of the mighty on the Western Front!

We learn of the French Plan 17 and meet Prince Rupprecht

The road to Mons

For the first time in nearly a century the British stood ready to do battle on French soil, and we meet General von Kluck and von Moltke
Taken with permission from Peter Richardson's blog

Into battle - by taxi!

600 Paris taxi-cabs transport 6,000 troops to the Marne and we meet General Joffre

Enemy aircraft overhead!

For the first time in any war, this dreaded alarm call rang out! and we meet Anthony Fokker and the Royal Flying Corps and Lieutenants Freeman and Dawes
Enemy aircraft overhead

Life and death in the trenches

Incessant rain day and night, turns the battlefield into a sea of mud and we meet General Sir Douglas Haig 


Ypres and mustard gas
Taken with permission from Peter Richardson's blog

War in the air

Very early dogfights between bi-planes and French single seaters
Taken with permission from Peter Richardson's blog

The magnificent failure

Enver Pasha, General Liman von Sanders and the battle in the Dardenelles

Attack - and retreat at Gallipoli 

French battleship Bouvet and 1,500 Australians fighting Turks 

Date with destiny

10,000 British troops march on Loos, Piper Laidlow V.C. and the Indian troops
Taken with permission from Peter Richardson's blog

The menace of the Southern oceans

Admiral von Spee, Valparaiso, the Falkland Islands, the Gneisenau and the Atlantic

The flying heroes

Manfred von Richtofen, George Guynemer, Mick Mannock and Albert Ball representing the German, British and French flying aces
Taken with permission from Peter Richardson's blog

News from the homefront

London in 1915, Zeppelins, white feathers and Count Ferdinand Von Zeppelin.

Fight to the last man

These were the orders given to the French army at Verdun.  We meet General Von Falkenhayn and General Petain.
Taken with permission from Peter Richardson's blog

A lost chance

Properly used, the tank could have changed the whole pattern of the war.

Stalemate at sea

Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty, Vice-Admiral Rheinhard Scheer and Major Harvey in the Battle Of Jutland.

A bitter failure

We meet General Joffre, General Petain and General Nivelle and the inferno at Champagne.
Taken with permission from Peter Richardson's blog

A whole world in conflict

The Battle Of Caporetto, General Paul Von Hindenburg and General Ludendorff and the Russians.

Masters of the skies

Sopwith Camels, Bristol fighters and the German Albatross and the British ace, Albert Ball.

An army in revolt

Passchendaele and David Lloyd-George.

Allenby's sword flash at Jerusalem

British spirits lifted in 1917.  We meet Sir Edmund Allenby in Jerusalem and Thomas Edward Lawrence.

The last offensive

Major-General Erich Ludendorff on the Eastern front with Paul Von Hindenburg.
Poor photo by me, but love the detail

The beginning of the end

General Foch of France appointed commander of the French and British armies from the Alps to the North Sea - and counter-attacks.

Peace at last

Lloyd-George Prime Minister and Winston Churchill Minister Of War, the cenotaph in London and memorials in villages and towns and hardships are suffered in Germany.


The book then has a short biography of Butterworth and Bellamy written by Steve Holland and reproduces "Artists at work", a letter by a Michael Niederman of Ontario who wrote in to Look and Learn to ask about the artist. The letter and reply appeared on 28 November 1970 with a photo of Bellamy at work on issue 460 ("The last offensive")

Monday, 18 August 2014

Original art for sale: Comic Book Auctions - Thunderbirds

Original art TV21 #213 Page 1
 Comic Book Auctions Limited have an original Frank Bellamy for sale. Their description:

Thunderbirds original artwork (1969) by Frank Bellamy from TV 21 No 213
Leaving Scott for dead in the cavern Professor Beresford peels the face mask away to reveal the Tracys' arch enemy, The Hood ..!
Bright Pelikan inks on board. 18 x 15 ins £800-1000

For the first time you can bid via which means you have a better idea of live bidding and the amount collectors are bidding. CBA's blurb:

Welcome to our September catalogue. The catalogue is open for bidding. We are teaming up with to provide you with real time bidding details, viewable online, as bids are placed by our customers who have registered their details. To register to bid, just click on the link to and you will see how to register.

Click here to visit

For those of you who send us postal bids you may, of course, continue to do so and you might consider sending us your highest bids which will be entered online by us and not be viewable unless they are bettered - just like eBay. You will no longer need to telephone or email us to raise your bids as all the latest bids will be viewable online in real time at To include their commission of 3%+VAT our new buyer’s premium will be 14%.

The closing date is 7th September so good luck.

I remember this later run of Thunderbirds in TV21 and how the quality of the art appeared to me to become 'washed out' and comparing the beautifully preserved inks in the original to the page below I think you'll see what I mean - especially in the red background behind The Hood. Well done to the owner for preserving this piece so well

Here are the two TV21 pages of the story from #213 - the story appeared originally inTV21 #209 - 217 (18 Jan 2069 - 15 Mar 2069) and was called The Zoo Ship. It has been reprinted in 

TV21 #213 Page 10

TV21 #213 Page 11

  • WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions Limited
  • SELLER:  [Lot # 115]
  • STARTING BID:£800-£1,000
  • ART: TV21 #213: Thunderbirds
  • ENDING PRICE: To follow
  • No of bids: 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Frank Bellamy and the first parachute jump!

So someone is talking to you about Leonardo da Vinci's parachute design and we agree we don't know whether anyone has tried it out, and then get to wondering, but who was the first person to jump with a parachute? Imagine you are the first! That big open space and a piece of cloth on your back. Who did it first?
Eagle Annual #5 p.37

Frank Bellamy knew the answer - he illustrated a story in the fifth Eagle Annual (published in late 1955 for the Christmas market)

So who was it?

A snippet from a longer Wikipedia article:

Leslie Leroy Irvin (10 September 1895 – 9 October 1966) made the first premeditated free-fall parachute jump in 1919. Irvin was born in Los Angeles. He became a stunt-man for the fledgling Californian film industry, for which he had to perform acrobatics on trapezes from balloons and then make descents using a parachute. Irvin made his first jump when aged fourteen. For a film called Sky High, he first jumped from an aircraft from 1,000 feet in 1914. He developed his own static line parachute as a life-saving device in 1918 and jumped with it several times.

Eagle Annual #5 p.38
"The crowd thrilled with excitement as the parachutist floated earthwards."

Eagle Annual #5 p.39
"All the experience that Irvin had gained
with balloons at fairs, death dives and stunt jumps,
was put into the design for the new parachute."

Eagle Annual #5 p.40
"A body came away from the plane and hurtled earthwards."

Looking up Reginald Taylor, the author of this article, was difficult (with such a common name), but it seems fairly likely he is the same one who wrote the "Andy and..." series for Hamish Hamilton's Antelope imprint and by association I'm guessing these other Hamish Hamilton books.

Andy and his Last Parade. Illustrated by B. Biro. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1965.
Andy and the Display Team Illustrated by Biro. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1959.
Andy and the Mascots Illustrated by Biro. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1957.
Andy and the Miniature War Illustrated by Biro. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1962.
Andy and the Royal Review  Illustrated by Biro. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1963.
Andy and the Secret Papers  Illustrated by Biro. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1961.
Andy and the Sharpshooters . Illustrated by Biro. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1959.
Andy and the Water Crossing, London : Hamish Hamilton, 1961.

The Boy from Hackston, N.E. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1962.
Circus Triumphant Illustrated by Tony Weare. London : Bodley Head, 1955.
A First look at Sailing. A beginner's manual Illustrated by John Robinson. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1964.
The Mad Martins Illustrated by Gilbert Dunlop. [A tale for children.] London ; Glasgow : Blackie & Son, [1953]
My Friend, my Enemy. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1965.
Wild Frontier. Illustrated by H. Bishop. London : Bodley Head, 1957.
Wings over Tewkesley ... Illustrated by Tony Weare. London : Bodley Head, 1954.

As the Andy series is about experiences in a military setting I wonder if the following references in the British Library catalogue might a) be him too and b) tell us his fuller name

Phantom was there. [A history of the G.H.Q. Liaison Regiment, 1939-1945. With maps.] Great Britain. Army. G.H.Q. Liaison Regiment. London : Edward Arnold & Co., 1951.

Something About a Soldier. [An account of the traditions of the British Army.] R. J. T. Hills, (Reginald John Taylor) London : Lovat Dickson, 1934.

As many of the illustrators listed above worked in comics or comic strips it might also be that this Reginald John Taylor Hills was also the editor of Boyfriend in the sixties, as stated on Steve Holland's Bear Alley

Lastly the first Express Annual was edited by a Reginald Taylor so could it be our Taylor too?

Interested in seeing more about Eagle Annuals? - see Ian and Sharon's fascinating Eagle Annual website

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Frank Bellamy and Countdown comic

I am not scared sometimes to include oblique references to Frank Bellamy if I think it does some good. For example Steve Holland had published his latest UK comic index: Countdown to TV Action.

Bear Alley books' Countdown to TV Action

As usual his scholarly precision leaves me feeling inadequate but what enjoyable material. My memory of the Countdown comic was that it was great to see the Anderson strips after the slow and painful death of TV21 in 1971. I'd abandoned the title way before that as the merger with Valiant was of no interest to me, at that time.

And here was a shiny new comic printed on very shiny paper (and tatty edges!). The artwork by Jon Davis and John Cooper (who I always get confused) never appealed to me and browsing through the comic I can't see why I kept ordering it until very late in its run, but I did. Don Harley's art was perfect to my eyes and that John Burns art with its heavy colour shadows made no sense - sorry John! Now I can appreciate Gerry Haylock, John Burns and others.  I do remember really appreciating the space news. It was the time of Apollo and Skylab which I found thrilling and as a teenager I was not averse to the flying saucer material either - after all I did watch UFO, didn't I?

I sold all my original copies to David Nightingale for £100 in the 1980s and was glad for the money. But enough of my life story.

Countdown #24 (Saturn V art by Roy Cross)
Read the story of how this art was used in Countdown Steve's book
The Frank Bellamy strips reprinted from his 'Thunderbird' run in TV21 appeared in Countdown #24 - 30 (each 3 page instalment reduced to 2 black and white pages - see example below). The 'cutting up' of Bellamy's art was produced in such as a way that unless you knew it had been done, it was hard to spot. 

Countdown #24

Countdown #24

TV21 #59 pp.10-11

TV21 #59 p.12

Secondly TV Action & Countdown #71 - 77 reprinted in colour this time and in the centre pages as they originally appeared, the 'Thunderbirds' story from TV21 issues 52-58, the first Thunderbirds story in TV21. As Steve explains in his book, these reprints saved costs in the production of the comic but new art was still being commissioned e.g. Gerry Haylock's 'Doctor Who' cover for issue 71 shown here

TV Action & Countdown #71

TV Action & Countdown #71

TV Action & Countdown #71
'Thunderbirds' also appeared in other Polystyle productions (the publishers of Countdown) such as the Thunderbirds 48 page Holiday Special (1971). I no longer have this one so rely on Shaqui's excellent website for more details. 

Thunderbirds Holiday Special 1971
But in reading Steve's Countdown to TV Action book I discovered he'd missed a Holiday Special.

Thunderbirds Holiday Special (1984) (Unknown artist)
If you're curious as to what the contents are, then allow me to help you.

To give the publishers credit they did reprint these stories as they were published - as a centrespread...but lost some of the captions in the gutter! The Holiday Special contains the stories from TV21 #66 through to #82 and #99-104 but with awkward additions.

Shaqui sums this up well "The mastheads from the original Thunderbirds strips are redrawn by an unidentified artist to make the stories complete compilations".

He is kinder than me and actually whoever was given the job of filling the headers that Bellamy drew, summed it up him/herself in this scan, where I think they mean to intimate "Danger" but it comes out as "Anger"!

You can see here how awful the black and white version of Bellamy's gorgeous colour is and also how the 'header' or masthead is filled in.

TV21 #75

None of this diminishes the work that Steve has done. The history of the company and the set up of Countdown under Dennis Hooper is worth the price of admission! But you also get lots of Brian lewis, Gerry Haylock, John Burns, Peter Ford artwork. To see more go to his page dedicated to the book which has pricing postage and far more details than covered here

Cover wraparound

Frank Bellamy still sells Thunderbirds products

I am so excited! Like a child in a sweet toyshop! "In shops now...!" I could say.

Messenger bag with Frank Bellamy's Thunderbirds art (RRP: £24.99)

I remember in the Sixties wishing so hard that I could get the comic stickers, notebooks etc etc that was advertised in Marvel and DC comics and wishing we had the equivalent range of comic toys, bags, alarm clocks for UK comics! Imagine when I found out that these are coming our way in the UK and with FRANK BELLAMY ARTWORK!!

Perhaps I should calm down and tell you more without using exclamation marks.

Thunderbirds flask with Frank Bellamy's Artwork

Firstly it was thanks to John Freeman over on that I found all this out.  I then went hunting and found that the 50th anniversary of Thunderbirds (how old does that make me?) has a raft of merchandising opportunities with it and that "during the last significant licensing programme in 2001, the brand was worth over £150m at retail" (see the full article on

Thunderbirds was on our screens for the first time in 1965 and the new Thunderbirds series - being produced in New Zealand (read more than you need to know here on the Fanderson website) will only increase excitement for little children like me.

Travel set with Frank Bellamy's Thunderbirds art
Trudy Hayward says elsewhere: "The new series looks stunning and we have every confidence that it will be a massive global hit. There is a huge affection for this much-loved brand in the UK where it is a national treasure and there are also many exciting themes and characters that will chime with global audiences tuning in for the first time. The series will be supported by one of our biggest ever marketing and retail campaigns 

Thunderbirds gadget case with Frank Bellamy's artwork (RRP:£24.99)

Housewares product designer, developer and distributor Bunkerbound are the company behind these products which should appear in shops this month. I have listed the Recommended Retail Price against each image with a link to further details under each image.  Bunkerbound's sales department kindly sent me the larger images and you can see the range and their fuller descriptions here

Thunderbirds alarm clock with Frank Bellamy's artwork (RRP: £22.99)
If like me you spotted that they all appear to use the same collage of images from Frank Bellamy ('Thunderbirds') , Eric Eden ('Lady Penelope')  and also, I think, John Cooper ('Thunderbirds'). Please let me know if you know who the other artists are if I'm wrong!

TemptationGifts will be retailing these later this year. Their site is full of merchandised characters

Friday, 13 June 2014

Frank Bellamy and Lilliput

Phil Rushton (who has a blog, to which he rarely contributes and I suspect that's because he is too busy sharing gems on ComicsUK Forum) kindly shared the following picture and asked my opinion

While we're on the subject of 1950s illustrators I wonder what Norman's opinion of this tiny, unsigned 1956 illustration from Lilliput no.229 is?

Personally I'm in two minds, but there are enough similarities to Frank Bellamy's style (particularly the nearside boot and leg) to make me think that he could have drawn it. Beyond that I can't think of any other Lilliput contributors who'd be more likely candidates.

(For those who don't know Norman maintains a couple of superb websites dedicated to Frank Bellamy and Raymond Sheppard, and is a leading authority on the work of those two fine artists).

- Phil Rushton

"Leading authority" may be a strong but I do like to share these two artists' work. Well I never need telling twice. I checked my notes of my many trips to the British Library and saw no notes on this image. But I then remembered buying this copy of Lilliput for the superb Raymond Sheppard images - and discovering the above for the first time. Why didn't I add it to the checklist at the time? Who knows!  But if you'd like to see the full page - nip along to my checklist and click on the side note! Thanks Phil.

By the way when I say 'he shares stuff', have a quick look at this crudely assembled link to get a blast from the UK comics past mostly contributed by Phil...oh and the photo is not to my knowledge Phil (it's Phillipe Rushton, a psychologist!).