Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Original Art: Garth on Heritage - The Orb of Trimandias (F100)

F100 "The Orb of Trimandias" Drawn by Frank Bellamy
"The Orb of Trimandias" story began in the Daily Mirror newspaper on 28 January 1972. The original art from one of the episodes is available from Heritage Auction.  This is a really interesting story that one day I might research a bit further (although I did some work earlier) as it concerns Leonardo Da Vinci and the Borgias. The start of the adventure is when Garth and Professor Lumiére are visiting "Count Giovanni Cometti in the magnificent Palazzo Livorno in Venice". The Count shows Garth an interesting drawing by Da Vinci which is an exact likeness of Garth, but was allegedly of Lord Carthewan, an English adventurer and soldier of fortune from the 16th Century.

Heritage describe the piece:
Frank Bellamy Garth #F.100 Daily Comic Strip Original Art (Daily Mirror, 1972). Frank Bellamy had a long and rich career before he took over the long-running comic strip Garth (1943-97) in 1971. He handled the art for this UK series until his death in 1976. Previously Bellamy had illustrated tales in Mickey Mouse Weekly, Swift, Boy's World, Look and Learn, Eagle, and TV Century 21 (where he illustrated many Gerry Anderson creations including the Thunderbirds). This daily from the "Orb Of Trimandias" storyline is wonderfully detailed in ink over graphite on illustration board with an image area of 20.5" x 5.25". In Excellent condition. From the Ethan Roberts Estate Collection. 
This story ran from 28 January 1972 - 22 May 1972 - (F24-F121) and was reprinted several times. The first time was in The Daily Mirror Book of Garth, (London: IPC Limited, 1975) in Bellamy's lifetime. Then it appeared in the American stripzine Menomonee Falls Gazette #67  (26 March 1973) - #83 (16 July 1973) - 6 daily strips on a page. The next time was by Titan Books , Garth Book One: The cloud of Balthus (1984)  and lastly Daily Mirror Monday 3 June  2013 to - Monday 29 July 2013 as a two tier reprint coloured by Martin Baines.

Want to read more? Here's a set of strips from this story featuring Garth's friend Sir John Mordant, showing the scene just before the one on sale!

WHERE?: Heritage Sunday Internet Comics Auction #121726
No of bids:
END DATE: 25 June 2017

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Original Art: Garth on Heritage - Ghost Town (G106)

G106 "Ghost Town" Drawn by Frank Bellamy
"Ghost Town" story began in the Daily Mirror newspaper on 11 April 1973. The original art from one of the episodes is available from Heritage Auction and shows a lovely panoramic shot of a saloon!

Heritage describe the piece:
Frank Bellamy Garth Daily Comic Strip G.106 Original Art dated 4-5-73 (Daily Mirror, 1973). This science fiction strip had a time-travel element to it, which is why today's episode looks more like a traditional Western than the typical spy/adventure-stories of the series. Bellamy really laid on the detail in that fantastic first panel! Crafted in ink over graphite on Bristol board with an image area of 20.5" x 5.25". In Excellent condition. From the Ethan Roberts Estate Collection. 
This story ran from 11 April 1973 - 12 July 1973 (G87-G164) and was reprinted several times. The first time was in The Daily Mirror Book of Garth, (London: IPC Limited, 1975) in Bellamy's lifetime.

However when Bellamy died in July 1976 he was drawing the story "Manhunt" which had yet to appear in the Daily Mirror. Conveniently for the Editor, Mike Molloy, "The Spanish Lady" story in the newspaper was drawing to a close. He decided to run Bellamy's favourite Garth story again - giving him time to see who he could get to replace Bellamy. His successor turned out to be Martin Asbury who was with the strip until its demise many years later

Interestingly, when the Daily Mirror published all the Bellamy stories coloured by Martin Baines, this story ran not only from Saturday 24 September 2011 to 8 November 2011 but again from Friday 25 September 2015 to - Monday 9 November 2015!

"Ghost Town" was also reprinted in Garth Book Two: The women of Galba Jim Edgar, London: Titan Books, 1985. It also appeared in the brilliant stripzine Menomonee Falls Gazette #131 (17 June1974) - #157 (16 December 1974) - 6 daily strips reprinted in black and white.

Want to read more? Here's a set of 6 strips from this story
Menomonee Falls Gazette reprints

WHERE?: Heritage Sunday Internet Comics Auction #121725
ENDING PRICE:$474 inc. buyer's premium [£373.92]
No of bids: 8
END DATE: 18 June 2017

Saturday, 10 June 2017

CENTENARY ARTICLE: Frank Bellamy, Odhams Press and "Ghosts"

One ghost please’  - Bellamy’s ‘first colour strip work’

John Wigmans, from the Netherlands, wrote to me a while back about a specific part of Basil Reynolds' and (we think by extension) Frank Bellamy's work in Mickey Mouse Weekly in 1954. John says Basil Reynolds wrote an autobiography of sorts: 'Of Skit and Skat And This And That'. It was published for the first time as a series in 1982/84 in Denis Gifford's ACE newsletter Comic Cuts. The complete story was reprinted in two parts in The Comic Journal (incorporating A.C.E.) issue 28 (Autumn 1994) and issue 29 (Spring 1995). The third time Basil's memoirs were published, was in Walt's People Volume 15 (2014). If you follow the link to Amazon, their "Look Inside" feature allows you to search and read a substantial part of what John mentions.

So what's the relevance to this blog - besides the fact they both worked in Mickey Mouse Weekly? Well, get ready for a genuine ghost story, or rather, a post about a colourful ‘ghost’… 

Remember Bellamy's comment from the Skinn/Gibbons interview (1973) on the strips he did for Mickey Mouse Weekly: 
FB: […] not only did I draw "Monty Carstairs" in Mickey Mouse, I also got my first colour strip work, Walt Disney's "Living Desert" in the centrespread. [Emboldening mine ~Norman

Some years ago John and I wrote about Bellamy’s True Life Adventures - The Living Desert.  We determined which instalments in the series were his, once he had taken over from the original artist Basil Reynolds in June, 1954. 
And now we can shed some new light on Bellamy’s ‘first colour strip work’, thanks to Reynolds’ autobiography.

Basil Reynolds art from "Beaver Valley",
Mickey Mouse Weekly, Aug 22, 1953
Below is the original artwork with notes scribbled by the artist

Basil Reynolds art from "Beaver Valley", Mickey Mouse Weekly, 1953
(from the collection "Home for Ducks", Vienna, Austria)
If you look closely on the black and white original art, you'll see the phrase "One ghost please" in the upper right hand corner, written in (non-reproducible) blue pencil . In his autobiography, (which John kindly forwarded) Reynolds explains:
Similarly I had no part in the actual production of the Holiday and Christmas specials, apart from sundry contributions, such as “Skit and Skat.” I imagine that credit for the original idea must go to Silvey Clarke, then the Assistant Editor, aided and abetted by the studio production team, headed by Ibby and Phyllis Thorpe. There was always a tremendous amount of work for the studio to do, especially in the production of colour pages for the weekly.
All the Walt Disney and other syndicated strips used on the four-colour pages were supplied by King Features, in black and white form. These had to be cut, sized up to fit the spaces they were to occupy in the Weekly as well as being pasted onto card. Also, at this stage, the worst Americanisms were removed from the balloons and English words and expressions substituted.
These “originals” were then sent to the photographic studio to return as “ghosts,” which were simply black and white prints shot to size on bromide paper. These prints were then pasted onto card, then each strip was hand-coloured in the studio using Kodak transparent watercolour stamps. These were perforated sheets, coated with coloured dyes and were primarily for use in tinting photographic prints. They were sent over from the States or quite often brought over by Bill Levy on frequent trips to his homeland. (I still have some of these books—pre-War vintage and often use them when working on a colour job.) The mounted and coloured strips for each issue were sent off to the printing works with the rest of the artwork but they were NOT used as originals—they were only detailed colour guides for craftsmen at Odhams photogravure works to transform into the finished product. Of course, full-colour artwork originals such as covers were treated as such and reproduced in the normal way. This process of producing colour guides was still operative when I finally left the Weekly in the 1950s. [Emboldening mine and spelling correction mine ~Norman]
If you're wondering what these Kodak stamps looked like we are in luck. I can't remember where I grabbed this images, but here they are. The books were 6 inches long

 John continues:
On his original board Basil wrote lots of instructions for the Odhams' printing works at Watford. He, and I assume Frank [Bellamy] as well, once he had taken over, wrote 'One ghost please' on his original artwork.

Now the question remains if what was eventually printed on the centrespread of Mickey Mouse Weekly, was really Basil Reynolds' / Frank Bellamy's handiwork. Or is the colouring as published in the weekly indeed done by one of the craftsmen at Odhams photogravure works, as Reynolds described? Even so, BR/FB had to produce the 'detailed colour guides' (=ghosts) first; i.e. the "Living Desert" instalments are still FB's 'first colour strip work'.

Why else would Frank say that 'not only did I draw "Monty Carstairs" in Mickey Mouse, I also got my first colour strip work, Walt Disney's "Living Desert" in the centrespread.' And remember: "This process of producing color guides was still operative when I [BR] finally left the Weekly in the 1950s." Reynolds, the Studio Manager (=art editor) left in February 1956. Prior to that FB had already moved on to Swift in July 1954. But he had had to use this method of colouring while still working for MMW.
I asked David Slinn to comment as he was there at the time, more or less, and he replied:

Relevant to the comics’ chronology, the following résumés are perhaps in the wrong order. However, explaining the separate procedures, in the context of first-hand experience, makes allowance for any apparent changes implemented since Basil Reynolds’ time on Mickey Mouse Weekly.
[i] As was briefly mentioned, one of my earliest weekly tasks in the mid-1950s was the Ben Day tint colour-guide for Tiger’s cover feature, ‘Roy of the Rovers’. Joe Colquhoun provided black and white line, twice-up, cover artwork and a continuation page (actually the comic’s back-cover); once lettered and titled, the printer’s proof – i.e. reduced in size to that of the comic’s cover – on cartridge stock, was sent back by Tiger editorial.The cover was then appropriately coloured, using watercolours/coloured inks – together with a rough copy, noting team shirts/shorts/socks and other key continuity, retained for succeeding episodes. 
Very quickly, I discovered that if you simply painted flat colour, that’s what inevitably appeared in the printed comic; while, even fairly subtle gradations, introduced into a sky area or the grass of the football pitch, would be reproduced quite accurately.So, despite realizing that many of the other Amalgamated Press weeklies appeared quite content with the former treatment – with a keen eye, on a future up the road in Hulton House – I tended to put in a bit more than was probably expected. During a night-time, burning-torch lit search, involving Roy Race and his colleague Blackie Gray, even the fresh foot-prints and flickering shadows on the winter-snow, made it onto the nation’s bookstalls.
Later on, when I had established a freelance association with Eagle and the companion titles, I was also involved with Odhams’ Zip, where the editor John N. Low had initially encouraged me to submit scripts to a series, ‘The Brainy B’s’. This led to Joe and I then being assigned to draw a number of further episodes and, also, work together on some new strip proposals for the title. Zip’s art editor, was a chap called Sandy (his surname, if it was mentioned, failed to register*), and remember being intrigued to find him in the midst of colouring a centre-spread cutaway illustration. I quickly twigged this wasn’t the actual original illustration, but a full-size photoprint of Gordon Davies’ black and white, half-up finished artwork – or a “ghost”, very similar to those John Wigmans has helpfully drawn attention to and invited observations on. [* I fear, Sandy – whoever he was – other than extremely likeable, within the year had joined Norman Williams, Raymond Sheppard and, later, Alan Stranks, in equally tragic circumstances. Being relatively young and in a different world, so to speak, I found this slightly unsettling.]
What follows is intuitive speculation on my part: but maybe, Odhams’ photogravure colour separation procedures, required the “ghost” to be “…hand-coloured…” using a limited number of specified colours – even, restricted, perchance “…to one red, one blue, one yellow, and obviously, the black.” – FB decided to adopt.

Thanks for these additions David

Original art laid against published art showing
size reduction for the published work
John then commented:

Right now I can shed some new (or additional) light on the 'ghost'-affair. As usual, the answer lies with Ebay where several original drawings by Basil R. from his "True Life Adventures" are being offered. I copied some scans and part of the description of "True Life Adventures - Olympic Elk (part 8 of 8)". This is from March 1954, close to FB's first colour strip work. As can be seen and read in the description, Basil's original drawing measures 41.4cm approx. x 25cm approx. This is board size, so the actual drawing is slightly smaller. Fortunately there is a ruler at the bottom of the images. On the original drawing someone (Basil?) wrote the reduction factor in blue pencil: 10 1/8 inch. I think this is the size for the ghost that Basil mentions: 'simply black and white prints shot to size on bromide paper'. The ruler on the scan with the published instalment gives 10" approx. (print size). Then this ghost had to be coloured [as outlined above ~Norman]
Now the questions are:
  • did FB draw his instalments of "The Living Desert" the same size as Basil? (I think he did...)
  • Would he have hand-coloured his artwork 'in the studio' or at home?
  • Is the colouring on the printed version in MMW by FB himself, or did some craftsman at Odhams use FB's hand-coloured ghost as a detailed colour guide (as Basil described the process)? This means that the printed version is one generation removed from FB's original colouring. 
Loving hearing from others,  I sent the draft of this article to David Jackson for his thoughts and he gave me some anecdotes on colouring:

One was Jim Steranko instructing the colourist, sorry, colorist that having spent endless time drawing countless Hydra figures in the background he didn't want just a wash of purple (say) over them - he wanted each figure colouring individually.  And the colorist said, "I quit!"   
The other one is a Tarzan annual where the artist/penciller/inker had drawn Tarzan at night with an ink black sky and tree branches silhouetted against a full moon.  But the colourist (not being one and the same as the artist) had completely failed to understand this and had coloured the full moon sky-blue, so that Tarzan now looks like he's crouched at the bottom of a well..!   
But to get to the point of this 'ghost' 'indication' colouring.  I had never paid enough attention to the Mickey Mouse colour pages to notice that it wasn't usual glossy colour - which we can see it isn't if attention is paid to it.  I've never heard the term 'ghost' in connection with four colour 'indication' colouring and would have never associated mechanical colour with anything other than cheap newsprint stock - an anathema to photogravure!  I'd never have imagined shelling out on photogravure only to get ostensibly flat limited colour.  I'd never thought of photogravure and colour separation in the same procedure / sentence.   I actually prefer cheap paper stock old style mechanical flat colour production of American comics to the new ghastly 'digital-airbrush color' that there is these days!   It optically conflicts with the actual artist's or artists' (penciller-inker's) linework.
David said regarding John's questions above:

  1. Regarding the size:In all probability, I'd think.  The whole process in all aspects of the production of the comic seems rigidly structured.
  2. Regarding the colouring at home: Probably at home if it needed subtle colour in an original. But the black ink linework was 'drawn for colour' - knowing in advance that it would be coloured.  As opposed to "Garth" which was not drawn for colour or intended to be coloured and looks entirely different in its original b/w to how it would have looked if it had been intended to be coloured.
  3. Regarding the colouring artist: Probably likely.  It doesn't look like recognisably FB colouring.  Could look and see if the colourists always did a standard thing with colouring the text boxes etc, whoever the artist...

Lastly I'll leave the last words - which are an aspiration, for John (and myself!):
It is a shame that none of FB's original art for MMW, "Monty Carstairs" and 6 instalments of "Living Desert", have survived...

Many thanks go to John for tracking down this obscure, but fascinating, corner of British comics!

Original Art: Garth on Heritage - the Mask of Atacama (G180)

G180 Garth: The Mask of Atacama by Frank Bellamy
"The Mask of Atacama" story began in the Daily Mirror newspaper on 13 July 1973. The original art from one of the episodes is available from Heritage Auction and shows Garth, and Atacama herself  who in her own words was "created only for your pleasure"!

Heritage describe the piece:
Frank Bellamy Garth Daily Comic Strip G-180 Original Art dated 7-31-73 (Daily Mirror, 1973). This daily strip is titled "The Mask of Atacama." Fantastic chiaroscuro artwork from Frank Bellamy at the end of his career. Produced in ink over graphite on illustration board with an image area of 20.5" x 5.25". Slight toning. In Excellent condition. From the Ethan Roberts Estate Collection. 
This story ran from 13 July 1973 - 25 October 1973 (G165-G254) and was reprinted in The Daily Mirror Book of Garth London: IPC Limited, 1976 and then in Garth Book Two: The women of Galba Jim Edgar, London: Titan Books, 1985. It was also reprinted in the American 'stripzine' Menomonee Falls Gazette #157 (16/12/1974) - #184 (23/06/1975)- 6 daily strips reprinted in black and white, in alternative issues. The latest reprint was in the Daily Mirror running from Friday 14 September 2012 to - Monday 5 November 2012 as a 2-tier reprint coloured by Martin Baines.

Want to read more? Here's a set of 6 strips from this story

Menomonee Falls Gazette reprints
WHERE?: Heritage Sunday Internet Comics Auction #121724
ENDING PRICE:$525.80 includes Buyer's Premium
No of bidders:
END DATE: 11 June 2017

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Original Art: Garth on Heritage - the Bride of Jenghiz Khan (H231)

H231 Garth: The Bride of Jenghiz Khan by Frank Bellamy
"The Bride of Jenghiz Khan" story began in the Daily Mirror newspaper on 28 September 1974. The original art for the fourth episode is available from Heritage Auction and shows Garth, our super-strength hero as he crashes - just before time-travelling!

Heritage describe the piece:
 Frank Bellamy Garth Daily Comic Strip Original Art dated 2-10-74 (Daily Mirror, 1974). A car crash is featured in all three panels of this high contrast thriller, numbered H231. Frank Bellamy is one of the celebrated titans of British comic strip art (note the "petrol tank" reference in Panel 1). This daily has an image area of 20.5" x 5.25", and the art is in Excellent condition. From the Ethan Roberts Estate Collection.

This story ran from 28 September 1974 - 14 January 1975 (H228-J1) and was reprinted in Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan (Daily Strips No. 1). London: J. Dakin, P. Hudson and G. Lawley, May 1979 which was an A5 sized reprint of 20 pages. It was also coloured (by Martin Baines)  in the Daily Mirror from Tuesday 19 February 2013 to Wednesday 10 April 2013 and lastly as Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan published by All Devon Comic Collectors Club Daily Strips: Collectors Club Editions No.1 [No date] 

Want to read more? Here's a few strips before and after the one on sale (Taken from the late and very lamented "All Devon Comic Collectors Club Daily Strips")

First five episodes of Jim Edgar and Frank Bellamy's story

WHERE?: Heritage Sunday Internet Comics Auction #121723
ENDING PRICE:$382.40 inc. Buyer's premium
No of bids: 9
END DATE: 4 June 2017

Sunday, 21 May 2017

CENTENARY ARTICLE: Part One: 1920s - 1950s by David Jackson

FRANK BELLAMY - design and technique
Part One: 1920s-1950s

By David Jackson

Imagine some counter-factual alternative reality in which Frank Bellamy had not been born a hundred years ago... Not only would nobody have ever drawn the way he did, no one would have ever known it was even possible to draw like that.

It became his self-appointed self-taught task to find out what the Frank Bellamy 'look' looked like. Which was fortunate for us all because he was the only one capable of doing so...

In the BBC Edition programme 30th November 1973, presenter Barry Askew asked Frank:
BA: "What kind of comics did you grow up on, as a boy?"
FB: "Well the first was Chips, or Rainbow and then gradually getting some of the supplements from the United States, which contained Tarzan and that type of thing. The American comic as you saw in the film, was non-existent in this country. The comics were for little types, eight year olds, five and six year olds."
BA: "Things like Beano and Dandy? I read that one."
FB: "Yes. I'm afraid they didn't affect me at all, I didn't used to read those sort of things."

The Rainbow from a month before Bellamy's birth
14 April 1917 No.166 (Courtesy of Alan Notton's ComicsUK site)
See a larger version of the one 2 weeks later on Lew Stringer's site

Illustrated Chips from when Bellamy was almost 5 years old

No doubt his very first attempts at mark-making with a pencil registered a special place in his heart and mind and those schoolboy artistic efforts would have been interesting to see.

In the early development of a young artist's life it is not at the time possible to know the right course to take, in terms of subject matter or technique, let alone the right contacts to make which will, by absolute chance, be the ones which lead to success.
Frank's early years in illustration and advertising included various try-outs of materials, techniques and subject-matter.
Some of the early 'false starts', which would not lead towards the work for which he would become famous, were portfolio sample pieces to take around the publishers and commercial art studios.

They demonstrated a specialist ability to precisely render hard-edged subjects such as mechanical objects, graphics and lettering, requiring not only an exact sense of design but also a degree of unwavering pen control which is beyond many.

1935, circa. 'South for Sunshine - 'SOUTHERN RAILWAY' poster for an RAAS competition, original artwork in poster paint on hardboard, signed FRANK A. BELLAMY , and with Kettering home address on the reverse (42'' x 27'') as a competition entry, it is believed that this design was not used by the SR. It recently went for an auction hammer price of £200. 

"South for Sunshine" Southern railway poster

Were it not signed, as a whole the work isn't easily identifiable in either materials or technique as the artist's, but all that being said, the confident certainty of the lettering and design graphics is exactly in line with so many other early FB pieces. His hard-edge graphics technique development was ahead of the early figure-work elements until they caught up.

Olivia de Havilland at the El Mirador, Palm Springs

Also, interestingly, if possibly coincidentally, an early photo-shoot print of Olivia de Havilland, was found by chance on the web. The 'SOUTHERN RAILWAY' is not a direct 'copy' of this as such but FB could well have had opportunity to have seen the photograph before producing this early poster. A certain coincidence would be, decades later, FB drawing Olivia de Havilland for Radio Times.

Radio Times 29 May 1971 - 4 June1971, p.12

Olivia de Havilland in The Adventures of Robin Hood  (1938)

It would very much fit with the description in Fantasy Advertiser Vol.3 No.50 of producing cinema front-of-house graphics for Blamire's, his local studio in Kettering. This was a job he'd been peremptorily turned down for until the manager, who also ran an evening art class, saw him drawing and then offered him the job!

FB: "So I started the next day, sweeping up and making tea. I thought I could draw but found I couldn't, seeing all the studio artists work. I spent six years working there - from 16 until I was 22 and called up for the army. During the latter part of my stay at this studio we did an enormous amount of work for local cinemas - point-of-sale advertising poster, coming-next-week lettering with bags of punch and a bit of illustration. Then I used to produce two display boards for the Regal cinema. One display was 17ft long, 6ft high and 5ft deep. I had to paint the background, the figures, the action of whatever the film was about, and so on, on Essex board which was cut out so you had standing cut-out figures of things like Angels with Dirty Faces starring James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, and films of that time."

FA: "I should imagine your experience in making movie billboards stood you in good stead for the 'splash' frames in your 'Churchill' strip."

FB: "Yes. I did my own display lettering. I like to do my own lettering wherever possible."

The Wizard 18 July 1925
Artist unknown - but lots of thrilling adventures for an 8 year old!

A subsequent family story was that one day FB had gone back to Blamire's, unexpectedly, having forgotten something or some such, only to find his boss was copying his work...

FA: "What did you enjoy reading as a boy?"
FB: "My reading material had been Wizard, Rover and the pulps. In fact, after being turned down for that first job I went straight across the road to Woolworths and bought a western pulp. All the pulps I read had to be either western or G-Men. So, with that sort of diet, I suppose I was never cut-out to draw girlish sort of strips."
[If we assume Bellamy is right about when he bought a western pulp (and he would have been 16) it might be a UK reprint of an American pulp such as All-Star Western and Frontier Magazine. Well, I had to illustrate it! ~Norman]

All Star Western and Frontier magazine April 1933
Artist Unknown
Scan from the excellent Phil Stephenson-Payne's site

Frank Bellamy was very much finding his way in his early days in terms of technique, subject, materials and everything, some of which, while not finding a usual place as part of 'the day job', would be used for one-offs, character studies, drawing from life and the like.

FB: "But I always have enjoyed drawing - pure and simple drawing, whatever the medium. I don't mind if it's pastels, pencil or ink. It doesn't matter to me as long as it's actually drawing."

Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph,
Wednesday Feb 15 1939, p4
by Frank Bellamy -See article here

1939. The 'ARP Report' by Lance-Corporal Bellamy published in the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph 15 February consisted of some extremely basic scribbled doodles (instructive for the less-than-no-effort-whatsoever put into them..!) illuminating an allegedly 'factual' printed text 'Report' worthy of 'Dad's Army'..!

"Last Train"? by Frank Bellamy

1946. An early pastel depicts a soldier waiting in a railway station. Unpublished as far as is known. It might have been called "Last Train" which appears in the Kettering & District Art Society Exhibition Catalogue of 25 May -15 June 1946.
1946. Pencil sketches of his son David as a baby, 21 February.

David Bellamy as a baby (dated 21 February 1946)
 1946-1949. FB's black and white possibly brush-line drawing ink technique used in sporting cartoons for Northampton Evening Telegraph's Football Telegraph (aka 'The Pink Un') of the humorous variety in a style used by 'political' newspaper cartoonists of that era - signed FRANK A. BELLAMY.

Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph (Sat 10 April 1948) in Football Telegraph)
"Smacked in the eye by poppies & posh on Monday, Wisbech & brush fought a duel today" [cropped image]

Frank's son David has said that FB used to bring home little 'How-To-Draw' books.
A potential candidate for such a little book (7"x4½") possibly read by FB, based solely on my own reading of it, (with no actual confirmation whatsoever that Frank himself ever in fact set eyes on it), is:  
Teach Yourself to Draw 1942

Teach Yourself to Draw by Ronald Smith, English Universities Press Ltd was first published in 1942 (republished in 1954). [The publishers of Teach Yourself Books also include 'Perspective' and 'Commercial Art' in the series].

The following quotes certain pages (page numbers given) which I could imagine FB possibly noting with interest:

  • p24. "You should also begin collecting together, quite soon, any other natural or fashioned objects, which, because of their form or texture interest you - shells, fir cones - bones, jars, even stones of unusual shape [...] You will see that I have made no mention here of flat "copies" [...] It is essential to see for oneself at first hand; and in future You should draw from real solid things, and these alone".
Bellamy uses props - see also Alan Davis' site

  • p71. Dot stipple tones [possibly by use of a special purpose manufactured raised surface board - made for printing such tones] with an effect similar to that which FB created by hand.
  • p82. "Only draw and keep on drawing"[Also FB's own advice in a letter to another fan... And Frank's own experience];
  • p128. "the most significant and useful folds should be selected for inclusion in your drawing, and the rest ignored". [See Alan Davis' excellent feature on photo references Bellamy used where Davis shows photos in the artwork for Sunday Times - and Nancy bellamy with here back to the artists]
[For more on this Sunday Times article see the full article - Norman]

  • p129. ['dot stipple' effect used for a head.]
  • p130. "You might, indeed, be wise to concentrate for a time on self portraiture - drawing yourself in a mirror. [...] ...Rembrandt...dressing up and disguising himself for the purpose".

FA: "Do you find that you start living the part? When the character snarls, as you draw it, you snarl too?"

FB: "Oh, yes. In fact, some artists keep mirrors at hand and when they want to convey an expression of mood, they put on the expression, look in the mirror and copy their own face."

FA: "Which explains why so many artists often draw themselves into their work."

FB: "That's right. It's not intentional. They just draw the expression on their own face."

  • p140. "Drawing from memory. [...] You must understand the function of anything you draw. If any of its parts are movable you should see how they move and to what purpose. You must be able to make a drawing that looks as though it will work. [...] your drawing should be so self-explanatory that a craftsman might, with no other guide, construct the object represented."

This brings to mind, an FB apology to Dez for drawing a cowboy's belt buckle - on a birthday card - that Frank had, too late, realised 'wouldn't function' [Read more here - Norman]

  • p146. "The most useful photographs are those you take yourself." [Again take a look at Alan Davis' feature]

FB: "And you can only go so far with memory drawing. After that limit, you are just causing yourself a lot of hard work that's absolutely unnecessary."

  • p147. "I advised you, at the end of Chapter 1, not to use flat copies. This chapter [use of a reference file] may seem to contradict that, so it must be emphasised that references are not to be copied, or even, necessarily, adapted, but used rather as a source of information and as a stimulus to memory."

In other words, 'informational' reference would be the specific details of the appearance of some object, which it is necessary to depict accurately, but from another, or in fact any other, angle or viewpoint. As distinct from 'compositional' reference which is directly copied from source into a picture.

References which are recognisably copied freehand, traced, or even adapted, are the 'route one' short-cut in terms of time-saving methods of supplementing whatever natural ability and learning an artist may have. However, there are as many pitfalls of the 'little knowledge can be a dangerous thing' variety; hence the cautions issued about such.

  • p169. "..in a pen and ink drawing light and shade are built up with black lines dots. ticks and scribbles [...] Use of as smooth and white and hard a drawing surface as possible also makes for definition and contrast [...] Altering a drawing by sticking paper patches over mistakes is another dangerous habit..." [The solution to which being CS10 line board].

  • p174. "An illustration is a picture having a bearing upon the text of a book, but it must also be - and this is really more important - a pattern which decorates the page and harmonises with adjacent type. Too great a sense of depth and solidity in an illustration may well destroy rather than decorate the surface of a page. It is better to produce something which is frankly flat and decorative; a pattern of shapes..".

1948-1953. FB describes in Fantasy Advertiser his visit to the capital and interest in seeing a full-blown A1 studio, Norfolk Studios, St Brides Lane, London, resulting in being offered a job and relocating.

FA: "So you came down to London with all these big ideas about Fleet Street art studios. Did they come up to your expectations?"

FB: "Oh, yes. But they went beyond that. They frightened me to death, really. But I'm sure I learned more in six months in a London studio working with specialists than I could have in six years in an art school. I'm convinced of it."

FA: "Do you think your work might have suffered if you'd had any art training?"
FB: "Yes. I think it could have done. I'd have had a lot of my own style and technique taught out of me. I feel the training I gave myself was more use than an academic teaching, that gives you bits of everything - irrespective of what your own specialty may be."
Then he was contacted by International Artists a leading art agency and agreed to being represented for freelance work.

Things were starting to look a lot more interesting... But not just yet..!



All quotations above (except where indicated) are from the most exhaustive Bellamy interview in Fantasy Advertiser Vol.3 No.50 in which Dez Skinn and Dave Gibbons asked the questions

Frank Bellamy's Centenary


Frank Bellamy (21 May 1917- 5 July 1976)
100 years ago today on Monday 21 May 1917, one of Britain's legendary comic artists and illustrators was born.

Frank Alfred Bellamy came into the world at a very hazardous time. Woodrow Wilson and David Lloyd George were respectively, U.S. President and the UK Prime Minister. The King of the United Kingdom was George V (who two months after Bellamy was born changed the German sounding family name from House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the House of Windsor). The United States had severed relations with Germany three months earlier and joined the war on April 6 1917 with conscription starting a few days before Bellamy was born.  The First World War was in its third year with unprecedented casualties in Europe. Two months before Bellamy was born Tsar Nicholas II was overthrown when the Russian Revolution ended the Russian Empire.

The (Manchester) Guardian of the day was eight pages of solid text, editorial and text adverts. "The remains of the shells spent on Vimy Ridge" being the only photograph which appears on page 4 with three drawn adverts. The photo puzzled me as it appears to be Canadian but research on this battle told me that the main combatants were Canadians.

The Observer, for the day before (20 May 1917) is completely the opposite with a bright front page of adverts

The Times too shows a few more illustrated adverts but is also fairly solid text - especially on its front page.

The most interesting though are the Daily Mirror and the Daily Express of the 21 May.

Daily Mirror 21 May 1917
The cover tells about the fact the British and allies were not being starved of bread as a result of increased U-Boat activity; General John J. Pershing takes command of the American Expeditionary Forces; a young girl looks at medals awarded to her dead brothers; three men who moved from Privates at the start of the war to higher ranks (including Lieutenant Palmer V.C.)  and Queen Mary visited the North and receives a bouquet from a munitions factory worker.

Daily Express 21 May 1917

The Daily Express majors on "Another line hacked out of the Hindenburg Line" and tells of how the munition workers have called off their strike.

Frank Bellamy's The Story of World War 1

Mike Butterworth (10 January 1924 – 4 October 1986) and Frank Bellamy's series from Look and Learn (#437 - 462,  30 May 1970 - 21 November 1970) was called "The Story of World War 1" in which text wrapped around illustrations by Bellamy. It must have been interesting for Bellamy to do this for the younger man. He must have taken quite an interest in the years around his birthday (53 years later)

In 2009 (was it that long ago?) Geoff West and Steve Holland worked to create a reprint and asked me to write an introduction, which I did. On the day we all stood around lots of boxes containing the reprint I felt so proud! We were there to inscribe our names into the hardback copies. As it's Bellamy's centenary the story can now be told that if you open your copies now and read the limited edition number, you are looking at my wife's fair handwriting! I was nervous enough and had to sign my name and as she'd taken the journey with me to Book Palace's Crystal Palace HQ, I thought they'd look better if she did them. I've always been quite good at delegation!

To tie in with the birth of Bellamy and all the reminiscences of World War One at the moment, I thought it worth highlighting this fantastic book once again by pressing my wife to help me video a brief overview of the book - and yes, those are her hands! She's flicking through the book and skipping sections - after all we had better not show you it all! You need to buy copies!

The Limited hardback edition is now only £25 in Geoff's sale but if you don't have Robin Hood, King Arthur or this book, you could go for all three for only £39. The Story of World War 1 is the paperback version. The complete book sale is here

I started this blog ten years ago today! I launched the Checklist website 10 years ago!

I thought, as many bloggers do, I'd take a look at the statistics on the blog.

307 articles published since 21 May 2007
207,002 pages views since day 1
Top 5 Articles:
3324 pageviews Frank Bellamy and King Kong
1782 pageviews Fans of Frank: Will Brooks and Frank Bellamy
1775 pageviews Frank Bellamy - first past the post!
1419 pageviews Frank Bellamy appeared in Lion
1271 pageviews Frank Bellamy and Doctor Janet Brown
If you can explain why King Kong to me I'd be grateful as I own a copy of the 19 magazine it appears in, which could be worth liquidating for cash to add to my retirement fund!!!
The Top 5 countries that visit:
United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, France. I wonder about one of them!
29% of users use Chrome
24% IE
23% Firefox
18% Safari
1% Opera
and others
56% of users use Windows
19% use Macs
Top 5 Keywords used to get to the blog are:
  1. king kong
  2. frank bellamy
  3. king kong and woman
  4. frank bellamy garth
  5. heros the spartan
So remember to be careful what you tell your search engine people! You're revealing more than you think!

The graph below shows a big spike which I suspect is our friend Will Brooks' article
Blog pageviews from 2007-2017
and lastly, I'm grateful to everyone that links to my blog from theirs and these include in the top 5:
http://bearalley.blogspot.co.uk/ and .com! Blogger's way are mysterious - but thanks Steve!
but there are others - thanks Kid!


I'll be doing further special centenary articles (what? you hadn't noticed the others?) over the next few months in this centenary year starting with David Jackson's offering about how Bellamy worked. Watch for that later today!

I also have some new Bellamy works to show you and this year seems the appropriate time to reveal things I've held onto until now!

And lastly I am re-vamping the Checklist website - yes, I wonder how I have the time!