Saturday, 21 May 2016

Happy Birthday Frank Bellamy....

Kettering Leader and Guardian 1955 Nov 11 p.3

Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph, Wednesday Feb 15 1939, p4
Frank Bellamy was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire 99 years ago today.  As a special treat I'm sharing some of his earliest known work published in the local newspaper and also an article about him. Unfortunately the latter has a few errors.

The first is from the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph, Wednesday Feb 15 1939 and shows some rough sketches Lance-Corporal Bellamy submitted with a report on his 'actions'. Bellamy did lots of cartoon work whilst in the Blamire Studio in Kettering, so these sketches reflect this humorous turn.  Obviously this helps us see that Bellamy started his National Service some time around the beginning of 1939. Unfortunately I would have to be a member of the family to request his Army record to confirm exactly when, but this is closer than I previously had.

Interestingly he is not credited as Lance Bombardier, (the Royal Artillery equivalent of Lance Corporal, the lowest Non-Commissioned Officer grade i.e. one above a Gunner (Private)). I'm not that au fait with Army ranks so need help here. Am I missing something? He went on to become Corporal and by the time he left the Army, after the Second World War, he was a Sergeant.

Click to enlarge

Bellamy writes and draws in 1939
The second clip comes from when Bellamy had established himself and comes from the local paper Kettering Leader and Guardian 11 November 1955 and is titled "R.A. praises local artist". This refers top the much quoted fact that Sir William Russell Flint, the brilliant watercolourist was very impressed with Bellamy's illustration in Everybodys Weekly (published 1 October 1955 - click here for more details). 

Kettering Leader and Guardian 1955 Nov 11 p.3
The article is spot on except, to my knowledge, when it mentions he illustrated Girl comic, the sister paper to Eagle and Swift - which he did strips in. I'm hoping someone out there proves me wrong as I'm always looking for more Bellamy!

Anyway, have fun reading these - and remember you can see Russell Flint's version of the dancers he mentions at the above link - thanks to the wonderful Jim Vadeboncoeur.

Happy Birthday Frank, you are missed!

Monday, 18 April 2016

Frank Bellamy - Docotr Who and Winston Churchill

I feel I should apologise for the lack of material on this blog in the last 6 months.  Our house has been completely re-plastered - new plasterboard on walls and ceilings! That's the first time I've been able to paint new new walls and ceilings and skirting boards! And it will the last, I can't face that work again!! Amway all the books, notes etc are out of storage

Enough of me, let's talk Bellamy

While I was 'out of it' a few things appeared which connect with Bellamy. 

Doctor Who: The Complete History
Volume 17:Colony in space; The Daemons; Day of the Daleks
The above Doctor Who: The Complete History was published as a partwork by Panini. I caught it while it was available in W H Smiths. This is the second published volume (actually volume 17) covering three episodes (the first two 1971; the latter 1972). You can read the reviews of each issue of this multi-part work at the Doctor Who fan site Kasterborous "Doctor Who News, Opinions, Reviews and PodKast", If you are wondering, they state "Kasterborous (Cas-TER-bor-os) was the constellation in which the planet Gallifrey was located"

It looks like the series of hardbacks have the following outline:
  1. Introduction
  2. The Story
  3. Pre-Production
  4. Production
  5. Post-Production
  6. Publicity
  7. Broadcast
  8. Cast and Credits
  9. Merchandise
  10. Profiles

Below are my photos of the Bellamy relevant pages from this particular volume which show artwork from the Radio Times
  • 10 April 1971 -16 April 1971: Doctor Who - Colony in Space 
  • 22 May 1971 - 28 May 1971: Doctor Who - The Daemons
  • 18 December 1971 - 31 December 1971: The omnibus edition of The Daemons
  • 1 January 1972 - 7 January 1972: Doctor Who - Day of the Daleks

pages 38-39


I also saw advertised in a Museum catalogue which arrived on my doormat, the excellent "Happy Warrior" reprint I have previously mentioned where they state rather strangely  "Reproducing 8 complete 'Eagle' colour comic strips from the 1950s telling the life story of Sir Winston Churchill". Where did they get the figure 8 from? The series ran for 49 episodes (including the full page portrait); it was one long story - not 8 parts; it took up one page each week; it was indeed the '1950s' but actually 1957-1958. Strange!

An erroneous description!
The hardback is apparently out of print in the USA, and i have learned that  Book Palace have stock

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Original art - Thunderbirds

Original art TV21 141
It wasn't long ago that I was writing about Heritage Auctions in the States selling 2 Frank Bellamy originals, which sold for a combined price of approximately £1,668.82. They are now for sale on eBay!

The seller, who I don't know, states:

This is for 2 pages of original art from the comic TV Century 21 issue 141 September 30th 2067 (1967)
Both pages are from Thunderbirds and are by Frank Bellamy
The colour is still very good with the usual light fading
The art is sold framed
A copy of the comic is included in the sale
Art by Frank Bellamy is very rare and being Thunderbirds makes them extremely collectable.
Please note that the Thunderbirds logo is a modern reproduction. The rest of the art is complete and original.
Very sad to see this go

While I was away on holiday both the other Bellamy pieces sold - see them here and here - and also Tweedacademy put a beautiful piece on the auction site. So for completeness sake I'm showing the art here with the data collected below, as I'm starting to see people using the blog to see how much their art is worth!
The original artwork for Thunderbirds in TV21 #125
TV21 #125 (June 10 2067) is a FANTASTIC example of what Bellamy wanted to achieve. The seller was kind enough to let this be photographed and that's what I use for my profile on Facebook "Frank Bellamy Artwork" page.  I wondered whether to change my picture like others do, but haven't the heart as it is so gorgeous!

This latter piece has sold as the seller accepted the Best Offer made - which I hope was a lot, as this is the best I've seen!

SUMMARY (of TV21 #141)

WHERE?: eBay
SELLER: d.g100
BUY IT NOW: £3,950
END DATE: 29 February 2016

SUMMARY (of TV21 #125)

WHERE?: eBay
SELLER: Tweedacademy
BUY IT NOW: £4,000
END DATE: 22 February 2016

Monday, 25 January 2016

Original Art: Heros the Spartan

There is now another chance to own a Heros the Spartan doublepage spread. On eBay right now. Mind you, you will need some money to buy it! It's always awkward when I know who owns the piece to keep the seller's anonymity without sounding too cold, but this person is very trustworthy and a nice person too!

Episode 12 from the "Eagle of the Fifth" story by Tom Tully comes from Eagle 25 May 1963 (Volume 16:11).

Eagle 25 May 1963 - the comic
I have taken the pictures below from the Ebay auction and you can see how pure the colours are after all these years - 53 years! Someone smart has not stored it on a wall in sunlight!

It was this piece when I saw it in the original, that convinced me that poor Bellamy must have been very frustrated by the later run of Eagle comics which really muddied his colours. Just compare, say "Happy Warrior" to "Montgomery of Alamein" to "Heros the Spartan"

As a child - and I've told this story before - I read the Eagle after my older brothers and found Heros a muddy multi-coloured mess. It was only reading Dez Skinn raving about it that made me think again, but this piece convinced me that what Geoff West and Peter Richardson did in reprinting the run, was a Godsend!

The seller has this description on ebay, which includes something about me - no commission or money has exchanged hands ;-)

It doesn't get much better than this! (That is, until we show you a little something else which will be coming up soon).
As an example of Bellamy's mastery of layout and use of colour these Heros double page spreads for Eagle in the 1960's take some beating. Included in our pictures with this listing is the scan from our original that was reproduced in the fantastic book collection of these strips 'Heros the Spartan', from Book Palace books. Cut and paste the link below to see an article on this book at the unbeatable Bellamy Blog resource run by Norman Boyd (also involved in the production of this outstanding collection.. follow the link :)
This has been conservation framed and is in amazing condition for a 50 year old work. It has some lovely details, including the famous 'wolf's head' that has been much imitated.
Postage will obviously more than the £7.50 that this platform allows me to specify? Let's talk :)

The original art

Just look at the rich colour

And I suppose I should mention the reprinted Heros the Spartan books are still available from Book Palace. The last I heard from Geoff the numbers were certainly going down so do not hesitate!

If the piece sells and the seller is knd enough to share, I'll complete the listing below


WHERE?: eBay
SELLER: Tweedacademy
BUY IT NOW: £6,000
END DATE: 22 February 2016

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Original Art: Garth on eBay - The Orb of Trimandias

F98 The Orb of Trimiandias
That kind Chris Power has pointed me to eBay where an original Garth strip is up for auction (with 7 bids at £16 which tells me there's a few people really hoping to get this cheaply!). Last time it came up for auction it got £233 in 2012. It will be interesting to see how much it goes for this time. Previously another strip from this story sold for £156 but they are coming up less and less so who knows?

The seller says:
A superb example from one of the UK's greatest comic artists, Frank Bellamy. This is an original from the series 'Garth' which appeared in the Daily Mirror in the 1970's. An outstanding example we think you'll agree and all starting at 99p with no reserve in sight.

This is from the story 'The Orb of Trimandias' and it finds the time travelling hero Garth at the sharp end of a rumble with the henchmen of Cesare Borgia no less. Featuring one of the few wordless panels of the run and emphasising the no nonsense sword play. We hope to have some lovely things for the discerning palette listed in the days to come.

A tantalizing description!

The story appeared in the Daily Mirror 28 January 1972 - 22 May 1972 (#F24-F121) and has been reprinted a few times
  • The Daily Mirror Book of Garth, London: IPC Limited, 1975
  • Garth Book One: The cloud of Balthus Jim Edgar, London: Titan Books, 1984 
  • Menomonee Falls Gazette #67  (26/03/1973) - #83 (16/07/1973) - 6 daily strips reprinted in B&W
  • Daily Mirror Monday 3 June  2013 to - Monday 29 July 2013 Two tier reprint coloured by Martin Baines

WHERE?: eBay
SELLER: Tweedacademy
END DATE: 27 January 2016
No of bids: 31
No of bidders: 8 

Monday, 12 October 2015

Frank Bellamy - Sight Unseen

As any blogger will tell you it's great to get guests to write something, and I've been very fortunate in having my good friend David Jackson write the following.....
DAILY MIRROR (3 Jul 1972)  "The Gospel according to St. George" pp4-5
Nixon and McGovern

Some of Frank Bellamy's unseen work was created for publication but, for one reason or another, as has been listed and discussed on this site and elsewhere, never saw the light of day in its original form.

Referring to the early days of Frank's career, Nancy Bellamy said in Speakeasy #100:
"...Mind you, if they didn't like it, they would sling it back at him and he would sometimes do a piece one, two or three times over again until it suited them.  Of course, his name wasn't known then."

Editorial edicts were part of the job.

The Fantasy Advertiser Vol.3 No.50 interview included a question about the editorial directive to revamp 'Dan Dare' partway into Bellamy's year on the feature. Frank said: "I didn't like doing that. But it was a directive from upstairs - that's what they wanted, and you can only give the client what he wants, so that was it."

Previously, in 1959, Frank's first Dan Dare page (Vol.10 No.28) had resulted in Don Harley, unenviably, being called-in editorially to re-work FB's first drawing of Dan into something more like the Hampson studio style.

Eagle Vol 10:28 29 August 1959

Alistair Crompton, in his book 'The Man Who Drew Tomorrow' (p123), refers to FB's first Dare page:

"When Bellamy left the meeting, his work was passed quickly to Don Harley who was asked to re-draw the frame to make the space colonel himself again."

In a long after the fact off-the-cuff remembrance Don Harley in a published interview recalled that he had been "ordered to re-draw all of FB's Dan Dare faces", but the printed page in question apparently shows the first Dan Dare face only - note, not even the rest of Dare's head - as stylistically anything other than by Frank Bellamy.

Close examination of the printed EAGLE page gives indications of what may likely have been done to the FB original in the way of a Don Harley paste-over.

Close-up of the famed first panel

In the first / main frame, the 'right-hand half, as you look at it, of Dare's head from the ink-black, in artists' terms, 'shadow accent' (which runs fairly centrally up the cheek line) - ie the area containing Dan's ear, side to the back of his head, and shadowed purple with yellow reflected upwards from the fittings of the spacesuit - all appear to be Bellamy's as he originally presented it.

To the left, as you look at it, of the vertical of the shadow accent is Don Harley's Dan Dare face - ie Dare's features, chin etc, up to the boundary where the shadow accent changes from the slightly less black (muted by the over-paint of flesh colour of the face), cut or painted or pasted up to what is left as the abrupt edge of absolute black as FB inked it. (The sharp division seems apparent even in print on close inspection).

Despite this being discussed on occasion over the decades, the eventual fate of the original board remains an unanswered question. And reason enough to raise it again here now. The original has not, as so far ascertained, ever resurfaced since - let alone restored to be seen once again in the original state which FB had intended.

Bellamy's subsequent feelings can only be imagined. In that alone, the miracle is that he was not then entirely de-motivated and that his Dan Dare was then as good as it is.

Nixon and McGovern - as published in the Daily Mirror 3 July 1972

Another Bellamy piece which was never in print in its original form, although an amended version was published, was the political cartoon drawn for THE DAILY MIRROR (3rd July 1972) at the time of the Nixon - McGovern US election.

There are certain similarities in the 'oriental style' dragon form with FB's 'Lord of The Dragons' one-off vignette. This appeared in the book 'Once Upon A Time'. [see below]

The double-page drawing depicts Richard Nixon as the 'dragon' at the point of 'St' George McGovern's lance. In the published version, a fairly restrained cartoon portrait of Nixon topped a decidedly reptilian dragon body.

As Frank's son David subsequently disclosed, the MIRROR felt the drawing in its original form - simply from its inspired realisation as commissioned, rather than out of any intentional political point of view - made Richard Nixon in dragon form look so bad in comparison to McGovern that it could be seen as less than even-handed. Hence the re-drawing of Nixon's head as a human portrait to mitigate this perceived imbalance. Political impartiality's gain was the Frank Bellamy fan's loss..!

Again the condition and whereabouts of the original work is uncertain. It is possible that the whole piece was completely redrawn but it may be more probable, as the original would be delivered to meet a newspaper deadline, that the replacement head was a paste-over. The saving grace in this instance being that it was at least re-drawn by Frank himself.

Nevertheless, having first given the job his best shot, he must have felt some degree of disappointment that the readers would never get to appreciate it. Added to which there is also the sense that anyone seeing only the printed version would assume that this was the artist's definitive rendering of the subject - that this was his 'best shot'.

It was again the printed version rather than the unseen original version which is reproduced with the definitive FB interview in Fantasy Advertiser Vol.3 No.50.

So what might the original unseen version have actually looked like?

The printed version does hold some clues...

Even without the information which surfaced years later that this was an amended re-work, the 'balance' and the 'use of space' of the published piece appeared not to have been used to maximum advantage, which was decidedly, and at the time seemingly inexplicably, un-Bellamy.

The head of Nixon and the un-utilised space to the right of it, never came across quite as a balanced total design as would have been expected in a Bellamy.

The explanation for that came when it became known that Nixon's caricature had been originally envisioned in the form of a dragon's head in keeping with and unified with the dragon body.

The depiction of the horse is telling. It is a very particular gesture movement from the animal - St George's charger is not just charging forward - it is reacting by rearing away to one side.

The lighting of the horse's neck to the left of the shadow accent is depicted with FB's characteristic 'scribble tonal' intentionally indicating reflected light.

This reflected light, together with the horse's reaction of rearing away from the vacant space between itself and the dragon, would tend to indicate that the Nixon dragon may have been originally looking back towards St George and spouting flames... Whatever the case, a reappearance of either work, as envisioned above or otherwise, would be a long-awaited welcome return to the fold..!

"Lord of the Dragons" from
Once Upon a Time
Contributed by David Jackson, artist on 'The Mummy' in Dez Skinn's Halls of Horror, House of Hammer; and Warrior where he illustrated among others 'Shandor, Demon Stalker' and a couple of painted covers. Other comics include early pop-biographies (Prince, 5 Star, Bob Geldof) for Look-In; and James Bond: Shattered Helix for Dark Horse. Science fiction paperback covers include James White's The Aliens Among Us, Ian Watson's God's World, Harlan Ellison's The Time of the Eye and illustrating Arthur C Clarke for Omni magazine.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Frank Bellamy and GQ Magazine and Turnbull & Asser

Taken from Turnbull & Asser website

I recently mentioned that some expensive clothes were showing Bellamy artwork and here's another article, care of GQ Magazine. To quote GQ:

For the anniversary, the 130-year-old British brand is releasing a series of pocket squares and ties all featuring the vehicles of the famous disaster-preventing family. Each of the silk squares not only features the outline of each of the vehicle's repeated in a kaleidoscopic pattern, but is colour co-ordinated to its paint job (for example, Thunderbird 2 is green, Thunderbird 3 is red and Lady Penelope's Rolls-Royce is pink).

More important to me is that one of the 12 designs has Frank Bellamy artwork

Turnbull & Asser Pocket Squares

Turnbull & Asser Pocket Squares

Turnbull & Asser Pocket Squares

 The ties on the other hand feature an homage to the programme's resident neckwear master, Brains, with a pattern featuring his trademark bow tie and glasses (as well as a lining printed with a comic strip from the cartoon drawn to accompany the series back in the 1960s).
Superfans can get their hands on them right now online, or even better, via a visit to Turbull & Asser's impressive new outpost in London's Mayfair.

Turnbull & Asser Tie
Apparently Turnbull & Asser have the Royal Warrant as "shirtmaker to the world's most eminent gentlemen since 1885." The square's full specifications are:
  • 100% pure silk
  • 16 1/2" x 16 1/2" (42cm x 42cm)
  • Hand Printed
  • Hand Rolled Hem
  • Made in England
and the thing you need to know is they cost £80! There appear to be 12 pocket square designs and 4 ties. The ties (£125) have a lining using the same Frank Bellamy artwork as the squares which comes from TV21 #155 from the story "Heart of the iceberg".

Click for full range
The full episode is reproduced below for your pleasure and if anyone at Turnbull & Asser wish to donate any to me for this free publicity, I'm more than happy to receive them (I'm such a tart, as my eldest brother tells me!)

TV21 #155

TV21 #155