Sunday, 14 December 2008

Various items

I have had several emails from my kind friend Richard Sheaf since I started this blog. I'm trying in this email to let you know about changes and scans I have added to the Frank Bellamy site as a result, as well as some general tidying up.

  • From Articles to Advertising - Comic Media News No 25 Mar-Apr 1976 with scan in the Note This is the black & white advert for Comicon '76. But interestingly this advert appears cropped from the 1975 event poster which I have added too
  • Deleted the entry on the Advertising page to my guess work on BOAC and added full entry to 'Welcome Aboard' in the Magazine page as outlined in my previous blog entry
  • Added to Advertising Comic Media News No. 21 plus scan of the (B&W plus red) poster for Comicon '75
  • Added to Books Two romance novel covers (with thanks to Steve Holland) - glad they're out in the open now
  • Added FB's complete adventures of King Arthur to the Books page

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Frank Bellamy welcomes you aboard BOAC

I am always on the lookout for any new Frank Bellamy information. Thus I keep alerts providing updates from all over the web. I had a fantastic surprise when a search I had been doing for many years, said "BOAC's in-flight magazine Welcome Aboard"

I had a reference to Bellamy's BOAC work, but no idea what it was. I knew he had provided some illustrations for a poster to be used at Farnborough Air Show in 1970 and at the same time he did some BOAC work. I wondered whether the two references had got mixed up, as often happens when dealing with memories of 38 years ago - including my own! But getting back to that alert...

"The Visual Arts Data Service (VADS) is the online resource for visual arts. It has provided services to the academic community for 11 years and has built up a considerable portfolio of visual art collections comprising over 100,000 images that are freely available and copyright cleared for use in teaching, learning and research in the UK."

One such service is the digitisation of Design magazine from 1965 -1974. DESIGN was published by the Council of Industrial Design, 28 Haymarket, London SW1 4SU. As luck would have it, one of the articles in this archive is titled: "Flight reading" in the issue dated 1st October 1971.

"So is this where Bellamy's work appeared?" I hear you ask. Sort of, is the answer!

The article written by Doug Blain is on pages 48 - 53 and deals with the history of the publication of the bi-monthly in-flight magazine "Welcome Aboard" given out on BOAC flights.

The most amazing coincidence - and why I chased this down - was that in illustrating this obscure article, 8 spreads were chosen as examples of the design work. Amongst those by Bellamy's contemporaries Charles Raymond, Pauline Ellison, Alan Aldridge, Nicholas Thirkell and Alan Cracknell (some of whom, like Bellamy, had illustrations in the Radio Times) appears one by, on close inspection, Frank himself!

Unfortunately the article tells us "John Adams in Birth of a nation" is by Bellamy but not in which of the "Welcome Aboard" (published bi-monthly since 1968) it appears.

Here life's serendipity intervenes. I set up a search immediately on eBay and just two weeks later what appears but a rare "Welcome Aboard" booklet. The answer to my question came back "yes, there is an article on 'John Adams in Birth of a nation' in it". Imagine my joy on receiving my win!

I have amended the relevant webpage to include this fantastic find and have scanned the cover of "Welcome Aboard" - not shown in the article mentioned above - as well as a closer scan of "John Adams in Birth of a nation" - just click on the corresponding note.

I realise that our American friends hold Adams in very high regard, so I hope they'll forgive Bellamy entertainingly portraying him as a semi-superhero in the last panel! But also notice that whoever wrote the script spelled 'Harbor' in the American way

I'm off to lie down now - too much excitement for one day.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Frank Bellamy and life class sketches

Bellamy ran a life class whilst at Blamires' Studio in Kettering - his first art job - which was a modest affair (in both senses of the word!) and also later for the Studio Club, Piccadilly, London. The club was run for artists and musicians, and was situated in the basement of 15, Swallow Street, and was founded in 1915. I believe it was during the late Fifties and early Sixties that he committed loads of sketches of the female form to paper (I'm trying to avoid words that web-blockers will block!).

I don't own much Bellamy art myself, but I couldn't turn down these pieces when offered to me some years ago. One day I'll get them protected, particularly as you can see I managed to get a fold in one piece! At least I know not to let the light near them, so they haven't faded.

I hope you enjoy these simple speedy sketches done in pencil and coloured pencil. The lady who has her back to us, has a notation worth mentioning: 8.45

Now whether this is the time it was done, or the minutes and seconds the drawing took, I don't know. But I've been in art classes where we had a set time to complete a sketch, so maybe it's not too fanciful to assume the latter. I have seen other sketches in this 'series' from his art pad, and my Unpublished Bellamy webpage contains the notes I made at the time. Click on the link above to see a third, that I own.

Bellamy proves here that he is adept at fine art and I'm certain his visits to Italy will have inspired his love of the naturalistic poses in these sketches.

If anyone has any others - with notes on - I would appreciate scans and details, thanks

Sunday, 21 September 2008

King Arthur, Merlin and Frank Bellamy

I have missed two events this weekend.

The first was meeting Steve Holland for the first time at the excellent "The London ABC Show" which features amongst other things original art, British comics, newspaper strips, pulps and paperbacks but also book signings. I've been to a few now, seeing John Bolton, Graham Bleathman, Sydney Jordan and Al Davison amongst others.

If all went to plan Steve should have been signing specially flown in copies of the latest Bellamy reprint, Frank Bellamy's King Arthur and His Knights: The Complete Adventures. The book is due out shortly (presumably when copies arrive from China). The reprints are taken from the Swift comic (Vol. 2:31 - 2:53, 3:1 - 3:18 dated 30 July 1955 - 31 December 1955, 7 January 1956 - 5 May 1956) . I make that 41 episodes, 2 pages each.

The story of King Arthur here, was written by Clifford Makins (later editor of the Eagle) Bellamy shows great skill in depicting the knights and their armour, horses and weaponry. He shows long shots of British castles, and battlefields. Bellamy must have been extremely worried when he read "Merlin says to Arthur, “You must build a great Round Table to seat 100 men”". However, Bellamy pulls it off admirably in such little space – the 70 or so knights depicted around an enormous table are amazing. Comparisons with Foster's Prince Valiant, can't be helped, but they are two different products created for different markets.

The second event this weekend, that I'm not worried that I missed, is the BBC's new production for Saturday night, Merlin. I'm fairly sure Steve Holland and the Book Palace did not aim to have the Arthur book available because of the launch of this, but I'm sure it can't hurt. The BBC's modern take on the old story has been hyped a lot and is obviously important to the BBC Saturday evening schedule, but I found the earlier Robin Hood, done in the same vein, bored me so I'm a bit prejudiced. But I'm sure that won't stop you making up your own mind!

Used with permission

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Frank Bellamy licks the Daleks into shape

Shaqui and I had some email correspondence recently after I alerted him to the fact that Frank Bellamy had produced some Dalek material for Wall's Ice Cream. Even research in the Unilever Archives showed me they do not retain any part of this series except the front part of a wrapper!

"The Dalek Death Ray wrappers was a revelation - I was kicking myself for not recognizing the style but then the repro is mushy at best and I didn't think Bellamy would do stuff like this!" Of course when he says 'mushy' I don't think he was making a pun - these wrappers were covering ICE lollies, after all and had a tendency to make the wrappers mushy! However, in his usual helpful manner, he supplied some examples so we could see what they looked like.

Shaqui tells me that Wall's Ice Cream published two series of Dalek material in the first half of the 1970s. The first series was called 'From the world of the Daleks...', while the second non-Bellamy one is called 'The Incredible Daleks...' The titles from the first series are:
  1. The Grenium Invisibility System
  2. Daleks and the Ancient Britons
  3. The Swamp Creatures of Terroth
  4. When the Daleks Flooded the Earth!
  5. The Cyclops Z-Ray
  6. A Dalek Deep Space Battle Cruiser
  7. Dalek Officer
  8. Transmol
Shaqui then told me something that I didn't know about this series: "The other interesting trivia note for the Bellamy series is all bar one ('Dalek Officer' although I think some notes come from some cutaway seen but the approach is quite different) are taken from the 1976 Dalek annual: 'Terroth' and 'Flooded' are based on the two strip stories, while the 'Cruiser' appears in a text story. 'Transmol', 'Z-Ray', and 'Grenium' are from one of those 'amazing Dalek facts/technology' features, while there is a mention of Daleks on Earth in AD42 in another."

To read the full story go to the Advertising page on [click on the NOTE for all the pictures] , meanwhile here are a couple of the pictures to whet your appetite.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Peter Cushing liked to read Bellamy!

'Ian from The Receptacle Group', as he wants to be known, recently posted an article that made me smile and with his permission I have adapted it here for you!

The film, Doctor Who and the Daleks, was released in 1965 starring
Peter Cushing as the cinema Doctor (Hartnell was on the TV at the time) . In the opening scene, the camera pans around the Doctor's living room. First we see Susan reading 'Physics for the Inquiring Mind' by Eric M. Rogers. Then we see Barbara reading 'The Science Of Science'. And what’s the Doctor himself reading?

Eagle and Boys' World Vol.16 No. 12, 20th March 1965.

As the Doctor puts down the comic, we see that he has been reading 'Heros The Spartan' from the centre pages, which of course was illustrated at that time by Bellamy.

And then we see him reading the next pages, 12 and 13, before he stands up when Ian arrives.

Anyway.. according to Mark Campbell's 'Dimensions In Time & Space' book, the movie was filmed from 8th March to April 1965, then the premiere was 24th June 1965. This issue would have been on sale in the newsagents from 17th March to 23rd March, in the middle of filming, so it could well have been picked up specially for this scene, filmed during that week?

You would have thought that Terry Nation would have wanted a copy of TV Century 21 to be advertised in the movie, what with the Daleks strip appearing on the back cover of that comic. [Issue 9 would have been out at the same time as this issue of Eagle]. Although I suppose its best as it is, otherwise kids and Doctor Who fans would have been saying that how come the Doctor didn't know about the Daleks when he'd just been reading about them!

Thanks for this Ian, great stuff, and for Bellamy fans, here's the actual strip that held Cushing's eye. It's part 4 of the last story of Heros that Bellamy did (he was followed by Luis Bermejo) and Bellamy has used many, almost psychedelic, colours for backgrounds.. The story was called The Slave Army

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Thunderbirds unpublished art for TV21 & Joe90

Shaqui has pointed out to me that I have omitted a piece of work that Jeff Haythorpe showed him. I'm ashamed to admit I did know about this already and had indeed left it out of my listing. This allows me the opportunity to tell you about it.

Frank Bellamy drew Thunderbirds in assorted formats for the comic TV21. He started by creating a double page spread in colour with an additional page in black and white halftones for the first 14 episodes. He then dropped the black and white page and completed a weekly colour centrespread for 76 episodes. Reproduction of these centrespreads was difficult in the international market and from issue 141 he created two separate colour pages. This method carried on for 102 more episodes until TV21 merged with Joe90 after which Bellamy drew, for issue 1 one page in colour, for issue 2, 2 pages of colour and finally for issues 3 and 4 he drew his first Thunderbird pages in black and white (x2)

At this point in 1969, Alan Fennell the editor of TV21 could see the writing on the wall and encouraged Bellamy, who quite frankly must have been really fed up with Century 21 Ltd to jump the sinking ship. Fennell let him know that Century 21 would no longer be publishing TV21 from 2nd of June 1969. The editorial packages would be passed to City Magazines Ltd who nominated Martspress to fill the pages. Bellamy, who must have been very frustrated with the changes in formats during 4 weeks, went on to lucrative work with the Sunday Times, Look and Learn, Radio Times and then moved to the prestigious work on Garth, the daily strip at the Daily Mirror

However, the story does not end there. Bellamy seems to have produced one more black and white page of Thunderbirds. Jeff Haythorpe, one of the many kind souls to display their collection of original art on, has in his collection a copy of the Thunderbirds shown below.

Shaqui tells me that the story Bellamy started to illustrate here appears so similar to that of TV21 & Joe90's issue 35 that the script must have been put on the shelf for a later date after Bellamy had left the comic.

Does anyone want to add anything to this?

I have added this to the Unpublished Bellamy listing

I have just been tidying up and found I actually have TV21 & Joe 90 New Series No. 35
So here is the awful version of the same story for you to compare with the Bellamy. John Tracy appears over the page, but I couldn't be bothered to scan that too!

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Blogger comments FIXED


I have discovered that comments have not been working properly.

I immediately called International Rescue - they're very Net savvy and fixed the problem.

If you sent a comment recently and didn't get a reply, please feel free to send it again. Don't worry if you're repeating yourself.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Walls Wonderman and Frank Bellamy

It was just a year ago that I launched the Frank website. Since then I have had many people share scans and pictures; I have had many red herrings thrown at me too. I have shown controversial decision-making when it comes to identifying Bellamy's work. But it's been great fun!

Today I wanted to show two pieces of Bellamy's work that is little known but was seen by millions of boys and girls in 1970: Wall's Wonderman! I know it appeared in Smash and in Valiant, but can you add to the list?

In January 1970 Lintas Advertising Agency approached Bellamy to produce two comic strip adverts for their character Wonderman, a superhero who doles out lollies and confuses the name of his super-powers! He meets Jimmy Carter - no, not the ex-President! - and a Walls Van driver and saves the day!

Bellamy also produced some Point-Of-Sale material but I've never seen this and found no reference to it on the Net.

Lastly, before you enjoy reading the two strips (follow the NOTE link on the website) I wanted to raise another controversy! Although the three illustration adverts below show they were commissioned by Lintas, I don't believe they are by Bellamy despite his having worked on Wonderman for them.

Any comments?

Friday, 25 April 2008

Bellamy starts drawing Paul English in Swift

In my last post I highlighted the difficulties in trying to identify Bellamy artwork. None more so than the early material.

I have an early run of the Swift comic that enables me to scan two pages for your perusal of the strip that was illustrated by Giorgio Bellavitis. That much is agreed by sources over the Internet, but when exactly did Bellamy take over?

I have scanned (click on corresponding NOTE) at a high resolution The Exciting Adventures of Paul English from 2nd and 9th April 1955. comparing the two weeks, I think I'm right in seeing one artist (Giorgio Bellavitis) and then another (Frank Bellamy) a week later. Why do I think that?

  • Compare the musculature and the ways it's drawn on the boys
  • Look at the lines to denote wooden beams
  • Look at the window in the room and how it differs
  • ...and most important of all, look at the horizontals and verticals that are drawn in the room in the first and not in the second!
Let me know what you think...

Monday, 31 March 2008

Identifying art can be hard...or FB or not FB!

That great guy Steve Holland sent me a scan recently that staggered me. It is the front cover of the Swift comic from 16 December 1961 featuring

"Amundsen-the first man to reach the South Pole".

So what's the mystery?

Steve writes:

"I can't find the attached illustration on your site and maybe you're not aware of it. It's the cover of Swift vol.8 no.50 (16 December 1961), part of a series of covers celebrating various anniversaries ranging from the Battle of Hastings to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth I. ... The cover is reproduced (about 2" wide) on page 4 of the same issue in b/w along with a brief article:

The Story of our Front Cover This Week's Anniversary Amundsen First man to reach the South Pole"

When I saw the cover, I really wasn't sure who did it, but it appeared to me to be a Bellamy lookalike. However, the only name I could think of was Eric Kincaid.

I wrote back to Steve and he replied:
"Why do I think that Amunden pic is Bellamy? Because it looks like him. I sent a copy over to David Roach and he agrees... and I quote:

"Well it looks like a definite Bellamy to me too. The inks are a little rougher than he often did but then I've seen the odd job in this style - on a few Heros' for instance so it's not completely unknown." David's probably the best artist-spotter around so if he thinks it's Bellamy you can be 99.9% certain it is."

And there I might choose to rest my case as these two cannot be beaten in their knowledge of British comics (amongst other things!).

However, I can be stubborn - if you don't believe me look at the website!

Below is Bellamy's drawing (FB signature bottom right) of a similar snow scene and heroic man- Sir Edmund Hillary from EAGLE Vol. 12:46 (18th November 1961). If you look at the Swift piece, it appears very similar to Bellamy's work, but certain pieces make me wonder.
In the Everest piece he blends the colour of a boot into the snow without drawing an ink line to show the boot appearing through the snow. In the Everest piece, his snow colouring is distinctively sharp. There is evidence of a wind (as you'd expect up Everest) as there is in the Swift piece, but in the latter the snow looks fairly 'smudged'. The lines around the main figures and the clothing appear different.

I think the artist for the Swift piece is the same person who drew some of the Arms through the Ages series in the 16th volume of Eagle.

However, Bellamy did actually do Arms Through the Ages: No. 5: The crossbow and No. 6: The floating mine

To see a fuller version of my thinking and what I mean click on the note corresponding to the entry on the comics page of my website.

So all said and done, I have added an entry to the relevant spot on the website with corresponding note! A good British compromise!

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Friday, 15 February 2008

Frank Bellamy original artwork sales

Heros the Spartan
for a mere $8000 on ComicArtFans! If the link doesn't work search for 'Heros the Spartan' here. The piece has kept its colour very well

If my collection wasn't so buried I'd tell you which particular issue of Eagle it comes from. Anyone want to race me to their collection?

Edited on 27 July 2009

THUNDERBIRDS from TV21 July 29 2067 #132

I think a visit to eBay right now would be worth doing if you'd like to see a really good colour Thunderbirds strip. This is likely to sell for an enormous amount of money. The colour is superb and I think demonstrates how devoted Bellamy was to using inks properly in his colour strips. The story it comes from is one set around the terrorists who ram a liner called the President in the narrow Nicaragua Canal. It ran for 7 parts and this is part #3

Auction ended 21 Jun, 2009 at £827 - 20 bids - reserve not met! These are indeed hard times as I would have predicted at least £1000 would be bid!

Edited on 28 June 2009

I have avoided pointing to sales and auctions in the past, as any eBay links will date very quickly. But so much has come out of the woodwork recently, I couldn't resist and have copied the pictures from the auction sites so you can see the actual items. (If anyone objects for copyright reasons let me know and they will be removed!)

On eBay we have seen several items raise surprisingly better prices than usual, which is encouraging.

Currently you could spend that spare £1500 and buy an original Thunderbirds from TV21
Tweedacademy is also selling a rare Heros
for a snip at £2000!
...and lastly rush over to Comic Book Auctions Limited where Lot#136 (The Daily Mirror Book of Garth, 1976) will see a lot of interest in my opinion. The estimate of £450-£500 seems modest as this is a totally one off piece. The auction ends on 4th March - so hurry!
Winning bid incl. 10% Buyer's Premium: £1,089

An original single page from Thunderbirds recently was for sale at a starting bid of £300 but petenovitch ended the auction early because the item is no longer available for sale, normally meaning it was sold outside eBay before the auction ended
petenovitich also sold a nice single page with 9 bids for a low price of £404.95 - a bargain in my opinion.
Someone in the USA had 18 bids on the original Marco Polo page raising a nice £1,116.80
Garth original come up fairly regularly for a wide variety of prices. Three sold recently £72.70, £150.91, and £125.76. Why the range of prices? - no idea! It's basically what the buyers were willing to pay!

Also one range of books has always had interest; that's the reprints of Garth strip published by John Dakin in the late 1970s The Doomsmen raised £24.02 for the seller - a good price!

Well that rounds it up for now. I've managed to post something at least once a month since launch! Hopefully with the new Robin Hood book coming from BookPalace in March we might see some new stuff!

Friday, 11 January 2008

Lifetime achievement followed up...

Back in September last year, I mentioned I'd found out about something called a "Frank Bellamy Achievement Award"
Richard Sheaf wrote to tell me that he had a bit more info:

Hi Norman,
  • The first annual awards for the SSI were held on 23/09/78 (for the year 1977) and "The Frank Bellamy award : most promising newcomer" went to Mike McMahon for his work on Judge Dredd, in 2000AD.
  • For the 1979/80 awards (presented 22/11/80) the following people were nominated for "The Frank Bellamy award" Geoff Campion - 35 years a pro, Dennis Gifford - services rendered, Don Lawrence - Trigan Empire, Pat Mills - creating 2000AD, Mike Noble - 30 years a pro, Reg Partlett - 60 years a pro
So the purpose of the award seems to have changed somewhat from before!

  • In the end Don Lawrence won with Geoff Campion and Pat Mills as runners up. Lawrence is described as winning "The FB award for most outstanding contribution to strip illustration"
  • The award for 1980/81 (presented 31/10/81) went to Dennis Gifford for services to British comics. The award is described thus in a write-up of the ceremony "...the top award, the FB award, going to the most outstanding strip cartoon personality of the year, or the best up-and-coming artist, etc" which explains the flexibility noted above
  • The awards for 1982 (held 13/11/82) saw Dez Skinn win for Warrior magazine
  • The awards for 1983 (held 03/12/83) saw Ron Embleton win

And that's all I've got I'm afraid. All of the above comes from the Association of Comics Enthusiasts newsletters that Dennis Gifford used to produce

best regards

So, thanks to Richard (whose collection of fanzines must be enormous!) we have some more information!

An aside, wouldn't it be great if one day all UK fanzines might be scanned and electronically indexed for all to access

P.S. The picture below is NOT the award, but the Blue Plaque that Kettering Civic Society placed on the house where Bellamy was born!