Sunday, 5 April 2009
SWIFT Cover update
See my post and notes on the website regarding the Swift comic cover in question. I bounced a few emails to Steve Holland at the time and I don't now how but I missed the full story. Fortunately, having visited and met Steve for the first time a few weeks ago, I plied him with food and beer and found out the following. Steve kindly said I could quote him which helps me post this a bit quicker than normally do!
GUEST: Steve Holland:
SWIFT COVER STORY
Frank Hampson had finished working on "The Road of Courage" in Eagle in early 1961. It takes a few weeks to get the finished comic through the printing process so there's usually a lead-in period. The last episode of "Road" appeared in the issue dated 8 April 1961 but was probably completed by Hampson in February at the latest. This was shortly before the Fleetway took over the Odhams/Hulton group of comics. The deal was officially brokered on 22 March 1961.
To quote "Living with Eagles", "In May Leonard Matthews wrote that he would be 'taking up residence' at Longacre the following week." So you can see that various changes would have occurred during the summer of '61.
Hampson, meanwhile, was still drawing a regular paycheque from what was now Fleetway Publications. New editors and sub-editors began to arrive and the various titles began to reflect these changes. In September 1961, a new style of covers began to appear on Swift, each cover based around an event (the first Sputnik, the Battle of Hastings, the Gunpowder Plot, etc.). Some were new, some were reprints of old Thriller Picture Library covers.
Again, lead time for printing dates the decision to change the covers to around June/July 1961. Someone, possibly Alf Wallace or (more likely) Val Holding, who had been installed at Odhams by Matthews, realised that Hampson was still on their books and commissioned three covers from him.
The first (General Custer) was delivered and published in December 1961 (it would have been painted by Frank in September or October). Frank then fell ill and could not complete the second commission. This was passed on to Frank Bellamy who painted the cover featuring Amundsen reaching the South Pole which appeared the week after Hampson's General Custer cover on 16 December 1961. Hampson recovered and was able to complete the third cover (the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth I) which appeared in January 1962 and was probably painted in November 1961. This has been confirmed by David Slinn who was working for Eagle and Swift at the time, although the rough dating of events is mine.
Thanks Steve for clearing that up.
Click on "The Lost Characters of Frank Hampson" by Alistair Crompton & Wakefield Carter to see the Hampson covers mentioned above. Now how can I illustrate the blog without repeating a previous picture, well here's a bonus for you. An odd black and white picture from earlier in the year, but around the same period of time published in the Eagle 26 August 1961