Thursday, 16 December 2010

Original Art: Garth on eBay

Taken from a scan of the strip - not the eBay picture - click to enlarge

Just a quick message to alert you to the fact that, on eBay, at the moment is...

An original artwork by the brilliant Frank Bellamy for the Daily Mirror daily strip 'Garth'. An episode from the story 'The Doomsmen' code no J126, showing Garth himself with Professor Lumiere. The story is basically about killer robots (the Doomsmen) and Garth's struggle to stop them (not dissimilar from The Cybernauts in 'The Avengers' TV series).
The seller goes on to say: 
The original which measures approx 520mm x 34mm (image area), so is much larger than the size in the Daily Mirror. The board is clean and white.

I'll update this entry with the sale price when the auction is over

UPDATE: £82 (December 2010) with 2 bids

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Don Harley talks about Bellamy

Cover of Spaceship Away Part 22 by Ian Kennedy (Used with express permission) 

In the latest Spaceship Away, (Part 22 Autumn 2010) Rod has secured an autobiographical "sketch" by - what I consider to be - Frank Hampson's key co-worker on Dan Dare, Don Harley. To view his work browse the excellent ComicArtFans.
Don retells his first meeting with Hampson and his first job on the story "The Red Moon Mystery" in October 1951 at the age of 24. His story about being on a deadline on New Year's Eve  and staying up to work, shows how our comic artists worked all hours for our entertainment! There are many gorgeous (and relevant) illustrations accompanying the article as well as a new portrait of his 4 co-workers and himself and Dan Dare too.

The main interest for this blog is his overview of the arrival of Frank Bellamy in the Dan Dare stable. This period is often viewed by those who grew up on Dan Dare as sacrilege against the Hampson vision as Bellamy was asked to take over from Hampson (due to the takeover and new ownership of Hulton Press)  and his version of DD was what you might call in modern terms a 're-boot'. His style was so different from Hampson it has suffered from comparisons ever since. And to make matters worse he wasn't left to do the work by himself, as he had done brilliantly for Eagle on the Happy Warrior, David the Shepherd King and Marco Polo strips.

"My own opinion is that Marcus [Morris, Eagle editor] picked Frank Bellamy because he was such a good artist and that Morris could not tell the difference between artists' styles of drawing. Frank Bellamy's style was loose and flowing with much black ink, while Frank Hampson's style was much lighter, more realistic with superfine linework and natural colour. The two styles were so different that it was impossible to merge them. Marcus was angry when he saw Frank Bellamy's first drawings  of Dan Dare's face and asked me to re-draw them.(Vol. 10 No.28). We all loved Frank Bellamy's artwork but it was a rare artist who could copy it." (Harley, 2010, p.41)
The article goes on to tell of the working arrangements in the Dan Dare team in the Hulton office and Bellamy's involvement.

I'd love to know if anyone has the original art for the first episode so we can see how Don covered this 'mistake'. I've added this as an entry on the website which lists articles that contain reference to Bellamy in some way

This is a really splendid work by Rod and team and the colours are so vibrant in the whole glossy magazine. Click on Ian Kennedy's superb cover above to see the beautiful colours and trust me, this quality is not seen anywhere else in our field to my knowledge

Oh, and in case that's not enough to convince you to buy a copy (blast it! buy a subscription!) there's also the continuing never before reprinted re-coloured (by John Ridgway ) episodes of Frank Bellamy's Garth story "The Bubble Man". They look absolutely superb!

And just in case you think I've forgotten to show any Bellamy work, here's one of those superb covers form the Eagle

MANY THANKS to Rod Barzilay for his kind permission to use some of Don's text as well as the cover above . He deserves another link to the excellent Spaceship Away ( so here's the printed version of the above cover


Sunday, 21 November 2010

Bellamy on display this Christmas

EAGLE Vol. 12:25(24 June 1961) Fraser of Africa will be on display along with lots of other art at:

Go and make someone happy for Christmas!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Original Frank Bellamy art: Garth strip

Just a quick note, as this seems to be part of this blog's purpose, to let you know of a Garth strip that has sold recently

An episode from the story "The Spanish Lady" , K137, was sold for £142 after 5 bids. The seller added this paragraph:

"The seller of this item worked on the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph, where Frank bellamy's long and distinguished career began, and was the last journalist to interview the artist". which I'm guessing means Tony Smith who indeed did talk to Frank many times and promote his work in the local paper on many occasions over the years.

I apologise for the quality of the strip - I found again my collection let me down as I don't have that particular strip!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Bellamy original artwork: Thunderbirds

Comic Book Auctions Ltd has launched it latest catalogue with an end time of Tuesday 30 November at 8 PM UK Time. The piece that will be of interest to Bellamy fans particularly is Thunderbirds original artwork (1968) from TV Century 21 No 206 - Lot number 176.

Scott and Professor Davies have to travel back in time to get Thunderbird 4 and save the fractured dam's waters from drowning New York, but before they can activate the main controls the time-machine topples into the torrent …
Pelikan inks on board. 18 x 14 ins
It looks as if the artwork has been kept out of the sunlight which often fades these pieces. Notice some of the  lettering in the middle panel is missing. It's fairly obvious from the comic version that an overlay was done that has now gone from the artwork. The missing word appeared as 'dismantled'

The estimate for this piece is  £1,500-2,000 and I will update this entry when the auction results come through

UPDATE: Winning bid incl. 10% Buyer's Premium: £2,420 (December 2010)

For those who can't wait to see what did happen in the story I have reproduced the following page for TV21 207

By the way the auction also has a run of Boy's World and Eagle as well as TV21s that all contain Bellamy artwork - check out my website if you need to know which ones have Bellamy art in them.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Bellamy and bags of rubbish

The famed comic artist Alan Davis has taken a lot of trouble in scanning a large range of images of Frank's work.

He helped Nancy Bellamy clear out Frank's studio after his early death and rescued many things from ending up in the rubbish for which Bellamy fans should be eternally grateful.

Some of this I have seen before and listed on the Frank Bellamy website, and it's great now to be able to see the pictures online but some is new even to me.

Take a long time over it and visit each link and slowly be amazed

MANY THANKS to Alan for sharing!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Bellamy and the Bank House Twins (by way of Burke and Hare)

Cover with flyleaf

Recently my wife decided we were both holidaying in Edinburgh. At first I agreed and thought nothing of it, as any break from the usual 9-5 is a break and whose company would I like whilst on holiday? - hers, of course!

As the time crept nearer an amazing coincidence (or two) occurred that led to me anticipating the event even more.

Firstly I had been following the Forbidden Planet blog in which amongst other things they review graphic novels and things I find of interest. Very useful for a guy like me who no longer can be bothered to understand the complexities of pre-, post- and infinite crisis sales pitches! I finally took the plunge and ordered a copy of this gruesome graphic novel when I first read about on John Freeman's blog. It is now being sold direct by the creators themselves - see their details at the new Burke and Hare website. After a lovely correspondence by email, Martyn sent my signed copy and I had time, just before the holiday, to read it. It certainly reminded me that the 'auld reekie' was not as pleasant a place to frequent 150 years ago as it is now! I'd recommend the book and Edinburgh town too (and there is a comedic film version coming from the excellent Simon Pegg and friends!)

But what has this got to do with Bellamy, you ask? Bear with me while I tell the story

On the drive along the A1 to our cottage in Longniddry (14 miles east of Edinburgh) we passed what, to me looked like a giant slag heap in the distance. I assumed that there was an old mine in the area as this bump in the landscape was so out of character with the fairly flat edges of the Firth of Forth. However I soon remembered that the North Berwick Law was no slag heap! "North Berwick Law may be described as as a round or slightly oval plug of felstone which comes up vertically through the ash, [...] into a cone of which the top is 612 feet above the sea." (Howell Hyatt, 2009. The Geology of East Lothian, Including Parts of the Counties of Edinburgh and Berwick. BiblioBazaar)

North Berwick Law -Taken September 2010 by Norman Boyd

We both decided to climb it and once at the top I let my wife know there was a connection with Bellamy. He illustrated a 1955 children's book called "The Bank House Twins".

The story concerns the Currie children, whose father is Manager of the bank in North Berwick - thus the title of the book. The twins, Christine and Colin are annoyed when they learn a friend of the family's is coming to stay with the twins for the summer. They initially try to get rid of him, and this is where the North Berwick Law comes in. 

Page 41

The twins hear that Donald does not like climbing and they therefore avoid the path (my wife and I took) and climb the rocks to the top. Donald appears to struggle, all the time not letting on he knows their game. The main thrust of the story revolves around some bank robbers - rather predictably, but the whole story reads so much like a simpler Enid Blyton, and is extremely dated now, but fun as a nostalgic piece.

A review of a later book by Fidler by Brian Alderson appears in the Times newspaper of Wednesday March the 11th 1980 of "the last book of a writer who made a small corner in "holiday adventure stories" and who died [in 1980] with more than 80 titles to her name. Kathleen Fidler's The Ghosts of Sandeel Bay has all the ingredients of triteness that the genre demands." Despite a rather disparaging review he goes on to describe how she was well loved in her adopted home in Scotland (she was born in Coalville, Leicestershire on August 10, 1899) and Blackie and Sons sponsored a "Kathleen Fidler Award" which appears to have run until at least 1996, Hodder Children's Books took over the sponsorship of the award and the name was changed to the Fidler award for a while. The interesting Wee Web Author and Illustrator's website has a longer biography and listing of her books

Bellamy produced 8 black and white line drawings and the colour cover (See the BOOKS page of the website for the others - click on NOTE at the side) . The drawings are interesting in that I doubt he had seen the North Berwick Law himself and perhaps didn't even have reference material sent to him for this commission, apparently choosing subjects he knew would be acceptable.

Finally I have used the lovely Lightbox scripts to display this particular set of images within the NOTE  field and I'd love feedback. If it doesn't work for you let me know PLEASE. The images take a while to load up the first time but then look great. It took a weekend for me to see how to tweak it but I like the results

Monday, 27 September 2010

Other Bellamy sales

I have updated my recent post to show the prices fetched for various original artwork by Frank Bellamy. I missed mentioning another unique piece by the same seller.

SOLD FOR £620 (with 18 bids)
"Probably done when starting his tenure on the Daily Mirror strip, perhaps to show the paper's art editor his treatment for the character? Interesting to see he has a cowboy theme going here, as Bellamy had a great love of westerns, a period of history Garth visited on occasion, notably on the 'Ghost Town' story"
... says the seller.There a quite a few of these character studies that Bellamy prepared for his strips - Thunderbirds, Heros, David the shepherd king, Dan Dare etc.

I wonder if Bellamy was told that he would join the Garth strip in a "cowboy story" - actually Garth is shown as a US cavalryman in Bellamy's first strip "Sundance" which ran in the Daily Mirror from 28 June1971 to 11 October 1971

The other far less impressive sale, but interesting nonetheless was for a poster that remains unidentified beyond being a reprint of the famous and often reprinted Radio Times cover of Jon Pertwee from January 1972. It sold for £18.43  and is sized 18 by 26 inches. The logo places it in time and I'm guessing was in a Doctor Who Magazine. The reproduction not very good as most of the subtle stippling that Bellamy did is lost here. Anyone know where this appeared?

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

More original art sales and Dez Skinn too


Just got back from holiday in Scotland and so am catching up with emails, RSS feeds, etc. etc. Of course I found a Bellamy connection with the place I stayed but more on that later. Some call it obsession...I call it serendipity!

So here are a few quick Bellamy items

Thanks to Lew Stringer I was alerted to Dez Skinn's latest story regarding the "the ones that got away". If you take a look at the covers shown (reproduced below), you'll see Dez's love of Bellamy.

On eBay recently we saw 2 bids on a Garth strip from the "The angels of hell's Gap" story (episode #J65) which sold for £67

But even more exciting is the current auction of three more Garths, one of which is especially rare. It's the title panel of "The Man-Hunt" story of Garth (episode #K239). Why so rare? None of the other title strips have appeared in auction or for sale to my knowledge since I started watching the Internet in 1993.

SOLD FOR £410 (with 26 bids)

This seller is also selling an episode from "The Wreckers" story (#G267) and also an episode from "The Orb of Trimandias" (#F86)

SOLD FOR £99.88 (with 10 bids)
SOLD FOR £129 (with 17 bids)

The same seller is auctioning off a beautiful Thunderbirds page from TV21 #54. This, for those who don't know, is the third page in black and white that Bellamy produced. Unbelievably for 14 weeks he drew a full colour double page spread plus a black and white ink wash. And this is from the 3rd week.

I'll be updating this page with the final prices fetched. While waiting take a look at the piece sold by Comic Book Auctions site and the price realised on my updated post

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Frank Bellamy writes letters

"Comic Media Vol 2 no 2 whole number 9" it says in the indices. This particular issue of Nick Landau's fanzine carried an extensive interview with Peter O'Donnell (Modesty Blaise's creator) and an advert drawn by someone called Dave Gibbons (end irony) but is more of interest to Bellamy completists because Frank Bellamy wrote a letter that was published.

This wasn't the only letter we know about.

Bellamy also wrote to Dez Skinn's Fantasy Advertiser and Mike Tiefenbacher and Jerome Sinkovec Menomonee Falls Gazette

Fantasy Advertiser Vol. 3:43 May 1972, (no page numbers) had the usual Battlefield! letter column and the first letter taking pride of place is by Bellamy (incidentally that Dave Gibbons artwork also appears here too!)

and lastly (until more are discovered) the one from Menomonee Falls Gazette

This brilliant newspaper/magazine was published reprinting strips from all over the world in black and white. Garth started on September 4 1972 with the opening episode of Sundance which was not illustrated by Bellamy. This seems odd but if the guys hadn't reprinted this the Bellamy  episode wouldn't help them understand the story. Bellamy actually started in September 18 number 40

Tiefenbacher and Sinkovec wrote a letter asking for explanation of Allard's role in the strip's creation Bellamy's reply is interesting. Follow the links above (and as usual click on the NOTE links) to see the full copies on the website

Monday, 30 August 2010

Dez Skinn, Dave Gibbons and Frank Bellamy

Used with permission of Dez Skinn

You may not know but Dez Skinn has started a website in which he recounts the early days of UK fanzines and his early publishing ventures. He is one of few people who interviewed Frank Bellamy, taking as he explains, his backup, Dave Gibbons:

Dave Gibbons and I did the interview, going up to Frank and his wife Nancy’s semi-detached three bedroom house in Kettering, Northamptonshire one Saturday morning. There were two of us so Dave could cover any “tricky” art questions which may come up.

Frank was, as ever, a genial and self-effacing host, seemingly oblivious to his standing as one of the all-time greats of British comics. As we spoke, his enthusiasm was apparent, undiminished by time, he was still able to be excited over the smallest of things. One example he scurried away to proudly show us was a letter from America. An editor at DC Comics had written, asking if Frank would consider working for them. While most historians and fans would consider this a retrograde step in his career, Frank was thrilled at the thought.

Both Archie Goodwin and Marv Wolfman corresponded with Bellamy back in the early 70s and as the Daily Mirror reported Bellamy won the Foreign Comics Award of the American' Academy of Comic Books Arts, of which Goodwin was President in June 1972.

"FRANK BELLAMY, who draws the Daily Mirror's Garth strip, has been given the He was the only Briton to be nominated (he lives at Malden,[sic] Surrey ), and came ahead of all other, as seen from America, foreigners.
The award covers his work over the years, including the Dan Dare strip for the boys' magazine Eagle. It also-gave a nod to one cartoon he drew in the Eagle series, Heros the Spartan. The Academy displayed it at an exhibition in New York. It shows a massive battle scene with a cast of 200" Daily Mirror (16 June 1972), p.11 "The Victor" by Anthony Delano
Dez tells the story of how he auctioned some original Bellamy pieces at the 1971 comic convention (one of which is shown in an old photo), how Bellamy drew an original as a birthday present for Dez and how Bellamy dealt with lettering problems and the restrictions in drawing Garth

Head over there and read some fascinating original material about Bellamy from Dez

Friday, 20 August 2010

Original Frank Bellamy art for sale: Thunderbirds

Winning bid incl. 10% Buyer's Premium: £3,726. This must be the most expensive Bellamy piece to date!

TV21 was going to finish in its first incarnation at number 242, but in issue 220 Bellamy was still producing lovely artwork. This story ran from TV 21 and TV TORNADO issues 218-226 (22/03/69 - 17/05/69). And as we have seen from the Reynolds and Hearn reprints, (the publisher's website seems to be down now!) the artwork delivered was extremely vibrant compared to the printed versions of the 60s even if in photogravure.

Front Cover TV21 220

Bellamy's 2 single pages (rather than the earlier double page spreads) are still full of action and great perspective.

Page 10 TV21 220

The second page of this story is now on the Comic Book Auctions site for previewing purposes. The auction will be opening soon - sign up for an email reminder

The scan on their site looks like this

Lot # 158:
Thunderbirds original artwork (1969) drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy for TV 21 No. 220
Thunderbird 2 lands near Project City and the giant Mole is deployed to bore through the concrete walls with Virgil and Brains at the controls.
But the walls are live - they’re being electrocuted...
Pelikan inks on board 18 x 14 ins


Glad to see Malcolm has realised Bellamy drew all his comic work (to my knowledge) in coloured ink! 

And finally here's the published version to compare (well, as best you can online!)

Page 11 TV21 220

As usual I will update this page when the piece is sold and price fetched announced

Happy Bidding - and tell Malcolm I sent you...he may send me a free catalogue, as I certainly can't afford to bid!

Friday, 30 July 2010

Frank Bellamy's book illustrations: Not too narrow ... not too deep

Is it better to start a new blog entry or just update? 
Anyway, after Terry Doyle, the original owner of the original artworks, contacted me, he sent a message to Chris Power, a long time Bellamy fan who owns several pieces. 
Chris kindly forwarded this message with 2 clearer scans which I have uploaded to the website (get used to clicking on the sidebar NOTES

Hello Norman, I read your entry on 'Not Too Narrow, Not too Deep' with great interest. I'm in the happy position of owning both the original and also a preliminary of the cover, which I acquired from Terry Doyle some years back. The originals are absolutely gorgeous, very rich and vivid in their use of colour and fascinating as they gives us a glimpse of an unpublished preparatory work almost the equal of the finished piece. I think the final cover is the stronger, maybe because the 'face' is looking down from the right? It's certainly more 'worked' than the unused picture. Was this Bellamy's own decision? Or had someone from the publishers Corgi asked for a further option? The unused version is certainly worked up to a level where you could imagine it being used. 
I must say your blog is an excellent resource for those of us bewitched by Bellamy's work. 

Long may it continue. 

See the comment below and my answer to Terry for a prelimiary version of this finished cover!

Also I have added another version of the cover which I previously forgot - not by Bellamy - when first writing the article

 1965 version by Frank Bellamy

I have just finished reading an interesting paperback from the 1960s as a result of learning a while ago that Bellamy did an illustration for it. The book in question is "Not too narrow...not too deep", the first novel by Richard Sale (born 1911 died 1993).

It was in the same year in that James M. Cain wrote one of my favourite films "Double Indemnity", Richard Sale wrote "Not too narrow...not too deep". This book of only 158 pages takes us from the steamy jungle prison camp with 10 (or is that 11?) inmates as they escape and buy a small boat to take to Trinidad, then to Cuba and into the United States. The daily drudge of scorching heat, water rationing and the endless swell of the ocean, is only interrupted storms at night and the loss of some of the escapees and by the musings of our narrator (a doctor) as he observes the interactions between all the occupants of the boat. The real story is who is this eleventh man? Who is Jean Cambreau? And how does he know the future of this group?

By the way, some reviews have been lazy in copying false information. I very much doubt that a prison break covering the distance from 'New Guinea' to Trinidad would work.  The reviewers obviously are mixing up the the largest island in the Indonesian archipelago -New Guinea with French Guiana, which on the northern Atlantic coast of South America.

 1950 version (artist unknown)

I enjoyed the book and was surprised how subtle the story's handling of this strange 11th man and how up to date the writing style is.  I could only see one line that made the book look dated (a reference to how the quantity of aeroplanes was likely to increase!) The atmosphere of unending heat, the availability of water - but none to drink - and their encounters on the mainland were very naturalistic. For those curious about the title, below is the relevant passage but don';t think the whole book is like this, it's not.:

"Listen to me," he said. "There is a town in Jehoraz not far from the old glory of Judea where an old Jew lived. He was very old and he knew that soon he would die, so he had his grave dug before he died to make certain that it would be just as he wanted it. When the grave-digger had finished, the Jew went to the grave and looked down into it and he shook his head and said: This grave will not do at all. The grave-digger was surprised. He'd worked hard and he considered it a good job, well done. So he said: What is wrong with this grave? Then the old Jew replied: I cannot lie in a grave like this. It is much too narrow and much too deep. When the day of resurrection comes, how shall I be able to scale the sides of it and come forth? With the bottom so deep. I will  not be able to climb out. With the sides so narrow, I will not be able to get a foothold. So the grave-digger made the grave shallower and widened the sides, and the old Jew was satisfied and returned home to die."

The book was adapted into a well remembered but renamed classic "Strange Cargo" starring Clark Gable, Joan Crawford and Peter Lorre amongst others. The fact there is no woman in the book (except for in a couple of pages before they set off on their journey) means we have the sexual tension (as best Hollywood can do in 1940) and romance. The best site for more information on the film is here . Roughly translating the non-English titles of the film versions from around the world: Spanish and Italian "Devil's Island"; French "The cursed/damned cargo"; Swedish "Flight/Escape"; and finally the German "The fantastic rescue" (which oddly is most appropriate in my opinion - read the book and you'll see why I say that.)

1936 version (artist unknown)

Sale (and his wife, Mary Loos) did adapt various stories to screenplays but not this one. Famously he directed the sequel to "Gentlemen prefer blondes""Gentlemen Marry Brunettes", written by his wife's aunt, Anita Loos  (1955).

Sale wrote lots of pulp stories in Argosy but also a series of 51 stories in Detective Fiction Weekly called Daffy Dill . To read one click on the link

 Pilgrim Books 1984 (Artist unknown)

Anyway back to Frank Bellamy. The latter part of the 1960s appears to be a time in which Bellamy concentrated on Thunderbirds (after he left the Eagle comic) for TV21. He also produced drawings for the TV 'Avengers' and an advert or three and not much else. This cover (no internal illustrations) illustrated by Bellamy has a brooding portrait watching over the boat at sea and is in my opinion a perfect rendition of Richard Sale's intent - the 11th mystery man, watching over the group. Is he a supernatural being, a devil, hypnotist or Jesus himself?

 Corgi 1971 (Illustration by Michael Codd)

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Bellamy and the Postman always rings twice, Hammett.and James M. Cain. 'Who?' you ask. The third name is not often quoted as being among the founders of the hard-boiled detective novel of the American early 20th century. These authors of noir classics inspired a decade of MGM and Warner Bros. lone detective stories. Femme fatales, heroes who are no good but who take the consequences of their actions when the time comes and so on. Cain's other works made into films include Mildred Pierce (starring Joan Crawford) and my favourite, directed by Billy Wilder 'Double Indemnity' starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck.

But I want to concentrate on "The Postman Always Rings Twice" the 1934 novel which was thought to be inspired by the Ruth Snyder case in America. Frank Chambers (John Garfield, in the original film) is a drifter who stops at a rural diner for a meal, and ends up working there. The diner is operated by a beautiful young woman, Cora Smith (Lana Turner), and her much older husband, Nick (Cecil Kellaway). It soons transpires that the appearance of the young brutal drifter inspires Cora to chase her dream of being free of her disappointing life and together they plot her husband's murder.

The steamy opening to the film begins with the line "It was on a side road outside of Los Angeles. I was hitchhiking from San Francisco down to San Diego, I guess. A half hour earlier I thumbed a ride..." We see a man with itchy feet enter a gas station. He tears down the "Man wanted" notice, enters the diner and sits - being served a hamburger by the friendly owner. Nick, the owner has to leave him to watch the burger, as he goes out to serve a customer that has just arrived at the pumps. Suddenly in the quiet cafe, a noise is heard and the camera follows a lipstick rolling across the floor. The camera, acting as the narrator's eyes pans along the path the lipstick took and hesitates on Lana Turner's feet, and travels partway up her legs. We then see her full figure in a two piece with 40s shoulder pads and hot pants. The lighting is pure film noir shadow, but not obscuring the beautiful 'sweater girl' as she was known.

Steve Holland very kindly sent me scans of a postcard used to advertise a 1980s exhibition of Bellamy's work - more on that later. Bellamy has chosen to compose an illustration showing Cora, a self-possessed woman looking at the guy peeping through the cafe door. The other elements are a circular barstool and a glass display stand with sloping front used in cafes to display their wares. Bellamy's use of shadow here must have come from his work on cinema hoardings and cut-outs that we know he produced while at Blamire's Studio in Kettering in his early life before heading to London and his later comic strip work. The work also shows his earlier signature - more cursive than the later one - and puts the piece firmly in the pre-1950s. But after that we have no idea of where the piece is now. It was shown (the reverse of the postcard is below) at the exhibition "Unseen Bellamy" at the Basement Gallery, Brixton, London between the 15th of July and 3rd of September 1989, 13 years after Bellamy’s death. Several of the pieces that were sold have been tracked down and the corresponding catalogue (see the website for details)  which was published illustrates this very piece. But I'm grateful to Steve for this version as it's much clearer and in monochrome colour. The rear adds a bit of information I didn't know - there was a private pre exhibition viewing. I would have loved to have been there. I would guess among the invited would be the late Bob Monkhouse who collected many of Bellamy's works.

I have added the larger scans to the website just follow the 'note' link on the Unseen Bellamy page  to view Catalogue entry number 3 "The Postman always rings twice" by Frank bellamy....and needless tro say if you bought the original at the event I'd love to hear about your experience.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Frank Bellamy recent sales

I was amazed to see a couple of recent sales on eBay and thought it might be a good opportunity to mention them here.

 Firstly this ice cream lolly wrapper sold for £26.99 with 6 bids. I wrote about this series of wrappers here. Mick, who sold this, had a question about the wrappers he was selling (the others were not by Bellamy):
Q:  Hi, is it possible to get each title in both of the two packet front designs (with and without 5d)? Did Frank Bellamy do the art work for all the series of Walls wrappers? Thank you 25-May-10
A:  hi I haven't seen any RED version wrapper that has the price on the front.There is Another version of the red one ,that features a smaller image of the front design on the back .Bellamy only did the artwork for the From the worlds of the Daleks series. All the BEST mick

An unusual and truly rare item. Who would have known it would be worth so much?

Secondly, a copy of the Radio Times, with a cover featuring Jon Pertwee (as Doctor Who) and the Daleks sold, after three bids for £123.25. I personally still have the cover that I cut from my family's Radio Times - again, that seemed the best thing to do to keep a copy!

And finally...

An original Garth strip sold for £150.80. This was from the Bride of Jenghiz Khan story. As I don't actually own a copy of this strip I have taken the scans provided by the seller. The episode number is H282, and I checked the Menomonee Falls Gazette partial index (by Roger Clark) and see that the newspaper reprint finished before they got round to reprinting this particular episode, so it was no use looking to see if I had a copy! I checked, but I don't have a copy of the Dakin reprint from 1979 Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan (Daily Strips No. 1).which reprints the whole story (H228-J11) - nor do I have Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan reprinted by the All Devon Comic Collectors Club. So, sorry, but here's the best I can do.


I have been asked at work to demonstrate a blog entry being created and wondered is there anything I could show you from my collection, that you've not yet seen? Let me know by emailing me (with a single request, please!) at

You'll need to type this address in your preferred email client.I've been getting some spam and this is my crude attempt to stop that!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Jon Haward and colleagues win Bronze award

I have just heard that the excellent series Classical Comics, which publishes bright new versions of the classics in graphic novel format (and in Original Text, Plain Text and Quick Text Versions, as well as in American English) has garnered another award. The Independent Publisher Book Awards (the cutely named IPPY Awards) have been announced and The Tempest has won a Bronze Medal.

Congratulations to Jon Haward ( a great Bellamy fan - see previous blog entry) and his co-creators John McDonald, Gary Erskine, and Nigel Dobbyn

Now in order to add some Bellamy art I have to think....did he illustrate Shakespeare? I can't think of anywhere he did that. Did he illustrate any classics (yes, the Pit and the Pendulum) but how about this disaster  illustration - very contemporary reference to volcanic explosions?

Thunderbirds from TV21 # 83

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Fans of Frank: Edoardo di Muro

Eagle 4 March 1961

Now I'll confess straight away that I had never heard of Edoardo, but an email I was sent set me off on a course researching his work and I thought I'd add a quick link for you to see what this is about.

In March this year, Eduardo's book "Noir et Blanc en couleurs" (literally 'black and white in colours') was published by ├ędition roymodus. Even if your French isn't up to scratch, this video will show you that Eduardo has obviously been influenced by Bellamy's African colours and in particular by Fraser of Africa (from the Eagle in the UK and Il giorno dei ragazzi in Italy, his birthplace). This entry on the publisher's website shows a beautiful reproduction of a page in Italian - my translation of the webpage appears below - so don't blame anyone else!

In 1961, Edoardo di Muro was 16 years old  when he read the magazine "Il giorno dei ragazzi". On the last page, a strip by Frank Bellamy tells the adventures of "the intrepid Frazer".

More than a comic, it's an immersion in Africa that will impress the adolescent (di Muro) forever, but also the artist in his aesthetic quest

Edoardo di Muro:
 "Outside the town, towards the river between wasteland and scrub, hyenas like scruffy stray dogs roamed around! The round backs of hippos were like large polished stones upon which I jumped without fear of them opening their large mouths... Your beautiful drawings with their stippled shadows have sown the seeds for my career and at the same time formed the backdrop of my life. Thank you big brother Frank!"

You can read more about Edoardo's background here and you might like to follow Google's crude translation here   il giorno dei ragazzi was produced as a beautiful comic supplement for children and featured many strips from the Eagle as well as home grown comics  The only full reprint of Fraser to date is the Hawk Books reprint which appears on eBay, Abebooks and Amazon from time to time

Which reminds me, I'd love to hear what you think about the Amazon gadget on the left. I have so many email requests for reprints, I thought this was a neat way of adding a link. It;s unlikely I'll make anything but hey, it all helps!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Fans of Frank Bellamy: Steve McGarry

A while ago I read this blog entry  on Steve McGarry (whom I must confess I didn't know - you'll see why in a moment) and noticed that he mentions his favourite artist is Frank Bellamy. Once again on your behalf  I asked if he would be interested in adding to my series "Fans of Frank Bellamy" and the nice guy replied in the affirmative with the following story. Without sounding too sycophantic I also steer towards Steve's tastes in artists!

And before you go searching for the paucity of information on Trevillion, who Steve mentions a few times, he was the guy who did a brilliant job on the Munsters in TV21, for whom Bellamy did Thunderbirds of course.

Long before I knew who Frank Bellamy was, I was a huge Frank Bellamy fan.

Growing up in Manchester in the late 1950s and early 1960s, television was small, monochrome and limited to two basic channels that offered little programming designed to capture a youngster’s attention. So in those pre-videogame days, it was comics that fired our imaginations. We would graduate from The Beano and The Dandy, Topper or Beezer, to the adventure comics ... the girls to their Bunty or Princess and tales of ballerinas and gymkhanas, we boys to the likes of The Victor or The Hotspur. Each week, we would race to the newsagents on the day of publication, ready to devour the adventures of Alf Tupper or Gorgeous Gus and pocket the bonus swag – from football league ladders to cardboard gliders or contraptions that made noises - that was invariably included. Comics were printed in one or two colours on cheap, coarse paper, with one notable exception. In all its full colour, glossy glory, The Eagle was the undisputed king of comics. In addition, every Christmas there would be a football book and The Eagle Annual waiting for me under the tree.

By the early 1960s, I had moved on to the new Marvel comics that had begun to appear on a carousel rack at Fitton's newsagents. I can remember buying the first few issues of Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos, Thor and sundry others that could have funded a retirement had they been carefully preserved, instead of consigned to a binbag destined for the corporation tip. But my two younger brothers were still loyal to the homegrown imprints, and The Eagle landed with great regularity at McGarry Towers. Having gown up with The Eagle, I'm sure I must have been familiar with the art of Frank Bellamy, but it was his work on Heros the Spartan that really grabbed me. I thought it was the greatest comic art I had ever seen ... and nearly 50 years later, my opinion hasn't changed.

Even so, I can't swear that the artist's name had registered with me, although I must have seen his signature. By the mid-1960s, my attention was fixed firmly on football, girls and pop music, and my appetite for comics had waned ... but I recall admiring the way Frank breathed life into the Anderson puppets in the TV21 comics my younger brothers avidly collected. And while I recognised his style instantly by then, I'm not sure at that point I could yet attach a name to that stunning artwork.

By my late teens, I was learning the ropes in an art studio and beginning to harbour thoughts of pursuing a career in illustration (on the off-chance that one of the many incarnations of my rock bands didn’t take off.) I was particularly interested in sports and music illustration. My inspiration came from the Daily Mirror that arrived on our mat each weekday morning and the assortment of Sunday papers we would take at the weekend. 

The Munsters drawn by Trevillion

By the early 1970s, Paul Trevillion was making a name for himself as the country's premier sports illustrator, and I was captivated by his bold depictions of footballers in the Sunday tabloids. It was around that same time that Frank Bellamy debuted on the Garth strip in The Daily Mirror, and the strip was instantly transformed. Dull, rudimentary line was suddenly replaced by the most vivid and exciting artwork ever to grace a newspaper comics page. I became a Frank Bellamy fanatic. I read the strip avidly for a couple of years, and finally could contain myself no more. Plucking up courage, I wrote to Frank, effusively praising his work and asking if he had any tips to pass on to an aspiring artist. He replied with a very gracious note, warning me that the business was tough but wishing me well. I saved that letter for years ... I even saved the envelope ... and was genuinely upset to discover I had mislaid it when we moved out to the U.S. many years later.

I sold my first illustrations, to the girls' comic Romeo in 1974 ( I was 21) and by 1977 I had taken the plunge and gone freelance. I did the occasional piece for comics, did some ad agency illustration work, and picked up a lot of work in the music business. I designed quite a few record sleeves, including album covers for the likes of Jilted John and Slaughter & The Dogs that showcased my illustration talents.

By then, of course, Frank was gone, having died of a heart attack in1976.

I was employing a linework approach heavily influenced by comic books, and although I was enjoying some success, I felt that I hadn't yet found my style. In those pre-Google days, most artists kept scrapbooks of reference material. Besides photos of interiors, cars, places and anything else I felt might prove useful down the line, I'd also clipped out illustrations from sundry publications, particularly sports and entertainment material. Leafing through one of those albums, probably in late 1980 or early 1981, I came across a Doctor Who cover illustration that Frank Bellamy had done for The Radio Times in 1972. I'm not sure why it hadn't registered with me up until that point, but it suddenly dawned on me that the stipple style he had employed to render Jon Pertwee was a natural fit for me. What if I employed that approach to render portraits of musicians for record sleeves? Better still, what if I tackled the kind of sports subjects that Trevillion covered with a similar stipple style?

In my spare moments, I began to experiment with the approach, using a rapidograph pen for the stipple and dip pen and brush for the hair. I was already a confirmed fan of CS10 line board, which was Frank’s preferred board of choice. The china clay surface accepts ink beautifully and mistakes can be scratched out with a razor blade without any feathering, so the art always looks pristine. Almost immediately, it felt perfect, and I was excited with the results I was getting over a period of a couple of weeks, I created a portfolio piece, a mock poster for Humphrey Bogart's "The Maltese Falcon" as I felt the "noir" subject matter was ideally suited to that style. The finished piece convinced me that I was now ready to try pitching. But who to approach?

The Daily Mirror used a lot of sports illustrations, but they already had Paul Trevillion and a great illustrator called Charles Dupont to call upon. (Which reminds me, I always suspected that Charles DuPont and another Mirror illustrator, Bob Williams, were one and the same. I’d love to know if that hunch was right!) I was a big admirer of Arthur Ranson, who was doing incredible things with biography strips of Abba and The Beatles for Look-In magazine, and I had seen his stuff in such papers as The Sunday Times. I was hesitant to approach any publication that was already working with such outstanding artists, figuring I probably wouldn't get the time of day. Then it struck me that The Daily Star, which had only launched a couple of years earlier, might be in the market for illustrations ... and it was the only national newspaper whose editorial offices were based in Manchester, not a mile away from my studio. The FA Cup Final was approaching and I knew that a lot of papers liked to do special pullouts, usually featuring illustrations. I stuck a photocopy of my ”Maltese Falcon" illustration and a brief note in the post and crossed my fingers.

A few days later I got a call from the paper's art editor, Mike Burnham, who invited me for a lunchtime drink and a chat. One liquid lunch later, I was being introduced to the Daily Star's sports editor, Arthur Lamb. He loved the "Maltese Falcon" sample and loved the idea of doing an FA Cup special. We agreed a very generous fee and shook hands on the deal. On Saturday, May 14, 1981, to commemorate my beloved Manchester City taking on Spurs in the FA Cup Final, I made my national newspaper debut with a giant centre-spread illustration featuring all 24 players and two managers ... all rendered in my new Bellamy-inspired stipple style.

I can honestly say, I've never looked back. Soon, I was illustrating a Steve Davis snooker series for The Daily Star. Then they gave me my own weekly sports illustration spot, as well as commissioning front page illustrations for general elections and such. In 1986, they launched my daily series The Diary of Rock & Pop. By then, I also had my own series each week in the soccer magazine "Match Weekly" and my clients included Look-In and The Daily Mirror. The syndication arm of Express Newspapers began to sell my soccer features worldwide.

United Media, the giant New York syndicate who gave us Peanuts and Garfield, spotted my work and I was invited to sign my first US syndication contract in 1989, the same year that my "Badlands" cartoon launched in The Sun. I moved my young family to California that summer.

At one point in the early 1990s, "Badlands" was appearing daily in The Sun, my "Pop Culture" strip was appearing daily in the Today newspaper and syndicated to 600 newspapers worldwide through NEA, I had a weekly series in the News of The World and a weekly series in "Shoot!' magazine, The Sun was running my daily soccer strip and I was supplying a monthly to SIForKids magazine
[Sports Illustrated for kids]. I've slowed down a little since then ... but I still make the majority of my income from drawing pop stars and footballers!

We've now lived in sunny California for 20 years and my work is still syndicated all over the world. I'm a two-term former President of the National Cartoonists Society and am the first artist to win Illustrator of the Year awards from both the NCS and the Australian Cartoonists Association. And I can honestly say that I owe all of my professional success to the inspiration that Frank Bellamy's genius provided.

As I write, I find myself occasionally glancing at the framed piece of art that hangs directly above my drawing board. It's a Frank Bellamy "Garth" strip (H105 from The Beast of Ultor series) that I bought from Frank's widow, Nancy, a few years after his death. It's one of my most- treasured possessions

Many, many thanks to Steve for this extensive romp through his contact with Bellamy and his own story. Take a look at Steve's site My parents never bought a paper but a friend of the family kindly cut out the Garth strips for me, and we certainly didn't see the later Sun, Today, or News of the World - thus i missed Steve's excellent work until now. Steve, I hope you like the accompanying illustrations.

Now if any of you have an easy was for me to get to John Byrne or Al Williamson, I'd love to add them to my 'Fans of Frank' series

From Steve:
"Incidentally, Trevillion is currently appearing on The Guardian site each week with his long-running "You are the Ref" series, that now runs in The Observer:

Thanks Steve