Saturday, 1 October 2011

The last great invention

Last Great Invention - panel
In the 1960s publishing saw more and more magazines that were partworks published in numerous countries as co-editions to bring down costs. The format of a weekly partwork caught the public's imagination -but not often their mathematical skills - total costs of a partwork could far exceed any total price for the equivalent book, but it did allow families to buy weekly rather than lay out a lot of money up front! This was in the days before 'easy credit'. I remember my Mother loved 'The British Empire' with its glossy appearance and colour throughout. I preferred 'World of Wildlife' as it contained animals in their natural surroundings. You have to remember back then - no Internet and colour had only just come to UK TV and we had three terrestrial (what other sort were there?) channels! So colour glossy magazines - great!

Cover of Sunday Times
23 August 1970

Bellamy contributed to this in two places that I know of and the following relates to the more famous one: The Sunday Times (Colour) Magazine (23rd August 1970). "Last of the Great Inventions" was, as it says in the magazine "Drawn by Frank Bellamy and written by Tony Osman".

The Sunday Times was forging ahead in Britain in displaying innovative colour in a giveaway weekly newspaper magazine. It all started in 1962 when the owner Roy Thomson wanted a way to sell colour advertising at a time that newspapers could only print black and white (it was 20 years later that Eddie Shah shook up the newspaper industry with a colour paper) Its first editor Mark Boxer was joined a year later, by Michael Rand as Art Director.
"It was 12 months before it was voted a huge success – by the readers and advertisers (due to editors Mark Boxer, Godfrey Smith and its design guru Michael Rand). It was Smith’s idea to produce another innovation, the part-work series which could be collated, at the end, in a special binder: A Thousand Makers of the 20th Century remains a landmark" (Evans, H, 2008. I wish we could have done this in my day. Sunday Times [London, England] 6 July 2008: 9.)
Many artists and photographers praise Michael Rand as being an inspiration in allowing them to push the boundaries and Rand knew Bellamy's work well (confirmed in an email from Robert Lacey - yes I contact all sorts of important people!), but he is not credited in the series itself instead it appears Arnold Schwartzmann was the Consultant art Director on the project. .

Binder cover
First part

 Eureka!: The Sunday Times Magazine "A history of inventions in 10 parts" was published weekly between 21 June 1970 and 23 August 1970. The pages were not numbered but a note appears in each 'supplement' saying "To prepare for the Eureka binder cut out pages down centrefold" Bellamy produced only the last installment.

Last episode includes a competition
The commission was to show  the President of America being woken to be told that the ballistic Missile Early warning System had detected missiles approaching and the President's reaction and conversation with the USSR (This was Nixon and Brezhnev)

Bellamy draws Nixon again!
I personally found the whole piece awfully confusing. The script is not written by someone who knows comic strips and I suspect that (unlike earlier Sunday Times work) Osman was glad to be getting to the end of this piece. Mind you any quick search shows that Osman - who was elected to the committee of the Association of British Science Writers, has written many factual articles and books.

Anyone want to buy me an A3 scanner?
As an aside, to this already wordy blog post, my copy of the bound Eureka series also contains the Bruce Chatwin partwork "One million years of art". having read the excellent biography by Nicholas Shakespeare, I was not surprised to see no comic art in the partwork, let alone any Bellamy, after all Chatwin was an ex-Sotheby's man so 'art' means 'fine art', not illustration or comics!

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