Richard Farrell is a modest fellow who produces, as previously mentioned, a great fanzine called "Andersonic". It's a fun tribute lovingly assembled by asking people like me to jot a few lines about a topic on any of Gerry Anderson's works.
In Andersonic Episode 12, Summer 2011, pp33-43 you'll find an article called "John Blundall: APF'S Monster sculptor". To quote from Richard's back issues page this is an:
"Interview with former APF sculptor John Blundall in which he discusses his time working on series from Supercar up to Thunderbirds. John discusses how he got involved in puppetry, working with Christine Glanville, Wolfgang Manthey and Mary Turner, his favourite creations and what went into designing characters such as Robert the Robot, Professor Matic and of course Parker".
Worth buying for that alone, but in the interview John Blundall innocently mentions the following, quoted here with permission:
"John also came across a special visitor to the puppet studio back in the days of Thunderbirds... comic artist Frank Bellamy. "When I was a kid, I hated comics except the Eagle. The back and centre pages had wonderful strips based on historical things. l wasn't interested in the rest of the comic, but I was fascinated by the work of Frank Bellamy. It was quite early on in the early days in the studio workshop; one day a quiet fellow came in the workshop with a stool and a sketch pad. Reg Hill brought him in, and said, 'This guy's coming in to do some drawings of the puppet figures'. He sat down and started drawing the puppets. I looked at his drawings and thought 'Bloody hell!'. People often find it very difficult to draw my characters, and he was drawing them exactly. I thought, 'Oh, here's somebody interesting!' He was very shy, a timid character and I started to talk to him and then I said 'I'm sorry, l don't know your name.' He replied 'Frank Bellamy'. And that was the last I saw of him. I thought his work was wonderful, one of the few people who really captured the soul and spirit of the characters." (p.40)
A wonderful portrait of a talented artist!. But for me the connection to TV Century 21 numbers 90 - 92 (8 October 2066 - 29 October 2066) was striking. Blundall tells how Bellamy drew in the APF Studio - notice not from photos. We know from Alan Davis lots of materials went in the bin after Frank's death so it's unlikely we will find any 'stills' in the family's possession. But it doesn't matter as we know that Bellamy had photo references provided for jobs (David Driver at the Radio Times confirmed this) and we know from Nancy Bellamy that Frank had puppet heads to draw from. So why am I excited by John Blundall's comment?
In the best of all the stories in TV21 drawn by Frank Bellamy (just my opinion) we see a fantastic creature in a Venusian lake drawn by Bellamy, and that creature appeared exactly the same way on the cover of issue 92.
|Thunderbirds from TV21 #90|
In an article by Bill Earle on a now defunct Supermarionation website he mentions that "In order to supplement a Thunderbirds comic strip story by Frank Bellamy in TV Century 21 numbers 90 through 95 [sic], Roger Dicken produced several sculptures of Venusian monsters in plasticine clay which were photographed with Thunderbirds craft". Dicken created special effects for 2001 and Alien amongst others. The mystery for me was, did Dicken create the creature and then Bellamy draw it based on the photos or did Dicken follow Bellamy? I thought the latter unlikely.
"Thank you for your e-mail. I can confirm I did design and create entirely the model creature you have enquired about, along with a second figure, both of which appeared on the covers of the TV21 Comic. The other monster also featured on the cover of a Thunderbirds Holiday Special Mag.Both were actually made of plasticene built over a strong wire and wood core. Further, they were constructed at my home studio and brought in for the photo shoot at AP Films. From this point Frank Bellamy was obviously supplied with prints of the beast of your interest and via his wizardry with the pencil he reproduced it in comic form. They were still up on a shelf when I left AP Films to work on 2001, thus I do not know what became of them following the demise of the studio. One can only assume somebody appropriated them or they went into the skip with a multitude of other stuff I understand was, sadly, being disposed of at that time."
I'm very grateful to Roger for taking the time to indulge an old fool!
MYSTERY (if there was one!) SOLVED!
|Thunderbirds from TV21 #92|