Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Frank Bellamy in the Eagle Times

YOU CAN VIEW THE WHOLE ARTICLE! READ ON!!

Alan Vince, who I first came across when he interviewed Frank Hampson (Dan Dare's talented creator) in Doug Gifford's fondly remembered Thing fanzine, has written another article for the Eagle Society magazine the Eagle Times. And Howard Corn, the Editor, and team have pushed the boat out and focussed on Frank Bellamy in this Autumn 2014 issue.

Howard and Alan are happy for me to reproduce the article IN FULL! So let's jump in!

Alan, who met many of the great British comic artists, never met Bellamy and mentions that he wrote to him but received no reply. I know that Bellamy did reply to many fans (imagine how many letters that was - no emails back then!) and am not surprised to hear he might have missed Alan's letters. The title of the article is "Frank Bellamy - trademarks and techniques" and Alan gives us a 8 page overview of a lot of Bellamy's career, naturally focussing on his Swift and Eagle work. I'm guessing that he doesn't mention all Bellamy's Swift work as space was limited, for example the "Paul English" strip is omitted.

I have studied Bellamy's artwork for years and have read all the published information on him, the man. I have seen videos of him appearing on television and still have yet to produce a portrait of Bellamy the man in my head. He was self-deprecating and shy, talented as everyone knows, self- taught, loved outgoing hobbies - such as flamenco dancing and bullfighting, but as he admitted in many letters preferred drawing by himself rather than speaking at public events. So Alan and I agree, "nothing beats a face to face with someone". People who did meet him and have been asked, use the words 'nice', 'shy'  and 'nattily dressed'.

The Eagle Times front cover shows one of the set of three photos that Nancy Bellamy donated to the Society and I'm pleased they have chosen to share them with us.

Frank Bellamy on the Eagle Times cover
In the background we can see an unpublished piece (to my knowledge) by Bellamy of "Fraser of Africa". He drew the strip from 6 August 1960 through to 12 August 1961, producing three stories in all. The image behind Bellamy shows Fraser's head placed in a map of Africa. Were these part of a photoshoot for Eagle? We know that happened because a piece was published in Eagle Vol. 11:48 (26 Nov 1960) but what Bellamy is wearing is different. Anyone know?

Eagle 26 Nov 1960

I concur with Alan that the man could also be a contradiction - did he look forward to drawing Dan Dare or not? - but who isn't a contradiction? Alan repeats a story picked up from a comment Bellamy made to Dez Skinn and Dave Gibbons regarding the lack of holidays, which until I met Nancy, his widow, I too inferred from that interview. But from family photos I have seen, they certainly got around Europe a lot considering the package holiday was just starting in this country in the 1950s, making it as far as Morocco at one point.




This issue also has three photos of Bellamy at his drawing board and also a one page review of the Heros the Spartan reprint.

The back cover is in the form of a Fraser of Africa strip with photos inserted into panels. I had it drawn to my attention that "Kettering does not lie on the Northern Line". When I re-read all the articles I hadn't a clue what my friend was telling me until he explained that the first panel on the last page states Bellamy, in these photos, is working in his Kettering studio. He was in fact at this time (1960-1961) in Morden, Surrey and only returned to Kettering in 1975, a year before his death.

Frank Bellamy in Morden
If you'd like to buy an individual copy of the Eagle Times (which is normally available by subscription - see the Eagle Times blog for details) send a cheque for £5 to:

Eagle Times
24 Stanfield Road
Duston
Northants
NN5 6EZ
Email: Howard.corn@virginmedia.com if you need further details

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By the way does anyone know what happened to Doug Gifford mentioned above? Note: not Denis Gifford who passed away in 2000.

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