Saturday, 3 December 2016

Original Art for sale - Brett Million and the Ghost World

Boy's World 11 January 1964
[Brett Million and ] The Ghost World
Richard Farrell (who compiles the fun fanzine Andersonic on all things Gerry (and Sylvia) Anderson) alerted me to the fact Illustration Art Gallery have an original Bellamy for sale. It's episode 6 of the story on the back cover of Boy's World: "Brett Million and The Ghost Planet"

Boy's World was a relatively short-lived comic which ran from 26 January 1963 to 3 October 1964 (89 issues) before amalgamating into the more famous Eagle comic.  To read all about the comic's history buy the book by the excellent Steve Holland. I've written something about Bellamy's work on "Ghost World" so have a look here.

Boy's World
IAG's description:
Artist: Frank Bellamy
Medium: Pen & Ink Wash on Board
Size: 12" x 16" (300mm x 400mm)
Date: 1964
Signature: Signed by Artist left panel

This is the Signed original Pen & Ink Wash by Frank Bellamy.

A rare opportunity to own a Bellamy Ghost World original page of art.

The blues and reds on this page have faded as is the case with many of these pages. This is due to the type of ink Bellamy used. However the superb pen and ink work on this piece shines through.
 Price:  £3,950.00
I agree about the fading but Bellamy's technique shines through this piece. If you're looking at Illustration Art Gallery, they have 4 other Bellamy originals which I've covered before

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Frank Bellamy and a T-Shirt Rocket Design (Part2)

MF2 USA T-shirt  design
Well! What a few weeks I've had! I've been dealing with family matters but Bill Storie certainly cheered me up by pointing me to this. Unbelievably we have another unseen Frank Bellamy original artwork, but thankfully we know something about this one!

Back in January 2015, I wrote about Bellamy having done some rocket t-shirt designs. The latest, and unseen by me, is labelled: Frank Bellamy Space Rocket T Shirt Design Original Art NASA THUNDERBIRDS, the seller cleverly including some good keywords!

Their description is minimal:
Original Art Work by Frank Bellamy.
MF 2 Rocket
Date: Unknown
Condition: The Illustration is lovely, some damage and stains to board.
Size of board - 54 x 62 cm Size of Artwork - 41 x 23 cm

The previous one found was listed as "The size of the frame is 314 mm by 416 mm", so my guess is that this current one is the larger of the three he drew (yes three! - read on!)

T-Shirt outline provided on the board
I'm curious why the artist's details appeared on the front of the board, which I think was unusual for Bellamy.

Anyway to repeat the information here which I wrote in January 2015:
Equity Designers and Equity Printers Limited of 15-21 Ganton Street London W1 appears to have been run by D.K.Humby (Managing Director) and J. B. Blight (Company Secretary). Their publicity stated they were "Graphic designers, Lithographic and silkscreen printers". They asked Bellamy to produce three designs:
  1. Small rocket motif £15
  1. Large rocket motif £25
  1. Take-off rocket motif £25
I'll leave you to decide which you think is which and whether we will ever see the third!! And what's with the MF2 and SP50 (2) markings? Any guesses? S=Small; M=Medium? Or as I said last time perhaps the SP(2)50 was Daimler signifier SP250, but then what's the MF2?

Frank Bellamy T-shirt design SP250

Oh and it was nice to discover the seller's kind words about my blog on the old eBay listing for the first t-shirt design!

SUMMARY

Monday, 21 November 2016

Fine Art vs COMIC ART

GUEST POST from my good friend David Jackson

"Tiger face" by Frank Bellamy

A previous post, "Frank Bellamy at Kettering Exhibition ended", includes a photograph of a word-balloon wall plaque inscribed 'Fine Art vs COMIC Art' and Norman's comment: "I enjoyed seeing the placement of oil paintings from the Alfred East collection alongside some comic covers, raising the perennial question of what is 'fine art'."

'Fine Art vs Comic Art'.  Result: it's a draw..!

Comics might have had the last laugh, in some cases all the way to the bank, or to a respectable art gallery, which can hold an exhibition of comics art without it being thought funny. But, within living memory, looking back over the not that distant past a very different picture emerges. At one time, Roy Lichtenstein notwithstanding [See David Barsalou's excellent site - Norman], it would be the exception for an art critic to express any appreciation for comics or illustration. It wasn't until I became aware of comics fandom that I even knew I wasn't in a minority of one.

Home Notes (27th July 1951)
"Impatient heart" by Judith Blaney - illustrated by FB

An arts programme piqued my interest a few years ago when commercial art of all types, even the printed versions, was finally, officially, brought in from the cold, as it were, and taken note of as a substantial sub-category of Art: 'Ephemera' - work which by definition is produced with no intention of being kept for posterity. Ephemera would also include highly regarded works from another age such as the Japanese woodblock prints of Hokusai and other masters which were originally sold as transient decorative pieces subject to fashion.

The Society of Strip Illustration was founded with the improvement of the standing of the profession as one of its objectives.The SSI Newsletter of May 1985 includes a quote sent in by me of Milton Schulman, then drama critic of The Standard, in conversation on Radio 4's 'Stop the Week':

"You've got an elitist approach to the art form.  You are basically saying there are certain things like the printed page which give people a more emotional and cultural thrill and impact than other things.  You start off with books and go to poetry, then you go to painting, then you go to opera and to ballet - descending, I'm saying - theatre ... telly ... comic strips". 

Just so we know where we stand...

Neal Adams himself has related how, when he was trying to break into the business, the comic book company men tried to 'save' him by not giving him a job - they wanted him not to waste his talent and to go into something more respectable..!

A young Barry Smith in turn found himself on the receiving end of unappreciative art advice - which he related in an interview but quoted here from memory - a life drawing class tutor noticed that Smith had added a helmet and spear, or suchlike, from his own imagination, and declared that it wasn't drawing, 'it's make-believe!'

Frank Bellamy's figure studies drawn from life models naturally seem, by definition, to belong in the category of fine art.
"Life Study" by Frank Bellamy

The 'set-up' scene, from imagination, reference or arranged props and models, particularly for decorative purposes, however, seems to be made into a contentious issue by not being a record of real life experience as it occurs, viewed directly and rendered on the spot.

In marked contrast, the depiction of imagined scenes never detracted from art establishment approval of favoured historical works of fine art.  There is a similar contradiction in the fine art establishment criticism which makes itself evident in dismissing the work of artists which is viewed as populist. David Shepherd, whose 'Wise Old Elephant' was an unexpected best-selling print on sale in Boots the Chemist, has had to contend with this. Jack Vettriano likewise and more so.  He was even criticised for the fact that his figures for 'The Singing Butler' were derived from the 'Illustrator's Figure Reference Manual'.  A volume also on other bookshelves (mine included) all this entire time without it ever occurring to anyone else to paint 'The Singing Butler' from it - had not Vettriano done so. Critics seem to have taken issue with his stylistic associations with early 20th century film noir posters and pulp covers.  Criticism seems to be that Vettriano's art 'is not contemporary art'.  How could it not be 'contemporary'?  He is painting it now!

Frank Bellamy would no doubt have seen the wry irony of Vettriano's great success and fortune, given Frank's stated lack of sympathy for this type of subject.

Fantasy Advertiser Vol.3 No.50 says:

FB:  I had a commission to do two love story illustrations for Home Notes, a women's magazine.  [...]  I was never cut out to do love strips for the IPC girls' paper.  I'd have a go, but I prefer something with a bit of meat and guts."

In Speakeasy #100 Nancy Bellamy said the same:

"When he first decided to go freelance after we moved down to London in 1949, or even before, he used to draw for Home Notes, and he hated those sort of girlie illustrations, static things which he hated drawing.  It wasn't his cup of tea at all, but he did them for the money.  He wanted to draw something with a bit of guts to it."

Frank Bellamy expressed a personal appreciation for the illustrator Norman Rockwell, and it is easy to see why. In contrast to the left-handed compliment by some fine art aficionado in response to viewing a Rockwell enthusiast's collection: "He sure is a hard worker."

FB collector Bob Monkhouse once gave a talk to a comic convention (engagingly as his real self rather than in his self-acknowledged 'TV persona') and described the reception of comic art by the UK general public as "Pearls before swine!"

This was the era in which Frank Bellamy worked.

But it was changing, even then, and Frank himself was at the forefront in changing it.

Sunday Times Magazine 5 October 1969
Artist posed by David Bellamy

To quote Frank Bellamy in Fantasy Advertiser (FA)   [compiled in this post from various sections of the interview]:

FB: This kind of work has been under-rated for many years.  Throwaway artwork to be looked at and immediately discarded.  This is a viewpoint I strongly disagree with.

FB:  I've always had a great regard for professionalism.  One of the best things that was ever said to me was when I was called a "professional's professional".  And this just underlines what I mean.  I'm a great believer in doing a professional job.

FA:  Surely, people are beginning to see that comic strips can do more than amuse, as can be seen from any of your strips in the Sunday Times Magazine...

FB:  Well, there were no adverse reactions to them ... no-one was turning round and saying, "Good God, what's this...comics strips in the Sunday Times Magazine?"

FB:  I've always liked using the the graphic approach instead of the ordinary comic strip way.  Almost a sort of pictorial journalism.  My work for the Sunday Times Magazine in particular was pictorial journalism.  I used this graphic technique for the juvenile market - though many of Eagle's readers were adults - because I've never believed in drawing down to the reader.  If I was drawing for a seven year old, I'd still be as conscious of what I was doing as if it was a cover for the Radio Times.
Radio Times 29 May 1971

In his BBC 'Edition' interview 30th November 1973 FB says:

"I wanted to bring out the page as a complete page, a spread as a complete spread, to make it a unit in its own right."

A discrete coherent original work of art.

The comic art form has always had more serious appreciation in France where it is acknowledged as "the ninth art". The graphic novel format in Japan found a wide general readership.

The experience of Frank's contemporary, Don Lawrence, contrasted working relatively unappreciated for comparatively unrewarding one-off final payments in this country, as compared with the creative rights, collected volumes of his work, an appreciative audience abroad, and the 2003 award of the Netherlands Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau.

Possibly the indifference experienced here in Britain was related to the focus on primarily literary English, as opposed to the visual arts heritage; Shakespeare particularly.  Which is a bit of an oddity in itself, given that comic art - the graphic novel - is more of a 'theatrical play' on a page than a novel in type, as such, is.

'But is it art?'

"What is 'fine art'?" was the question, and it has a straightforward answer, which is: "'art for art's sake' rather than for commercial or functional use".  Self-expression.

Which would exclude Michelangelo to name but one.  The Sistine Chapel ceiling can be categorised as commercial illustration, albeit on a grand scale.  As someone once observed, the old masters and their vast commercially orientated studios would have all laughed themselves sick at the very idea of 'art for art's sake'.  As someone else [that's 10cc David - Norman] has put it: "Art for art's sake, money for God's sake."

It's arguable that it isn't a question of what art 'is'.

It's more a question of: 'do I want to look at it?'

The issue of what actually 'is' art was once illustrated by the following comparison.  A pile of bricks in a gallery is art and a pile of bricks in the gutter is just a pile of bricks but a Rembrandt which is lying in the gutter is still a work of art.

Oddly enough, and it is odd, the art world, claims its raison d'etre is being able to 'see past' the pile of bricks - or found objects, abstract colour, dribbles of paint, or whatever (or the material of which any work might be composed) - to perceive the genius of and in art itself.

And yet...

The fine art world for so long remained essentially unable to see past the fact of an original piece of comic art being commercially produced for a mass market juvenile readership.

It is a question of being able to see something which, literally uniquely, only one individual, was not only capable of producing, but it is something which we might have assumed to be beyond anything which any human being was capable of producing.

If the development over time of the unique Frank Bellamy 'look' came as a revelation to his fans it can only be imagined how much more so it came to Frank Bellamy.  His self-appointed task and motivation might well be imagined as answering the question: 'just how good can this be?'

It is self-expression at the service of professional purposes.

In the postscript to 'One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji', Hokusai writes:

"From the age of six, I had a passion for copying the form of things and since the age of fifty I have published many drawings, yet of all I drew by my seventieth year there is nothing worth taking in to account. At seventy-three years I partly understood the structure of animals, birds, insects and fishes, and the life of grasses and plants. And so, at eighty-six I shall progress further; at ninety I shall even further penetrate their secret meaning, and by one hundred I shall perhaps truly have reached the level of the marvellous and divine. When I am one hundred and ten, each dot, each line will possess a life of its own."  - "Gakyō Rōjin Manji" (The Old Man Mad About Art).

To borrow another unrelated quote from the web:

"There are two kinds of geniuses: the ‘ordinary’ and the ‘magicians’. An ordinary genius is a fellow whom you and I would be just as good as, if we were only many times better. There is no mystery as to how his mind works. Once we understand what they’ve done, we feel certain that we, too, could have done it.  It is different with the magicians..."

The 1989 Speakeasy #104 Frank Humphris interview by Alan Woolcombe asked what he thought of the other Eagle artists' work, and he said of Frank Bellamy:

"His draughtsmanship was absolutely fantastic, far beyond the usual standard for cartoons and comics - in fact the word comic doesn't really apply."  

Eagle 13 Aug 1960 Vol.11:33 p.12

=====
The above "Fraser of Africa" strip was reproduced in black & white in the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers Designers in Britain No.6. Many thanks David for such a much better expressed article than I could have done!  David suggested some illustrations to accompany the article. I've added one or two he may not have seen before as a thank you and also I thought I'd add to the debate by showing you the following.


Matador
Tim Barnes sent me this a long time ago. Now why is this fine art and the following an illustration to a story?

"A question of honour" by Henry Casson
from Boy'sWorld Annual 1965 pp116-117

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Original Art: on eBay - Garth 'proofs' and Maasai warrior with earring

Maasai with earring by Frank Bellamy
Thanks to Bill Storie for the alert. I STILL don't understand how my many Bellamy alerts don't pick some things up and I'd consider myself quite a search expert!

Two very interesting pieces are available on eBay right now

The first is the one above, which I have seen before and described on the Frank Bellamy Checklist website as "Masai warrior #3 Portrait with spear - warrior has large circular earring. Painting in monochrome on 'parchment'"

The seller describes it thus:

Frank Bellamy Painting. If you know of Frank Bellamy, you don't need me to explain his influence or contribution to Comic art illustration, this piece I believe is one of only 2. The other I believe was part of Bob Monkhouse's collection. Known as Maasai Warrior or African Warrior. Produced during a trip to Africa. The photos seriously do not do it justice. The black background just doesn't work in photos. The colours are stunning, typical of Bellamy. Purchased as you can see, many years ago, it just stopped me in my tracks and still does. Full provenance including original sale receipt and valuation from 1996.(£2500.00). Serious collectors only please who appreciate this guy's work . Framed size (w)570mm x (h)675mm.
Maasai with earring by Frank Bellamy
I've seen some others done by Frank that Nancy, Frank's widow, kept in her house until her death. They actually look to be done on calfskin vellum in my opinion, although I must say that I haven't touched the actual art. The seller is absolutely right about the photos not doing this justice as Paul Holder has photographed so many pieces that are similar and had real problems representing them in photo form.

Regarding the seller's comment about "produced during a trip" I don't believe that Bellamy did any drawing during his only short trip to Morocco. He famously never made a trip to Kenya (nor Tanzania) where the Maasai come from. So actually photo-reference and imagination produced this, in my opinion.

Is it worth £3000? I'll leave that to those who can afford this unique offering. It's great that we have the provenance coming from F. L. Dinsdale Limited, which according to a cursory glance at Google was established in 1926 and is still restoring art from a private address in the town. They used to have a shop in HorseMarket - I'm looking to Tony Smith, a local Bellamy fan, to correct me!

The second item(s) are "syndication sheets" of Garth strips. These are, I believe, the sheets sent to overseas papers to use for reprinting strips. The seller thinks they are proofs sent to Bellamy for approval, but I doubt this. Bellamy was fortunate to receive an additional income every time Garth was syndicated around the world. (If you search for "Garth" on the International reprints page of the website, you'll see it was quite extensively reprinted!).

I have seen some of these that someone else owns and their clarity is beautiful. If we ever see a full archival black and white Garth, these are where I would go first.

Garth G289-G294: The Wreckers

Garth G301-G306: The Wreckers
Garth H16-H21: The Wreckers

Garth H22-H27: The Wreckers

The seller's description states:

Frank Bellamy, Garth, PRINTERS PROOF. I have several original printers proofs of the 6 days that the illustrations would have appeared in the Daily Mirror. these were sent to Frank for his approval, before publication. [See my comments above - Norman] Printed on an "astralux" paper, they have a glossy surface. Also because of their age some have yellowed slightly. I have been a fan of Bellamy since childhood and these are part of my collection of his work. These are absolutely "one off". NOT copies, absolutely original. Note they are not the illustrations, but the very first print of how they would appear in the "Mirror". Each sheet is A3 and the 6 episodes are the same size as they would have been in the newspaper. Selecting a particular "sheet" or "week" , I agree could prove difficult, but if you have a particular "week" or "weeks", Please contact me and I will try to match up with your request. If you wanted to buy a multiple I will negotiate a final value. They are unframed and unmounted. Price is for 1 (one) original A3 print of 6 episodes..
So don't think you get all 4 sheets (one image on the seller's page is duplicated) you are buying one for £50 plus postage. Somebody was confused and asked the question on eBay and the seller kindly shared his answer:

Q: Sorry, I don't understand what you're selling here. Are you selling one of the pages with six episodes on ? Or just one of those episodes? Which one? If you need to select, how? And what size? A3 ? If I am missing something obvious, apologies. Thanks, 09-Nov-16
A: Hi, Thanks for your query, Each page is A3, with 6 episodes or strips, from what would have been the Monday to Saturday editions of the Daily Mirror. The strips are the same size as they would have appeared in the paper, for Bellamy's approval before publication. [Again, see my comments above - Norman] I would never cut them up that would be criminal !! I agree that selecting a particular "week" might be difficult, but if you have a particular favourite or favourites, let me know and I will endeavour to find. If you wanted to buy a few, I would do a deal on total cost. These are absolutely unique, the FIRST PRINT of his Garth work, not a copy, but the actual print. I have owned them for many years.
I've written to the seller for more information, if any is available and will update this if any is forthcoming.

SUMMARY 

WHAT?: Maasai with earring
WHERE?: eBay
SELLER: wexysench
BUY IT NOW: £3000.00 £2,000 or Make an Offer
ENDING PRICE: 
END DATE: 28 November 2016 28 December 2016
No of bids:
No of bidders:

SUMMARY 

WHAT?: Garth 'proof sheets
WHERE?: eBay
SELLER: wexysench
BUY IT NOW: £50.00 - choose one of 4 offered
ENDING PRICE: 
END DATE: 28 November 2016
No of bids:
No of bidders:

Original Art: Garth on eBay - 'The Angels of Hell's Gap' (J61) 1975


Bill Storie let me know that an original Garth strip drawn by Frank Bellamy is on eBay.

The seller describes it like this:

This is a genuine artwork panel, drawn by the legendary British artust, Frank Bellamy. It is dated 1975 and is drawn on artboard. I purchased it a few years ago and had it professionally framed immediately. It is a pen-and-ink piece and it attracted me as it has all Bellamy's most famous flourishes in one: the cross-hatching, lightning flashes, etc, familiar from his Doctor Who and Thunderbirds work. I will not remove the piece from it's frame as I do not wish to risk damage..


"The Angels of Hell's Gap" story ran originally in the Daily Mirror from 15 January 1975 - 2 May 1975 #(J12-J101) and was reprinted by, the sadly defunct, "All Devon Comic Collectors Club" in their Daily Strips: Collectors Club Editions No.13 [No date]  and also recoloured in the  Daily Mirror from Monday 21 February 2011 to Tuesday 12 April 2011 by Martin Baines

Here are the other pictures the seller uploaded:







And just for your enjoyment...
The opening strip from the story "Angels of Hell's Gap"

SUMMARY 

WHERE?: eBay
SELLER: magister67
STARTING BID: £250.00
ENDING PRICE: £280.00
END DATE: 15 November 2016
No of bids: 3
No of bidders: 2

Monday, 7 November 2016

Frank Bellamy and Dan Dare - Trip to Trouble!


Eagle 28 Nov 1959 Vol 10 No 41
NOTE: Difference in artwork styles by Frank Bellamy, Don Harley,
Gerald Palmer and Keith Watson

GUEST POST from David Jackson
Frank Bellamy and Dan Dare - Trip to Trouble!

In "Al Williamson and Frank Bellamy recycled" - posted here 8th September 2016 - Norman writes:
"Frank Hampson (Don Harley, Gerald Palmer, Keith Watson inter alia) created "Dan Dare" over a 10 year period before Bellamy, Harley and others took over. Bellamy, unfairly I think, gets a lot of criticism by those who were reading "Dan Dare" at that time because he was asked to upgrade things. Fortunately he agreed from the start to do it for one year and that's what his contract stated."
It seems appropriate to unpack the above quote as a follow-up to my previous posting "Frank Bellamy - Sight Unseen"

The situation described came about when Dan Dare's creator Frank Hampson relinquished hands-on involvement with the strip - having originally signed away his copyright of his creation to the publisher, no doubt under the impression that 'that was the way things were': it was sign on the dotted line or no publication.  (For a flat fee or weekly wage). Interestingly, that's not the case in book publishing - fortunately for its authors - but it was what was done in periodical publishing.

The 1985 book 'The Man Who Drew Tomorrow' by Alastair Crompton, with additional material by Alan Vince, states (p134):
"Frank [Hampson] says today that his understanding with Odhams was that he should hand over his Dan Dare strip to Frank Bellamy for as long as it took to finish "The Road of Courage" and then take the space-adventure back again."
"Frank Bellamy - Sight Unseen" previously described the ill-fated first FB rendered "Dan Dare" frame (Eagle 29 August 1959 Vol.10 No.28) whose face - only - was subsequently reworked by Don Harley on editorial edict; the original artwork being thereafter lost to posterity and never seen again (hence its inclusion under the title of that post) - unless anyone out there knows any different...
So the (I have also argued, in print, unjustified - see article below) criticism of the Frank Bellamy "Dan Dare" was there at the outset and from the top. Understandably, the fact that this occurred could of itself account for FB's subsequent feelings towards the feature.
At that point Frank Bellamy might well have wished he had never agreed to take on "Dan Dare" - even for only a year. Creativity is not just a learned competence plus time spent, it is the product of mental states facilitated by circumstances congenial to the right frame of mind. Alastair Crompton referred to FB's first "Dan Dare" page (quoted from, in part previously in the "Sight Unseen" post and this, further, here):
"So the artwork which Bellamy had spent painful hours producing to the brief he thought he had been given was altered back to something approaching Hampson's style; when Bellamy saw the changes he was devastated."
Speakeasy #109 has a three page feature "Dan Dare - Pilot of the Past" by Alan Woolcombe with Don Harley and Keith Watson which includes the following:

"For several years, Hampson ran his studio like a tight ship, working all hours, sometimes to the point of overwork and consequent ill health.  In 1959, however, a series of publishing takeovers brought in a new, economy-minded management who couldn't see the point of such a complicated set-up.  Hampson found it increasingly difficult to maintain overall control over Dan Dare, and his estrangement became complete when he discovered that they were planning to make a film of his creation without paying him a penny.  He resigned, vowing to have nothing more to do with the strip.  The new owners lost no time in disbanding the Dan Dare team. [...] It was not a happy time.  Frank Bellamy, brought in on the recommendation of Frank Hampson as his successor, had been told by Marcus Morris and Clifford Makins (assistant to Morris) "We don't want any more of these cardboard characters, we want you to give Dan Dare another dimension."  Inspired by this brief, he produced his first page, only to see Morris and Makins have Don Harley alter it because it didn't look like Dan Dare!  Nonetheless, despite being deeply hurt by this mistreatment, Bellamy did produce a very different, modern-looking Dan Dare."

The Fantasy Advertiser Vol.3 No.50 interview (hereafter FA) says (here only in part, in selected extracts compiled together):
FA: " ...You went on to "Marco Polo", but only a few months later, you switched strips again to "Dan Dare", why was this?

FB:  Well, I think Frank Hampson was getting a bit tired of "Dan Dare" by this time.  So Marcus Morris, editor of EAGLE at that time, asked me if I'd like to take over.  I had a chat with Frank Hampson, who also wanted me to take over, and under the agreement that it would be for one year only, I started drawing "Dan Dare".

FA:  But didn't you have to refer back to the Hampson version quite a bit?

FB:  Oh, yes.  But drawing is like handwriting.  It belongs to an individual so another person's is bound to be different.  You can see a vast difference between Frank Hampson, Don Harley and Keith Watson's version of "Dan Dare".  To me the difference stands out like a sore thumb, even though the uniforms are the same. ...

[There was a later editorial edict to update the whole look]:

FB:  "They asked me to redesign "Dan Dare".  The uniforms, space fleet, everything. ...

FA:  Did you have any qualms about revamping Frank Hampson's personal creation?

FB:  Oh, yes.  I didn't like doing that.  But it was a directive from upstairs - that's what they wanted, and you can only give the client what he wants, so that was it.

FA:  You drew "Dan Dare" for exactly a year.  Why did you stop?

FB:  I'd only wanted to draw it for a year.

FA:  Have there been any sets you particularly disliked drawing?

FB:  Well, once again, "Dan Dare", because I felt cramped on it, as I've said."

The business side - editorial decisions and takeovers, printing strikes and the resultant consequences - impacted badly on Frank Hampson, the "Dan Dare" 'team' and Frank Bellamy in the fallout. And some of the most devoted readers were not happy either.  It all showed the publisher also lacked insight into the minds of readers.  Arbitrary stylistic changes - not internal to the narrative - of themselves go against the willing suspension of disbelief.  In some cases the contemporary reactions of young readers and fans brought up on the Hampson "Dare" have themselves been argued out in print retrospectively; such as those published in Terry Doyle's series for Eagle Times, scanned extracts from which provide additional supporting text, and the re-borrowed title, for this post. 

Opinion by David Jackson (& Terry Doyle)
Eagle Times Vol 8: 1 Spring 1995

Opinion by David Jackson (& Terry Doyle)
Eagle Times Vol 8: 1 Spring 1995
All that said, we do have the FB "Dan Dare" to appreciate on its own terms, and as can be judged from the many examples which have appeared previously on this blog, the Frank Bellamy "Dan Dare" pages speak for themselves as stand alone works of art in their own right.
Eagle 6 Feb 1960 Vol 11 No 6

========
Thanks for all this David. It ties together a lot of thoughts on Frank Bellamy's run on "Dan Dare", surely one of the strangest productions in British comics at that time!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Frank Bellamy, inflation and crocodiles

During an email exchange with David Jackson last year, we were writing about Bellamy's other work in the Daily Mirror, illustrations for articles, and David said:

Your mention of the "inflation" crocodile rang some faint bell and I had to go and check... And having looked at both the Speakeasy and the Daily Mirror I can confirm that the printed Mirror version I have, isn't reprinted in Speakeasy - which is in fact a completely different drawing of the "inflation crocodile. Speakeasy's is, as you say, facing to the left, but isn't a 'flipped' 'mirror' (heh) 'reversal' of the Daily Mirror image - both versions are signed Frank Bellamy, and 'signwritten' "INFLATION" along each reptile's flank.

And here to prove what David has quite rightly pointed out are both images

The Daily Mirror (15 June 1972) picture accompanies an article called "What is the cause?…The Mirror verdict" by Robert Head appearing on pp.16-17

Daily Mirror 15 June 1972, pp16-17 © mirrorpix
According to his obituary (February 19 2009 in the Times), Robert Head was "the youngest City editor on a national newspaper when he was appointed in his early thirties by the Daily Mirror’s bulky, hard-drinking but shrewd and authoritative Editor Lee Howard as the first in that post on a tabloid paper. Thirty years on he was the longest serving when he finally retired from the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror, both of which he had served for seven days a week."

 The second picture David and I were talking about appeared in the "Unseen Frank Bellamy" exhibition to which I have dedicated a page on the Checklist website. The catalogue was published to coincide with the exhibition, in Acme Press' Speakeasy magazine #100 (July 1989). The long-running (10 years or so) comics fanzine-turned-professional publication folded in the early 90s. Speakeasy was founded by Richard Ashford, whom Alan Davis (the comic book artist) took to visit Frank Bellamy's widow, Nancy Bellamy. The meeting set in motion the events that resulted in the Acme Press/Speakeasy art show The event itself took place at The Basement Gallery 391 Coldharbour Lane Brixton, London SW9 8LQ between the 15th of July and 3rd of September 1989.

The Unseen Frank Bellamy catalogue
 So there you go. Never having actually compared the two I had always assumed they were the same!!! The Archivist of the Year award goes to David Jackson!

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Frank Bellamy and Star Trek

Thank you Gene Roddenberry!

As it's the 50th anniversary I thought it was time we celebrated Star Trek. I remember the day I found out it was due to be broadcast in the UK. I was laying some newspaper on the table where I sat, in school, with three others in anticipation of doing some painting. No idea what we were painting, but a photo (in black and white of course, no colour then, - we were waiting for Selim Jehan Shah, more commonly none as Eddie Shah!) stopped me in my tracks. What day was this auspicious day? Monday 2 June 1969. And the paper? The Daily Mirror (yes, the very same one that would be publishing the Bellamy-drawn "Garth" strip). How am I so certain of this? Well God bless the "Space Doubt" blog run by one Sham Mountebank, which I suspect is not her/his real name!

Radio Times 27 June 1970, p.49
My very own cut out copy (GULP!)
It s often reported that Frank Bellamy drew a comic strip of Star Trek in the UK. Well if you were trying to win on a TV quiz show the answer is .....no he didn't! The above is the nearest we get to one and it was a single colour page in the bestselling TV (BBC only) listings magazine, Radio Times. Was that all the Star Trek he did? No! But people often get confused as there was a Star Trek comic strip in the comic Joe 90, as is reported better than I could do, here on Lew Stringer's brilliant blog. When I saw that newspaper piece I was interested to see the emphasis on Mr. Spock as we all had been reading Joe 90 since January 1969 when it was launched with Captain Kurt at the helm. Go visit Lew for an explanation! And Bellamy's piece shows someone somewhere wanted to emphasise Spock's looks.

I must thank the excellent Star Trek Comics Checklist site (nice name!) as I realised I don't actually have a copy of the picture below of Kirk and Spock, and thus stole this from them. Bellamy was paid £12 for this drawing and £10 for the last one on this page (on 19 October 1971)


Radio Times 3 October 1970 - 9 October 1970, p.35
The third and last (to my knowledge) illustration that Bellamy did, was the brilliant shot of Spock and the Enterprise

Radio Times 11 Sept 1971-17 September 1971, p34

I understand that the single colour page above was part of the reason Frank Bellamy got the "Foreign Comics Award" from the Academy of Comic Book Arts in 1972 - for work published in 1971 he was awarded "Best Foreign Artist Frank Bellamy (Star Trek)". I'm sure Barry Windsor-Smith had a hand in recommending him for this and I know Archie Goodwin was in contact with him. Bellamy told Goodwin that Chris Lowder had informed him the Academy had seen a sample of his "Heros the Spartan" work and judged him more than worthy of the award. therefore his actual comic work for 1971 was concocted for the purposes of giving him the award. There were communications with Marv Wolfman regarding FB doing some work for the Marvel black and white horror comics line, but this never happened as Bellamy had his daily comic strip, "Garth", to do as well as many other assignments! Imagine, what if...!



Incidentally if you are interested in the UK Star Trek strips they were recently reprinted and included Mike Noble's gorgeous work. Volume 1 and soon to be Volume 2

Monday, 5 September 2016

Al Williamson and Frank Bellamy recycled

Bellamy's art on "Dan Dare"
Eagle 7 Nov 1959 Vol.10 No38

I recently saw a story drawn by Al Williamson, a great artist, on 'Groovy's' brilliant blog and remembered previously writing something on Williamson's 'borrowing' of others' work.Unfortunately none of my wonderful storage methods have enabled me to recover this work, so here goes again!

Referring to the first King Comics, (a short-lived comic book imprint of King Features Syndicate), "Flash Gordon" comic, the author (Mark Schultz, no mean artists himself) states:
"Produced under an intimidating deadline, the leadoff story in particular not only borrows from a Raymond but also features panels lifted cold from instalments of Frank Hampson and Frank Bellamy's Dan Dare, a British science fiction comic.  Williamson has been open about his "swipes" of the work of others, a not-uncommon practice in the comics field and one attributable to the constant deadline pressure.  He has always willingly given credit to his sources." (p.20) - Al Williamson's Flash Gordon: A Lifelong Vision of the Heroic, (2009), Flesk Publications. ISBN-13: 978-1933865126
 Indeed he did say such things, I'd previously noted in James Van Hise book "The Art of Al Williamson", that he learned about drawing using photographs from assisting John Prentice (read more here about that work) and after this kept a 'morgue file' as artists call their clippings before the Internet made it so much easier.

I should acknowledge that until today I was not aware of Eric Mackenzie's interesting article in Spaceship Away #3 - another strange coincidence whilst researching this topic. I did see the article on BritishComicArt blog and it was then that I thought 'Crow', the blog author, 'borrowed' from my article (which I suspect was in an old Facebook profile and lost now!) but as you can read in the comments, it was a coincidence! I also remember long ago in the 1970s reading (was it in Fantasy Advertiser Dez Skinn?) an article on the same subject, but that's long gone! However I think I have remembered something of this - see below.

So let's get started.

Firstly I quote Frank Bellamy's letter to Mike Tiefenbacher and Jerome Sinkovec of Menomonee Falls Gazette
Thank you for the complimentary remarks about my work. You are very kind. It means a lot to me to find acceptance in the United States. I was very interested to read about Al Williamson. As I am a great admirer of his work it gives me great pleasure to know that he is familiar with at least some of my work. Taken from Bellamy's letter to Menomonee Falls Gazette  Published in no.81, July 2nd, 1973.

Oh he certainly was Frank! The page above contains the following panel which we will see was a definite favourite of Williamson's!

Bellamy foliage from Eagle 7 Nov 1959 Vol.10 No38

Al Williamson's Flash Gordon #1, 1966 p.4
Note the shape of the foliage

Williamson à la Bellamy

Al Williamson's Flash Gordon #5, 1967 p.28
Below an enlarged panel

Hmm, that foliage looks familiar
The most frequently spotted of Williamson's 'recycled' Bellamy pieces is the spaceship "Nimbus 2" Bellamy created in the "Dan Dare" story "Project Nimbus". Frank Hampson (Don Harley, Gerald Palmer, Keith Watson inter alia) created "Dan Dare" over a 10 year period before Bellamy, Harley and others took over. Bellamy, unfairly I think, gets a lot of criticism by those who were reading "Dan Dare" at that time because he was asked to upgrade things. Fortunately he agreed from the start to do it for one year and that's what his contract stated.

Bellamy's art on "Dan Dare"
Eagle 16 April 1960 Vol.11 No16

Al Williamson's Flash Gordon #1, 1966 p.1
...and Bellamy's Nimbus 2!

Williamson loved the craft so much he used another panel
Bellamy's art on "Dan Dare"
Eagle 7 May 1960 Vol.11 No19

Enlarged panel by Bellamy
Al Williamson's Flash Gordon #1, 1966 p.15 - see below for full page

An interview mentioned in Gopherville Argus (a short-lived fanzine on Bellamy, put out by Bill Storie and Terry Doyle) quotes an interview with Williamson (original source unknown)

From Gopherville Argus #3
Off I went...tanks?...Tanks...Ah, TANKS! Take a look at the tank on the right in the first panel and then....

The well renowned Blazing Combat (1965) #2
take a look at the tank on the right above Monty's profile - to the right of the page!
Eagle 21 April 1962


While I was researching this article, I found something very interesting. Remember I said I thought there was an article in Fantasy Advertiser, Dez Skinn's fanzine of the 70s, well my memory says it included this page by Bellamy but you know what memory is like - especially after 40 years!

Bellamy's art on "Dan Dare"
Eagle 9 April 1960 Vol.11 No15
Here's the panel in question I wish to highlight

Bellamy's unique hardware
Well whilst re-reading Flash Gordon comics I tripped over this page by the wonderful Wally Wood


The Phantom #18, 1966
"Flash Gordon and the Space Pirates"
One moment what's that hardware there? It looks familiar! So Wally Wood copied Bellamy, or did Williamson sketch for Wood to ink his work. Personally I don't think this looks like a Wood original despite the excellent Grand Comics Database entry. The figure of Gordon does not look 'Wood-y' enough for my liking.
Wally Wood copies Bellamy
 And before we round off Williamson's recycling of Bellamy art, I should point you to Bellamy's art above which shows the launch of the Nimbus 2. The first panel of that page looks very similar to this one:
The Phantom #18, 1966
"Flash Gordon and the Space Pirates"
The figure here certainly looks like Wally Wood's work but the spacecraft? I don't think it was his original idea!

 Bear with me as I round off this article with two more examples of Williamson's use of the Eagle comic, although I must emphasize this is not Frank Bellamy artwork. the first is one of my favourite comic covers of all time by the UK's other Frank...Hampson.

Frank Hampson's art for Eagle 28 March 1959 Vol.10 No13
"The Galactic Galleon"
Take note of the rounded base of the craft. Williamson used the bottom of this craft as positioned in the above image, below!



Frank Hampson and Don Harley's art for Eagle 12 March 1960 Vol.11 No11

Al Williamson's Flash Gordon #1, 1966 p.15 -
see above for enlarged panel by Bellamy
and Hampson's gorgeous ship
Notice these three panes are all 'recycled'!

The craft, "Tempus Frangit" is so iconic in later "Dan Dare" stories as drawn by Keith Watson, I thought it worth showing this recycling by Williamson too. Take a look at the following - my post . Some of this is also mentioned here

Eagle Vol 14:41 12 Oct 1963
Keith Watson artwork

Creepy #112
Al Williamson art
Thanks to Eric Mackenzie's article in Spaceship Away #3 I also see now I have a copy, that Willimason borrowed from Don Harley and Bruce Cornwell

Eagle Vol 11 #52

One of a few adverts which Williamson
drew for various magazines for Union carbide
If you can add anything, let me know! And I must emphasise that I love a lot of Williamson's work and am in no way criticising his practice. Even Bellamy used reference photographs...more on that another day.