Sunday, 20 May 2018

Frank Bellamy and The Avengers Part Two

The Winger Avenger logo
First of all let me steer you away from this article if you're looking for the Marvel Superheroes. This is about the 1960s-1970s British TV programme with John Steed and Emma Peel characters.
Secondly a public health warning: You are about to be sucked into a time vortex, losing many hours of your life!

COMIC PANELS USED REVEALED!

Six years ago I took screenshots of all the Bellamy drawings I could find in one episode of The Avengers, called "The Winged Avenger". YouTube has a version here if you have never seen it, but be warned, these copyright materials can disappear as quickly as they are put up.

As a result of my blog article in 2012, Rodney Walker emailed me in 2016, having found at least one of the comics that I mentioned in my article. That's not a sign of how long it takes me to deal with email, just the time to add something a bit more substantial to the blog!

What comic am I talking about? Blackhawk, a DC Comic series (originally published by Quality Comics) and ran from January 1957 - November 1984. The issue that concerns us issue number 223, cover dated August 1966 (on sale in the USA June 1966), pencilled by Dick Dillin and inked by his regular compadre, Charles Cuidera.

Winged Avenger (31 minutes 51 secs)
The Winged Avenger (31 minutes 51 seconds)
 Thanks to Rodney, here's the cover of the comic we know the production team used!


And in the third story "Chuck's Pet Monster" we see this panel:
Blackhawk #223
Blackhawk #223

I rushed out and bought one myself and hunted eagerly for the other picture but as Rodney said to me about the second picture used in the programme:

The other one I can't identify.  But from the the Blu-ray, here's the content of the word balloons: "I must do as the masked one commands!"  And, "Quickly!  Quickly!  You have made too much noise!  Conceal yourself and leave...quickly!"
The bottom right page number in the white square is "5.".
Good luck with that one.
Cheers,
Rodney
So there's the gauntlet thrown down. Being the stubborn determined person I am, I picked it up and discovered the other comics from DC that were for sale during the same month - thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics. I might have followed this line and taken guesses, written on comic forums asking fans of DC but then it struck me. Rodney gave me another clue I hadn't tried, which to be frank seemed far-fetched!

The as-yet unidentified comic panel
The other, now, identified comic panel!

However, proving, that we should never overlook the obvious, a simple search of the text provided by Rodney led me to finding the image!

Tales to Astonish #84 panel
It was on the Comic Book Resources Marvel Forum - (thanks to "Reviresco"). Sub-Mariner is commanded to smash and bash and 'crrash!' in Tales to Astonish #84 whose cover appears here:

Tales to Astonish #84

BACK COVERS SEEN in "The Winged Avenger"

So the only mystery, if anyone is still awake out there, is the back covers shown on The Avengers. I asked Rodney about whether they appeared on Blackhawk and he replied:
You mean the Aurora slot cars?  I noticed something in the Blu-Ray Disc counterpart of that still.  It appears to be a thick enough comic that it had the title on the spine.  But they covered it up with white material which allows you to know there's writing underneath but without the clarity to make it out.  So it was probably an 80-page Giant issue of some DC title.

Unfortunately, I don't have access to the back cover of Blackhawk #223.  However, Action #340 came out the same month and it had the Mattel tanks on the back as presumably all DC Comics cover dated August, 1966, did.  That would lend support to the conjecture that the other comic they had in Steed's flat was the Blackhawk issue as it has the Mattel tanks ad on back
So I'd bought Blackhawk #223 and lo and behold, on the back cover.....



The back cover of Blackhawk #223
So that leaves us with the Aurora slot cars. I checked Jimmy Olsen #95, the only 80-Page Giant that appeared in June 1966 and that had the same cover as the above, "Switch n go battle set". But as this advert appeared all over the place at that time, here's one from Adventure #341 published February 1966. As Rodney says it's likely to be a Giant but because of the spotty nature of distribution I'm not trying to pin it down exactly.


So how did Rodney find it was Blackhawk in the first place?
I saw the image saying "Here come the Blackhawks" and set about seeing if I could find the original image.  In searching, I found your blog entry.  Next, I found this information on page 203 of Michael Richardson's "Bowler Hats and Kinky Boots: The Unofficial and Unauthorized Guide to the Avengers":
"Artist Frank Bellamy, who had made his name drawing the adventures of Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future in the Eagle comic and who was at the time the regular illustrator on the Thunderbirds strip in TV Century 21, was hired to provide several pieces of artwork for 'The Winged Avenger'.  These were copied from 35mm frames, and toward the conclusion of events, some clever editing sees the picture on the screen fade into the artwork and vice-versa.  Bellamy also provided the artwork for the front of The Winged Avenger comic featured in the episode, which was actually an issue of a DC Comics comic book with a new cover attached.  Besides providing artwork, Bellamy also designed both the Winged Avenger costume and the Winged Avenger Enterprises studio set.  In order to concentrate on his contributions to the production, Bellamy took a temporary break from the Thunderbirds strip in TV Century 21; the edition published on Saturday 22 October [actually 29 October] saw him temporarily bow out, part-way through the story 'Solar Danger'.  He returned several weeks later with a new Thunderbirds strip called 'The Big Freeze'.
"Also seen in the episode are large scans taken of panels from a copy of the DC Comics comic book Blackhawk No. 223, dated August 1966, with newly-drawn giant Winged Avenger images added.  However, the style of art indicates that these were not Bellamy's work."
So that's the story of how we finally identified those comic panels and sort of identified the rears of the comic books used)

Whilst on the subject of the Winged Avenger, in the post from 2012 I linked to the website where I stored all the Bellamy artwork from the episode including this logo.

Look above the artist and you'll see the logo
shown at the head of this article
Recently Alan Davis gave me access to the photos he rescued from Frank Bellamy's studio and amongst several interesting pieces were some of this episode including the "Pow", "Splat" and "Bam" artwork which proves these were produced by Bellamy (but the "PING" does not look like his and is missing from the photos - although this is 'arguing from silence'). But more interestingly a close up of the logo seen above as well as this lovely colour image from the programme

The Winged Avenger - Photo courtesy of Alan Davis
Seen at 31 minutes 38 seconds in the episode
.
DISSOLVES TO ARTWORK

David Jackson wrote to David Bellamy in 1977 and Bellamy's son explained:
We were supplied with a transparency and we put this in a projector and blew that up to about imperial size on a piece of board, and traced that off roughly and then he drew the illustration then. Then it was put the other way around in the film. 
Thanks for that David (and David!)

FINALLY

Mopping up a few loose ends, I'd recommend "Bully" and his articles on this episode, start here

On the excellent comics annotations site  Enjolrasworld we see a mention to the character of the artist in "The Winged Avenger" episode which appears in Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen "Black Dossier"


The cartoon on the lower left is done in the style of New Yorker cartoons from the 1950s and 1960s. The cartoon’s artist, “Arnie Packer,” is a reference to the “Winged Avenger” episode of the British TV series The Avengers. In “The Winged Avenger” an evil cartoonist named “Arnie Packer” is responsible for a series of murders.

And Ian wrote to me showing me these fan recreations which I thought brilliant, showing the influence of Frank Bellamy still goes on!

And lastly I discovered a tiny replica of the "The Winged Avenger" appeard in the Product Enterprises set in 2002. Anyone got one and tell us that it is literally the cover on a 'book'?

Product Enterprises Avengers set



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