Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Fans of Frank: Owen Claxton (Part One)

Frank Bellamy: Radio Times (3 July 1976 - 9 July 1976)
Doctor Who - The Planet of Evil

I received the following email recently from Owen Claxton -[before you search, much of his work is NSFW - links below]:

Firstly, I would like to thank and congratulate you on your work for the The Art of Frank Bellamy book. I’ve been a Bellamy fan ever since I bought the Timeview book as a young Doctor Who fan in the mid 80’s, I found that book so inspiring that I took up pen and ink drawing as a hobby. I persevered at drawing, went to art college and am now an artist myself. The recent book has given me much more info about the man, his methods, times he worked in as well as introducing me to more of his marvellous drawings, for which I’m very grateful!
He then went on to ask me about Bellamy's technique - I responded with part of the Skinn/Gibbons interview and, with hope in my heart, asked him if he'd like to write a piece for the blog on how Bellamy inspired him! So I present (in two parts) another in the series "Fans of Frank": Owen Claxton.

OWEN CLAXTON: When I started school it was quickly discovered that I was mildly dyslexic and I found learning to read and write a frustrating chore. Consequently I tended to cast aside books for comics where I could follow the story by ‘reading’ the pictures and picking up the odd word or phrase that I understood from the captions. I found it much easier to learn to read from these bite sized captions with a pictorial context than from the dense pages of text in books. Eventually I managed to progress onto the books from my favourite TV show of the time 'Doctor Who'. I also loved to draw, maybe when I grew up I could draw comics and book covers too.

Like all young Doctor Who fans of the late 70’s and early 80’s I avidly scoured bookshops for the Target "Doctor Who" novels, on the lookout for another missing title to add to my ever growing collection. The appeal of these books wasn’t just the fantastic adventures within but the sumptuous artwork on the covers. The often brooding portraits of The Doctors surrounded by monstrous alien creatures always stood out amongst the Enid Blyton’s, CS Lewis, Black Beauty and other seemingly more wholesome fare of the children’s section.

 

Andrew Skilleter cover

Jeff Cummins cover

I quickly began to recognise the styles of the various artists responsible for these alluring images, occasionally the artist would get a credit so I could put a name to a style. Jeff Cummins and Andrew Skilleter, were two that stuck in my memory, but my early favourite was Chris Achilléos. Achilléos employed a dot stipple black ink technique that fascinated me, as a typical child with no patience I couldn’t begin to imagine how long it would take to build up all those individual dots to make such accurate images. In short it seemed like magic. Reading in Doctor Who Monthly I discovered that Chris Achilléos had been asked to draw in a similar style of another artist, Frank Bellamy, I was intrigued- Frank who?

Radio Times 13-19 May 1972

In those pre-internet days there was no easy way to discover information about anything remotely ‘niche’, so I resigned myself to never hearing anymore about this mystery artist or ever seeing any of his work. Then again in DWM I read that the aforementioned Andrew Skilleter had set up a company called Who Dares to promote his striking airbrush work, also he planned to publish two art books of work by his own illustration heroes, Frank Bellamy and Frank Hampson. I was excited by this prospect, not only would I get to see Bellamy’s work but there was another mysterious Frank out there to discover too!

Frank Bellamy's son David wrote Timeview in 1985

I was 12 when Who Dares published Timeview- The Complete Doctor Who Illustrations of Frank Bellamy in 1985, I pestered my mum to order me a copy as soon as it came out. It did not disappoint. I was blown away by the artwork and pored over every one trying to work out what it was that made them so compelling. I discarded my pencils for a dip pen and tried to copy many of them. I scoured the excellent text by Frank’s son David for any clue as to how his father approached his work. There wasn’t much for a young learner to grab onto- ‘never used process white’, ‘never did meticulous tracings’, ‘liked to get the essence of a photograph’ but I took them to heart and decided that’s what I must do to improve my own drawings. I have Frank to thank for getting into good habits early on!

Chris Achilléos cover

The two major works in the book are of course the 'Day of the Daleks' Radio Times cover and the colour illustration for 'Terror of the Zygons'. Frank’s depiction of the Skarasen Loch Ness Monster on the latter is just fabulous. Although it is extremely unfair to compare it with Achilléos’ version for the Target cover of the same story, I find it unavoidable. Achilléos does wonders breathing life into what was a very clumsy and unconvincing TV model but it doesn’t look as if it could give you more than nasty bite on the leg. In contrast Frank’s Skarasen twists and rears ready to lunge down and tear its prey apart with huge razor sharp claws that break out from the background frame. In the original story this fearsome cyborg was supposed to be able to sink oil rigs, here that terrifying potential seems credible. Again it’s wrong to compare two artists, Frank has obviously been given a much freer hand by RT than Achilléos has by Target books, the latter has been told to stay as true to the images from the TV programme as possible and has discussed before his frustrations that such constraints caused him. I don’t remember the creature on TV having claws but their addition by Frank is a masterstroke. Gratitude must go to the RT art director [David Driver ~Norman] for allowing Frank a free hand. 

Radio Times (30 August 1975 - 5 September 75)
Doctor Who - Terror of the Zygons

The beast is upon us, there seems no way of getting out of its way, with bloodlust in its eye and drool swishing from its mouth as it looms out of the darkness, The Doctor looks genuinely alarmed! Frank is a master of composition, here you have the Zygon spaceship blasting off upwards, the monster pushing forwards and to the right while in top right Tom Baker fixes us with his wide eyes, yet the whole drawing hangs together. The two rectangles of the background give stability but the way their edges are broken or sometimes left out stops them having a dulling effect and the jagged lightning border, the abstract shapes to Tom’s right and the zig-zagging wave of sea foam help to move the eye around the drawing and keep the two halves in harmony. 

Radio Times (1-7 January 1972)
Doctor Who - Day of the Daleks

On the 'Day of the Daleks' cover he brilliantly uses negative space on the left to break up the square format, the strong diagonal of the speech bubble along with the foreground sucker arm breaking the right border adds dynamism and the circle, which is not drawn but painted in by colour alone, provides focus. The composition is so perfect you don’t notice that Jon Pertwee doesn’t appear to have any ears. [He had a lot of hair covering them -~Norman] Also, note the Dalek eye at the centre of the circle, a lesser artist such as myself would be tempted to add more detail to that which would be the wrong thing to do as it would pull focus and send The Doctor into the background. One of the hardest things for an artist to learn is economy- when to make a mark or to leave it out- it’s something that can only really come from experience and a lot of drawing. Beauty comes from simplicity. The more simply something can be drawn, the more beautiful it will be. There are never any unnecessary lines or marks in Frank’s work, if something like a Dalek eye can be convincingly suggested by just a black oval and a bit of flat cream colour then why add anything more? Something you see a lot of in his work is a half defined face, the other half being lost in shadow or bleached out by bright light or even cropped off entirely. This is economy, you only need half a face to read the expression and if you’ve got tight deadlines you don’t have time to render everything so you must decide what’s the simplest way to get the story across dramatically and effectively. Less is more, it allows the viewer to fill in the gaps with his or her own imagination.

With Frank as inspiration and the guidance of very supportive art teachers at school I managed to get myself into Edinburgh College of Art in 1991. By the early 90’s, 'Doctor Who' had finished, Target books were running out of stories to publish and no one at art school knew who Frank Bellamy was. Having come to the painful conclusion that no one, particularly girls, was impressed by my extensive knowledge of creaky old TV shows and now long dead illustrators, I decided to put such childish interests behind me and try to become a cultured and sophisticated grown up. At art college I immersed myself in the work of the old masters and various 'Art-isms' and I swapped drawing Daleks for nude models. There are many smug artists that will tell you the hardest thing to draw is the human figure, that’s because they’ve never tried drawing a Dalek! I was lucky enough to win a Scottish Education Trust Visual Arts award as a student (the Trust set up by the late Sir Sean Connery with the money he made from Bond) and since graduating I have worked as a freelance artist and occasional illustrator. I have never forgotten my debt to Frank Bellamy and Chris Achilléos for inspiring a young lad to start taking drawing pictures seriously.

 
Thanks so much Owen - good to know Frank is still inspiring people! 
Owen kindly sent me two images which are pertinent as they depict Doctor Who subjects:
 
Dalek Life Drawing Class - Owen Claxton

 
David Tennant as Doctor Who
by Owen Claxton
 
And I love his clock face Doctor Who but obviously 12 might limit the imagination! An alternative to Lee Sullivan's ever expanding "Usual Suspects"!
 
Twelve Doctors by Owen Claxton

LINKS 

 
[Part Two to follow shortly]

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Home Notes revisited

 

Home Notes 8 February 1953

Home Notes was a magazine for which Frank Bellamy produced 'head shots', i.e. a man and a woman engaged in conversation or giving each other the cold shoulder. In an interview he stated that after getting connected with International Artists - the agency who represented him - he got "two love story illustrations for Home Notes, a woman's magazine," as well as commissions for other magazines such as Boy's Own Paper, Lilliput and Men Only.

I thought I'd found all Bellamy's art in this magazine but as usual, one can never close down a search! Shaqui, a fellow researcher, recently tripped over another Home Notes illustration and took a quick picture for me. I'll upload a better one should I ever own one, but until then....

I've added the details to the Checklist:

HOME NOTES (8 February 1952)
"Night of Terror" by Mary James

  • p.27 B&W page illustration "'Shivering with fright, I knew someone was behind me. I screamed...'". - see Article
    Home Notes 8 February 1953

 

Sunday, 22 August 2021

ORIGINAL ART: Life Study

Life Study - side view seated

Which would you rather have? A fur coat or three Bellamy original artworks? 

Someone contacted me recently having discovered the blog (let's call her "jen_jen33", for reasons you'll soon discover). She let me know she owned three artworks by Frank Bellamy. But what was fascinating was the story of how she came by them. Like a lot of us, we've seen our parents' homes sold for care costs. She inherited the pictures on this page and let me know how her mother received them back in the late 70s. 

"jen_jen33" said: "I have just inherited these from my Mum who was given them by Frank's wife in exchange for a fur coat in the 70s.  They both lived in Geddington, Northants". She went on to tell me, "My mother was an art (and fashion) teacher in Kettering, but lived in Geddington where Nancy did.  And yes, I think you must be right, the fur coat/picture exchange probably happened in the late 70s.

"jen_jen33"has decided to part with the life study shown here but to keep the two Garth strips which she has kindly shared with me/us! The life study is now on ebay. It has already has a bid for £100. It's described as:

Frank Bellamy original signed life drawing from 1970s. In perfect condition. Frank Bellamy 1970s life drawing.  Excellent condition and framed properly.   Was a gift from artist's wife.

The two Garth strips - which I repeat are NOT for sale - are from two stories:

Garth: Freak out to Fear" - H202

H202 is from "Freak Out to Fear" story which ran which ran in the Daily Mirror (6 June 1974 - 27 September 1974 #H132-H227)

Garth: "The Bride of Jenghiz Khan" H240

H240 is from "Bride of Jenghiz Khan" which ran in the Daily Mirror (28 September 1974 - 14 January 1975 #H228-J11)

Thanks again to jen_jen33 for being so kind to allow me to share this fascinating story.



AUCTION SUMMARY

LIFE STUDY
WHERE?: eBay
WHO?: jen_jen33
STARTING BID: £100
NO. OF BIDS: 13
ENDING PRICE:£255
END DATE: Sunday 29 August 2021

Thursday, 12 August 2021

ORIGINAL ART: Various garth strips from Comic Book Auctions Limited

Garth: The Wreckers G287 + G296

This time's auction from Compalcomics features multiple Frank Bellamy originals from the Daily Mirror strip "Garth". The listings are at both Compalcomics and TheSaleroom

GARTH: The Wreckers: G287 and G296

Lot 106 is described as:

Garth: 'The Wreckers' two signed original artworks (1973) by Frank Bellamy for the D. Mirror 3/13 December 1973. Indian ink on board. 21 x 17 ins (2)
This story is the one that sent me down a rabbit hole of discovery of the differences between the Daily Record in Scotland and the Daily Mirror in England (and presumably wales and Northern Ireland?). These are two nice examples of bellamy's composition and how he'd use the space he felt was needed - borders and no borders; shadow backgrounds etc.

GARTH: The Bride of Jenghiz Khan: H261

Garth: The Bride of Jenghiz Khan H261
 Lot 108 is described as 

Garth: 'Bride of Jenghiz Khan' original signed artwork (1974) by Frank Bellamy for the D Mirror 6 November 1974. Indian ink on board. 21 x 17 ins

I love the foreground vultures in this strip, "The Tower of the Vultures" Jim Edgar, the writer of these strips certainly had imagination and probably heard of the Tibetan practice of sky burials - but Garth and his bride are not yet dead! 

GARTH: The Angels of Hell's Gap: J58 + J59

Garth: The Angels of Hell's Gap: J58 + J59

 Lot 112 - I love this story but won't be bidding for these consecutive episodes.  I always felt this story (and Ghost Town) had a freedom and joy about the drawing - and westerns were one of Bellamy's favourite topics to handle.  

Garth: 'The Angels of Hell's Gap' two original consecutive artworks (1975) drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy for the D Mirror 12/13 March 1975. Indian ink on board. 21 x 17 ins (x2)
I suspect there are others who love this story so it will be interesting to see how much this goes for. 

GARTH: The Beautiful People: K35

Garth: The Beautiful People: K35
This is a nice piece for those who like scuba diving ...or just looking at how Bellamy handles waves and water!

Garth: 'The Beautiful People' signed original artwork (1976) by Frank Bellamy for the D. Mirror 11 February 1976. Indian ink on board. 21 x 17 ins
As usual I'll add these to the spreadsheet and below when the results come in. I'm curious to see whether the highlight of "The Art of Frank Bellamy" illustrators Special makes a difference and reminds people who this great artist was. [end of book plug]



AUCTION SUMMARY

GARTH: The Wreckers: G287 and G296
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
STARTING BID: £450
ENDING PRICE: £760
END DATE: Sunday 29 August 2021

GARTH: The Bride of Jenghiz Khan: H261
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
STARTING BID: £230
ENDING PRICE: £370
END DATE: Sunday 29 August 2021

GARTH: The Angels of Hell's Gap: J58 and J59
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
STARTING BID: £450
ENDING PRICE: £780
END DATE: Sunday 29 August 2021

GARTH: The Beautiful People: K35
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
STARTING BID: £230
ENDING PRICE: £340
END DATE: Sunday 29 August 2021


Wednesday, 28 July 2021

The Art of Frank Bellamy: Illustrators Special #11 IT'S PUBLISHED!!!!

"A unique British trailblazer"

The Art of Frank Bellamy (Illustrators Special #11) Front Cover

In March 2020, I got a phone call while walking in my local town. I ducked down an alleyway to be able to hear Geoff West of Book Palace, (I'm not as young as I used to be and that background noise of traffic is hard work!). He asked me if I fancied writing an Illustrators Special on ......Frank Bellamy! Some of you may know I've been part of the Illustrators team in a minor way since about issue 3. Now issue 34 of this quarterly 'bookazine' has just been published as well as, along the way, eleven Special issues focussing on a topic or artist! (you can see a full listing here). 

But the focus today is on the Frank Bellamy Special

"Robin Hood" from Swift Vol. 3:25 (23 June 1956)

The work includes a page introduction by Oliver Frey, who I have quoted at the head of this article, who also explains how Bellamy was truly British, with no influence from America or Europe (which I liked and suspect Bellamy would too!). 

"Thunderbirds" from TV21 #115

Then you get an overview of Bellamy's life and career from the start to the end, written from scratch by yours truly. I decided this would be a great opportunity to discipline myself into focussing on essential information only - not everyone cares that Frank and Nancy were great lovers of all things Spanish and took a trip there in May 1959, taking in the southern region of Andalucía! I double-checked all my facts - as this is likely to be the longest biography of Frank Bellamy for a while, depending on who takes up the baton! Experience taught me that many errors slip into narratives about the artist over time, so I was extra careful!

"The Winged Avenger" from "The Avengers" TV series

We managed to get a load of scans of original artwork - and here I have to say a HUGE thank you to Paul Holder and many others too numerous to repeat here, but who are listed in the book. If they hadn't come forward, the work would be full of work scanned by me from my collection of books and magazines, tears, thumbed pages and all! I've sampled some work here, but the print versions are at a higher resolution which you can't appreciate until you see it! You will see loads of things not seen before- even on this blog - which illustrate how Bellamy was so talented, flexible, imaginative and inspirational.

"The Doomsmen" - Garth J161

Lastly I re-wrote this website's listing of Frank's work so you can have a bibliography of his works which fits legibly on three pages due to the brilliant designer who put this all together, Diego Cordoba - thanks Diego for being so amenable to design suggestions. 

Portakabin (4 sided 2 page colour advertising brochure)
I got my copy this morning and thought, although "un-boxing" is fashionable, I'd just do a flick through in my back garden, thus the birds, kids and car noises! Book Palace have one on the Art of Frank Bellamy page which gives a great overview, click on Take a Peek


And finally here's the back cover. Any other variants you've seen only exist electronically as early drafts! Yes, including the one with my name in a speech bubble!

Here's the true back cover:

The Art of Frank Bellamy (Illustrators Special #11) Back Cover

 
COMMENTS ON THE BOOK:
 
August 2021: Page 3: Oliver Frey says: 
"My first exposure to this exciting world of adventure was in late 1956 when, as a boy of eight, just arrived from Switzerland and with no grasp of English, I leafed through a copy of Eagle. It was a turning point in my life, and Frank Bellamy’s work proved seminal to my own career in illustration".

The reference to "1956" implies that FB was seen in Eagle when he actually started in October 1957. Prior to that, he was drawing in Swift [DJ]

August 2021: Page 28 Caption: 

"This is early Bellamy, before he started using stippling, but was still the work of an accomplished artist"

In fact he used stippling in the first frame of the first episode of "Monty Carstairs" and further developing practically in weekly episodes from then on. [DJ]

August 2021: Page 96:

Other opportunities were presenting themselves and one such commission enabled Bellamy to contribute an unusual villain to the TV series The Avengers. The episode in question was titled, ‘The Masked Avenger’ and revolved around Emma Peel and John Steed investigating a series of ruthless murders of businessmen who, unusually, are killed by a comic character come to life—the Winged Avenger

Of course this should read 'was titled 'The Winged Avenger' [DJ]

August 2021: Page 142: Bibliography:

The Thunderbirds listing starts part way through, not from the series beginning [DJ]. It should read:

‘Heros the Spartan: The Slave Army’ Eagle (27 February 1965- 24 July 1965)

  1. ‘Thunderbirds: Forest Inferno’ TV Century 21 (15 January 1966 - 26 February 1966)
  2. ‘Thunderbirds: White Rhino Rescue’ TV Century 21 (5 March 1966 - 16 April 1966)
  3. ‘Thunderbirds: Shoot Down the TC193’ TV Century 21 (23 April 1966 - 4 June 1966)

‘Thunderbirds: The Atlantic Tunnel’ TV Century 21 (11 June 1966 - 13 August 1966)

My wife gave me wonderful feedback on the Special and mentioned these typos:

  • p. 10 "as he was soon hard at work producing paintings"
  • p.19 "The very first place he saw was Bride Lane and on his list was Norfolk Studio, Bride Lane"
  • p.82 "When he picked up the phone to enquire whether or not Bellamy would be available to illustrate Stingray, it was with the certain knowledge"
  • p.94 "‘The Atlantic Tunnel’ allowed Bellamy to make full use of the visual acreage afforded by the double-page spread format"
  • p.104 "Bellamy’s usual attention ensured the art was always underpinned with the correct historical detail."
  • p.106 - Two occurrences of Radio Times not being completely italicised
  • p.114 "as the train rattled back to on its journey west."
  • p.114 "Eventually the logistics proved too much"
  • p.114 "Asked about what the responsibilities"

Thanks darling!

 

:


BOOK PALACE BLURB

Frank Bellamy is an artist whose work reflects much of the century that he inhabited. Born a year before the end of the First World War, his art documented an age of conflict, exploration, technological advancement, social change and an age which could envisage worlds as yet undiscovered as well as worlds long departed deep beneath the sands of time.

His story follows the course of many of his contemporaries, a driven determination to secure a living as a illustrator, bolstered by sporadic exposure to art tuition, stints in a provincial studio “learning on the job”, and the “pilgrimage to London” and more specifically Fleet Street, which in the 1950s was a veritable Mecca for aspiring illustrators.

What makes Bellamy's story so particular is his development into a pre-eminent graphic artist. (Robin Hood, King Arthur, Heros the Spartan, Montgomery, Churchill, Fraser of Africa, Thunderbirds and Garth.)

From a relatively staid and unremarkable (yet highly competent) artist to a ground-breaking master of the comic strip, his rise to fame presents not just a fascinating tale about his life and work but also the story of UK comics from what was a golden age through to the influencing of the next generation of comic artists—and creatives in other fields—who would succeed him.

Typical of those who fell under Bellamy's spell is Oliver Frey who graces this edition with his introduction to the work of Frank Bellamy.

More like a book than a magazine, illustrators is the art quarterly devoted to the finest illustration art ever published. It guides you through the stories behind the artists and their art, with features written by some of the leading authorities on this important art form.

As well as building into an indispensable reference library, illustrators gives readers an insight into the creative process, from idea to sketch to painting, and from painting to the image seen by millions.

Truly fabulous artwork abounds in every issue, much of the art taken from scans of the original work.

This illustrators Special Edition limited to just 1000 copies worldwide. A Book Palace Books publication.

Authors: Norman Boyd, Oliver Frey (intro)
Artist: Frank Bellamy
Publisher: Book Palace Books, July 2021
Number of pages: 144
Format: Soft Cover; Full Colour illustrations
Size: 9" x 11" (216mm x 280mm)
ISBN: 9781913548087

Buy here: The Art of Frank Bellamy (UK) (USA)




Thursday, 1 July 2021

Unknown Frank Bellamy #17 & 18: Aliens

Continuing our look at the 'unknown' Bellamy artwork with thanks to Alan Davis for giving permission to use these images

Used by permission of Alan Davis

Used by permission of Alan Davis


Alan Davis' images above, show how he found two of Bellamy's Polaroids which were 'snaps' of the TV screen when Bellamy's images appeared and Alan added them to the photo of the original art. This gave me the clue that these two aliens appeared on the BBC.  But so did the following correspondence, addressed to Bellamy:


Letter addressed to Frank Bellamy 18 May 1960

So here we have proof Frank Bellamy was asked to produce artwork of two aliens. In the Radio Times edition  (15 May 1960 - 21 May 1960) on the 13 May 1960 (p12 of the Radio Times) we find:

FOCUS at 5:10pm
  • Vera McKechnie introduces Your Monday Magazine.
  • Life on Other Worlds examined by Tom Margerison
  • An Introduction to Make-up with Richard Blore
  • Fencing: A demonstration of electric epee, electric foil Hungarian sabre and classical Japanese sword play. - See Junior Radio Times
  • Would You Believe It? Illustrated by Bill Hooper.
  • Robin Adler's Camera Club
  • The Ideal Four

Contributors

  • Presenter: Vera McKechnie
  • Item presenter (Life on Other Worlds): Tom Margerison
  • Item presenter (An Introduction to Make-up): Richard Blore
  • Artist (Would You Believe It?): Bill Hooper
  • Item presenter (Robin Adler's Camera Club): Robin Adler
  • Performers: The Ideal Four
  • Producer: Leonard Chase

Focus ran for 50 minutes, so  therefore 5 (or is it 6?) items listed would likely mean the space article was ten minutes long. You can also see that the letter above came from the person who produced the show in which Bellamy's drawings appeared. Interestingly, he is not credited, but I expect that's because he wasn't the "artist" that week but the "illustrator" for a topic that was difficult to film without images!

The Junior Radio Times section, mentioned in the listing often featured an article from the Focus programme, but not in this particular issue - which is a shame, because that would have been Bellamy's first work for the magazine, if the aliens had been reproduced in print. But "Star Trek" was his first.

Interestingly Frank Bellamy's aliens came from "the same design lineage as those at the close of [his] tenure on "Dan Dare"", said David Jackson when we talked about this article.

The Bellamy "Dan Dare" aliens were designed for the "Project Nimbus" story, first in the form of a machine-robot weapon, which made its appearance in Vol.11 No.20 (14 May 1960)

Bellamy's alien tech - Eagle Vol 11:20

Bellamy's alien tech - Eagle Vol 11:20

There is another design in the next issue and the aliens themselves appear in No.22 to No.26.

 

Bellamy's aliens - Eagle Vol 11:22

More bellamy Alien tech, from Eagle Vol 11:21

Thanks to David for reminding me!


Monday, 14 June 2021

GARTH STRIPS ANALYSED: SUNDANCE

To start what might become a series, David Jackson and I were discussing what involvement John Allard had in the Garth strips which Bellamy illustrated. We've looked at the first story, "Sundance". It's been fascinating examining Garth panel-by-panel and seeing that John Allard added stuff to every strip in the story (except six, we think). I should add I am not about to show you every single episode - for copyright reasons. So I should get through a 'fair use' argument if it ever comes up! 

WE COULD REALLY DO WITH YOUR HELP - can you scan any ORIGINAL artwork you have? It's so much easier to analyze the artwork if we can. 

 
"Garth: Sundance" E150 John Allard art

To start let's get the first 12 strips in this story out of the way as they are solely John Allard (E150 through to E161). In the one above we can see a trademark Allard device - the 'dashes' in the sky applied through ink but also a lack of white space.

Here's the first Bellamy drawn strip E162 with E163 and E164

"Garth: Sundance" E162-E164 Frank Bellamy + John Allard art


However, as you'll soon see, Allard's imprint is on almost all strips in the Sundance story. As David said to me, Allard appears to add:
  • Screentone: A mechanical tint to shadows, background, skies and as 'local colour' to fabrics
  • Background elements: sky-tone 'dashes'
  • Background elements: Landscapes including lines of hills; waterfalls; trees and wigwams!
Taking the three images as an example, which are the first three where Bellamy joins the strip:
  • E162 - Panel 1 and 3 have a screentone added to clothing and also the trees in Panel 3 are drawn by Allard.
  • E163 - Panel 1  and 3 have the same tone added to Garth's trousers and Panels 1 and 3 have trees and background landscape added by Allard.
  • E164 - Panel 3 has background trees added by Allard. Also Panel 3 has tone added. Having had access to the original art in the past here's my photo to show that added tone/tint/Zip-A-Tone/Letraset that Bellamy never used in his career. 

"Garth: Sundance" Panel 3 of Garth E164
 
Artwork in newspaper strips tends to be drawn in pencil, followed by ink (Bellamy tended to sketch in outlines for himself and do the detail when inking) and the process can include ways the artist wishes to lighten from dark to light (or vice-versa) such as cross-hatching, 'spattering' (with a toothbrush for example) drybrush, or, as Bellamy brilliantly did in his artwork - stippling. But another way of showing texture might be to add Zip-a-Tone or Letratone, both screentone effects. Allard used it quite often as we shall see - and even misses it on Garth's trousers in E195!
 
"Garth: Sundance" E175
E.175 is interesting in how Bellamy left blank space only to have Allard add two pieces of mechanical tint. The sky-tone tint in panel #3 solidifying the background framing device, is otherwise so minimal to be hardly worth doing. As David said to me, Bellamy could have left the vegetation out of the first panel and also the background in the third, but didn't.  I wonder if his aim was to stymie Allard, but as can be seen he didn't succeed! Also have a close look at panel #3. Bellamy appears to have drawn the 'foreground' wigwams and Allard appears to have added more behind them! - Well spotted David - who also mentioned that stray ink blob in panel #3 which we guess is a shield.

Also that framing device in panel #3, which David pointed out to me, was like a device Fortunino Matania used (for example in Great Stories from History illustrated by Fortunino Matania. Sidgwick and Jackson Ltd, 1970: pages 56-57). I can't find anything else like it in Matania's work but would love to know if anyone has seen anything similar or have you seen it in other artists' works? Bellamy uses it again in E175 #3, E180 #2, E183 #1, E186 #2, E188 #1, E190 #2, E191 #1, E205 #3, E216 #2, E234 #3. Allard added a similar effect in E194 #2 with just tint behind Falling Leaf's portrait! In E226, Bellamy adds his 'swirls' in the same framing device, presumably to stymie Allard again!


Garth: Sundance E182 - Letraset on Garth's face (or FB stippling?)
Was Bellamy able to produce any strips by himself in the Sundance story? We're pleased to say 'yes'!E180, E182, E183, E184, E185 and E203 - so that's 6 strips out of 75 - drawn by Bellamy where we can't see any Allard artwork or tone being added.  [He could also have drawn of E222 but we're not sure using the reproductions we have - again the original art may be easy to 'read' ]
 
If you've followed us to this point, you must be interested in details too We also counted 21 individual strips without the addition of Allard pen and ink drawing (- i. e. where he only applied mechanical tone and no linework) were 21
Garth: Sundance E186 - Allard hills and sky 'dashes'

In E186 frames #1 and #3 we see Allard's hand in the added hills, clashing with Garth's profile; but in the second frame the background hills by FB are overlayed by 'overspill' Letratone over the middle-ground cavalry, presumably in error. In E208 we see Allard draw tracks, and as David said to me "though looking down on the Indian tracker, from the point of view of the officer on horseback, the b/g could have been completely blank (readers don't need to see the tracks to follow the story).

I asked David about E209 as I wasn't sure that Allard drew the wigwam and waterfall as he would have had to 'grab' some space from the Bellamy drawing. He replied  
"Not that John Allard couldn't insert 'negative' white space with his use of process white.  I'd think the background marks indicating fir trees at the left edge of the first frame are John Allard (the FB figures and horse, ground and trees read clearly  without any further b/g) - the waterfall is in optical competition with the flank of the horse, so the falls would not be FB in this frame (as with middle frames of E.204 and E.207 and the first frames of E.208 and E.213) - compare the established design by FB in E.199 to E.201 and looks also to be FB (except the sky dashed tone) in E.212.
 
I wonder if Allard didn't see value in leaving white space as, a glance at earlier stories illustrated by him appear very 'cluttered' at first glance, in my opinion, where Bellamy left white space, or added circular 'cameos' to highlight, or enclose figures. Every space seems filled by something where Bellamy was a consummate designer, in the service of legibility, leaving balancing elements to his strips and illustrations. We should add that John Allard definitely did all the lettering on this strip all the way through to Bellamy's death in 1976.

David also pointed out:
I notice E179 has (seemingly, to me, redundant) the identity trope about Garth and the surname "O'Hara" in this story; although Falling Leaf calls him Garth (and Pehizizis in E191 for example) many times, as does Sitting Bull (e.g. E227).
 Some of our discussions were around how difficult it is to identify who did what - which isn't surprising. I thought in strip number E166 the left-hand side wigwams work as a composition  but on the right of this frame and the other frames' wigwams looked awful. I mentioned to David that 
"Allard did the poles in a linear frame in one of his episodes at the start of the story (E152) which appears in panel #1 of E166 and I wonder if maybe Bellamy would have emphasized the 'sundance' Indian, and so left out the wigwams on the left. However, if he did, that space would be too tempting for Allard! But then, Allard added the one on the right of the frame and maybe that linear pole frame too! Oh dear!" 
David replied
"All that, exactly spells out the problem.  It seems impossible that the same hand could have drawn the wigwams at the right and those on the left.  Same goes too for the linear poles structure in this FB frame compared to the second of JA's Sundance opening centre frame.  I doubt FB would have pencilled those in for JA to ink or as reference". 
Norman: "E222 = hills query?"
David: "Difficult.  Line and stipple hills look FB, as also dark hatch above wigwams, but vertical hatch hill at right obscure/ blend heads of soldiers as does in next frame horses and figures profile"

You get the idea, how we went back and forth!

E218 caused a lot of back and forward discussion - see below

Garth: Sundance E218

Enlarge this image (excusing the "spine curl" on the left in my scan!)  and you'll see an interesting effect, Custer and the men in the foreground are visually distanced from the rest of the column and the trees. It's  perspective shown by changing the tone, much like in a colour painting, where hills at a distance are a lighter colour than those in the foreground. To me it looks like some Letratone placed over Bellamy's original artwork. it also occurs in strips  E219 (#1), E221 (#1 and #2), [E224 (#1)?], E225 (#1) , E227 (#1) and looks to be transparent to allow the artwork through. We explored Letratone on the Internet until our eyes went all funny, but couldn't find any proof. Can you help? Was/Is there a Letratone that allows the user to place a tonal pattern over the art but not hide it completely?  We know that some Letratone was available in WHITE.

We found some awful examples where Allard added backgrounds which just weren't needed and worse detracted from a nice frame. But we also suspected there are places where Bellamy left some space after seeing how Allard performed and that's what Allard did -filled that space. We also spotted E177 #3 where the background appears to be unfinished!
 
If you want to explore further and follow along, I've created a spreadsheet showing the details with some added notes where pertinent. These are always up for debate, especially as we are working on printed copies, not originals - the best reproduction so far has been the Titan book published in 1984, Garth Book One: The Cloud of Balthus (London: Titan Books, 1984) which had 96 pages, an introduction and checklist of Garth strips. It reprinted Sundance, Cloud of Balthus, The Orb of Trimandias, Wolfman of Ausensee. In some paces we found backgrounds a bit faded, which is odd given the great reproduction elsewhere. Note that Titan reprinted the original strips (including nudity). The second Titan book is listed in detail here.

Do feedback as to whether this is worthwhile as we have started on the other stories in which Allard participated but as you can appreciate they take a lot of time and work. I must say a huge thank you to David Jackson and Paul Holder, true friends, whose eyesight is still functional enough to do such a detailed analysis! If you have any originals from this story or hi-res scans I'd love to see and share them?