Monday 17 June 2024

Frank Bellamy and David the Shepherd King

Let's look at one of his many strips that has not been reprinted (yet): "The Shepherd King: The Story of David" to give it its full title
Eagle 14 March 1959 (Vol.10:11)

Eagle 21 March 1959 (Vol.10:12) Original Art

First image of David
EAGLE (Volume 9:37 - 9:52 and 10:1 - 10:15, (13 September 1958 - 27 December 1958 and 3 January 1959 - 11 April 1959) saw a beautiful interpretation in 32 episodes of the biography of "David the Shepherd King" on the back page in full colour. The comic, begun by the Reverend Marcus Morris (and Frank Hampson, "Dan Dare" creator) to combat the growing tide of horror and crime comics being introduced from the United States had a weekly strip on the back cover covering such saints and biblical characters as St. Paul, St. Patrick, "Mark, The Youngest Disciple", but also historical characters such as Alfred the Great, Baden-Powell, Walter Raleigh and Nelson.

Eagle 13 September 1958 (Vol.09:37)
Frank Bellamy had just come from his first colour assignment on that very back page, telling the story of "The Happy Warrior" (Winston Churchill) which was also written (as was "King Arthur" and "Robin Hood" in Swift), by Clifford Makins. After the 6 September 1958 issue ends the series with a full page portrait of Churchill, Bellamy began "The Shepherd King" written by Makins.Interestingly Bellamy changed the opening panel  - showing David's portrait - as he grew older in the strip. 

Second image of David

It's well known now that Bellamy always presented his editor with drawings showing how he perceived the characters in his strips before he started. "David" is no exception. Below we can see Bellamy shows the sheepskin coat, girdle, staff and inner garment David will be dressed in.  Notice in the bottom right we also see a "script" by which I think Bellamy means a "scrip" or "shepherd's bag" in which shepherd's would carry food, or small tools, or a flute-type instrument. Then we also see a gourd for water, and a short sword to defend himself against wild animals. Bellamy also shows how David's sandals would be tied as well as various half-length portraits and a rear view too. It's interesting to wonder why this is not in full colour, but only has some shading in blue on one side of David's face.

 

Character design sheet

In Volume 7 Number 3 (Autumn 1994) of the Eagle Society's  Eagle Times (pp.49-53) Terry Doyle featured "Frank Bellamy: Illustrated guide - The Shepherd King - character studies" which was Part 6 of his series on Bellamy. The designs below were borrowed from Alan Whitehead by Terry, as was the sheet above. I wonder whether these were inserted into a folder for the editor, knowing how Bellamy knew all about presenting briefs to clients.


Another thing we now know is that Bellamy also took photographs of his artwork before handing them over to his editor. Thanks to Alan Davis we still have some of these to compare to the published artwork. 

Eagle 1 November 1958 (Vol.09:44)

Polaroid of the artwork

Third image of David

The colours are so vibrant in the photogravure comic and Bellamy used props he owned - such as the cheetah skin in the above panel. Of course the earliest most famous incident is when David confronts Goliath and beats him using not only his confidence in God but also his shepherd skills. Both the last panels showing David stooping for a stone and challenging Goliath are drawn next to Goliath looking bigger and 'pointing' down to David. In the episode where David triumphs, we feel the impact of the stone on Goliath's forehead as Bellamy both draws a highlight of the stone's path and because the artist makes the giant wince so much. But the ultimate panel shows the power of the stone's impact as Goliath flies backwards!


Eagle 22 November 1958 (Vol.09:47)

Eagle 29 November 1958 (Vol.09:48)

Fourth image of David

We follow David's adventures of calming King Saul's moods and his meeting Jonathan, the King's son. David's followers support him loyally and after many battle scenes, Bellamy changes the introductory panel to showing the crowned King David. 

But before this I want to highlight one other piece of trivia brought to me by David Slinn. Looking at the episode below from Eagle Volume 10 Number 9, we see a lovely portrait of David saying "The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places! How are the mighty fallen!" (which comes from 2 Samuel 1:19) and is his lament on hearing Saul and Jonathan have been killed.



Eagle 28 February 1959 (Vol.10:9)
A forgotten comic in the UK was called Zip. It was a weekly comic published by Odhams Press, launched on 4 January 1958, as a venue for the original strips from Mickey Mouse Weekly after Odhams lost the rights to Disney characters. It ran for 85 issues before it was merged into Swift on 10 October 1959. Several strips carried over but one that did not was "Captain Morgan" drawn by Colin Andrew
"Captain Morgan" Zip 16 May 1959
It looks to me that Colin Andrew was closely watching Bellamy's work - especially in that last panel! David wrote:

Around two years previously, in the confines of Hulton House, there had been “management murmurings” regarding perceived similarities between Colin Andrew’s, ‘Captain Morgan – Buccaneer of the Spanish Maine’, appearing in Odhams’ Zip, and ‘The Travels of Marco Polo’ currently on Eagle’s back-page. While preliminary advice was sought from company lawyers; as I recollect, Frank simply viewed the fellow illustrator as someone destined for a successful future… as, would later be proved, in the pages of Boys’ World, Eagle, TV Century 21, Lady Penelope, Solo and Countdown/TV Action.  [...] On 14 March 1959, Odhams Press bid for and acquired all the major shareholdings in the Hulton Press.  Auguring, the more momentous 1961 Mirror Group take-over of Odhams – including the Longacre Press – that, to all intents and purposes, nullified any awkward repercussions from “swipes”, purloined plots or blatant breach of copyright.

For anyone who wants the listing of Andrews' stories, the first story in the series:

“The Prison Ship”, appeared in Zip, issue dated 15 November 1958; followed by “The Treasure of Porto Bello”, 7 February 1959; with “Tortugas Trap!”, beginning on 9 May 1959 - with the one above being the second episode of that story. Zip returned to newsagents after the summer printing strikes, week-ending 22 August 1959, the delayed episode was the conclusion of the ‘Captain Morgan’ stories.

An interesting footnote in the story of how Bellamy inspired fellow artists. 

Eagle Times Spring 2017

Meanwhile back to Makins and Bellamy's "The Shepherd King". In Spring 2017 Eagle Times published the first of three parts of "Steve Winders examines Clifford Makins and Frank Bellamy's strip about King David and compares it to the biblical accounts of his life". Steve has certainly covered the comparison between biblical sources and the necessarily abbreviated and censored life story very well. The three articles appeared in Eagle Times Vol. 30: 1 (Spring 2017) plus Vol. 30: 2 (Summer 2017) and finally Vol. 30: 3 (Autumn 2017). An excellent article.

Lastly before I leave the subject, did you know that Swift (the younger people's comic from Hulton) also ran a strip on David. Here's an example of the half page strip from the first issue of Swift from 1954.

Swift 20 March 1954 (Vol1.No1), p14 


The strip ran until 11 September 1954 (Vol 1: 26) after which its title changed to "David and Jonathan". This strip ran until 19 March 1955. The following week "Picture Stories from the Bible" began - which were illustrations with text boxes, or libretto, rather than comic strip.

 

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Frank Bellamy and 1951 Coach Guide

Summer 1951 ABC Coach Guide

Let's celebrate Frank Bellamy's birthday (21 May 1917) by looking at a newly discovered piece of early Frank Bellamy artwork!

The Summer 1951 "The Official A B C Coach Guide for Great Britain Complete Timetables & Fares" cost 2/6 (12.5p) and had 273 pages plus a fold-out map of Great Britain. I presume that Victoria Coach Station and bus depots all over Britain will have bought this meticulous guide in 1951. The contents page shows us that this year was the year of "The Festival of Britain" - an important cultural event in post-war Britain which was staged primarily at the South Bank and as one book states it "left behind more memories than solid structures". It ran from May to September 1951. A cursory search shows how exciting the event was and how local events also took place around Britain. What better way to travel than coach. 

I bet you're asking "Norman, what's this got to do with Frank Bellamy?"

Well, I was stunned to see on eBay, the above book for sale with a description saying "containing artwork by Frank Bellamy". The seller showed the said artwork and indeed it is by our favourite artist. I've scanned the page so you can see the detail

Artwork by Frank Bellamy
The piece is clearly signed up the top left - F(rank) A(lfred) Bellamy and has elements of Bellamy's early cartoon style art. At the time he would have been working for the Norfolk Studio where he worked from late 1948 through to December 1951 when he began to be represented by International Artists. 

The page above show coaches around Britain's insignias plus the Festival of Britain emblem designed by Abram Games. Looking clockwise around the piece, we also see the Skylon tower (the needle shaped tower to the right of the insignia, a 90m high ‘floating’ tube of steel), the Dome of Discovery, plus Nelson's Column and various coaches (and a car!). We see St. Paul's Cathedral, what looks like Durham Cathedral with its twin peaked roofs and tower behind. We then see a bucket and spade and starfish (for seaside holidays) and the profile of Windsor Castle above the lion and unicorn. We return to Victoria Coach Station, and see the sun shining behind the Welsh dragon. I couldn't find any images to map Bellamy's "Majestic Hotel" - a generic name.  Finally we get back to the South bank - where the Shot Tower stood, followed by a partial drawing of the only still extant building from the Exhibition: the Royal Festival Hall.

I always wondered whether Bellamy and family attended the Festival as they lived in Morden, South London and the journey would have been very straight forward - especially as he could have dropped off artwork in town at the same time. I wish I'd asked Nancy Bellamy but that one more question that remains unanswered. At least I now know Bellamy drew part of the Festival architecture.

It's been 48 years since Frank's untimely demise at 59 but today we remember the birth of one of the most influential artists.

Saturday 18 May 2024

ORIGINAL ART ON EBAY: Dan Dare in Eagle

Eagle Vol10:40 (21 November 1959)

Two beautifully preserved examples of Frank Bellamy's artwork on "Dan Dare" have come to auction.

The first (Lot #64) comes from the very last episode of the "Terra Nova" story - the first Bellamy Dan Dare story he drew. It's described as: 

Dan Dare/Eagle original artwork (1959) painted and signed by Frank Bellamy for The Eagle Vol. 10 No 40. Dan and Digby had set off in Anastasia to wipe out the dreaded 'Nagreb' man-eating ant colony with a high explosive missile. Their mission accomplished, they land Anastasia outside Pax...' Bright Pelikan inks on board. 15 x 13 ins

The opening bid is £1,260 with an auctioneer's estimate of £1,400- £1,800. I love the composition and how Bellamy shows the dome on the spaceship Anastasia. Notice that the caption "Later..." is attached below the artwork and the Eagle logo and details have been added to the artwork. As the pencil inscription shows, Bemrose the printer will have added the panel but not to the artwork. So that's an addition to the best of my knowledge. Bellamy signed the pages he drew and left the Harley/Watson/Palmer page for them.  I am drafting an article on who did what in each of the episodes - watch this space. Just for your delight, here is the second page of this story (and therefore the final page) by said Harley, Watson and Palmer, so you can see how jarring the change of styles are from one page to another. No wonder a lot of the original readers still do not like Bellamy's "Dan Dare"! It wasn't his choice to do it in this way, inheriting some of Hamspon's studio team when the shake-ups took place.

Eagle Vol10:40 (21 November 1959), p.2

Back to Bellamy.

Eagle Vol10:41 (28 November 1959)
Lot #62 is the next consecutive episode, the beginning of the "Dan Dare" story "Trip to Trouble" and features some lovely portraits of Dan Dare and Galileo McHoo (who first appeared in Eagle Vol:10:10 in 7 March 1959). The opening bid is £1,260 with an auctioneer's estimate of £1,400- £1,800:

Dan Dare/Eagle original artwork (1959) painted and signed by Frank Bellamy for The Eagle Vol. 10 No 41. 'On Terra Nova - a new world - Dan Dare is trying to find his father who landed many years before and disappeared without trace. Dan has a sudden flash of inspiration... Bright Pelikan inks on board. 15 x 13 ins

Again the strip at the top and the Eagle logo have been added in my opinion. But enlarge the image and you'll see some gorgeous Bellamy techniques.

These two episodes follow on from the recently auctioned page which sold fro £1,700.

I'll add the final sales onto the spreadsheet, as usual.


AUCTION SUMMARY

"Dan Dare", Eagle Vol10:40 (21 November 1959)
WHERE?: Compal /Thesaleroom)
STARTING BID: £1,260
ENDING PRICE: £4,150
END DATE: Sunday 2 June 2024


"Dan Dare", Eagle Vol10:41 (28 November 1959)
WHERE?: Compal /Thesaleroom)
STARTING BID: £1,260
ENDING PRICE: £2,650
END DATE: Sunday 2 June 2024

Wednesday 3 April 2024

ORIGINAL ART ON EBAY: Thunderbirds from TV21 #217

The original art for Thunderbirds
for TV21 #217 page 10

Well, we saw just recently, three Thunderbirds pages that were extremely faded, sell for £1400 and £1800 (converted by me from US dollars) and now we have a gorgeous non-faded Thunderbirds page from the story "Zoo Ship" in which Professor Auldyn Beresford searches for the very rare Polynesian Sand Vole - which apparently lives only on Tracy Island. The Zoo Ship has blown up as two tigers escaped! The Professor turns out to be the Hood, International Rescue's old adversary. Exciting stuff.

Looking at the comic you can see that the strip's header would have been placed on the artwork before publication. So here, you have the unadulterated Bellamy work seen at its full size for TV21 #217 (page 10) and it certainly has been kept well as there appears to me to be no sun damage!

The published page

The starting price is £1,000 but there is also a Best Offer option (which eBay put in sales by default - apparently 65% of items have this on the site)

The seller describes the artwork thus:

Frank Bellamy original single page artwork.
TV21 • No 217 • Part 9 • 1st Page
Very Good condition, has been very well looked after. Absolutely no sunlight deterioration

BUT NOTE: it's "collection in person only" and the seller is based in Surrey

If you want to read the story it has been reprinted many times since its appearance in TV21 & TV TORNADO #209 - #217 (18January 1969 - 15 March 1969)

I'll add the final sales onto the spreadsheet, as usual.


AUCTION SUMMARY

THUNDERBIRDS: TV21 #217
WHERE?: ebay (seller:lenno64)
STARTING BID: £1,000 (or Best Offer)
ENDING PRICE: £1,000 (1 bid)
END DATE: Friday 12 April 2024

Tuesday 12 March 2024

ORIGINAL ART ON HERITAGE: Thunderbirds x 3

There are three Frank Bellamy artworks on Heritage and I must thank them again for photographing them at such a nice resolution - it helps us historians of comic art! Unfortunately one can see without zooming in that all three of these pieces have been exposed to sunlight and faded. It's not uncommon. Perhaps sellers should have stipulated not to hang these in sunlight, but who knew! Anyway the last faded piece sold quite reasonably at £2,500. I've included the comic scans to show how vibrant - even printed in photogravure - the artworks were originally.

TV21 #67 (April 30 1966) - Thunderbirds

Original Art from TV21 #67- "Thunderbirds"

TV21 #67- "Thunderbirds"

Here's the Heritage description which states it comes from Greg Jein's collection:

Thunderbirds (TV Century 21, 1965-1969), Original Artwork by Frank Bellamy. Vintage original artwork accomplished in pen and ink on illustration board depicting panels from the Thunderbirds comic, illustrated by Frank Bellamy. The original work is matted with a silver-toned frame. Measures approx. 30" x 21". Displays minimal wear and age. Comes with a COA from Heritage Auctions. From the Collection of Greg Jein.

 Why do I mention that? It's because it's been an interesting thing to watch on Heritage (Read more here). Jein's collection included special effects models, outfits and other things. How interesting he liked Bellamy.

TV21 #77 (July 9 1966) - Thunderbirds

 

 Original art from TV21 #77- "Thunderbirds"

TV21 #77- "Thunderbirds"

The Heritage description:

Thunderbirds (TV Century 21, 1965-1969), Original Artwork by Frank Bellamy. Vintage original artwork accomplished in pen and ink on illustration board depicting panels from the Thunderbirds comic, illustrated by Frank Bellamy. The original work is matted with a black plastic frame. Measures approx. 31.5" x 23". Displays minimal wear and age. Comes with a COA from Heritage Auctions. From the Collection of Greg Jein

TV21 #149 (November 25 1967) - Thunderbirds

Original Art fromTV21 #149, p.19 - "Thunderbirds"
 
TV21 #149 page 19- "Thunderbirds"
The Heritage description:

Thunderbirds (TV Century 21, 1965-1969), Original Artwork by Frank Bellamy. Vintage original artwork accomplished in pen and ink on illustration board depicting panels from the Thunderbirds comic, illustrated by Frank Bellamy. The original work includes a red frame with a woven inner border. Measures approximately 19" x 15". Displays minimal wear and age. Comes with a COA from Heritage Auctions. From the Collection of Greg Jein.

As a special treat here's the scan of the Polaroid that Frank took himself of the artwork before sending it off to the publishers way back in 1967 - that's 57 years ago! Oh boy, I feel old now!.

Frank Bellamy's Polaroid of TV21 #149, p.19
I'll add the final sales onto the spreadsheet, as usual.


AUCTION SUMMARY

THUNDERBIRDS: TV21 #67
WHERE?: Heritage
STARTING BID: $1
ENDING PRICE: $1875 (inc. buyers premium) = £1491.93
END DATE: Friday 29 March 2024

THUNDERBIRDS: TV21 #77
WHERE?: Heritage
STARTING BID: $1
ENDING PRICE: $2375 (inc. buyers premium) = £1889.79
END DATE: Friday 29 March 2024

THUNDERBIRDS: TV21 #149
WHERE?: Heritage
STARTING BID: $1
ENDING PRICE: $1875 (inc. buyers premium) = £1491.93
END DATE: Friday 29 March 2024

Sunday 18 February 2024

Frank Bellamy and OA Dan Dare

 

Eagle Vol.10:36 (24 October 1959)

Having just had the holiday that was planned many years ago I quickly added the latest Comic Book Auctions entry as a placeholder here. Here now are the full details for future reference.

Frank Bellamy's beautiful front page cover for Eagle Volume 10 issue 36 (dated 24 October 1959) is up for auction. It's Lot #38 on Thesaleroom.com and the opening bid will be £1260 with an auctioneer's estimate of £1400-£1800. This is from Bellamy's first story "Terra Nova".

The description goes like this:

Lot # 38:
Dan Dare/Eagle original cover artwork (1959) painted and signed by Frank Bellamy for The Eagle Vol. 10 No 36
'On Terra Nova Professor Jocelyn Peabody and Lex O'Mally are carried off by 'Nagrebs’ giant, man-eating ants. Dan's spacesuit is infused with 'Oro' - a vine-juice which repels Nagrebs and might protect him...'
Bright Pelikan ink on board. 15 x 13 ins
£1,400-1,800

Here's my scan of the printed page to compare but you can see the original is so much brighter.

This is quite an iconic page with Dan himself featured and will be interesting to see what happens with the bidding next week - as it appears many bids are placed at the last moment. I'll update the spreadsheet when the auction is over as well as completing the details below.


AUCTION SUMMARY

DAN DARE: Eagle 24 October 1959 (Vol. 10:36)
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
STARTING BID: £1,260 (Estimate: £1,400-£1,800)
ENDING PRICE: £1,700
END DATE: Sunday 25 February 2024

Wednesday 14 February 2024

Frank Bellamy and Family Favourites

 

Radio Times (19 December 1970 - 1 January 1971), p.99
"Family Favourites" was always on in our house on a Sunday lunch time. We weren't great radio listeners but the charts and "Family favourites" were always heard. 

It began as a request programme called "Forces Favourites" - connecting those serving in the Forces abroad - which the Boyd family were. It later became "Family Favourites" and lastly "Two-Way Family Favourites". I was surprised to learn it began in the wartime and continued all the way up to 13 January 1980! It was a great way of ensuring that Forces personnel felt a connection to their homeland of the UK. Quite a technical feat back then as can be seen from Frank Bellamy's illustration here.  Although Malta isn't shown, I know we listened to the programme in our house there in the mid-60s. Interestingly Gibraltar is shown as a rock in the middle of the ocean - completely detached - unless the rest of the Iberian Peninsula is behind that view. But Singapore too appears as a strange outline - unless Bellamy was focussing on the island of Sentosa?

Cover to the Radio Times (19 December 1970 - 1 January 1971)

To listen to some clips, tune into this website where you can read more about it. Youtube has a few more - I enjoyed putting this one on in the background while writing this article (thank you Peter Preston for making an elderly man smile)! The specific programme advertised by Bellamy's feature, was hosted by Michael Aspel (brilliant likeness) and connected with Graham Webb, of ABC Australia, Don Durbridge BFBS Gibraltar, Bill Paul CBC Canada and Stephen Withers, BFBS Far East. It was produced by Jack Dabbs. It began on 12:01 and ended two hours later! BFBS Malta didn't feature in the listing but does appear in other Radio Times listings! For those that don't know BFBS stands for British Forces Broadcasting Service

For completeness sake, here are two photos taken by Bellamy of his artwork before sending it off to David Driver. Thanks to Alan Davis for rescuing them. we know that Bellamy was paid £30 for this piece.

Colour Polaroid

Black and White Polaroid