Sunday 12 November 2023

NEWLY DISCOVERED: Fraser of Africa artwork


"Fraser of Africa" Dedicated to Douglas Kirk

Over on Facebook Dan Dare group, Douglas Kirk shared this piece of original art he owns. He mentions that 

I was twelve when Frank Bellamy drew an original for me. The most exciting result of my nagging letters to my favorite comic illustrators. I've seen these poses by Bellamy in online posts, but these examples here are inked and coloured by him for sure.
Alas, I could never persuade Frank Hampson to do likewise, although he did sign some DD photographed artwork for me.

Douglas has promised some more information and a better scan, but I'm so excited to see a new piece, never shown before. Thanks so much to Douglas for permission to share this.

Wednesday 8 November 2023

ORIGINAL ART : Compal Auction November 2023 - Heros, Dan Dare and a cartoon


Eagle 27 March 1965 Vol 16:13, pp10-11

This time round we have three pieces of original art and lots of comics with Frank Bellamy's art up for auction.

The latest Compalcomics auction is now live. The listings at both on Compalcomics and TheSaleroom

HEROS THE SPARTAN: Eagle 27 March 1965 (Vol. 16:13)

The image at the top of this article shows the 5th episode of the story "The Slave Army". It looks very bright compared to the printed version but that's nothing as the print versions under Longacre were a far cry from the wonderful photogravure of the earlier Eagle comics. The blues are still bright which is normally where we see these artworks fade first.

It is described as:

Lot # 114:
Heros the Spartan original double-page artwork (1965) painted and signed by Frank Bellamy for The Eagle Vol. 16: No 13
'After a revolt in the gold mines of Libya, Heros was captured by the escaped slaves - led by a Briton called Garthac - and forced to lead them across the desert. Suddenly they are attacked by an army of strange horsemen...'
Bright Pelikan inks on board. 28 x 20 ins. The Heros title lettering and rectangular text boxes are laser copy additions to complete the look of the artwork
I remember David Jackson pointing out to me an error in the story. The cry of the attacking group, the men of Raschid, is "By the Prophet!"

As Wikipedia tells us, Muhammad was born c. 570 and died on the 8 June 632 A.D., as we would have said back then. So the founder of Islam was born approximately 100 years after the initial sacking of Rome which led to the fall of the Roman Empire. But I notice that throughout Tom Tully's writings, he loves expletives - "By Mithras!" in this episode; "By the Gods!" and "By Tanarus!" in the previous one, so it's not too surprising he messed up here. I suspect if the Reverend Marcus Morris (Eagle's co-creator and first long-serving Editor) was still in post, he might have spotted this. Anyway, a lovely bright piece with a classic Bellamy battle scene.

DAN DARE: Eagle 12 September 1959 (Vol. 10:30)

Eagle 12 September 1959 (Vol. 10:30)
During the year in which Bellamy drew "Dan Dare" he was 'assisted' mostly by Don Harley, Bruce Cornwell, Keith Watson (and occasionally Gerald Palmer). The above page is undoubtedly Bellamy - the cover page this issue was by Harley. Bellamy hasn't signed this page but he didn't when he felt the whole thing wasn't his work and particularly while he was getting used to this peculiar work arrangement. His first signature on Dan Dare was three issues later in Eagle Vol.10:33 (3 October 1959). Take no notice in the following description where it says 'gouache'. These are all inks!

This auction is described as:

Lot # 65:
Dan Dare/Eagle original artwork (1959) by Frank Bellamy for The Eagle Vol 10, No 30 pg 2 with original comic
'As the rescue party follows along the Terra Nova Jungle trail, Dan, Sir Hubert and Digby are mysteriously given the freedom of Pax, The Novad central city ...'
Bright gouache colours [sic] on board. 15 x 13 ins

BELLAMY SKETCH: To be or not to be

"To be or not to be"
This sketch originally was in the Bob Monkhouse collection and been moved around a bit since it was first sold. The valuation, in my opinion, is correct for an original Bellamy with such provenance. 

Frank Bellamy original signed sketch (1940s) 'To Be or Not to Be' The Catering Corps Sergeant in a dilemma over the troops tinned rations menu (Probably hung in the Sergeant's Mess!) From the Bob Monkhouse archive. Indian ink and wash on card. 14 x 10 ins

I have never seen this original in person but is it really ink "and wash"? I thought the paper just looked aged - and there was a war on!

Finally check out the complete runs of TV21s and some volumes of Eagle in the auction!


HEROS THE SPARTAN: Eagle 27 March 1965 (Vol. 16:13)
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
STARTING BID: £2,700 (Estimate: £3,000-£3,500)
END DATE: Sunday 19 November 2023

DAN DARE: Eagle 12 September 1959 (Vol. 10:30)
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
STARTING BID: £1,360 (Estimate: £1,500-£2,000)
END DATE: Sunday 19 November 2023

BELLAMY SKETCH: To be or not to be
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
STARTING BID: £70 (Estimate: £80-£120
END DATE: Sunday 19 November 2023

Wednesday 1 November 2023

Boy's World Annual 1971 - J. T. Edson

You can subscribe to Rebellion's newsletter at their Treasury of British Comics website and that's where I saw this (with thanks to Richard Sheaf for the nudge!). Boy's World Annual 1971 had the J. T. Edson story "Johnny Boyland and the quail hunters" on pages 23-27 and Rebellion still have the original art which is a joy to see. 


Boy's World Annual 1971 p.27

Boy's World Annual 1971 p.26

Boy's World Annual 1971 p.25

Boy's World Annual 1971 p.24

Boy's World Annual 1971 p.23

 Rebellion added this short piece:

This month, the Rebellion archivists have found a quintet of stunning original Western illustrations by the legendary Frank Bellamy. Produced for the Boy’s World Annual 1971, the story 'Johnny Boyland and the Quail Hunters' was written by J. T. Edson.

Born in Kettering in 1917, Bellamy is renowned for his stunning work for Eagle and TV Century 21. With a radical approach to page layouts, and a sophisticated and innovative use of graphic effects and colours, his work truly stood out against the more staid and formulaic comics of the era. For Eagle he illustrated 'Heros the Spartan' and 'Fraser of Africa', as well as working on the lead 'Dan Dare' strip. He also drew 'Thunderbirds' and the splash center spreads [sic] of 'Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons' for TV Century 21, and the Daily Mirror's 'Garth' strip 1971 until his sudden death in 1976 at the age of 59.

Although fondly remembered, Boy's World was rather more short-lived than intended. Published from January 1963, Boy's World was meant to be an Eagle for the new decade, with full bleed magazine-style layouts and an impressive roster of creators, including writers such as Harry Harrison and Michael Moorcock, and artists like John M. Burns, Ron and Gerry Embleton, Gerald Haylock, Frank Langford, Brian Lewis Harry Bishop, and Luis Bermejo.

However, the project was beset by problems. Its original editor was replaced before launch and the first issue had to be substantially revamped in under six months. In the end, it lasted just 89 issues and in October 1964 it was folded into Eagle, the comic it had been intended to replace. The title continued as an Annual until 1972.

However, these small examples of Bellamy's work for Boy's World had a curious second life – the story and its illustrations were reprinted in exactly the same way in the Gold Star Gift Book for Boys from 1972, which reused material from the Boy's World Annuals from 1970 and 1971.

Bellamy only produced covers for five Captain Scarlet strips in TV21 - no centrespreads! It only takes a minute to count them in my index and the full details are there. The rest of those stories were drawn by Don Harley (2) and a further three drawn by Jim Watson - none on the centre pages.

Here's a link to the Gold Star Gift Book mentioned and isn't interesting that all these were reproduced at "same size" in the printed annual?

Friday 13 October 2023

Frank Bellamy on TV - Quick on the Draw

"Mikeluxy" has done us a favour. He has uploaded the complete 25 minute episode of "Quick on the Draw" in which Frank Bellamy appears.It's not a great copy but beggars can't be choosers! The video is hosted on the always busy - the link to his original is here but I've uploaded an edited version above which shows the introduction and Bellamy's bit. If you want to watch the whole programme, Bellamy appears at around 19 minutes and 24 seconds in the link to Mikeluxy's version.


The format of the 25 minute show (including an advert break) was devised by Denis Gifford and the compère, Bob Monkhouse was a close friend. The format was for Monkhouse to sketch a visual joke and then ask the three other members of the panel to do the same in a given time. Each work would then be reviewed and nominal points added. Bill Tidy, the cartoonist famous for the Daily Mirror's "Fosdyke Saga" appeared regularly and this week, we see Leslie Crowther (of "Crackerjack" fame) and Diana Dors, the actress whom Bellamy got to know well, exchanging greeting cards. Monkhouse has Diana Darvey - an ex-Benny Hill girl - assist him. 

In a letter dated 8 April 1974, Bellamy received his contract to appear on the show and on  23 April 1974 David Clark of Thames TV (Producer) thanked Frank Bellamy for his appearance and confirmed the transmission date as Wednesday 19 June 1974 at 3.55pm. Bellamy received a nominal £5 for his appearance. The programme was part of the post-school afternoon broadcasts (one wonders whether this was suitable with its seaside innuendo?) and was followed that day by "Little Big Time" at 16.20 and the very popular "Follyfoot" at 16.50. This episode's Director was Daphne Shadwell.


The transcription was rather difficult as the audio is not good in places. Any corrections, please let me know. I have only transcribed the Bellamy section (c.3 minutes 11 seconds). 

Bob Monkhouse: And this is a gentleman for whom I have the deepest possible respect. A great many of you who read one of the most popular daily papers in this country will follow the adventures in a strip there of a truly fantastic character. The character was created long ago, but only within the last three years has the finest dramatic illustrator in the British comic world taken on the job of bringing his adventures to the world. The only dramatic illustrator in fact to appear in this series, Quick On The Draw, is behind that door and I invite the panel to tell me, do you know the character that’s taking form?

PANEL : Garth

BM: Garth it is! Can you name the much celebrated……


BM: FB, indeed it is Bill,  BT: Frank Bellamy, BM: Frank Bellamy, come out Frank, you’ve been caught at it.


BM: Frank, you know, I follow you around and pick up scraps of paper, that you happen to have …used for anything, quickly if you draw on them, so you know that I’ll do anything you say. But we want to find out if the panel will do as you say. Can you set them a problem?

Frank Bellamy: Something to do with a superhero, you know the old strong man, similar to Garth.

BM: Similar to Garth. We have the Garthfield ladies in the audience tonight….


BM: Right, A strong joke please in 30 seconds, and could you give us something similar please Frank? Thank you, draw away on my board, it’s um, fun to watch.


Camera 2 is peeping at you, from over your shoulder, or trying to. Can you just err, give a little bit that way [helps position FB for the camera], thanks. Ah, now camera 3 has a view. All our panellists are working away to try and produce a joke, about strength. It seems to me that Diana’s making a nice simple clear job of it. Diana would you like to tell us what the err, what the strength of that one is? [Background music fades]

DIANA DORS: Well that’s about the strongest thing I can think of, it’s a piece of Danish blue.


BM: That’s strong. Out of 5 Frank?

FB: Three

BM:  Just three points for that. Bill Tidy, can you tell Frank what you’ve done?

BT: Yes, this is the strong lady, at the circus and the, err circus chief is saying to the clown, as he watches her struggling with his giant barbells, “By Jove, she’s come on a bit since “Plucky Postmistress Foils Nine Masked Intruders””.


BM: Maximum marks for that one don’t you think…[FB: Yeh].  That’s a definite five. Leslie, what have you got for us?

LESLIE CROWTHER: Well, this, is, .. is designed to show the strength of the animal world, as you can see, it’s the zoo,  this giraffe, but what you can’t see is the zoo keeper inside the house, who’s saying, “Shut that door. There’s a tremendous giraffe in here!”


BM: Your job

FB: Um, er..4

BM: Another 4, another 4, and what have you done for us here Frank?

FB:  Well, I haven’t time to draw Garth so I’ve just drawn his chest.

BM: That’s his chest.


BM: Frank Bellamy thank you so much [for being here]

FB: Thank you so much, thank you



Finally, more on the TV Show on NostalgiaCentral and Denis Gifford created a book Quick on the draw!  with a cover and caricatures by Chas Sinclair. It was published Arrow Books, in 1978 in conjunction with Independent Television Books.

Saturday 23 September 2023

The origins of Thunderbirds by Frank Bellamy

TV21 #54 page 12 Original art
The image from "Thunderbirds" above was posted recently on Facebook by my friend Jeff Haythorpe and this sparked a few discussions about how Bellamy managed a double-page spread plus a black and white page each week, which I'm picking up here. Before i start all the heavy detail, I want to repeat this is not a published black and white page from colour, it is in fact a black and white ink wash as Bellamy originally drew it.

We need to go a bit backwards in time. Frank Bellamy drew the last "Heros the Spartan" story for Eagle which when published ended in Volume 16 No. 30 (24 July 1965). After this he drew two covers for the comic "Arms Through the Ages:The crossbow" (Vol 16:35 - 28 August 1965) and "Arms Through the Ages:The floating mine" (Volume 16: 36) published 4 September 1965 - both can be seen here. We know that the lead time (from submitting artwork to its publication) was usually 6 weeks, so Bellamy looks to have finished with Eagle circa last week of August 1965. 

"Heros The Spartan" in Eagle Annual 1966, p.89
He received a cheque from Eagle paid in on 28 June 1965 and labelled "Heros #20" for £88/0/0d. So a double spread paid £88 (no shillings and no pence - pre-decimal money). Interestingly that last story has 22 episodes but I can't see these payments. He then received the same for the two "Arms through the Ages" covers (£88) paid in on 4 August 1965. I can't find any obvious record of the "Heros" story which appeared in the Eagle Annual 1966 (and would have most likely been completed before March 1965 - and gives me an excuse to show you the first page of that story!). So we can say the last cheque from Eagle was paid in on 4 August 1965.

So the big question is what did he do then? After such a long run with Hulton - and the new comics group under the title Odhams / Longacre Press / Fleetway where did he go?

We know that Bellamy submitted a letter of application to the Royal Society of Arts in March 1965 - perhaps thinking about the ending of a comic era, he wanted to look in other directions. The letter went before the committee on May 10th and following this he not only became a member but gained the post-nominals Fellow of the RSA such was his artwork held in high esteem by his peers - most likely his non-comic work which he had been exhibiting around various places in the preceding few years. 

On the 12 July 1965 he received a response to his resignation letter. It arrived on Odhams letter headed paper from Alfred F. Wallace (Managing Editor, Juvenile Publications), confirming Bellamy was free of any commitments, and wishing him all the best for the future.

TV21 #54 pages 10-11 - the third "Thunderbirds" issue

Looking at when the first "Thunderbirds" was published (TV21 #52 dated 15 January 2066 - actually 1966 as the clever device was it was a newspaper from 100 years in the future!), we see he drew both a colour centrespread plus a black and white page - so three pages a week. This lasted from #52 to #65 (15 January 1966 - 16 April 1966) covering two stories - "Forest Inferno" and "White Rhino Rescue" - 14 weeks. 

In their interview with Bellamy, Dez Skinn and Dave Gibbons asked about how he came to be involved:

Alan Fennell, the writer of the TV "Stingray", "Thunderbirds" and so on, was the first editor of TV21. He approached me saying he was wanting to start a comic of the same quality as Eagle, but with the Century 21 look about it, more S-F orientated. Alan wanted me to draw "Stingray", the lead strip in TV Century 21, number 1. But, because I was working for Eagle at that time I wouldn't leave to draw "Stingray". I felt I had to fulfil my commitments with Eagle, which I did, and then after explaining to the Eagle editor, Alf Wallace, we parted as best of friends and I started work for TV Century 21. It was clear, at this stage, that it would be a wise move to change anyway, because in 1966 Eagle was tailing off a bit, whereas TV Century 21 was a new magazine. [It actually ended with Volume 20:17 - 26 April 1969 ~Norman]

Asked if it was hard drawing puppets in an action setting, he replied

Yes, it was a problem. Everybody had seen them on the television, and so they would think of the characters as l8"-high puppets, which they were. So I had to decide whether to make them look like the puppets they were, or the people they were supposed to be. I went for forgetting they were puppets, other than simplifying the heads, which had to be recognisable from the established versions on the television.

Also Nancy told her version - expanding a bit - to Alan Woollcombe:

Gerry Anderson wanted Frank to illustrate ‘Thunderbirds’ so Alan Fennell (editor of TV Century 21) took us over to meet Gerry and Sylvia. He showed us all round the studios, showed us how they made the scenes and the puppets work so Frank agreed to illustrate ‘Thunderbirds’. Eagle was going down the drain anyway. The only thing was, be hated drawing puppets, so he made all the puppets look more human.

Asked if Frank had models to work from, Nancy replied:

Just the heads, white heads. The funny thing was, they were ever such ghastly things, and I was always playing jokes on my son David. One night he came in really late so I had got all these heads and arranged them along the pillow on his bed, and then covered them up with the sheet. When he came in, there were all these ghostly heads grinning at him, dead white... oh, I heard him scream!

In 1992 Nancy was interviewed on local radio and this is how she related the same story:

Gerry Anderson was deciding to bring out a comic on Thunderbirds and Alan Fennell, he was the Editor, got in touch with Frank and they had a meeting with Gerry Anderson at Slough.  So I went along as well and Gerry Anderson was very kind and he showed us all around.. well, it was a sort of factory where they made the Thunderbird films and he showed how the puppets worked, how the special effects were done, and it was a very interesting day.  Also, I was very thrilled when Sylvia Anderson drove up in a beautiful shocking pink sports car because it reminded me of Lady Penelope.

Getting back to the first "Thunderbirds" strips, in the records shared with us by Nancy Bellamy, we have not only the above payment data but a very interesting payment listed on 29 July 1965 for "TV21 1" which paid £126.  When he was paid for 'series three' which went down to just a colour double-page spread, he was paid £94/10/0d - so £94.50 in modern parlance. When it changed to 2 separate pages he was paid less - £80 - which I find strange!

Later in the interview he was asked about why Thunderbirds changed from a centrespread to two separate colour pages

The reason they split the spread with a gutter was purely that they could sell two separate pages to the continental market, for reprinting, better than an awkwardly—shaped centrespread.

But did you notice that he was PAID in July 1965 for "Thunderbirds"?

So between his last "Heros" and the two 'stray' covers he was already working on "Thunderbirds". We know he kept up the double-page spreads and later the two separate colour pages so I wonder how far ahead of himself he got? Also it must be said, Ron Embleton, Mike Noble and Don Harley were able to create 2 B&W pages plus one and half colour pages around TV21 #150 onwards so what looks like a tremendous output was similarly done by others too.  So Frank Bellamy had a long lead time to get his photo reference and puppet reference before commencing on, what I consider his most read comic strip.

During the discussion of the TV21 #54 image at the top of this article, Graham Bleathman kindly shared his TV21 #52 black and white page, so let's end this here - I've added the published double-page spread of the very first "Thunderbirds" comic strip written by Alan Fennell and drawn in inks by Frank Bellamy, for your enjoyment

TV21 #52 pages 10-11 

TV21 #52 page 12 Original art  

See additional thoughts in the comments below

Friday 11 August 2023

ORIGINAL ART- Heros the Spartan, Eagle Vol15:23

 Just a quick note to mention that a lovely copy of Heros the Spartan artwork has come up in Compalcomics Auctions latest auction. The whole catalogue is open for realtime bidding at and Malcolm still lists them on his website too at Compalcomics

The piece we're interested in comes from Eagle Volume 15 number 23, dated 6 June 1964. It's a very nicely preserved piece and is the first episode of "Axe of Arguth", Bellamy's third story (of four plus the annual) about Heros.

 The lot is described thus:

Lot # 60:
Heros the Spartan original double page artwork (1964) painted and signed by Frank Bellamy for The Eagle Vol. 15. No 23
'Surviving a terrible storm, Heros and his crew are attacked by strange vessels, their wild, stocky leader screaming the Romans will face a task more terrible than any the spirits of evil and darkness could devise!'
Bright Pelikan inks on board. 28 x 20 ins. The Heros title lettering and rectangular text boxes are laser copy additions to complete the look of the artwork
I'd like to have seen the artwork without the lettering added by a keen collector, but I understand the desire to have a copy of what was published. 

That last panel always reminds me of Graham Ingels gruesome work for the infamous E C Comics and which influenced Bernie Wrightson's work later in the late 60s where he would often use the device. I can see a similar image by Wrightson, but can't lay my hands on it. Anyone point me to the right image?

***UPDATE: 4 September 2023 ****

Malcolm Phillips has written in his Market Report:

A Heros The Spartan artwork painted and signed by Frank Bellamy sold under its estimate after the auction’s close at £2750

I spoke to a collector who was of the opinion there was nothing exceptional about this particular piece, and I agree.


Heros the Spartan Eagle 6 June 1964 (Vol.15:23)
WHERE?: TheSaleroom / Compal Auctions
Auctioneer's estimate: £4,000 - £4,500
ENDING PRICE: £Unsold at starting bid - sold after auction at £2750
END DATE: 27 August 2023

Saturday 15 July 2023

Frank Bellamy in Rugby Exhibition

Information panel by Paul Holder

I was going to write about a great exhibition entitled "KAPOW –The Art of Making Comics and Films" which runs until 9 September 2023 at the Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, Little Elborow Street, Rugby, CV21 3BZ which has been reviewed on DownTheTubes 

James Bacon has not only done a better job than I would have done, but his photos are better too. Respect James!

Here are some of my images which at least record which Bellamy artwork what was displayed along with my ramblings.

"Sequential visual storytelling is the art of our time" it says on one bit of blurb on the wall, and film and comics go so nicely together but have differences - so well shown here. "Colour is like the soundtrack of a film" The exhibition's strength is that it really set me thinking when 'exclaiming' like this but also demonstrating what it meant. I couldn't help but think Mike Noble's excellent example would have worked well here to show sketch to finish to colour and how colour added so much more. "Thumbnails and roughs are like the building blocks of a story"...but of course not everyone needed to do either of these. Bellamy drew rough sketches and then went straight to inks. There are some great examples of comic art methods, styles, workings using artwork by Jock, Ian Churchill, and fantasy artist Bob Cheshire in this exhibition and the artists' generosity has made this an excellent exhibition.

Bellamy's Thunderbirds at Rugby
The double-page spread is a high quality print from the original art (TV Century 21 # 125 10 June 1967) and the single page is the original art from TV Century 21 # 217 15 March 1969

Models and Supermarionation

I felt this information panel would have been better placed near the "Dan Dare" board by Frank Hampson et al (but with that common error "The Eagle" corrected to "Eagle") as his studio used many maquettes and models to draw from. But we do know Frank Bellamy also had puppet heads to draw from and also visited the APF studio in Slough when the filming of "Thunderbirds" took place - so I suppose this works here too. 

Round the corner we see the section labelled "Comic Styles" with a wonderful selection to illustrate the many forms of comics (including "Danger Mouse" with an "Unknown Artist" attribution - isn't this Arthur Ranson, who is credited later with "Duckula"? It is indeed - checked with Arthur!). I suspect Bellamy, in his usual modest style would have been awed to be right next to Berni Wrightson and one of the latter's most famous works! I remembered copying one of those panels in my A Level art class!

"Comic Styles"
"Comic Styles" explained

The two pieces here are both from "The Wolfman of Ausensee" 'Garth' story. F170 + F171 are the consecutive strips, for those who want to know and below them, the Hampson "Dan Dare".

'Garth' F170 & F171

I came away having been challenged to think further about comic art -and I've been no slouch over the last 60+ years! There are many models and TV elements I haven't mentioned as well. Wallace & Gromit artwork and models brought a smile to an older man, and the 'Van Gogh' room as I called it was excellent!

Go and read James Bacon's review