Friday 2 April 2010

Frank Bellamy - first past the post!

Martin Baines asked me to do a piece on the Bellamy Sunday Times work and a rare opportunity presented itself to make this even more interesting

After his long run on Thunderbirds, Frank Bellamy saw the writing on the wall for TV21 as he knew it - Alan Fennell the editor, was moving on and Bellamy decided to spread his wings and seek employment elsewhere. In March 1969 Bellamy was commissioned to produce a strip about an imaginary young artist called Blenkinsop. We are very fortunate that David Driver of the Radio Times (have you see the photo never before published in this issue of Eagle Times?) and the Sunday Times (Colour) Magazine wanted to send assignments his way.

After completing 6 assignments for the colour Sunday supplement to the prestigious Times, he was asked to create a double page spread for an article on horse racing. This was to be his final work for the Sunday Times magazine, but interestingly due to the generosity of Tim Barnes we are able to compare a rough (that presumably was rejected) with the published version.

Over the Summer of 1989 the Unseen Frank Bellamy Basement Gallery Exhibition took place and several people, (including our old friend Jeff Haythorpe) have written to tell us what they saw at the Gallery. Today we are looking at "Devious ways to win" or as it became when published "Inside Racing". Tim has sent me other scans/photos and I'd like to write about them in the future, so watch this space.

Complete double page spread

The Sunday Times (Colour) Magazine 25 April 1971

It looks as if this commission may have given Bellamy some trouble. Firstly notice that the header strip looks like a Bellamy trick which would allow the Art Editor to add the title "Inside Racing" easily, but he or she has chosen to not use that opportunity and has laid the title and text at the bottom of the art.

'Header or title strip'

But even more interestingly is the rejected idea for this piece. Compare the Bellamy logo title for example - it is so much more dynamic - perhaps too much for the magazine!

Rejected strip sold at Basement Gallery exhibition - Thanks Tim Barnes

One can also see that Bellamy's layouts had to changed and he had started laying some colour in the piece...

Single panel

Perhaps Bellamy mis-counted how many text boxes were needed? We can only guess, but what a fantastic opportunity to see an unfinished and rejected piece. Thank you Tim for sharing this - more pieces to follow.

I'd love to know more about the Magazine itself and the reason that Bellamy's commissions dried up in 1971. Obviously he was then drawing a national daily strip, Garth, but we know of other commissions he received during this time. Was there a change of editor who didn't approve of the prestigious Sunday Times having a comic strip? Bellamy always quoted the fact he had produced the first strip to appear in the Sunday Times, and was justifiably proud of this fact.

UPDATE: The original art came up for sale