Saturday 26 February 2011

Original Art on Comic Book Auctions: Thunderbirds

UPDATE: Winning bid incl. 10% Buyer's Premium: £2,420

Comic Book Auctions Ltd has launched it Spring 2011 catalogue with bidding closing on Tuesday 15 March 2011 at 8 PM UK Time.

The piece that will be of particular interest to Bellamy fans is Thunderbirds original artwork (1968) from TV Century 21 No 166 - Lot number 178.

Thunderbirds original artwork (1968) by Frank Bellamy for TV Century 21 No. 166
Unaware that Brains is still alive and held captive by The Hood, Jeff Tracy stands helpless as a successful attack is launched on Tracy Island International Rescue HQ where Thunderbirds 2 and 3 are destroyed. Now Thunderbirds 4 must counter-attack …
Pelikan inks on board. With loose laser copied ‘Thunderbirds’ header for attachment if desired. 18 x 14 ins £1,500-2,000

This story is one of my most fondly remembered. Imagine my shock as a kid seeing Brains dead - and what's more it went on for 8 episodes and therefore the suspense was great especially having to wait a week between episodes (TV21 162 - 169 (24 February 1968 - 13 April 1968 - or 2068 as it futuristically said on the comic!) I wondered how the Hood managed to do sky lettering in that smoke, but hey, it was the future - the 21st century!

This original art looks especially 'new' with the colours very bright. But more interestingly I wonder why someone (presumably at TV21) has crossed out Bellamy's neat writing saying this is episode 5 and putting instead p.10. It would have been page 10 and weekly epsiode number 5 as he had written on it.

Below are the two pages of the episode for your reading pleasure (notice how the original and this scan compare) and many thanks to 'Wayne' for reminding me the auction was now on!

Friday 18 February 2011

Garth reappears in the Daily Mirror

UPDATE: The Angels of Hell's Gap reprinted in colour!

© Daily Mirror

Above is the scan I did of the newly reprinted first episode of "The Angels of Hell's Gap" from the Daily Mirror dated today - Monday 21 February 2011. It's been coloured by Martin Baines - which of course was impossible back in 1975, as we only got coloured newsprint in 1986 in the UK. The original story ran from 15 January 1975 to 2 May (Episodes J12-J101).

Also notice the classic reprints of The Perishers by Collins and Dodd. When cutting and collecting the daily Garths from the Daily Mirror in the 70s, I regularly read the Perishers and it's interesting to see how it hasn't dated

Well done Daily Mirror - we're now looking forward to you announcing a complete reprint of Bellamy's Garth strips in hardback - Norman dreaming again!

© Daily Mirror
There's an announcement on the Daily Mirror's website that they are publishing Garth again. He will re-appear in the Monday 21st February 2011 edition apparently. Former Mirror cartoon editor Ken Layson says:

Garth was the brainchild of cartoonist Steve Dowling, who based him loosely on Superman. But the hero really shot to prominence under the ground-breaking artwork of the late Frank Bellamy, who had sketched Dan Dare before turning to Garth in the early 70s.

Ken says: “When Bellamy took over, the character of Garth took off. His artwork was dynamic with strong shadows and beautifully sculpted figures.”

Frank, who died in 1976, also put the strip into the comic strip. Ken explains: “There was quite a bit of nudity in the 70s Garth. Frank’s wife was the model for most of those half-naked ladies.”
In 2008 they produced new adventures of Garth for the first time since 1997 (Martin Asbury was both writer and artist in 1997 having taken over from Bellamy)  - read more about that on John Freeman's site

However they go on to say: Now the hero’s old adventures are set to enthral both nostalgic fans and a new generation of readers. Start queueing at your local newsagents as this reads like reprints to me!


Tuesday 15 February 2011

Original Art: Thunderbirds on eBay

Just a quick reminder that 'tweedacademy' is selling a top notch piece on eBay. That guy must have a collection of Bellamy originals! He has set this double page spread of Thunderbirds at £3,500, which is a large sum of money but this looks to be in very good condition. The Buy It Now option expires on 6 March, 2011 so if you have the money go for it now.

From TV21 number 125, this is part one of the 11th story to appear. The Hood does his usual stuff and exposes Tracey Island. Read all about the story at Shaqui and friends' site. If you enlarge this scan of the whole comic you'll see the original art actually exposes the beautiful colour Bellamy produced that despite much care could not be reproduced well at the time. Shame this hasn't been scanned and reproduced in the Century21 reprints by Reynolds & Hearn

TV21 125 

Friday 11 February 2011

Frank Bellamy and the Wright Brothers

©  BBC Magazines Ltd

I've just had a holiday and started reading Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth by Andrew Smith in which he tracks down as many of the 12 astronauts who have walked on the Moon as he can as well as the Command Module pilots. People of my generation will love this book. But the thing that struck me was how from 1903 (the first flight man made with an aeroplane) to 1972 (the last manned Moon landing) was just one generation. Who was more brave, the former or the latter? No idea, but this blog is focussing on the Wright Brothers and reading around the web, I find myself in awe of the two brothers as well as the Apollo astronauts - especially as I type on a computer X more times as powerful as the computational power they had!

The Washington Times in 2003 had a great article on the centenary of the Wright Brothers' accomplishment called "The Wright stuff … and the wrong" in which it shows the Smithsonian didn't even acknowledge the event previously. However, that humble pie, which the Smithsonian ate must have tasted good as their online presence is really good now and shows many exhibits including a large jpg of the original successful flying machine. The Aeronautical Engineering Collection of the The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia were designated by Wilbur Wright as the benefactors of their archives including their notes on scraps of wallpaper!

In relation to Bellamy's work on this subject, we can also view the original telegram sent by Orville Wright to his father, Bishop Milton Wright, at this site,and if this has picqued your interest, here's a list of links on the history of early flight

©  BBC Magazines Ltd

Up to 1972, Bellamy had produced many black and white, and colour illustrations and comic strips for the Radio Times under the Editor Geoffrey Cannon (who was in place between 1969-1979). More importantly, David Driver (previously mentioned on this blog) was the person who commissioned Bellamy during this most interesting period of Bellamy's non-comics period. Driver was Art Editor for the Radio Times 1969-1978 before becoming Deputy and Features Editor.

Tim Barnes, who owns the black and white original of page 55 (Radio Times 22 January to 28 January 1972)  has kindly supplied pictures of the art with and without the overlay. Often even this can give valuable clues to how these things are dealt with in magazine publishing. The overlay in this case shows "reduce to 28½ ems wide (as to trace)" and in pencil we can see 'cut away metal' which s where the text will wrap around the illustrations.

Original art

Bellamy must have been supplied with photographic reference for this but I suspect, as usual he made of it what he wanted and laid down his design skills. Incidentally when you enlarge these pictures you'll notice that the article actually has a third page but no Frank Bellamy artwork therefore I have not scanned it. And interestingly the Radio Times date on this page is wrong. The Radio Times is usually dated from Saturday to Friday (in 1972, Saturday fell on 22 January, not 20 January!)

EXTRA - Read all about it!
Having made contact with David Driver (mentioned above)  he wrote about this blog entry :
My word, I had forgotten this particular sequence, but I certainly designed these pages,
and again in conversation with Frank, he had expressed an interest in this subject.
As I got to know Frank as a friend, I encouraged him to let me know what he fancied drawing,
so that when the subjects emerged, I was able to marry him with a story. That is how
Movie Crazy Years emerged as a cover, feature and ongoing programme page vignettes.
When he took on Garth, that somewhat curtailed the regular commissions for Radio Times,
which I deeply regretted.
Thanks David for those memories


Thanks to Bill Storie for reminding me I could have 'bookended' this with Bellamy's work on the Moon landing - Now done via this link!