Thursday 28 July 2011

Bellamy and Doctor Who

I recently had an email that asked whether I knew anyone who could loan the Cartoon Museum some Bellamy art for a forthcoming exhibition. Good news, if you haven't heard already, the exhibition is now on.

Cover art by Paul Grist and James Offredi

I was privileged to be invited to the Private Preview and attended with a friend who contributed one of the pieces of art. I met the fantastically friendly Lee Sullivan (see his work here) who was so interesting to listen to when critiquing Bellamy's artwork and a fellow Mike Noble fan. And by now you will have seen his original art of all the doctors in one lineup (if not click on the link!) Thanks Lee.

I also bumped into another really nice guy. Mike Tucker told me he works on the special effects on Doctor Who. Far too modest - see his wiki entry and his website. We discussed various pieces of the artwork hanging on the walls and we both couldn't believe that some of the artists for even recent pieces were unknown. I casually asked him if he enjoyed his job. He answered quick as a flash "I get to build models and blow them up, yes, I enjoy my job!" Good to meet you Mike

Now before I forget who this blog is about, and before one of you says, Frank Bellamy didn't do any comic artwork of Doctor Who are incorrect.

The Radio Times for 3 - 9  April 1971 had a panel of Bellamy's artwork - which would appear the following week

Radio Times for 3 - 9  April 1971

Then we got the Radio Times dated 10 April 1971 - 16 April 1971 in which he illustrated, in a special feature, the Doctor Who story "Colony in Space" with 2 full colour pages and two half page black and whites.

Copyright Radio Times

However the two pieces at the exhibition by Frank Bellamy are not from this story and are illustrations which accompanied other Doctor Who stories. But who's (sorry!) complaining when the exhibition brief is stretched a little? It's always amazing to see Bellamy originals - and these two are in particularly good condition. I won't tell you what they are but would encourage you to attend not just for Bellamy, but for the great artwork by Lee Sullivan, John Ridgway (fantastic linework from 'Voyager' the graphic novel), Gerry Haylock (cover of TV Action), John Canning (TV Comic) and the fanatical fan of Frank Bellamy, Dave Gibbons (of Watchmen fame). This is a only a small list of what's at the Museum as well as there standing exhibition which includes Reid, Baxendale, Riddell, and many other UK comic/cartoon artists

Thanks for the invitation Anita


P.S. There are lots of reviews on the Net, but this one has some pieces from the exhibition and a review here

Friday 8 July 2011

Bellamy and the British comic conventions

It's really hard work classifying the work that Frank Bellamy created. I  have followed the original layout by David Jackson, myself and many more in placing work in one of these categories:
Comics are straight forward, or you'd think so. What about Look and Learn - was it a comic or a children's magazine? This category includes reprints (as do the others) so that should someone want to check the list (thus the name 'checklist') they will find any comic - whether reprint or original. But what about comic strips in annuals? 
Annuals section contains those uniquely bound hardbacks the UK have been producing for decades. Bellamy produced some comic strips but otherwise illustrations to support a story.
Magazines is where Bellamy did many single or multiple illustrations - some he loved and was proud of (Everybody's) and some he found a burden to do (Home Notes). But what is a magazine? One definition states the origin comes via French for the Arabic for a storehouse (and thus the military use). But I'm thinking of the OED definition:

magazine, n.

A periodical publication containing articles by various writers; esp. one with stories, articles on general subjects, etc., and illustrated with pictures, or a similar publication prepared for a special-interest readership.The use of the word (rather than periodical) typically indicates that the intended audience is not specifically academic.

Third edition, March 2000; online version June 2011. <>; accessed 25 June 2011. An entry for this word was first included in New English Dictionary, 1904.

If we accept a periodical (i.e. regular appearance) do we include annual/semi-annual comic convention brochures? Libraries, the experts in classification, debate the point. When is a standing order different from a journal subscription?. We'll come back to this in a minute.
Newspapers - that should easy but even here, is the Sunday Times Colour Supplement a magazine or newspaper? I go for the former
 Aren't annuals books? Not for purposes of this classification, otherwise yes, books are books including reprints
Advertising This category is a tough one. I could list every instance of one advert (Walls Wonderman), and I just might, if any more come forward; Should I list an instance where a fan uses a Bellamy comic convention logo and adjusts the year - yes, I think so.
Media This is for any TV or Radio appearance of Bellamy, his Thunderbird 6 film poster is under 'advertising'
Unpublished a mix of all sorts. I am aware that some of these have been 'published' - for example in fan magazines, and the Internet if nowhere else but felt this category allows me the nearest to miscellaneous! I have seen all these but some remain 'hidden' at the owner's request
Unseen Bellamy solely an excuse to highlight a major exhibition that features large in Bellamy lore. It also allows me to list items, some of which have never been published, and helps us to identify pieces - for example by Jeff Haythorpe and Tim Barnes who were at the event
Articles and books about Bellamy the final category that shows some obsessive tendencies. It includes some large articles on Bellamy but also some peripheral mentions of his art. I could add loads to this and when I have free time I do! Hopefully the descriptions help people select what they need and avoid any really peripheral mentions!

I wanted to clear up one massive mess I have helped perpetuate. But thanks to Dez Skinn's sterling efforts, I have now re-classified some of the comic convention programme covers, adverts etc. I have used Dez's web pages ( and wonder now, shouldn't I be adding a category of published webpages (but, oh dear, what about Twitter feeds, Facebooks notations?), no, that way lies madness! But let me know what you think.

Enjoy my cut down version of Dez's webpage (used with permission of the kind guy) with the emphasis obviously on Bellamy. Read the full story from the eyewitness accounts Dez shares

Skinn states:
"Frank Bellamy came along with stacks of his old Eagle artwork and gave an amazingly in-depth talk on the trials and tribulations of working on Dan Dare and Garth as well as his enjoyment on Fraser of Africa and Heros the Spartan."

"Frank Bellamy was so chuffed to be the guest of honour at Comicon 71 that he produced five new colour visuals for us to auction off. [The photo below left] shows a bearded young Dez holding one of them" - this is mentioned as "Fantasy figure"in the 'Unknown' part of the checklist and to our knowledge never been published. And yes, I have asked Dez but he can't remember the other pieces (however, Dez's note accompanying 1978 states we do know one more)

"Below is one of the stunning pieces of art Frank Bellamy created especially for the event. It was unexpected and too late for a place in the convention booklet, although all of them did finally make it into print in later years."

Not used in 1971

The emboldening is mine and explains one of those mini-mysteries, how the artwork states '71' yet didn't appear anywhere with this.See 1981 below

The famous Doctor Who artist Andrew Skilleter, wrote a review of the 1971 convention and focussed on Bellamy. Nancy Bellamy accompanied Frank - I wonder how she enjoyed it? I know she has mentioned it in the past as being impressive.

Skilleter gives an insight into Bellamy's working practice when he reports on a Q&A session in which Bellamy says "how he would read through the script, marking frames 'Large', 'Medium' or 'Small', ignoring the scriptwriter's notes as to 'long shots', 'close-ups', etc. and then starting work on the layout pencils, trying for as much dramatic effect as possible."  

The piece below was designed by Bellamy for the 1973 convention which never took place.  Fortunately the '3' could easily be changed to a '5' - see below

Not used until 1975

1973 logo slightly amended

Skinn: "Something of a recovery began with Comicon 75. Rob [Barrow] used (yet another) Bellamy visual for its promotion, a superb piece of design actually created for the aborted Comicon 73" .

Bellamy died in July 1976 and unfortunately this meant the publicity for the 76 con would not in fact appear. Skinn says: "Unfortunately, the artwork promised in the progress report by Frank Bellamy and Jim Steranko was noticeable by its absence". The flyer included the piece produced for Comicon'73, and the promise of material by Bellamy.

The actual booklet (with a wraparound cover by Trevor Goring) only mentions Bellamy on one page:  "In memory Frank Bellamy 1917-1976"

In 1976 Gifford also ran the Comics101 event to celebrate the 101st birthday of British comics (based on Ally Sloper's Half Holiday (1884)).  Bellamy managed to provide Gifford not only with his final comic strip - for his newly launched "Ally Sloper" but also this piece for his Comics101 convention booklet

Skinn mentions that the cover for the 1978 Comicon brochure by Bellamy is "Another Frank Bellamy visual (one of those he had produced for the 1971 convention auction) finally surfacing as the cover of Rob Barrow and Colin Campbell’s Comicon ‘78 booklet". So that accounts for another piece from the 5 he produced in 1971 mentioned above

And finally one that Dez hasn't mentioned ...yet!

The very kind Ewan Browlow provided this scan of the 1981 Comicon wraparound cover - seen in 1971 above! Skinn wrote:
.. "half of the piece that Bob Monkhouse owned which I have had photographed and was for Comicon 71. The bottom right corner (under claw) has been blocked in to read '81' whereas before it said '71'".

The 1971 logo used here in 1981

Saturday 2 July 2011

Frank Bellamy and Alan Vince

The most recent Eagle Times (Vol 24 No 2 Summer 2011) has a feature by the always interesting Alan Vince.  He profiles some of Bellamy's illustrations in the Radio Times, Sunday Times Colour Magazine supplement, called 'Eureka' and the Daily Mirror. Nice collection of artwork.

The tiger (shown from the article - below) was first shown to the public (to my knowledge) by the reporter Tony Smith on the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph Thursday 8 May 1980, p.16

Tony kindly sent it to me from his scrapbook of cuttings - thus the sellotape - and I'm grateful to him. I have reproduced it below - please excuse the crudeness of the picture!

The interesting thing about the article by Alan Vince is that he reports on a visit to the Hulton House - the home of the Eagle comic, a lady mentioned to him that the Esso for Extra advert was by Bellamy. Alan says here that he had never heard this before or since - and neither have I. However I think I can help clear this up.

In last year's Raymond Sheppard: Master illustrator exhibition catalogue written by Paul Liss (and in which I had a hand) he writes, with the help of Sheppard's daughter, Christine:

© Paul Liss 2010
Knowing Sheppard's work very well, I know that the following is by him too. But you can see where the confused story by the Eagle lady came about as both tigers are striking a similar pose, but this is definitely by Raymond Sheppard, not Bellamy. But I do like all three versions!