Wednesday 30 November 2011

Farewell to Nancy Bellamy (1922-2011)

Nancy celebrates Frank's 'Blue Plaque' at 68 Bath Road, Kettering

Tony Smith has let me know:
You may wish to add that Nancy's funeral takes place at the Edgar Newman Chapel at Kettering Crematorium on Monday, 12 December, 2011 at 11.30am.

Unfortunately, I have some sad news to report.  On Thursday 24 November 2011, Nancy Bellamy passed away after a short stay in hospital.

Nancy was born on the 25 August 1922 at Cockfield, Barnard Castle, County Durham and married Frank Bellamy on 6 March 1942 when Frank was 24 years old and Nancy 19.

Nancy was always generous in talking to people about her famous husband.  Many of Frank's boyhood facts came from Nancy, who always loved hearing and telling a good story.
In an interview on local radio (with Howard Corn of the Eagle Society), Arnold Peters asked Nancy about her wedding day, which took place in County Durham, and got the following response:
The journey to get to Kettering was such a nightmare. On one station, I think it was Sheffield station, because we had to change trains twice, one train was delayed for five hours and we had to sit in a waiting room that had no fire no tea, nothing for five hours, then when the train did come in the only seat we could get was in a guard’s van with a draught blowing up through the floorboards. We were absolutely perished.  Then when we did get to Kettering, it had been arranged that a car would meet us at the station. But with it being so late they had given up and gone, which I don’t blame them. And when we did get to the station we had to walk all the way to his home, which was quite a good walk carrying suitcases and when we got to his home we were locked out and that was the last straw. I sat on the suitcase and I cried and said I wish I hadn’t bothered to get marred.  Anyway, Frank being such an avid cinema fan thought he’d charge the back door like they do in films, it always works in films, but it didn’t in reality. He charged the back door with his shoulder, but nothing happened, the door didn’t budge at all. Anyway the next door neighbour had heard us outside, and she came out and asked if we were in trouble. And we said we were locked out so she said come around to my house, she said I’ve got a little bit of fire, she made the fire up, and it was lovely to feel a bit of warmth again, and to have a nice hot cup of tea. So that was certainly a white wedding, being a war time one, it was certainly white, but not the way we wanted it.

Both Nancy and Frank were fans of flamenco and, when she was younger, Nancy enjoyed going out to restaurants and clubs and travelling in Spain.  One of her favourite songs was 'Spanish Eyes' by Engelbert Humperdinck.

Nancy leaves behind a son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.  I'm sure you would all wish to join me in sending condolences to the family.

(Thanks to Paul Holder for the news.  Read an interview with Nancy on Paul's site)

Monday 21 November 2011

Frank Bellamy and Gerry Cottle's Circus

Tony Smith commented recently to me by email as a result of my comment in the King Kong post:

Interesting to read your latest blog in which you mention three posters Bellamy produced for Gerry Cottle's Circus in 1976. Please find attached one of the three posters he was commissioned to do shortly before his death. I am the proud owner of original copies of two of these posters - both rare (and valuable) because they advertised the circus when it appeared in Frank's home town of Kettering. One shows the strongman Khalil Oghaby and the other features the blindfolded and hooded Cimarro Brothers performing their "Walk of Death" on the highwire. I would love to know what the third one was and wonder if any of your readers can oblige? Best wishes Tony 

Well this one was easy for me as I was exciited when I tripped over a variant poster of Khalil Oghaby from the one I owned. I had seen the Khalil "crushed beneath the weight of a huge American limousine" poster but not the "He lifts an elephant!" "Mighty strongman for Persia. First time ever!" version

The third poster was of the highwire act the Cimarro Brothers.


The Internet is wonderful. here's a video from the 1960s. The caption reads:
Mr.Khalil Oghab or pahlavan khalil was some of the most popular pahlavan in tehran iran. This is a brief caption from the incredible Mr. Khalil Oghab who was born in city of Shiraz in Iran 1924. He performed in Amjadieh Soccer Stadium inTehran Iran in front of over 50,000 people in 1960s. He holds numerous titles and records including "The Strongest Man" in Europe for decades. He lives in good health and owns and operates the only Circus in Iran .
 and indeed has a Facebook page!

The Cimarro Brothers are are harder thing to find. They appeared apparently on Seaside Special in the same year I got my poster - 1976 and there is a comment on someone's blog how they enjoyed seeing the Brothers - who were Italian

Bellamy met with Gerry Cottle and produced to our knowledge three posters for the 1976 season. I have collected pictures from auction sites and thought you might like to see them. Please excuse the poor quality of some of them but it's interesting how far circuses travel.

Wood Green


Plumstead Common





United Arab Emitrates


Saturday 12 November 2011

Original art by Frank Bellamy of Robin Hood

© Look and Learn
UPDATED 04 Dec 2011- Unsold

The latest Winter catalogue from Malcolm Phillips,  Director of Comic Book Auctions Ltd is online and of interest to Bellamy fans will be the Robin Hood original.

Lot #113 is:

Robin Hood original artwork (1956) drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy for Swift 36 1956 Robin fights Guy of Gisborne Indian ink and wash. Framed and glazed, 18 x 14 ins Estimate: £850-950

(I'll add the sale price after the auction)

© Look and Learn

It's actually episode 17 (as Bellamy has written on the art) of the second series (which continued straight on from Robin Hood and his Merry Men) called Robin Hood and Maid Marian and by my calculations that means it comes from Vol 4. No. 25 (dated 22 June 1957). Unfortunately I don't have a set of these in the original, so if anyone wants to correct me, please do

Here for your pleasure are the two pages of episode 17 scanned by me from the BookPalace reprint of "Frank Bellamy's Robin Hood- the complete adventures"
where, incidentally there is a saving on all three of the beautifully produced FB books

Wednesday 9 November 2011

The Bubble Man starts in the Daily Mirror today

Wednesday 9 November 2011 © Daily Mirror

An unusual strip to reprint this time in the Daily Mirror, is The Bubble Man, which ran originally from 16 August 1975 - 28 November 1975 (numbers J192-J281). It has been reprinted twice to my knowledge in Garth: The Bubble Man by the fan publisher All Devon Comic Collectors Club Daily Strips: Collectors Club Editions No.28. And more recently by Spaceship Away (Issues #19, October 2009, to #23 March 2011 where they were coloured by the excellent John Ridgway.

As Martin Baines said to me when kindly forwarding the first strip, "I think it makes a interesting exercise to compare John's colouring to mine..." It will indeed and I'd love to know what Frank himself would have thought of it all!

Incidentally, I try and keep this blog about Bellamy - other artists do slip in occasionally and thanks to Martin's mention of John Ridgway, I'd like to recommend his new strip in ...Strip Magazine. It's called Age of Heroes, written by James Hudnall and beautifully drawn and coloured by John Ridway. Don't believe me? Follow the link and see a copy. Phew I think I got away with that, just!

Monday 7 November 2011

True Brit reprinted digitally

True Brit was published in 2004 (that long ago!) and soon went out of print (see below for link for the old edition). The book had up to date profiles, interviews and lots of pictures of British comic artists and their works. It was edited by TwoMorrows regular George Khoury and my old mate Paul Holder (who designed the whole book) wrote pages 34-43 on Frank Bellamy and included some rare photos of the man. (I'm too modest to mention my contribution on Mike Noble).

True Brit © TwoMorrows 2011
True Brit © TwoMorrows 2004

Anyway, TwoMorrows, who have been making loads of their regular magazines available in the digital format, have now asked Paul to enhance the old version and add colour and some new pictures for the digital publication. Just look as his new cover above. You can see it was a labour of love!. The article of "The History of British Comic Art" by David Roach is worth the price of admission alone.

When I say some colour has been added I mean Paul has enhanced the previous black and white pictures, added several pieces that weren't in the original book  - just look at the Don Lawrence, Frank Hampson, the Dalek artwork - many from the original art! Add to that Grimly Feendish, Little Plum, Steel Claw, double page spreads by Bellamy, Gerry Haylock, John Burns, and Ron Embleton. Oh and just in case you think I'm stuck in the past, there's all these people in there:

Leo Baxendale
Frank Bellamy
Brian Bolland
Mark Buckingham
John M. Burns
Alan Davis
Ron Embleton
Hunt Emerson
Dave Gibbons
Frank Hampson
Bryan Hitch
Syd Jordan
Don Lawrence
David Lloyd
Dave McKean
Mike Noble
Kevin O'Neill
Frank Quitely
Ken Reid
Bryan Talbot
Barry Windsor-Smith

How much teasing do you need? Run, don't walk, over to TwoMorrows and order yourself an e-copy and why not browse their other superb books and magazines whilst there - I'm not getting any commission, but love what they do.Oh, if you don't believe my hyperbole, download the free PDF sampler with a handy clickable link at the end to point you to the fuller 284 pages - all for $6.95...and I could add a joke about no delivery charges, but that would be cheap!

True Brit. p.52 © TwoMorrows 2011
True Brit, p.53 © TwoMorrows 2011

P.S. At the time of the 2004 publication there were other books called True Brit published - and looking at these links you'll see it's a popular title. Our title was up against Britney Spears and John Cleese's Superman as well as Commando and the fact that the draft pre-publication cover was seen all over the Net meant, I feel, customers were confused. The 2004 cover above was the final published version - don't believe everything you read online!

So just to confuse things further, here's the unpublished cover from 2004 with a link to the old edition

True Brit: Celebrating The Comic Book Artists Of The UK

Saturday 5 November 2011

Frank Bellamy and lions!

I was recently casually browsing through some comics and thought I remembered the scene of a man fighting a lion that I found in a TV21 comic - number 61 to be precise. Where would Bellamy have illustrated a man being attacked by a lion? Of course, in Fraser of Africa in Eagle

Eagle 26 November 1960

I tracked it down and thought you might like any excuse to see some Bellamy in his colourful glory. You will know that Bellamy loved Africa and had a whole hive of merchandise and collectables (they didn't use such silly labels back then!) In the Eagle of 26 November 1960 a report on Bellamy showed the artist amidst his paraphernalia. Nancy, his wife, didn't share his enthusiasm for stuffed animals but is still proud to show off her husband's work in her house today. She has some beautiful originals of Maasai warriors on display

Here's the Fraser of Africa strip - whole and below the scan of my copy of the comic so you can see more detail 
Eagle 4 March 1961, page 12

Detail of the above
Interesting to see what appears to me to be a rushed job on the final panel. The cross hatching/shading is not up to his usual standard. Maybe someone else did a 'correction' on it for some reason. I've seen that happen even in his Thunderbirds work. Here's the TV21 shot which started me on this search for lions.

TV21 #61 pp 10-11

Detail from above