Saturday 9 June 2012

Next Garth story Martin Asbury!

© Daily Mirror

"The People of the Abyss" has finished and today you'll notice in the Daily Mirror that the new Garth coloured strip is drawn by Martin Asbury - not Frank Bellamy. It was Asbury's first strip after he completed "The Man-Hunt" which Bellamy started before his death. This story ran from the 17 January to 29 April 1977 that's 88 episodes so that takes us upto the end of July for this reprint by my calculations.

Martin Baines, the colourist, once again has come up trumps and sent this beautiful example of the opening panels, of which he says "I personally think is one of the strongest Jim Edgar scripts so hopefully you will not be too disappointed."

Certainly not Martin, and for the fun or reading a daily strip I've decided to continue buying the Daily Mirror. However as this is a Bellamy blog I'll take this opportunity to say a few words about the previous story - any guest writers apply now! 

I liked the look of "The people of the abyss" with Garth swimming underwater, meeting octopus-like creatures and the beautiful Liuba, who always appears with a simple thong-type outfit - when not completely naked. Now those of you who knew Nancy, Frank's widow, will know she was happy to tell everyone what a great body Frank thought she had. And in my opinion and awful lot of Frank's women took their details from his wife! Liuba looked so like Nancy it highlights what a great portrait artist Bellamy was.

© Daily Mirror
And in the following scene where she is ill she appears at first with a modest blanket to cover her as she lies on the stretcher, but mysteriously it disappears in the next panel - I'm not complaining! Perhaps it was the fact that they didn't want to waste a blanket as Liuba is about to be lowered back to the deep abyss.

© Daily Mirror
One problem I had as a teenager - when I first read Garth - was the scale of his head and shoulders versus the rest of him - and this is illustrated nowhere better than in the following strip. I was used to my superheroes being drawn by Curt Swan and other DC pals. Or in that perspective foreshortened Kirby way - which exaggerated the action enough for me to like it. These days I find a lot of standard comic art uses worse exaggeration than Bellamy did in this picture

© Daily Mirror
I loved what Martin did in this second strip. The swinging action of Garth sending a live lamp at the wet frogman which Bellamy drew really hits home with Martin's colouring - wonderful.

© Daily Mirror

And here to show you what I mean is the original black and white version - scanned and cleaned up a bit. Remember back then this would have appeared on pulp paper and been nowhere as nearly as clean as this!

F281-282 © Daily Mirror
I look forward to seeing what happens after Martin Asbury's story to see if we return to Bellamy again. I will let you know

Tuesday 5 June 2012

New Frank Bellamy art found...I think!

We have discovered a new source of Bellamy's artwork but also got into a mystery! In the comic Rocket #6 (26 May 1956), there is an advert for "The Pictorial Encyclopedia" and "The Pictorial History Book" - a matching pair of titles. 

They appear to be the sort of title that your mother and father would approve of you purchasing with your pocket money. Until a conversation with David Driver (whose name should always be mentioned when talking about Frank Bellamy's work in the Radio Times in the 1970s)  I had no idea of the existence of these books. The British Library has no date for them but does acknowledge receipt of them in 1952 and 1954 respectively. These are the nearest we get to the actual dates. At the time Bellamy was attached to the Norfolk Studios in London producing advertising and soon he would join Mickey Mouse Weekly so this is pretty early work

David very kindly let me borrow his copy of "The Pictorial History Book" and with shaking fingers I turned each page. The contents page lists the artists (an unusual thing for these sort of reference works in my opinion!) and there is Frank Bellamy!  I quickly bought a copy of the book knowing I would want to scan whatever I found and share it - so don't worry David your copy is safe! David said to me he'd had the book for some time and that he couldn't work out which picture was Bellamy's. Now, I like a challenge like that so I have presented several scans below for you to make up your mind.

The Pictorial History Book (Editorial board: R Haddon, Charles Harvey, Lionel M Munby, E S Wolff) London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co., [1954] 

Title page, list of illustrators and Contents with C. L. Doughty's portraits

It immediately looks as if artists were not given one article to illustrate as there are mixtures of styles in the book and even within articles. So how can we find Bellamy? Some the colour and black & white pictures have identifying marks / signatures - such as C. L. Doughty, who appears throughout (and in the matching book). Often when browsing a bunch of book illustrations or magazines one sees a pattern and begins to 'see' an artist's style so maybe a process of elimination might work.

Below are scans of the major artists including the possible Bellamys
page 16

C. L. Doughty's signature is just visible

Page 29 This boat looks very Bellamy to me

Page 30 This ploughman looks odd but the background and ox look
Bellamy-like to me - and compares in technique to his Captain Cook

Page 51 Bellamy was shortly going to be drawing in Mickey Mouse Weekly ("Monty Carstairs" strip)
but would do King Arthur and his Knights later.
Is this him? The twisted figure bottom right again looks like Doughty to me
Page 52 - and A. Pollack's signature

Page 68

Page 69
Page 85

Salomon  Van AbbĂ© signature

Page 88

The brilliant Peter Jackson's scroll!

Page 104

Page 115

Page 115 showing Winston Megoran's signature

Page 152 with Ley Kenyon's signature

Page 178
Could this be Bellamy - perhaps only the bottom right hand frame?

Page 179 are nice colour works with no signatures but Bellamy drew World War One
later for Look and Learn and also drew lots of explosions in his time
Page 187 with Cedric Chater's signature

So where does this get us? Do we know which picture(s) Bellamy drew for this work? I think your guess is as good as mine. Paul Holder feels that Page 29 "The coming of the Danes" is the piece. I liked the boat so that ties in. David Driver couldn't guess and he worked with Bellamy in the 1970s so do I know the answer? - No! Get in contact if you have a copy of this book and can add anything and have a look at copies at Abebooks if you want to join in.

UPDATE: Peter Richardson and David Jackson have voted for pages 178 and 179 and I personally favour those too 

List of illustrators
And here are the details extracted by David Jackson from the book for those who have a copy to work through which pages/panels they think are Bellamy's work. Listed artists (signed and inferred style pages where noted):

  • J Allan [ALVAN]  182
  • Barbosa
  • AE Batchelor
  • Henry Barnett
  • Frank Bellamy
  • Victor J Bertoglio
  • BS Biro  82-83
  • Douglas Bowness
  • Drake Brookshaw
  • R Burgess
  • Cedric Chater  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15 102 103 143 144 187
  • Leo Davy [Davey]
  • CL Doughty  4 6 7 14 16 26 27 28 30 44 45 51 52 53 72-76 80 87 88 89 100 101 104 105 109 121 122 153 124-125 152 153 166 185 
  • S Gale
  • Grace Golden  65-67 84? 155-157
  • LG Goodwin
  • J Harman
  • Peter Jackson  87-89 103  114 120 121
  • RW Jobson
  • CJ Johnstone
  • L Kenynon  151 152
  • JF Lewsley
  • Winston Megoran  114 115 116
  • Will Nickless
  • Patrick Nicolle   37 40-41 106-107 110
  • Walter Pannett
  • A Pollack  47 52 106
  • Wilfred Savage  34-35 123
  • RM Sax
  • E Sears
  • WH Shepherd
  • SA Smith
  • Derrick Smoothy
  • Cicely Steed
  • E Tansley
  • Saloman Van Abbe [ie not "F"] 84 85 86
  • Eric Wade
  • Richard Ward  145
  • W With
  • B Young
Lastly some thoughts and other information noted in page order:
-    pp1-3
p 4  C L Doughty style.
-    p 5
p 6  C L Doughty style.
p 7  C L Doughty style.
p 8  Cedric Chater style.
p 9  Cedric Chater style.
p10  Cedric Chater style.
p11  Cedric Chater sig.
p12  Cedric Chater style.
p13  Cedric Chater sig.
p14  Cedric Chater style.
       C L Doughty sig b/w frame.
p15  Cedric Chater sig.
p16  C L Doughty sig b/w frame.
-    pp17-29
p30  C L Doughty sig b/w.
-    pp31-33
p34  Wilfred Savage sig on main frame.
p35  Wilfred Savage sig on main frame
p36  Patrick Nicolle (inf as fol).
p37  Patrick Nicolle sig.
-    pp38-39
p40  Patrick Nicolle sig.
p41  Patrick Nicolle (2pp spread).
-    pp42-43
p44  Two frames signed CL Doughty '49.
p45  CL Doughty sig frame lower right.
-    p46
p47  Frame centre left sig AP (A Pollock).
-    pp48-50
p51  CL Doughty style.
p52  CL Doughty style;
       'AP' (A Pollock) lower left.
p53  CL Doughty style.
-    pp54-64
p65  Grace Golden.
p66  Grace Golden.
p67  Grace Golden sig.
p68  CL Doughty style (some).
p69  CL Doughty style (some) (inf as op).
p70  CL Doughty style (some).
-    p71
p72  CL Doughty sig.
p73  Main frame signed CL Doughty.
p74  Top colour frame signed CL Doughty.
p75  Top (b/w) frame sig CL Doughty.
p76  Two colour frames signed CL Doughty.
-    pp77-79
p80  CL Doughty signed frame top left.
-    p81
p82  BS Biro.
p83  BS Biro.
p84  Possibly G Golden
       S van Abbe (op fol).
p85  Two frames signed S van Abbe (F van Abbe, credit)
p86  Colour frame signed S van Abbe.
p87  CL Doughty sig;
        Peter Jackson initials.
p88  'PJ' top frame in colour;
        CL Doughty frame b/w;
         [Battle graphics and lettering and map].
p89   CL Doughty sig at top;
        PJ sig at lower right.
 -    pp90-96
p97  [Relates to pp98/99].
p98  [Relates to pp97/99].
p99  Orb symbol on spinning wheel frame (style as p137).
100  One signed C L Doughty.
101  C L Doughty style.
102  Probably Chater per p103.
103  Chater sig at top right
        PJ sig (b/w).
103  One b/w frame marked 'PJ' - Peter Jackson
104  C L Doughty style.
       Other style lowest frame (and across 'gutter' to p105).
105  CL Doughty sig.
       Other style lowest frame (across 'gutter' from p104).
106  AP (A Pollack) on b/w frame;
       Patrick Nicolle inf fol.
107  Patrick Nicolle sig.
108  ['Plan of Battle' graphics].
109  C L Doughty two frames, top signed.
110  Patrick Nicolle inf from sig style
 -    pp111-113
114  Bottom left frame PJ monogram of Peter Jackson.
       Remainder possibly Winston Megoran as foll.
115  Bottom right corner signed Winston Megoran.
116  Winston Megoran style.
 -   pp117-119
120  Peter Jackson sig.
121  C L Doughty style.
       Peter Jackson style.
122  C L Doughty style.
       [Map - note: in b/w using dot-tonal].
123  Wifred Savage sig.
124  C L Doughty sig on main frame.
125  C L Doughty sig on main frame.
-    pp126-136
137  [Same style as pp98-99.  Large map on page].
-    pp138-141
142  C L Doughty sig.
143  Maps + graphics - signed by Cedric Chater.
144  Cedric Chater style.
145  Richard Ward sig top frame.
 -   pp146-149
150  ['pastimes'] - motifs in colour;
       CLD style b/w frames (and poss one other).
151  L Kenyon style as fol.
152  L Kenyon sig lower right;
       C L Doughty sig b/w.
153  Top frame possibly signed (but small/illegible).
-    p154
155  Grace Golden "GG" (to left of "The Court of...").
156  Grace Golden.
157  Grace Golden.
-    pp158-163
164  [merchant navy].
165  [merchant navy].
166  Two frames signed C L Doughty.
 -   pp167-177
178  [aircraft]
179  [aircraft]
 -   pp180-181
182  Map graphic signed 'ALVAN' / Credit 'Allan.'
-    pp183-184
185  C L Doughty top of lower frames but right cut off at top.
-    p186
187  Cedric Chater sig.
 -   pp188-191