Sunday 15 December 2013

Frank Bellamy and Boy's Own Paper 1952

It's Christmas! Here's your present which, unusually, you may open before the 25th December

From 18 January 1879 to February 1967 there were 2,511 issues of the Boy's Own Paper  which went from being a weekly to a monthly in 1913 until its demise. I would think, from those I've seen, it played a large role in youth propaganda during the Second World War. In its heyday - in my opinion 1940s to 1960 - it featured many illustrators that have mostly been forgotten. My other interest, Raymond Sheppard appeared in 34 issues from the 1930s to 1958 and Frank Bellamy produced work for 27 issues during the period March 1952 to March 1956. By 1956 he was in the thick of a weekly strip and about to, in October 1957, move onto his first continuous colour comic strip "The Happy Warrior", the life of Churchill in the Eagle comic.

December 1952 Cover Boy's Own Paper

I have previously written about C. T. Stoneham and Bellamy's illustrations of some of his work in Boy's Own Paper. I thought it was time to show, those who have never seen them, some of Frank Bellamy's lovely and interesting illustrations during the 1950s for this magazine and having finished all my Christmas shopping I had a moment free. I decided to share some pictures and also tidy up details - that only the most anally-retentive amongst you care about.

Firstly here's the content of the December issue - no Christmas theme here!

Boy's Own Paper December 1952
"River to nowhere" by Hugh B. Cave
"Suddenly the chief's son screamed a warning…"
The author Hugh Barnett Cave (1910-2004) was prolific to say the least.  His life story can be read on Wikipedia

As we have started with the December issue (a flimsy excuse indeed!) let's travel backwards in time...

BOY'S OWN PAPER Vol. 75:2 (Nov 1952)
"Whitey" by William MacMillan
William MacMillan is, like a lot of the BOP authors, a mystery. The name is too common - even among authors - for me to take a guess and confuse everyone. If the FictionMags Index has it right he wrote quite a few articles and stories from 1923-1952

BOY'S OWN PAPER Vol. 75:1 (Oct 1952)
"Man eater" by Tom Roan
Cover by Frank Bellamy

BOY'S OWN PAPER Vol. 75:1 (Oct 1952)
"Man eater" by Tom Roan
pp. 24-25
"Congo the great was billed as the most vicious man-eating lion in the world.
But his real enemies were the circus "cats" and a typhoon gave him his chance."
Tom Roan (1898-1958) wrote many pulp stories for American magazines including Bluebook, May 1952, where Bill Lohse illustrated the story when it was first published.Interesting to see how fast the UK used it.

BOY'S OWN PAPER Vol. 74:12 (Sept 1952)
"Devil-Lion" by C.T. Stoneham
pp.24-25 "A tall shaggy form came out of the leaves 
behind him…monstrous, terrible."
I've said a bit about Charles Thurley Stoneham (1895-1965) before so won't repeat it here.

BOY'S OWN PAPER Vol. 74:11 (August 1952) "No welcome" by Geoffrey Morgan
"...I pressed the other end of the spanner in his back"

Geoffrey Morgan (1916-1995) wrote extensively for the Children's Newspaper (where you can register for free and read more of his stories by searching for his name). His series about the Conway family's journeys aboard the Mirelda yacht were published by Lutterworth Press in the 1950s

BOY'S OWN PAPER Vol. 74:10 (July 1952)   
"Phantom buffalo" by Gerald Wyatt
Gerald Wyatt, is here, writing about the Wild West and another few stories I have seen (for example this one) are on the same subject. I can't find any books authored by him, here or in the States.  His name appears in reprint collections that Jack Cox (the editor of BOP from 1946-1967) put together in the 1960s.

BOY'S OWN PAPER Vol. 74:8 (May 1952)
 p.24-25 "Elephant hunter" by C.T. Stoneham
"He saw the long yellow tusks thrusting at him and dived sideways..."
BOY'S OWN PAPER Vol. 74:7 (April 1952)  
"Mr. Quills wakes up" by David Stephen
"The vixen reached down. 
Mr Quills felt her hot breath through a chink in his armour"
David Stephen was born in 1910 and after that I know nothing!

BOY'S OWN PAPER Vol. 74:6 (March 1952)
"There's a jungle on your doorstep!" by Alan C. Jenkins
Alan Charles Jenkins wrote a wealth of books and articles on subjects ranging from animal care, archaeology to Holland's sea defences. He appears to have been born in 1912 and I can't find a source that tells us whether he is still with us. Bellamy illustrated 3 of his works in Boy's Own Paper


Sunday 17 November 2013

E-Thunderbirds Are Go!

Egmont have announced the launch of Thunderbirds e-comics! The recent publication of their hardback collection converted to e-format. There are two stories per download and the quality is very good - see below. The stories are not 'published' in chronological order.

For the moment you can download them from iTunes only - Android version to follow shortly. They have also thought of my international cousins in the United States


I have added all the details to my 'reprint' list of Bellamy's work in comics, starting with TV21 #141 where the first single page stories appeared

The individual issues of the books cost just £1.99 in the UK  and $2.99 in the US

Now to ensure they work on my iPad I have downloaded the first one for you to see. The fuzzy nature of the photos is due to my not cleaning the lens - not the e-books!

Zoom in on my iPad

Zoom in on my iPad

Last page to tempt you further

Saturday 9 November 2013

Original Art on Comic Book Auctions: Captain Scarlet

Lot#93 TV21 192 cover
John Freeman kindly alerted me to the fact that Comic Book Auctions are selling the original art of Frank Bellamy's cover to TV21 #192. It's Lot # 93 and priced with an estimate of £550-£650. Here's the description:

Captain Scarlet original front cover artwork (1968) by Frank Bellamy from TV 21 No 192 with original comic
Bright Pelikan inks on board. 15 x 12 ins

UPDATE: Winning bid incl. 10% Buyer's Premium: £786 (January 2014) 

The picture above shows an issue of TV21 the comic plus the artwork and indicates, in my opinion, that the original has lost none of its vibrancy. And for those who are lucky enough to see Bellamy originals you can immediately see that the published work did him no favours - brilliant though it was!

Bellamy drew 5 covers to the TV21 comic which featured Captain Scarlet stories and to this little boy's eyes, strangely did not do the full stories. Later I understood why. He obviously had his work on Thunderbirds at the same time (and that work alone took about a week to do - two colour pages for this weekly comic!) so perhaps I'm being harsh. Don Harley completed the story in #185 and #186. We have seen Harley and Bellamy in the same area before - with Thunderbrids and Dan Dare. Jim Watson (see some of his Battle Picture Weekly art) completes the other stories listed below.

Just for the fun of it here are the other covers that Bellamy drew for the Captain Scarlet cover stories
TV21 185 (3 August 2068)
I love this design but worry about the plane carrying such flammable material!

TV21 186 (10 August 2068)
A headlonmg crash reminiscent of the Dan Dare one (below)

Eagle Vol 11:4

TV 21 & TV TORNADO 192 (21 September 2068)
Can you feel the crisp cold air on the ice? I always wondered whether boys (girls went to Lady Penelope, didn't they?) were interested in footballers and Gerry Anderson shows. I wasn't - except for one year in Secondary School!

TV 21 & TV TORNADO 193 (28 September 2068)

Bellamy was constrained by the giant advert for the Corgi Toy coupon but still thrills us with that storm

TV 21 & TV TORNADO 210 (25 January 2069)
Lastly I know that this cover is one loved by Rian Hughes and as stated on Gerry Anderson: Complete Comic History looks nothing like the more Anderson-type version inside the comic. But who's complaining?

I'll update the winning price after the auction closes on 26 November 2013

Saturday 26 October 2013


My Eagle has landed!
Remember how Google Scholar used to have "resting on the shoulder's of giants" as their strapline? By pure accident I'm sitting on the same bench with them!! I'm in a published book with John Byrne, Dave Gibbons, Walt Simonson, Ken Steacy, John Watkiss and it's designed by Peter Richardson! Published by Geoff West at Book Palace Books. How did that happen?

Exciting endpapers

In July 2011, Peter was working on "a new magazine called Illustrators. We are going to be focussing on UK and European illustrators of the last century along with some contemporary ones, with access to a lot of amazing original artwork - so all in all it's very exciting but a 
lot of work!"
He asked me about my interest in Raymond Sheppard, and that led to an article in Issue 2 which went very well.

In early 2012, the Denis McLoughlin book was more or less completed, and by then he has persuaded me that an introduction to the latest Bellamy reprint from Geoff West's brigade   would be a great thing. I sent the finished draft article on Heros the Spartan  on, of all days, 1st April 2012. And in a subsequent email I stated to Peter "My wife said it used quotations very well and she was actually gripped by it....and she is usually just supportive!". Geoff and Peter came back enthusiastic...and together with my wife that made three people who liked it!

A great spread by Bellamy

He subsequently wrote:
I spoke with Geoff about it yesterday and he was equally excited. The way you have sourced the information and constructed the piece sheds a lot of light on Bellamy's involvement with Heros and greatly helps the reader contextualise this fabulous strip in terms of both the Eagle as well as Bellamy's own career.
Black Sails and Dark Tales

Then Peter surprised me by naming my piece  "Black Sails and Dark Tales: an introduction to Frank Bellamy's graphic novel masterpiece" which I think is inspired!

2 pages of the introduction

 Shortly afterwards Geoff and Peter got permission to include the famous interview that Dez Skinn and Dave Gibbons ran with Frank Bellamy only three years before his early death. It is not the only interview but is certainly the most comprehensive and interesting. And Peter has added all sorts of art in full colour that wasn't present in the original interview and some of which I have never seen before. Peter was worried that I had used lots of quotes from it already, but actually I agree with his assessment that my piece actually says something different.

Page 28-29 showing various Bellamy artworks
So that's all I'm saying about my part in this venture. So what's in the book that I've been raving about for months and months?

Firstly there are two versions:

Authors: Tom Tully, Frank Bellamy, edited and designed by Peter Richardson
Artist: Frank Bellamy
Title: Frank Bellamy's Heros the Spartan
Publisher: Book Palace Books, October 2013
Number of pages: 296
Format: Hard Cover; Full Colour illustrations
Size: 11" x 14" (270mm x 360mm)
ISBN: 9781907081200

Price: £265.00

Only 120 have been published of this version
This version is a leather-bound numbered edition limited to 120 copies with embossed slipcase. It comes with an additional 24 pages of meticulously scanned reproductions of original Bellamy Heros artwork never before seen in public.


Authors: Tom Tully, Frank Bellamy, edited and designed by Peter Richardson
Artist: Frank Bellamy
Title: Frank Bellamy's Heros the Spartan Publisher: Book Palace Books, October 2013
Number of pages: 272
Format: Hard Cover; Full Colour illustrations
Size: 11" x 14" (270mm x 360mm)
ISBN: 9781907081194
Price: £95.00
Only 600 copies have been published

Animated view of the editions
1) Foreword by
  • John Byrne (p8)
  • Dave Gibbons (p.10)
  • Walt Simonson (p.12)
  • Ken Steacy (p.14)
  • John Watkiss (p.15)
2) Black Sails and Dark Tales: an introduction to Frank Bellamy's graphic novel masterpiece by Norman Boyd (p.16)

3) Lighting the darkness: an insight into the life and work of Frank Bellamy (p.24)

4) The Voyages of Heros the Spartan (p.61)
***Book 1: Island of Darkness (p.62)
***Book 2: Eagle of the Fifth (p.102)
***Book 4: Axe of Arguth (p.172)
***Book 6: Slave Army (p.214)
***Book 7: Cormog and the Wolfman (p.262)

 [Books 3,5 and 8 are by Luis bermejo and not in this volume]

5) Acknowledgements (p.272)

Lastly I need to tell you that many pieces of high quality scans have been used throughout the book that are hard to show here in jpeg format, but are beautiful to see

Isn't it time we nominated these guys for an award for services to 'comickind'? Let me know how and I am happy to provide a testimonial. But let me say a big thanks to Geoff, Peter and all at Book Palace Books. Now what's next?

Monday 21 October 2013

Frank Bellamy and THUNDERBIRDS The Comic Collection

Some stories are reprinted over and over. Some stories are not often reprinted in any form!Some get skipped in the run!

Egmont's Thunderbirds the comic collection

Although the news of this publication came out of the blue a few months ago, it was a pleasure to finally see a copy. I have updated the website with the listing of these reprints from TV21. While I was doing it I noticed how the run of reprinted stories skips some stories.

  • TV CENTURY 21 141 - 146 "The Earthquake Maker"
  • TV CENTURY 21 147 - 154 "Visitor from space"
  • TV CENTURY 21 155 - 161 "The Antarctic menace"
  • TV CENTURY 21 162 - 169 "Brains is Dead"
  • TV CENTURY 21 170 - 172 "Space cannon"
  • TV CENTURY 21 173 - 178 "The Olympic plot"
  • TV CENTURY 21 179 - 183 "The Barracuda awaits"
  • TV CENTURY 21 184 - 187 "Devil's crag"
  • TV CENTURY 21 188 - 191 "Eiffel Tower demolition"
  • TV CENTURY 21 192 - 196 "Nuclear threat"
  • TV CENTURY 21 197 - 202 "Hawaiian lobster menace"
  • TV CENTURY 21 203 - 208 "The Time machine"
  • TV CENTURY 21 209 - 217 "Zoo Ship"
  • TV CENTURY 21 218 - 226 "City of doom"
  • TV CENTURY 21 227 - 234 "Chain reaction"
  • TV CENTURY 21 235 - 238 The Amazon Fire Pit
  • TV CENTURY 21 239 - 242 Subsmash Rescue
  • TV 21 & Joe 90 1-4 Volcano Oil Search
First of all we start with a reprint from TV21 #141 and I suspect this is because this was the first issue in which Bellamy no longer had the double page spread (because some guy called Ron Embleton started illustrating something called "Captain Scarlet"!) and therefore these strips are easier to reprint being two single pages - no problem with the gutter between pages.

The Zoo Ship

After this first story, we follow the published order from TV21, until issue 178's ending of the story "The Olympic Plot". We skip #179-183 (a story variously known as "The Jupiter Revolt", or in Thunderbirds Holiday Special [1993] as "Mission to Moonbase"  or "The Barracuda awaits"  in  Century 21: Classic Comic Strips from the Worlds of Gerry Anderson: Menace from Space by Chris Bentley (2012)) and go onto "The Devil's Crag from issues 184-187. We then carry on from #188-202.

It's then that we carry on into un-reprinted territory...well, sort of....

Devil's Crag

In issue 203 (7 Dec 2068) we get "The Time Machine" which has only been reprinted (to my knowledge - and please correct me) in the reprint title of the 1990s Thunderbirds (issues #27-32 [Parts 1 in # 27, 2 in #28, 3 in #29, 4 in #30, 5 in #31, 6 in #32]) to be far too exact. "The Time Machine" ran in TV21 until  #208 (11 Jan 2069) and this volume from Egmont carries on into unreprinted territory (except in that 90s comic Thunderbirds!). We see issues 209 through to 226 of TV21 and then we move onto John Cooper's artwork from the second series TV21 & Joe 90 with two stories "The Big Bang" and "The Mini-Moon" before reprinting the excellent Lady Penelope. As a 8 year old I loved these stories drawn by Eric Eden - especially the one about the Isle of Arran riddle.

The one mistake I have found in this reprint is that Bellamy is wrongly credited on the contents page with illustrating "The Isle of Arran" which is drawn by Eric Eden (pp250 - 267). But this is a minor criticism

For Dan Dare fans I should mention Frank Hampson's outing with Lady P is reprinted here too. The art is not as crisply reprinted as I'd like, but the whole book looks to be taken from reprinted material and not original scans that's not too surprising. Before I close this long ramble of factual material I should also give credit to Graham Bleathman's cutaway art of the Thunderbirds as well as Tracy Island, FAB1, Creighton-Ward stately home. All in all a fantastic book to own especially if, like me, you're always grabbing the Ravette paperbacks or Bentley and Marcus Hearn's series of reprints and getting frustrated that you have to jump around the volumes so much. This book will be in easy reach so when I search for stories I can find them quickly.

The funky wallpaper, sorry endpapers

Oh and I think I ought to mention the beautiful endpapers which would have made an 8 year old Norman some fine wallpaper back in the day!

Brains is dead

Christmas is coming so get this on your wishlist, the ISBN for Thunderbirds Comic Collection is 9781405268363

Where to now Egmont? Well they have also released some interesting boxes of postcards, follow the links for more information.I enjoyed seeing the Thunderbirds: 100 F.A.B. Postcards (Classic Comics Postcard Collection) full of photos and screen grabs. The others in this series are 70s Girls Comics: 100 Postcards (Classic Comics Postcard Collection) and Battle: 100 Postcards (Classic Comics Postcard Collection)

Other's opinions
Lew Stringer review
Win Wiacek review
John Freeman's review on Downthetubes
Steve Holland's review
Forbidden Planet's review