Tuesday 19 February 2013

New Garth Story: Bride of Jenghiz Khan

"Garth accompanies Lumiere on an archaeological mission close to the Great Wall of China. But he has not the dedicated enthusiasm of Lumiere or his Chinese colleague..." 

Thus the latest reprint, written by Jim Edgar, drawn by Frank Bellamy and newly coloured by Martin Baines, starts us out on another time-travelling adventure with Garth.

Tuesday 19 February 2013 © Daily Mirror

"Bride of Jenghiz Khan" originally ran between 28 September 1974 to 14 January 1975 (numbered H228-J11) and was reprinted twice before, to my knowledge:

  • Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan (Daily Strips No. 1). London: J. Dakin, P. Hudson & G. Lawley, May 1979 A5 size reprint 20 pages - Print run 400
  • Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan All Devon Comic Collectors Club Daily Strips: Collectors Club Editions No.1 [No date] 
I remember from childhood (and most likely in a comic!)  that the Mongol Empire stretched all the way to Europe from China, and Wikipedia has a wonderful animated picture of the growth of the Mongol Empire:

Map showing changes in borders of the Mongol Empire from founding by Genghis Khan in 1206, Genghis Khan's death in 1227 to the rule of Kublai Khan (1260–1294). (Uses modern day borders)

Original: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mongol_Empire_map.gif
Genghis Khan is quoted as being the greenest conqueror ever! And you might be interested to learn that work on discovering his grave (a great historical mystery) is advancing and that Khan might have been the most prolific lover in history! However do take this with a pinch of salt. As Albert Lin, a National Geographic explorer stated: “It is undeniable that Genghis Khan changed the course of history. Yet I cannot think of another historical figure of comparable impact that we know so little about,” 

So follow Garth as he travels back in time ...in The Daily Mirror! And of course thanks go again to Martin for sending me this first episode.

Friday 15 February 2013

Frank Bellamy and Thunderbirds monsters


Richard Farrell is a modest fellow who produces, as previously mentioned, a great fanzine called "Andersonic". It's a fun tribute lovingly assembled by asking people like me to jot a few lines about a topic on any of Gerry Anderson's works.

In Andersonic Episode 12, Summer 2011, pp33-43 you'll find an article called "John Blundall: APF'S Monster sculptor". To quote from Richard's back issues page this is an:

"Interview with former APF sculptor John Blundall in which he discusses his time working on series from Supercar up to Thunderbirds. John discusses how he got involved in puppetry, working with Christine Glanville, Wolfgang Manthey and Mary Turner, his favourite creations and what went into designing characters such as Robert the Robot, Professor Matic and of course Parker".

Worth buying for that alone, but in the interview John Blundall innocently mentions the following, quoted here with permission:

"John also came across a special visitor to the puppet studio back in the days of Thunderbirds... comic artist Frank Bellamy. "When I was a kid, I hated comics except the Eagle. The back and centre pages had wonderful strips based on historical things. l wasn't interested in the rest of the comic, but I was fascinated by the work of Frank Bellamy. It was quite early on in the early days in the studio workshop; one day a quiet fellow came in the workshop with a stool and a sketch pad. Reg Hill brought him in, and said, 'This guy's coming in to do some drawings of the puppet figures'. He sat down and started drawing the puppets. I looked at his drawings and thought 'Bloody hell!'. People often find it very difficult to draw my characters, and he was drawing them exactly. I thought, 'Oh, here's somebody interesting!' He was very shy, a timid character and I started to talk to him and then I said 'I'm sorry, l don't know your name.' He replied 'Frank Bellamy'. And that was the last I saw of him. I thought his work was wonderful, one of the few people who really captured the soul and spirit of the characters." (p.40)

A wonderful portrait of a talented artist!. But for me the connection to TV Century 21 numbers 90 - 92 (8 October 2066 - 29 October 2066) was striking. Blundall tells how Bellamy drew in the APF Studio - notice not from photos. We know from Alan Davis lots of materials went in the bin after Frank's death so it's unlikely we will find any 'stills' in the family's possession. But it doesn't matter as we know that Bellamy had photo references provided for jobs (David Driver at the Radio Times confirmed this) and we know from Nancy Bellamy that Frank had puppet heads to draw from. So why am I excited by John Blundall's comment?

TV21 #90

In the best of all the stories in TV21 drawn by Frank Bellamy (just my opinion) we see a fantastic creature in a Venusian lake drawn by Bellamy, and that creature appeared exactly the same way on the cover of issue 92.

Thunderbirds from TV21 #90

In an article by Bill Earle on a now defunct Supermarionation website he mentions that "In order to supplement a Thunderbirds comic strip story by Frank Bellamy in TV Century 21 numbers 90 through 95 [sic], Roger Dicken produced several sculptures of Venusian monsters in plasticine clay which were photographed with Thunderbirds craft".  Dicken created special effects for 2001 and Alien amongst others. The mystery for me was, did Dicken create the creature and then Bellamy draw it based on the photos or did Dicken follow Bellamy? I thought the latter unlikely.

TV21 #93
The mystery was settled when , in October 2012 I found an email address and wrote to Roger Dicken who kindly replied:
"Thank you for your e-mail.  I can confirm I did design and create entirely the model creature you have enquired about, along with a second figure, both of which appeared on the covers of the TV21 Comic.  The other monster also featured on the cover of a Thunderbirds Holiday Special Mag.Both were actually made of plasticene built over a strong wire and wood core.  Further, they were constructed at my home studio and brought in for the photo shoot at AP Films.  From this point Frank Bellamy was obviously supplied with prints of the beast of your interest and via his wizardry with the pencil he reproduced it in comic form. They were still up on a shelf when I left AP Films to work on 2001, thus I do not know what became of them following the demise of the studio.  One can only assume somebody appropriated them or they went into the skip with a multitude of other stuff I understand was, sadly, being disposed of at that time."

I'm very grateful to Roger for taking the time to indulge an old fool!

MYSTERY (if there was one!) SOLVED!

Thunderbirds from TV21 #92