Monday 3 June 2013

NEW GARTH REPRINT - The Orb of Trimandias

Monday 3 June 2013 © Daily Mirror

Today we start the latest coloured by Martin Baines reprint originally produced by Jim Edgar, Frank Bellamy (and John Allard?) where Garth, our time-travelling hero heads back to Venice and the time of the Borgias. I know nothing of this era in Italian history, so this gives me the opportunity to have a rummage around the Net on your behalf.

Machiavelli, Da Vinci and Cesare Borgia

Machiavelli, Leonardo & Borgia: a fateful collusion: what happened when a philosopher, an artist and a ruthless warrior--all giants of the Renaissance--met on campaign in northern Italy? How's that for an article title? Written  by Paul Strathern in History Today. (59.3 (Mar. 2009): p15), he explains:  

During the latter half of 1502, when the Italian Renaissance was at its height, three of its most distinguished yet disparate figures travelled together through the remote hilly region of the Romagna in northeastern Italy. Cesare Borgia (1475-1507), backed by his father Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503), was leading a military campaign whose aim was to carve out his own personal princedom. He had hired Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) as his chief military engineer whose brief was to reinforce the castles and defences in the region as well as to construct a number of revolutionary new military machines, which he had designed in his notebooks. Accompanying this unlikely duo was the enigmatic figure of Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527), who had been despatched by the Florentine authorities as an emissary to the travelling 'court' with instructions to ingratiate himself with Borgia and, as far as possible, discover his intentions towards Florence whose position to the west, just across the Apennine mountains, left it particularly vulnerable to Borgia's territorial ambitions.

Detail from F28 of Professor Lumiére, Garth and Cesare Borgia

We see a portrait (in the fourth strip) of Borgia shown to Garth by Giovanni Cometti in the present day. The portrait looks to be the one by an anonymous artist, and is held at Palazzo Venezia, Rome, rather than the one shown above (with Machiavelli and Da Vinci). In this  tale Leonardo Da Vinci befriends the English Lord Carthewan (Garth) and the Orb's name, Trimandias, refers to "the Greek mystic and prophet", Borgia tells his sister later in the tale. The Orb allegedly has "strange occult powers - it can even conquer death!" At one point Leonardo suffers from the plague. It's difficult to pin down exact dates for the plagues occurrence in Venice but it certainly devastated the city during the same period as Britain (14th Century) and was last seen in Venice in 1630, so it is feasible - in story terms. I imagine Jim Edgar got the idea to include the plague and Leonardo because of the famous story of the artist/inventor's designs for the 'ideal city' as he surmised, whilst in Milan  - ahead of his time - that urbanisation might be to blame for the spread of the plague. The city, as designed by Da Vinci was never realized.

The Titan reprint, Garth: Cloud of Balthus - Comic Strip Bk. 1 has an introduction in which it states that this is the first strip in which Bellamy flies solo on the art. John Allard handled the lettering, but upto now also added bits to the art. Bellamy was always happier working alone and he certainly hits his stride in this story

The list of Garth stories to which Frank Bellamy contributed is growing shorter - well, in reprint form in the current Daily Mirror newspaper anyway! The table below shows that we have only two more which haven't yet been coloured by Martin in this reprint form.

TITLE Reprinted?
Sundance YES
The Cloud Of Balthus YES
The Orb Of Trimandias Ongoing
The Wolf Man Of Ausensee YES
People of The Abyss YES
The Women of Galba YES
Ghost Town YES
The Mask of Atacama YES
The Wreckers YES
The Beast of Ultor YES
Freak Out To Fear NO
Bride of Jenghiz Khan YES
The Angels of Hell's Gap YES
The Doomsmen YES
The Bubble Man YES
The Beautiful People YES
The Spanish Lady YES
Man-Hunt NO

For the purists, this tale was previously reprinted in The Daily Mirror Book of Garth, London: IPC Limited, 1975; Titan's Garth Book One: The cloud of Balthus London: Titan Books, 1984 and the American Menomonee Falls Gazette #67 (26 March 1973) - #83 (16 July 1973)

Let's see what's next after this brilliant tale - which Martin Baines, who supplied the superb artwork at the top of this page, says is his favourite Bellamy Garth. Thanks once again Martin,

Norman Boyd

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