Friday 11 October 2013

Frank Bellamy and Boy's World

Brett Million & The Ghost World Part 1

Think of a UK comic in photogravure that ran in the 1960s for just 89 issues before you saw that terrible notice "Your Editor announces exciting news for you!" This usually translated in this little boy's mind as "Goodbye" as another great comic died by merging a few strips into an existing comic, normally with some pedigree. In this case we are talking about Boy's World which on 3 October 1964 disappeared into Eagle.

Steve Holland's cover for Boy's World: ticket to adventure

Steve Holland (with help from many others  has produced another invaluable comics bibliography: Boy's World: ticket to adventure. I have always loved the way Steve writes his checklists by providing a long introduction covering many details about authors and artists as well as editors and those who have connections to the comic in question. The book is lavishly illustrated and as before I found I had  to get my post-it notes and mark where the introduction finishes and the sections ended. Steve chooses here to outline the Picture Stories; Text Stories; Cartoon Strips; Features; Supplements; and the Annuals - I presume we never saw a Summer Special or we'd see it listed here. And there was a Fishing Annual in the series - who knew?

The comic was a great influence on many writers and artists who draw today and no wonder. It had writers such as Harry Harrison (Bill, the Galactic Hero) and Michael Moorcock (Elric of Melniboné) as well as Willie Patterson (Jeff Hawke) and Tom Tully (author of too many UK comic stories to mention!). The artists roster is no less impressive: John M. Burns, Ron and his brother Gerry Embleton, Gerald Haylock, Frank Langford, Brian Lewis Harry Bishop ('Gun Law' in the Daily Express for 21 years) and fellow to Frank Bellamy 'Heros the Spartan' artist for the Eagle, Luis Bermejo.

But this blog is about Frank Bellamy who in March 1963 drew a black and white illustration for a war story in Boy’s World, “Desert Duel” which shows a German tank meeting a ‘desert rat’.

Ghost World -  Episode 15
Art by Frank Bellamy
from Boy's World
Shortly after that he took on the latest incarnation of a strip called “The Angry Planet” – a story about a character called Brett Million, who attends a training survival school on the planet Pyrrus. The planet has nasty creatures and poisonous plants everywhere. In December 1963 the double page feature was on the back cover page (“Wrath of the Gods” taking back its centre pages). In the 7th December issue Bellamy started his next regular weekly assignment with “Brett Million and the Ghost World”. The story has our hero going to the planet Eisen, a mining planet, where people and things are disappearing. Needless to say, it is not ghostly activity, but Million discovers the planet’s natives are moving faster than humans can. The story ends after 21 episodes in which Bellamy shows even with one page he can create dynamic panels. Many trademark Bellamy devices are here from space shots to futuristic hardware similar to his Dan Dare creations.

There aren't many UK series of comics I have but Boy's World is one. I don't have a complete run of Bellamy's work but the issues I do have are great. However even if you own none of them, Steve's book is worth buying as his histories of UK comics are not available anywhere else. Many thanks to Steve for the artwork scan for episode 15 above and also the cover of his book!

Original art for Part 3


Anonymous said...

The Frank Bellamy artwork are great. I come from Denmark where only Garth is published of Bellamy's work, which I like a lot. However I have also bought "Swift", Dan Dare and the new Century 21 volume 1-5 in English versions.

I may buy the new Thunderbird collection too. However I wonder if the stories already are published in the Century 21 volumes?

Anyone who knows if I already got all the stories in Century 21 vol 1-5 or if I get extra stories in the Thunderbirds collection - if yes how much extra stuff?

I also wonder about the quality, one wrote that the Century 21 volumes are of better quality than the new Thunderbirds collection?

Hope anyone can help me, I will appreciate this a lot.

Lars, Denmark

Norman Boyd said...

Hi Lars
Good to hear from you
If you browse this page on my website listing all Bellamy's work you'll see that 1) some stories have not been done in the Century 21 books and 2) some of the Century 21 stories will look clearer as they are from original artwork. This Thunderbird collection is scanned from the comics. Read my blog on the book here
P.S. I'd love details of the Danish Garth strips, if you have time

Anonymous said...

Hi Norman,

What kind of information of the Danish Garth strips would you like?

A lot of the stories have been published in the Danish Agent X9. I got a lot of the magasines. The stories by Bellamy is far better compared to the other due to the excellent artwork. My favorit in the X9 was however still Modesty Blaise by Holdaway.

It also seems that Comicwiki started a Garth list, however miss a lot:

Comicwiki (a Danish wiki) is a great website.


Norman Boyd said...

Hi again Lars.

Have a look at this reprint page and add/correct / delete anything you know and I'll amend it. Is AGENT X9 Norwegian and Danish as well as being in Finland etc.?