Monday 17 March 2014

Frank Bellamy and Winston Churchill - original art

UPDATE: I see the seller has reduced the price to £900 Buy It Now (27 March 2014) - sale ends 4 April

I was searching eBay and tripped over this item for sale for £1400 ('buy it now'). Why don't eBay's search alerts work properly? Seller 'fredy1237' appears as a new identity on eBay and has this rather unique piece for sale: "Frank Bellamy Original Artwork Winston Churchill Coulur [sic]Technique Experiment" . The seller states:

Original rare artwork by Frank Bellamy which is related to the Eagle As far I am unaware this is unpublished, I can provide a letter of provenance detailing how I purchased the artwork from Nancy Bellamy after Franks death. A mounted part page in original folder and mount. Folder size 50cm x 34cm

This is the first I ever heard about this. It's known that Bellamy often did a character outline for a new series and we know that he was nervous about drawing the first living personality to appear on the back page of the Eagle (in the seven year's of this feature). The feature was about Winston Churchill and called "The Happy Warrior". Maybe he felt he needed to show Marcus Morris, the editor, how his likeness of Churchill would look. The seller says this is a colour experiment and this actually lends authenticity as this was Bellamy's first work in colour for the Eagle comic, although this does look faded - particularly when compared to the rich colour used in the published drawings.

It is reasonable to assume that Bellamy was nervous about this commission, especially as he learned that Churchill was to get final approval (and before the comic was delivered the front cover 'Dan Dare' was removed as Churchill didn't like space adventures). Bellamy used references from the Imperial War Museum to get accuracy in weapons, uniforms etc. and found it "a real punishing job".

But if you look at the whole run of the story (from 4 October 1957 to the last episode which is often missed in the reprints, of Churchill's full face portrait (6 September 1958), you'll see Bellamy's confidence growing and his beautiful shaped panels becoming more and more like graphic designs and less like comic panels.

Episode 32

Episode 38

A recent reprint is available - I haven't yet seen a copy - of the whole Churchill saga and other repints have appeared since the first near-complete hardback reprint in 1958. Have a look at the website listing

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