Wednesday 24 December 2014

Original Art on Heritage - Thunderbirds x 3

John Freeman on the Downthetubes and David Roach on Facebook alerted me to the fact there are three pieces of Bellamy 'Thunderbirds' original artwork going to auction in the new year.

The bidding at Heritage Auctions Comics and Comic Art Signature Auction - New York #7104 starts approximately January 30, 2015 with the auction dates of February 19th through February 21st with live bidding on 19 February. No suggested range of values or bid numbers have yet been assigned. Now assigned. Heritage should be given a medal for the help they give researchers in scanning/photographing high resolution images. More and more magazines on comics are using their images - some being exceedingly rare.

With issue 141 Thunderbirds no longer occupied the centre pages. In his interview with Skinn/Gibbon, Bellamy mentions he was told  [at some point]  that foreign re-printers were having trouble with a double page spread. It seems also likely this issue was a changeover due to the gearing up of publicity for the start of Captain Scarlet, who now occupied the centre pages, although Bellamy may be correct at the same time.

David Jackson and I discussed what was written in the sand by the dying man - FOCPT - Brains says Focal Point in #142, perhaps Scott Goodall had never heard of Epicentre

Rather than talk a load of nonsense I've decided to show the pages as scanned from the comics and as usual I will update this page with the results when known.
TV21 #141 p18 -Thunderbirds

TV21 #141 p18 -Thunderbirds

TV21 #141 p19 -Thunderbirds

TV21 #141 p19 -Thunderbirds

TV21 #142 p18 -Thunderbirds

TV21 #142 p18 -Thunderbirds


Frank Bellamy and Place of the Gods

IT'S CHRISTMAS! so my dear friend Martin Baines, here's a treat for you. You asked what this looked like and I've gone to town for you for Christmas!

Launched on 25 May 1940, Reveille was originally the official newspaper of the Ex-Services' Allied Association. It was bought by the Mirror Group in 1947, after which it was printed and published by IPC Newspapers Ltd. It was relaunched in the mid-1970s as New Reveille, but  Tit-Bits, its better known 'cousin', absorbed it circa 1980.

This tabloid style newspaper (magazine?) was a weekly and in 1964 Frank Bellamy found some work with them. Before we jump in let's a have a look at the content of this strange paper

It was well illustrated with line drawings by various artists I have not tripped over in all my explorations.  But that's not that unusual as groups of artists tended to stick to the area they knew.

 Reveille often had sensational quirky stories and advice columns jazzed up to make them readable

 The adverts from that time say a lot about the audience. Especially when the festive season is close. So I thought I'd copy the Currys advert below for you so you can reminice and compare prices from 1964 to 2014

 A nice play on the Disney film title!

Now you have the context you might wonder what on Earth Bellamy illustrated....

Stephen Vincent Benét, Yale College Class of 1919, pictured in the college yearbook.
Retouched by MarmadukePercy
Stephen Vincent Benét’s story “Place of the Gods” was first published in the Saturday Evening Post of 31 July 1937 and later became known as "By the Waters of Babylon". It's a very short tale of what soon becomes obvious is a post-apocalyptic society which mingles a fear of the old ways and the religion taught by the elders in this new world. The narrator is the son of one of the priests and he himself has a vision in which he see the 'Gods' walking in the old places. This tale of his coming of age progresses to his visit and feelings of those who used to inhabit the city.

To think Benét wrote this in 1937 two years before the Second World War - aware of the rise of European fascism - and 8 years before the 1945 Hiroshima bombing, seems prescient of him, but this sort of literature was prevalent during the pulp magazine era and even has a Wikipedia entry under Post-Apocalyptic fiction.  It's one of my favourite genres in which a lot of modern burdens are forgotten and man strips his world back to surviving and then outlining how social structures cope in the new worlds. My personal favourite is Earth Abides by George Stewart. Henry Wells' (1) contemporaneous obituary described Benét thus:

"[A]s a man of letters Benét has been more than a historian or editor; he has for nearly ten years been a propagandist and a prophet. As befits a poet who is also a historian, he looks with vision not only to the past but to the future, fulfilling one of the oldest and most revered functions of the poet, that of prophecy. His devotion to American history led him to belief in political ideals which he early found menaced by the rise of fascism. Considerably before such fears were widely felt in this country, he recognized the military tyrannies of Eu- rope and Asia as perils to our life and national integrity"

Benét is likely to be best remembered now for "John Brown's Body" considered by many to be a lasting contribution, despite its failings, to epic poetry and literature. He also wrote the short story "The Devil and Daniel Webster", a short story in the Saturday Evening Post, a New Hampshire take on the Faustian myth. And I was astounded to learn he wrote the words "Bury my heart at Wounded Knee" which I assumed were uttered by a Native American as the book of that title published in the 1970s really moved me when I read it!

Reveille 1964 November 19-25, pp30-31

If you want to read the full text (and it isn't long at 5,642 words) go over to Tom's Place or enlarge the picture above. If you'd like to see a video of the story head over to YouTube

Bellamy has two illustrations for this short story. The first shows a 'cro-magnon' type man carrying a bow and wearing a quiver, struggling through ruins. The figures' head is very similar to other man-type creatures Bellamy drew  - see below

Place of the Gods - drawn by Frank Bellamy
Eagle Vol 13:51, 22 December 1962 - Heros the Spartan

TV21 #201 - Thunderbirds

The second picture shows the man firing his arrow at a crouching leopard. The incident is not in the story but wild cats are mentioned.

Place of the Gods - drawn by Frank Bellamy

There are lots of study notes on this short story (tribute in itself!) and the one I liked best is here

Finally for those perfectionists out there, I have moved the Reveille entry on the website from 'Magazines' to 'Newspapers' and uploaded these pictures there too. How's that for perfectionism!

So there you go a new Bellamy released into the world! Have a very Happy Christmas and a great New Year,

Wells, Henry W. (1943) Stephen Vincent Benét, College English, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Oct., 1943), pp. 8-13  

Sunday 14 December 2014

Frank Bellamy and Winston Churchill's copy of "The Happy Warrior"

Frank Bellamy's art for "The Happy Warrior"
David Slinn let me know that Churchill's own copy of the leather bound "Happy Warrior" strip is up for sale in the latest Sotheby's auction : Daughter of History: Mary Soames and the Legacy of Churchill 17 December 2014 | 2:00 PM GMT | London

Sotheby’s is proud to offer items from the collection of the late Mary Soames, Winston Churchill’s last surviving child. The sale will include many of the personal possessions that surrounded Lady Soames in her delightful and very personal home in Holland Park. Together, they chart Mary Soames’ fascinating life – from her childhood in Chartwell to her service in the army during World World II and her later public life. The collection chronicles the remarkable relationship Mary enjoyed with her father, allowing for a unique and very moving insight into the private side of Britain’s greatest war-time leader. At the same time, Churchill’s exceptional ability as a painter, extraordinary for an amateur, will be celebrated in the sale through a group of 15 paintings which together represent the most important and personal group of paintings by him ever to come to the market.

Lot #109 states

with a description:

FIRST EDITION, 4to, 48 pages of coloured picture-strip illustrations by Frank Bellamy on thick paper, plain photographic illustrations of Churchill, red leather gilt binding, silk endpapers, gilt edges

The estimate is listed at £500 - £900. This is such a unique item I have no idea how much it could go for. Bellamy himself said in the Skinn/Gibbons interview that three leather-bound copies of “The Happy Warrior” were presented to Sir Winston Churchill, to Clifford Makins, the author and the third to Frank himself.I have never seen any of them and believe Nancy sold her copy at Sothebys circa 1997.

Episode 11 of "The Happy Warrior"
It's a coincidence as I visited Churchill College, Cambridge recently (who have a Churchill Archive) and enquired regarding this item in Churchill's collection.

Dear Norman, 
I'm afraid I have also been unable to find anything relating to this matter in our archives. I have run searches similar to the ones you made, including for 'Happy Warrior' and have looked through the relevant Gifts files. 

I have looked in the relevant section of Martin Gilbert's biography of Churchill but couldn't find any reference to the comic or the leather-bound copy. 

Churchill did not keep a personal diary. 

I would recommend you contact the team at Chartwell, [email protected], to see if it is in Churchill's surviving library there. 

I'm sorry I could not be of any more help on this occasion, but if you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Kind regards, 

Gemma Cook, Archives Assistant, Churchill Archives Centre Churchill College Cambridge CB3 0DS 

Episode #31 of "The Happy Warrior"

I wrote to Chartwell but received no reply and assumed it was another dead end.  But here we now have a copy for sale! Does anyone know what happened to Clifford Makin's copy or indeed the Bellamy copy?

UPDATE: I have been told that the whereabouts of another copy - presumed to be Bellamy's is known


  • WHERE?: Sotheby - Daughter of History: Mary Soames and the Legacy of Churchill
  • SELLER:  [Lot # 109]
  • STARTING BID:£500-£900
  • ENDING PRICE: £3,750  (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
  • END DATE: DECEMBER 17th 2014
  • No of bids:Unknown