Thursday 29 January 2015

Frank Bellamy original art on Heritage: Garth: People of the Abyss and Thunderbirds

I recently mentioned Heritage Auctions in America are selling 3 pieces of Bellamy Thunderbird artwork and wanted to let you know that they now also have a Garth strip for auction as well as another Thunderbirds strip. Heritage are so generous in giving us access to top quality photos/scans of the pieces. You can spend days looking at the beautiful archives on that site!

The Garth strip comes from the story 'The People of the Abyss' which was originally published in the Daily Mirror between 7 September 1972 - 23 December 1972 (#F211-F303). It's number F227. Apparently it contains an inscription from David Bellamy, Frank's son, which he most likely added when selling the artwork for the first time:
"This Garth original by my father, Frank Bellamy is dedicated to my good friend Jack Promo, who is the No. 1 Frank Bellamy fan of America. With all good wishes, from David Bellamy. 19 Sep 1977."

Frank Bellamy's art for Garth #F227
The Thunderbirds piece comes from the story "Visitor from space"  (or "The Jovian Eye" - one day I'll explain why we have multiple names for the Thunderbirds stories!) The story ran in TV21 #147 - 154 (11 November 2067 - 30 December 2067). It's been reprinted many times

Original artwork from TV21 #147 (Page 2)

I'll update the template below with the winning bids when the auction ends, but I thought you might like to see the two pages from the above story as printed (and scanned) in TV21 #147. Notice that this Bellamy colour piece is faded in the same way any of them do as a result of having them on display and the sun bleaching the colours! Still a great piece!


Garth strip:

Thunderbirds artwork:

Thursday 8 January 2015

Frank Bellamy and a T-Shirt Rocket Design


Rocket design

In the 1970s, after a constant weekly deadline, Bellamy left regular comics work and took up illustrating 'Garth', in the Daily Mirror on a daily basis! To supplement his income he did illustrations for the Sunday Times Colour Magazine and the Radio Times. But he had always wanted to be seen as a 'serious' or fine artist rather than a comic strip artist and was proud of his work in these latter magazines.

In the early 1960s technology made it possible for Paul Hamlyn (who 30 years earlier had had success with "Books for Pleasure" - a cheap 'coffee table book' imprint) to found "Prints for Pleasure" - a cheap process meant low cost art for the masses. Even my Mum bought one as they were art at a very low price on a mock canvas! Bellamy sent in some of his work but there is no evidence to show any of these were accepted! One might see why when one looks at the sort of thing that was produced (Weeping children, heavily coloured sunsets, search Google for Zinkeisen Childhood as one certain example).

What does this have to do with the piece that is currently on sale on eBay, illustrated above?

You'll notice whoever framed this original artwork left the 8" (eight inches) visible at the bottom. This appears to be an art director's instruction as to the size this should be reproduced.And that's what reminded me I had seen somewhere that Bellamy had received payment for a design (or designs in the plural) from a printing and design company in 1970.

Equity Designers and Equity Printers Limited of 15-21 Ganton Street London W1 appears to have been run by D.K.Humby (Managing Director) and J. B. Blight (Company Secretary). Their publicity stated they were "Graphic designers, Lithographic and silkscreen printers". They asked Bellamy to produce three designs:
  1. Small rocket motif £15
  2. Large rocket motif £25
  3. Take-off rocket motif £25
He was also to receive (in the pre-Decimal currency days) sixpence (2.5 pence) as a royalty for every shirt printed (with the company retaining copyright). Whether Bellamy ever did three designs I don't know. I never expected to see the designs at all! But I'm as certain, as anyone can be, that this is one of them. The 8 inches reproduction size makes sense for a T-Shirt design.

Bellamy loved sports cars and owned a Datsun 260Z himself and it doesn't seem far fetched to think he might have used the Daimler signifier SP250 on this rocket ship!

When I first saw this design I was reminded of something from a 'Thunderbirds' strip that Bellamy illustrated. TV21 #82, the last episode of the 'Atlantic Tunnel' story has the Hood trying to escape International Rescue. The fins on the aircraft are in my opinion similar.

The Hood's aircraft form TV21 #82

The seller let me know he purchased it at a fine art auction so the provenance is sound


I will update the sale details, as usual below, when the auction ends


  • WHERE?: eBay
  • SELLER:  Dorseteleven
  • STARTING BID: £129.99
  • ENDING PRICE: £262.01
  • END DATE: 12 January 2015
  • No of bids: 2

Thursday 1 January 2015

Frank Bellamy and Gerry Anderson

Christmas gave me a chance to catch up on some reading - can I recommend a book to you?

Nice endpapers!
In a previous blog article I reviewed the Egmont reprints. This time I want to say a bit about the hardback called Gerry Anderson The Comic Collection  (click on this Amazon link to see a lot of the interior including the contents page)

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Egmont (2014)
ISBN-13: 978-1405272667
Retail Price £25.00

Lew Stringer reviewed the book here, John Freeman here and I'm not sure I can add a lot except to say it was such fun to re-read some of these stories for the first time in nearly 50 years! The artwork provided is some of the best of my childhood and reads like a Top Ten of British comic art: Mike Noble, Ron Embleton, and Eric Eden and of course Frank Bellamy. I even enjoyed the Angels and Marina stories which appeared in Lady Penelope comic!

It hit me whilst reading, that the title to the book is a bit odd - Gerry Anderson didn't have a lot to do with the comics side of his work but in the anniversary year of Thunderbirds, his most popular show, it made sense to include his name. If after reading the book you want to know more about Gerry Anderson's comics seek out Shaqui and friend's site (use the index on the left hand side to navigate)

Bellamy's contribution are the following stories:

  1. "Revolt on Jupiter" from TV21 #179 - 183 (22/06/68 - 20/07/68)- the story the previous collection seemed to have missed - perhaps they heard me!
  2. "Jungle adventure" from TV21 #235 - 238 (19/07/69 - 16/08/69)
  3. "Danger in deep" from TV21 #239 - 242 (23/08/69 - 06/09/69) - is there a word missing?
  4. "Seeking disaster" from the second series of the combined TV 21 & Joe 90 #1-4 (27/09/69 - 18/10/69)- only ever reprinted in the 1991 Thunderbirds comic
The latter story was a disaster (excuse the pun) for Bellamy as he seemed to have been really cut down. For this short story he produced one colour page; two colour pages; two black and white pages and finally two black and white pages! A real mess in publishing terms but actually the black and whites are lovely. In this reprint volume they are understandably coloured (copied from the colouring of the 1991 Thunderbirds comic)

I think that GF Willmetts' criticism in his review regarding Bellamy's artwork is somewhat justified in that seeing Noble next to the Bellamy artwork certainly shows a lesser Bellamy. However I don't know exactly why, but suspect the reproduction in the latter TV21s back in the day were poorer. And thus this reprint of a reprint doesn't help. But that logic would apply to Noble's work too! Oh well, this is still a great buy

I ought to mention Sam Denham's one page article on Bellamy,  but understandably it doesn't add anything to our knowledge but is nevertheless worth inserting here for younger people than me who might not know Bellamy!

Bellamy's last shot at Thunderbirds in TV21 & Joe90