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


Kid said...

I know you might consider it heresy for me to say so, Norman, but I think that Noble was just a better visual storyteller than Bellamy, who painted pretty pictures sure enough, but they weren't as visually striking as Noble's sequential art.

I always felt that I was right in amongst the action with Noble, whereas, with Bellamy, I was observing it all from a distance - through binoculars in the case of the close-ups.

I'm referring mainly to the TV21 strips, because that's what I'm most familiar with when it comes to Bellamy.

Norman Boyd said...

"Heresy"? Me? Nope, I have freely admitted to anyone who stands still long enough to listen that as a kid I read the Eagle and TV21 and hated Heros (for which I have now written a foreword) and found Thunderbirds annoying as everyone knew Jeff Tracy didn't have a green face - a shadow drawn by FB!
I adored Mike's primary colour and dynamic figure work. So much like my adoration of Curt Swan in Superman comics.
I find Bellamy as a brilliant designer but not a comic strip artists - ironically!
Best wishes

John Pitt said...

Bellamy/Noble/Embleton - all three equally as good as each other in my opinion!

Norman Boyd said...

Usually we'd add Don Lawrence and Frank Hampson in that list...but I totally agree!