Monday 7 September 2015

Frank Bellamy and Bob Monkhouse


I apologise for the delay in posting recently (I missed my once-a-month target last month) this is due to re-plastering and the need to put everything into self-storage to protect it from the dust.  I have identified what I can below but not exact numbers, if you need to know let me know and on un-packing I shall pin the issues down.

Alan Burrows kindly forwarded these pictures he received from the late Bob Monkhouse from his extensive Frank Bellamy collection. He forwarded them to my FB Facebook page and I thought maybe some people here may not be on Facebook, so here for your pleasure is Mr Frank Bellamy.

Bob appeared to be a really amiable guy - just look at the drawing on the envelope he sent Alan. People forget he started out as a comic artist, because his later career as a comedian and quiz show host was so successful.

Bob Monkhouse cartoon for Alan Burrows

Fantasy piece by Frank Bellamy
On the websitelisting I labelled this "Fantasy piece" and put it under Unpublished material . Does anyone know any different? Was it published? I love the skull mountain and the usual Bellamy device of a man pointing out of the frame!
Heros the Spartan from Eagle

Heros the Spartan from Eagle

Heros the Spartan from Eagle

Life study by Frank Bellamy

Lord of the Dragons - published in Once upon a time
 This was published in Bellamy's lifetime in a book called Once upon a time (along with and the book is available via the usual channels and not too rare or expensive. I listed it in my Articles on Frank Bellamy section
Thunderbirds from TV21 #138
From the Thunderbirds story "Space Mirror" which ran in TV Century 21#137 - 140

 It's well known that Bellamy, before taking on a strip, would provide the editors of comics with a sheet of designs. These would show his vision of the characters he would be drawing. However two have lawys puzzled me as they seem very specific

Below we see Dan Dare, Fraser of Africa and Thunderbirds and bear in mind these are photocopies of negatives, or older photocopies so this is all we have as a record, until someone scans the artwork.

Dan Dare operational uniform

Dan Dare Space Fleet  uniform

Fraser of Africa

I have seen the next two before but not the inscription which explains why we have these pieces. In TV21 issues 93-98 Don Harley took over my favourite story from Bellamy while he took a break to produce the Avengers TV series episode "The Winged Avenger". So it looks as if Bellamy drew a character sheet for Alan Tracy and Brains in their spacesuits which Harley could follow. He could have just done a photo but we have to remember that this sort of reproduction process took longer than we do now, where phones, scanners and iPads are available to take instant photos for sharing!
"Frank Bellamy 'visual' given to Don Harley for Thunderbirds

Alan Tracy and Brains from Thunderbirds
I'll save the others for another day as I'd like to do some research in my comics but that will have to wait for my unpacking. Many thanks to the very generous Alan Burrows for sharing this wonderful collection of reference material


Tony Smith said...

It doesn't surprise me that Bob Monkhouse had an extensive collection of Bellamy originals. In the opening scene in a TV documentary on Monkhouse, Bob was speaking to camera from his home and tantalisingly I could spot framed examples of Frank's work on the walls in the background. I knew that Bob had met Bellamy several times at his home and when I interviewed the comedian, he told me he had picked up original pieces at comics conventions and other places he would not elaborate on. Bellamy never had that many examples of his own work because of problems retrieving them from publishers, but after he died the Daily Mirror agreed to return his Garth strips to his widow Nancy, who agreed to display them in an exhibition in Frank's home town of Kettering in Northamptonshire. Surprise, surprise, the person Nancy chose to officially open the exhibition was his celebrity fan Bob Monkhouse and as a reporter on the local evening newspaper, I was dispatched to cover the event. I was excited to discover that all the daily Garth strips on view were up for sale and as I had arrived at the gallery before the general public were allowed in, I was given a sneak preview and the chance to buy any originals which took my fancy. Being a poorly paid provincial journalist, my budget was limited but I could stretch to two or three strips and soon knew the ones I wanted. But every time I chose a piece, I was told it had already been Mr Monkhouse. I must have expressed interest in at least a dozen of the best strips, and every single one had (frustratingly) been snapped up by Bob. My chequebook could not compete with that of a TV game show host, but I managed to buy a couple of the very few pieces that hadn't been bought by Bob. How many more Bellamy originals he purchased from Nancy I do not know, but I suspect she was one of the sources of Bellamy treasures he would not elaborate on!

Norman Boyd said...

Thanks for this information Tony, always great to hear from someone who knew Frank. The Garths that don't appear in public are the 'title' strips that opened the strips. They are particularly nice. When Nancy was still with us I purchased 4 Garth strips - all now mounted (complete with borders) in a nice black frame. I do have the recording of "The Secret Life of Bob Monkhouse" I'll try and dig out the bit you mentioned as I have been meaning to use it.
Thanks again