Monday 27 June 2016

NEWS UPDATE: Frank Bellamy Kettering Exhibition and unseen artwork

STOP PRESS@ See below for pictures of the Exhibition as it's assembled 

Frank Bellamy - Masai Warrior
The Alfred East Gallery, Kettering, which has previously run exhibitions of Frank Bellamy's artwork is due to include some of his work in Comics Unstripped!. The Gallery explains, it will be "where we look at the history of comics and graphic novels. The exhibition features the original artworks by Kettering’s Frank Bellamy, including some examples from Garth, Thunderbirds and Dan Dare".

The exhibition, runs from 9th July to 20th August,and will have a booklet for sale, produced by the Gallery from Paul Holder's expanded digital version which will make a nice souvenir as it contains images taken from original art and provides the brief Frank Bellamy biography he wrote for "True Brit: A Celebration of the Great Comic Book Artists of the UK" edited by George Khoury. See the whole book - now a collector's item -  here on Amazon, but I'd recommend, if you can't attend, buying a digital edition which is cheaper and also has more content in colour!

Frank Bellamy souvenir booklet
Information for dates and times was found on the Council's website, and not the Gallery's but this was only announced today. The event includes:  
Super Heroes and Heroines Family Fun Day - Wednesday 3rd August, 1-3.30pm Join us for a family fun day in the Manor House Museum Gardens dressed as your favourite super hero or heroine! Come along to take part in craft activities, trails, face painting and lots more!
Comic Strip & Character Workshop - Saturday 23rd July, 11am-1pm & 2pm-4pm Learn how to create your very own comic strip and design your own characters in this 2 hour workshop for children aged 8 and above. The workshops cost £5 per child, (£4 with Leisure Pass) and booking is essential; call 01536 534 274.
There will also be prints to order which are "printed on 300gsm heavyweight archival fine art paper to the original size (approximately 41 X 63cm)" Although the original artwork will not be on display - as to my knowledge it still resides with the Bellamy family - there will be the opportunity to purchase prints (such as the Masai Warrior at the top of this article and the lovely artwork of Nancy Bellamy, Frank's late widow below) via the Gallery and postcards of other unpublished Bellamy works as well of his Thunderbird 6 film poster.

I suspect the dates mentioned on a Facebook event are wrong as some of the events listed on the council website take place after the dates mentioned. I have let the Facebook owner know UPDATE: Apprently Facebook only permits 2 weeks for an event!!!].

Lastly here is a piece not seen by very many people at all as it used to reside in Nancy's sitting room. She was an exceedingly liberated woman of the 50s and 60s and she felt very proud of this portrayal by her late husband

Nancy Bellamy by Frank Bellamy

Thunderbird 6 film poster postcard

Thanks to Jeff Chahal for these pictures on the Facebook Events page

9 Garth strips; Disc magazine, Heros, 2 Thunderbirds and Radio Times posters

Circus Posters, Montgomery (?), David the Shepherd King and others

Original Art: Garth on eBay - 'The Angels of Hell's Gap' (J56) 1975

J56 Garth by Frank Bellamy

Ant Jones, the organiser of the Garth Facebook page has let me know that an original Garth strip drawn by Frank Bellamy is on eBay.

The seller describes it like this:

You are bidding on an original signed Daily Mirror 'Garth' Cartoon strip from 1975 by the late great Frank Bellamy.

DIMENSIONS: Approximately 54cm x17.5cm

ITEM DETAILS: The strip carries the date 10-3-75 in pen, top right corner, and the number J56 denotes that it is from 'The Angels of Hell's Gap' episode from that year (1975). Considering that it is over 40 years old it is in extremely good, bright condition with no staining, yellowing or issues more serious than slightly blunted corners (see photos) and the pen-work is crisp and clear with the odd pencil outline and minor correction visible as you would expect. It has the Daily Mirror copyright stamp on the back (see photo) and would look great in any collection.

The start price reflects the increasing rarity and value of this great British artist's work.

The same strip sold £180 after 15 bids in April 2012

"The Angels of Hell's Gap" story ran originally in the Daily Mirror from 15 January 1975 - 2 May 1975 #(J12-J101) and was reprinted by, the sadly defunct, "All Devon Comic Collectors Club" in their Daily Strips: Collectors Club Editions No.13 [No date]  and also recoloured in the  Daily Mirror from Monday 21 February 2011 to Tuesday 12 April 2011 by Martin Baines (who is colouring "Freak out to fear" at the moment, which you can follow on Ant's Facebook page mentioned above.

And just for your enjoyment...
The opening strip from the story "Angels of Hell's Gap"

SUMMARY (Updated 24/07/2016  18/07/2016 05/07/2016)

WHERE?: eBay  
SELLER: Sweet4action
STARTING BID: £270.00   / Relisted at £300 Buy It Now or Make Offer / Relisted at £150 auction with reserve
END DATE: 4 July 2016   /14 July 2016 / 24 July 2016
No of bids: 6
No of bidders:3

Frank Bellamy for Italian fans

I have stuff sitting around and often think I must do something with these. Well today was a day off work - and we have voted to leave our colleagues in the European Union - so in the spirit of unity, it's with great pleasure I show you....some Italian reprints of Frank Bellamy's "Garth". But before I do I need to confess my Italian skills are non-existent! So much of the work and background comes from my reading of Italian webpages. Our friends in Italy have a long tradition of being fans of 'fumetti' (which derives from the 'smoke' balloons in comics) - some of which I find far too tasteless - but they have always valued British strips.

I own four issues which have the following reprints in them:

  • #9   (Settembre, 1979, Anno 6 numero 9) Garth: L'uomo bolla [Bubble Man] 18 pages
  • #10 (Ottobre, 1979, Anno 6 numero 10) Garth: Il Globo di Trimandias [ The Orb of Trimandias] 20 pages
  • #11  (Novembre 1979, Anno 6 numero 11) Garth: L'uomo Lupo di Ausensee [The Wolfman of Ausensee] 18 pages
  • #12  (Dicembre 1979, Anno 6 numero 12) Garth: [no title] [The Women of Galba] 18 pages

Alter Alter #10 (Ottobre, 1979, Anno 6 numero 10)
Garth: Il Globo di Trimandias

"Le Donne di Galba" should have been the title for the story in issue 12 but the over zealous inker has wiped out the title in English without replacing the Italian equivalent (as he or she did quite interestingly with the "Wolfman of Ausensee" strip!). You can see larger images of the first pages of each of these four by going to the Checklist website

Alter Alter #10 (Dicembre, 1979, Anno 6 numero 12)
Garth: [The Women of Galba]
Alter Alter started as an off-shoot of Linus, which is still going today. Some of the artists whose work appeared alongside Bellamy will be familiar to a lot of you: Sergio Toppi, Moebius, Richard Corben, Will Eisner, Sydney Jordan, Estaban Maroto, Alberto Breccia etc. The four magazines I have are all in black and white with an eight page supplement in colour and run to approximately 108 pages. Bellamy did receive cheques from the Daily Mirror for syndication - the last of which was paid on 25 April 1977, he died in July 1976. I can't say whether the publications on this page paid syndication rights or not but the statement on the above reprints © Frank Bellamy, distr., News Blitz, Roma, seems to indicate this may have been the case. Whether Jim Edgar got payments too, I don't know.

On eBay, at the moment, are some Italian reprints which look to be standalone, but are in fact supplements from if, a magazine published in Italy from 1973 to 1985. I don't own any copies but have captured the ones on eBay and they are shown in full on the Checklist website

La Sposa di Jenghiz Khan

La Belva di Ultor

Gli Angeli della Gola dell'Inferno
I mentioned tasteless, and that's one area I have yet to explore in the interests of completeness! If I say "Fumetti Erotici", I think you get the idea!

Friday 24 June 2016

Frank Bellamy and Fraser of Africa

Cropped photo from Eagle 26 November 1960

Recently I watched the film Sanders Of The River starring Richard Todd. "While investigating the murder of a fellow police officer in Africa, ex-pat Inspector Harry Sanders (Todd) discovers links to a diamond smuggling operation working out of an area up-river. All clues lead him to a hospital run by Dr Schneider (Rilla) and his assistant director, Dr Weiss (Lieven). At first, Todd suspects that local tradesman Bongola (Sabela) is behind the crimes. But when Bongola is murdered, it becomes clear that Sanders has been on a wild goose chase, and that the real culprit is one of the hospital employees. Can the Inspector work out whodunnit before the river resonates once more to the funereal beat of the death drums?" ['s review].

Eagle 18 February 1961 p.10
Reading various commentaries on this film and its sequel, it appears this early 1960s film was a sanitized version of the original somewhat racist story by Edgar Wallace (and earlier film). As I was watching it, I could see a flavour of that popular African genre from the late 19th and 20th century, which appeared in magazines such as Wide World (with alleged true stories) and Boy's Own Paper - the heat, the 'alieness', and the excitement of a different culture. However the imperialistic "white, Anglo-Saxon" attitude was changing - as shown somewhat in this film.

Eagle 29 October 1960 p.12

Once Frank Bellamy's year on "Dan Dare" was finished (he only committed to that) he wanted to move on and the offer of an African strip must have appeared as a breath of fresh air, as Norman Wright said in his foreword to the reprinted strips. The last "Dan Dare" story he illustrated, Project Nimbus ran from 19 March 1960 to 9 July 1960. There was a four week gap until his next series was published in the Eagle comic. The reason, I think, is, besides ensuring the sepia look of the Serengeti worked for Bemrose the printer, that he went to town illustrating George Beardmore's "Fraser of Africa" - the first story was Lost Safari (which ran from 6 August 1960 to 28 January 1961). In his introduction to Hawk Books reprint of "Fraser", Norman Wright says:
"Many enthusiasts knowing of Frank Bellamy's interest in all things African, had assumed that it was himself who suggested the idea of "Fraser of Africa". That was not the case. Frank was approached by a member of the "Eagle" staff  and asked if he would be interested in working on the strip. At one time it was suggested that, in view of his knowledge of the subject, he might like to script the serial and produce the artwork. But after discussing the project with Clifford Makins, the comic's assistant editor, he decided that the combined tasks would probably prove to be too onerous for him."
It's interesting to note that the series was going to be called "Safari", as there exists a page of art done in yellow and sepia (but not certain to be Bellamy) with that title. Paul Holder has shown me a folder with descriptions of the strip that Bellamy created with the same title. At what point it became "Fraser of Africa" (and why 'Africa' not 'Kenya' for example?) we don't know.

"Fraser of Africa" - art by Frank Bellamy

On approximately 6 October 1960 Bellamy had a visitor from Bert Hardy Ltd. Terry Hardy was there to take a photo to accompany a small interview that was to be featured in Eagle 26 November 1960. (see my earlier piece). The photo selected (there must have been others - see Paul Holder's biography in True Brit) shows Bellamy with a drawing board on his lap studying a leopard head. (There is no leopard head illustrated in the first story so this is artistic license but who's complaining!).

Rugged Men, April 1956. Art by Victor Olson

Another reason I wanted to write something about "Fraser" was this picture surfacing on MensPulpMags site by Victor Olson. It not only sat nicely on a page about "Fraser" but also nudged me in the direction of Bellamy's famous dance in Everybody's Weekly

Everybody's Weekly 1 October 1955 - Frank Bellamy

Bellamy received a letter (dated 26 September 1955) from Sir William Russell Flint, the famous watercolorist, referring to Bellamy's drawing in Everybody's 1 October 1955. He informed Bellamy that he himself had drawn an African scene for King Solomon's Mines by H.Rider Haggard many years before but "your dance was quite unlike anything I had ever seen".

Unfortunately, like many stories re-told many times, this is often referred to as being Frank's drawing of 'King Solomon's Mines', but it is in fact of 'Gorillas were my neighbours'. Perhaps his unpublished work on King Solomon's Mines confused the issue!

Now it just happens that I got a copy of Jim Vadeboncoeur's images where Jim showed some illustrations from an early copy of this story done by Sir WRF!. This is what Jim said when asked: "Here's the only image in King Solomon's Mines that might fit WRF's reference"  -Thanks Jim

Lastly we must say something about George Beardmore, the author of the "Fraser" series of three stories. A scant biography appears on the UKComics wiki but the wonderful David Slinn came to my rescue with a list of his strips for Hulton Press

George Beardmore

‘Captain Starling’ [Pat Nevin] November 1951-52
‘Belle of the Ballet’ [John Worsley] November 1952 to May 1954 [Chris Garvey/Stanley Houghton/Harry Lindfield/Gerry Haylock] through to 1964... and then Princess.  

‘Robbie of Red Hall’ [Roy Newby] March 1952-56;
‘The Pilgrim Sisters’ [Jack Hardee] August 1956 and
‘London’s Burning’ [Jack Hardee] December 1956-57;
‘Kay of The Courier [Bob Bunkin] May 1957 to April 1958.

‘Jack o’ Lantern’ [Robert Ayton/C L Doughty] January 1955 to July 1960;

As David Slinn, the provider of such accuracy had to spell out for me, Beardmore “was initially writing three scripts with ‘Robbie’ and ‘Belle’, together with ‘Jack’, through to the end of ‘Kay’ in April 1958.  Whether he carried on with ‘Belle and Mamie’ when Girl was absorbed into Princess, I’m not sure, but Harry Lindfield continued to draw the strip for some months.

Tuesday 21 June 2016

New look to the blog

I was simply bored with the look! I'm not a graphic designer, don't know Photoshop at all, and concentrate on researching, cataloguing, which gives me satisfaction

This "dynamic" view, as Google calls it, allows you to choose how to see the blog. The facility has been there for a while but I just thought a change is as good as a rest!

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday 1 June 2016

Garth story Freak out to Fear - reprinted

Ant Jones (the curator of the Garth Facebook page) and Martin Baines have let me know that the latest Garth story to be reprinted in the Daily Mirror is the Frank Bellamy illustrated "Freak out to Fear". The story ran originally in the newspaper (in black and white) from 6 June 1974 till 27 September 1974 (H132-H227). I suspect that this was the last to be reprinted and colourised because of its subject matter - drugs, but that's my theory. I'm just so pleased to see the last of Bellamy's version of the unique UK superhero printed. This means that Martin Baines has coloured all of the Frank Bellamy daily strips for the Daily Mirror! Some feat!

Daily Mirror 1 June 2016

The story has been reprinted before in black and white by the now sadly defunct All Devon Comic Collectors Club in Daily Strips: Collectors Club Editions No.17 [No date] - and also in the American Menomonee Falls Gazette #218 (16 February 1976) - [#232 3 March 1978]. MFG reprinted H132-H225, in their final issue. Unfortunately, in addition to not printing the last two strips in the story, they inexplicably skipped H160-H165! As Wikipedia states: The final issue was published on March 3, 1978. (There were a total of 232 issues, but the final issue was mislabeled on the outside cover as #234.) and as Mike Tiefenbacher explains in the last issue "A funny thing happened between issue 226 and now" Ah well we're grateful for what we got!