Wednesday 4 January 2017

Frank Bellamy and Man about Town

I recently read the excellent book produced by a fellow blogger, A history of British magazine design by Anthony Quinn, otherwise known as the more-friendly Tony, on his blog, MagForum As a result I wrote to him about one entry (there are two mentions!) of Frank Bellamy. Instead of just replying he blogged it and has given me permission to reproduce it below. Thanks Tony!

Reproduced with permission from MagForum:

Man about town #1
When it comes to legendary illustrators, the names don’t come much bigger than Frank Bellamy. He’s associated in people’s minds with Dan Dare and The Eagle, but produced so many other strips, such as ‘Thunderbirds’ in TV 21 and ‘Garth’ in the Daily Mirror. His dramatic style also attracted cover commissions from the likes of the Radio Times and the Sunday Times Magazine. These are being brilliantly documented by and

The Frank Bellamy profile from the 1953 first issue of Man About Town

Another publication that Bellamy worked on is Man About Town, described in my book, British Magazine Design. Bellamy did the first issue cover in 1953 with its dapper chap stickman. He has a profile on p171 of the magazine on its contributors’ page. The Cutter & Tailor blog has scanned all Man About Town‘s first issue pages and put them online.


Tony also mentioned that the 'stick man' Bellamy drew was reprinted in Man About Town 1955 (Spring and Autumn) editions.

The interesting thing is that I have seen this cutting before (not the cover) when Nancy kindly loaned some letters, correspondence and cuttings to me. The reverse didn't give me a lot of clues except it was an advert for some clothing retailer in Gerrards Cross. The internal date confirms that David Bellamy, the Bellamy's only child (and no, not the naturalist!) was 8 at the time and therefore I knew it was cutting from 1953 and didn't hold a lot of hope of ever finding the original. But here we are in 2017 and it's turned up!

Where was Bellamy in 1953? He'd been with Norfolk Studios and working on advertising and also the well-known Commando Gibbs (toothpaste) adverts. He began as a freelancer with International Artists representing him in August 1953 and I'm sure his regular work -just started - on Mickey Mouse Weekly and having Man about town accept his work in their Spring 1953 first issue, must have bolstered his confidence.

The Cutter and Tailor forum (mentioned in Tony's article appears to have been created by 'Sator' of Sydney, Australia whom I'd love to thank for scanning so many pages from the first issue. For completeness sake I have added the whole page of profiles and contents page below

Man about town #1 p.39

Man about Town #1 p.171
So that was a nice start to 2017!

Now let's talk about Tony's brilliant book A history of British magazine design. He told me "The book was 7 years in the making" and I fear headlines on the day I publish a biography of Bellamy ("40 years in the making due to laziness!"), but fully understand, how long individual pages from magazines would take to find. His choices of what to show us are really interesting and give a great flavour of what magazines are all about. I have stored the information on the "Bellamy magazines" like Lilliput, Home Notes etc. and loved reading tit-bits (no pun intended) about these magazines. The book was designed by Joe Ewart who is a former Art Editor of NME

Take a look at 31 pages of the book here: Issuu
i-D did a nice feature on the launch here
The V&A, who published the book, interviewed Tony here
magCulture's overview here
and finally....
The Creative Review reviewed the book and gave Tony the chance to respond. Whose side do I come down on? Well, Tony's, of course! Seriously, to do any survey this large of magazines in the UK will fall down by everyone's criteria. However, I am so pleased to see such breadth represented as one gets a real sense of the creativity in the industry from the start and the exposure to multiple titles and styles just enhances this.

Once again, many thanks go to Tony for bringing one more Bellamy artwork to light

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