Wednesday 26 April 2017

Frank Bellamy - Spring Cleaning

Over the years there have been quite a few things wrongly attributed to Bellamy along with some known forgeries! I did an article early on on this blog (which took me a while to find today!).

But today I'm presenting some things about which I have known for a while but want to open for discussion.

Gary Player / Slazenger advert
EAGLE Vol.11 No.26, 25th June 1960, p.8.
The first is a reference that David Jackson had in the checklist from way back. He recently reminded me I hadn't changed the listing to indicate I know about this. Why? Because I don't think it is Bellamy. Do I have any evidence either way? No! I said in an email to David, "I personally would say it isn't FB. Why? It looks so 'photographic' with no interpretation - just a 'fuzzy' photo made to look artistic - not an original illo, IN MY OPINION!" To which he replied:

I think you are exactly right in your analysis but completely wrong in your conclusion..! My reading of it was that FB was supplied with a photo to work from - so that is what he did. It is exactly the dot-stipple technique he had developed up to and at that time. Interestingly published in the very issue where he was experimenting with changing it in that episode of Dan Dare. Discounting the possibility it isn't someone else trying out that stipple technique over a photo...
Interestingly Player received very little for advertising the merchandise as we recently found out on his Twitter account - £5!

Over to you what do you think? Bellamy or not Bellamy?

The second one I present to the jury of Bellamy fans is Supermousse, yes! Supermousse!
Supermousse from
TV21 New Series #48 p.24 22 Aug 1971
Lew Stringer has run old comic adverts and included this one, ironically, alongside the Letraset Transfer advert that Bellamy certainly had a hand in (please excuse the pun!). He couldn't see it as Bellamy but admitted "I can't see his style in the Super Mousse one but it's possible he changed his style slightly to suit the requirements of the client. There was a regular Super Mousse strip on the back of Countdown, but that was drawn by Peter Ford I believe."

Interestingly, considering this chocolate bar is all but forgotten, demand was so high in 1970 "you'll only find it in the Midlands and South England" it said on the advert in August 1971. It would have been too hot to store in Summer anyway! On  my other blog I've uploaded all the Supermoose adventures I could find but the actual stories appear to be by Peter Ford.

Is this Bellamy or not?

Let me know your thinking!


Jeff Haythorpe said...

I can't see much Bellamy in the golfing illustration. It has a vague similarity but he would always put something in his work (even on an off day)that made it undeniably his work. It could be him but it just doesn't have that distinctiveness that marks a Bellamy piece. As for Supermousse, I think Bellamy was too highly paid for work like this. I've seen contracts where he was getting paid £50.00 a page for a Happy Warrior page and around £90.00 a page for Dan Dare so he was obviously in huge demand (and that was at least ten years before. Also, the client could draw from a huge pool of artists to do the cartoon type work so why pay for one of the best artists in England. I'm not saying it isn't Bellamy but I doubt it. No if we could see the original art.....

Norman Boyd said...

Hi Jeff, thanks for taking the time to comment.
I agree with you on the Gary Player.
But re Supermoose, I disagree with your point re hiring FB for this sort of work. At the point of leaving TV21 and starting Garth, he was hunting high and low to fill the regular strip gap with anything - had to keep Nancy in the style to which she had become accustomed! he did Sunday Times, Crosse & Blackwell, Radio Times, Portakabin leaflet and of course Wall's Wonderman.
However your other point about this being "cartoony", is interesting because the fact it looks nothing like Peter Ford's strips makes me wonder if that heroic chest might be drawn by FB
Any other thoughts?

Jeff Haythorpe said...

Hi Norman,
I've had another look and just can't see it, It's almost a cheap amateur American superhero knockoff. Look at the lines on the cape, the composition of the figure, the general line work on the body, the antlers. Without the original art to see, I don't know how we decide one way or another. But if it is Bellamy, good grief, he was having a serious off day.

Norman Boyd said...

Thanks for your thoughts Jeff

Norman Boyd said...

Hi Norman,

Re those unsigned and unattributed discussion pieces.

I only ever liked the figure in the "Supermousse" (it could have been Supermoose) ad, not the rest of the advert - in fact I'd hacked the rest of it away at the time (something I wouldn't have done later).

But none of the rest of it looked anything like FB, not the word balloon shape or its lettering, or the 'hand-lettered' style of typeface in the main body of the text or any of the rest of it.

Whoever drew the moose figure was either a way above average exceedingly competent superhero figure artist - or swiping from someone who was! And possibly just adding the moose head to it (though even that was well enough done for what it was - cartoony). The hand and fist and chest musculature etc are the Bellamy-ish elements, although another top superhero artist could also be a possibility - if as likely to have been swiped from.

The Gary Player figure - even if worked over a pre-existing photograph - certainly couldn't be achieved by someone who didn't know what they were doing (even tracing it).

There are effective photographic strong contrast images, even from back when (which look like what they are) but there would have to be an incredible degree of dumb luck (accident of light) to get photo-mechanical tonal edge 'stippling' - notice they are not randomly distributed - in exactly the same place an able, trained, knowing, informed, talent would put it...

Either way, good to see the pics out there..!


Thanks for that David. I'm adding your thoughts here as it all helps people to think about it all...and I have tried to correct all my mispellings of that damn elk-like "Alces alces"!!

Mike Nicoll said...

Hi Norman and thanks again for brightening my day buddy (I know this will appear as Mike but it's my alter ego Bill here). For what it's worth I definitely say "no" to both pieces. The golf shot could possibly be FB until one gets to the face - for a piece such as this where likeness is key but where it is also an action shot I reckon Frank would have gone more with a solid "line art" portrait shot ie the face wouldn't have had so much - if any - stippling as I feel Frank tended to use that technique more with static or portrait style shots and with this being a figure in motion I just don't think it's "sharp" enough for Frank - hard to explain exactly what I mean here but you know the way the Cottles Circus posters were done? I think FB would have chosen something more like that style for the golf shot. Steve McGarry would have been my guess if the artwork wasn't as old as it is. Of course, the two pieces are many years apart and Frank's style did evolve but my gut still says no. The Super Mousse did get as far as mid-Scotland btw (and was devoured with great relish by yours truly back in the day - I thought they tasted better than the rival Milky Way bar - along with Aztec Bars, Gold Dust bubble gum and chocolate covered apple pieces) but I reckon the art is a "no" also. I can see why there is a question mark but to me it looks more like a swipe from John Buscema on the chest and Jim Steranko on the legs (very Nick Fury style) but the head and cape are definitely not Frank's imho so if the agency did hire him they must have "frankensteined" the art later on. Possibly Dave Gibbons? Back in the day I spent many years believing that one of Gibbon's covers for Fantasy Advertiser was in fact a Bellamy piece although in my defence that opinion was based on a postage stamp sized repro of the cover and I didn't see the full size image till years later (all hail the Internet!!) lol. Might be worth dropping Dave a wee email?

Norman Boyd said...

Hi Bill,
I really appreciate you taking the time to contribute.
Your thoughts on Buscema made me think. I thought there was a chance of it being Bellamy based on the angles on the legs. The 'murky' rushed detail on the torso was what let me down. But yes, it could be a ghost from an American comic.
Dave Gibbons? Mmmm....I'm off to tweet him

Kid said...

I can definitely confirm that Super Mousse was available in Scotland. I used to scoff them all the time back in the early '70s. I'm not quite sure when they disappeared 'though - anyone know?