Monday, 26 October 2020

Frank Bellamy and Battle Picture Weekly

 In this previous article I showed some images that appeared in Battle Picture Weekly

Today I have found the following images taken from Look and Learn #452 12 September 1970 and the cover from that issue reprinted too. I have a feeling there might be more Bellamy re-used in this title.


Cover by unknown artist

Battle Picture Weekly Annual 1977 pp74-75
You can see the main picture above in full colour here and it never hurts to show you the unpublished cover that Bellamy did. The cover used was the one below which appears as an inset above in the reprint

Unpublished cover for Look and Learn - thanks to Jeff Haythorpe

Look and Learn #452 12 September 1970

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

The Art of Frank Bellamy is now public knowledge!

When should I tell people that I've written c.8000 words on Frank Bellamy which will be published next year? 

 Well, now that Geoff West of Book Palace Books has publicized it on his website. 


The artwork and covers have not yet been finalized but will look something like this and yes, there will be 144 pages of glorious colour images.  This will be the largest work devoted to Bellamy (so far, if I have my way!).

Draft cover

Gathering the artwork is the hardest part of such a venture and many people have really been kind with hi-resolution scans. Some works have been scanned from my collection where originals are not available but the whole package looks superb...and there are a few pieces you will never have seen before.

Draft back cover

 I'll let you know more in time, so start saving your pennies!


Thursday, 1 October 2020

Kettering Leader and Guardian (PART THREE)

I know you've loved these posts on early Bellamy work, because no-one has disrupted their reading and viewing by saying anything on them! So here's another to add to your pleasure!

KL&G 29 August 1947 p.7
A delightful cartoon showing the newspaper's photographer reacting to a bee sting whilst the bee casually smokes! "No laughing matter: You must never make a bee angry" is the title of the column, which describes a reporter's attempts to research the easy way but instead jumping in the deep end!

KL&G 5 September 1947 p.7

Press on: 'Tich' made it on his hands and knees" is the second I want to highlight. It shows our reporter 'Tich' with camera looking at a very tall puzzled hiker from the local Youth Hostel. The caricature of the hiker with hairy legs and full equipment is brilliant and shows him scratching his head wondering why the reporter is not dressed properly for the occasion!

KL&G 26 December 1947pp.6-7
The above double-page shows "In peace or in war these are the Christmases remembered best of all" and the sub-title is "Some are treasured but others they try to forget". Local readers have been asked to submit memories of Christmases past. Here we five Frank Bellamy drawings  showing visually some of the memories of "Bill" as he returns home after the war.
  1. The cartoon in the centre shows Flight-Lieutenant John Strachey looking at an Army biscuit, as told by Major John Profumo - yes, THAT Profumo who was Kettering's MP for many years before the scandal occurred - follow the link for more information on him and his later life.
  2. J. Marshall Bailey tells the next tale of how a Corps Commander wanted to wish the sleeping company a Happy Christmas. "The reply was prompt: "I don't care who the purple spots you are. Shut that Pygmalion door"".
  3. Captain G. lane tells of how Germans soldiers, who were merry at this festive time, were surpised by an 'invasion' of their pill-box!
  4. "I shall always remember father's bitterness" shows a poignant scene telling of Alderman George S. Lindgren's father's unemployment at Christmas.
  5. Lastly we see "Dinner that was to be but wasn't" - W. Cheney's tale of arriving late for Christmas dinner
Bellamy uses various styles in this double-page to show jokes and serious subjects. he shows silhouettes for the train door opening and the visiting Corps Commander; an almost serious bunch of Brit soldiers coming up to tipsy Germans and then an out and out cartoon in a sketchy hand showing shock at ' "one piece of cold plum duff". These are mixed with the poignant image of a father and son at the table on Christmas Day with 'unemployment' being the headline on the paper. 

Lastly for today, here's a lovely strip "Ireson says it with coal - and get the sack". It's incredible how much Bellamy crammed into a small space, with brilliant caricatures for even the train, the "3195". Kettering - Raunds - Kimbolton  - Buckden - Godmanchester - Thrapston - Kettering are the place-names mentioned for this old train journey - before the cuts by Dr. Beeching! Wikipedia has an article on the old line with a map!

KL&G 27 February 1948 p.3

Monday, 28 September 2020

Frank Bellamy and Leopards

When I found a single illustration in Eagle of a rhinoceros by Frank Bellamy it looked odd in a page of photos and text. - considering he did strips from 1957-1965. 

But now I've found another which rather excitingly has not been recorded before! It's a rarity to find a 'new' work by Bellamy - I call it the diminishing law of returns and I can see why it's been overlooked before!

Eagle Vol.11:17 (23 April 1960), p.4

Bellamy loved all things African with a focus on Kenya and the Masai people. His work for an South African magazine Outspan included such things as leopards too

OUTSPAN (10 February 1956) contains the story "Fear is a spotted cat" by Elaine Mans the first page of which I've shown before
 On pages 20-21 we see a leopard poised to spring with the caption - "Lifting her heavy limbs for a final effort, she fell against the rock, lying upright against its coolness"

Please forgive the image - which is a scan of a photocopy of the magazine! If anyone wants to supply a better copy, I'm more than happy to receive it! The magazine was very similar to Everybody's Weekly in size

Outspan 10 February 1956 pp20-21

Friday, 14 August 2020

ORIGINAL ART: Various from Comic Book Auctions - Thunderbirds, Life Study, Garths and Sunday Times

Angela Mansi

This lovely nude or 'life study' (as I call them to avoid censorship), is currently appearing on Comic Book Auctions and The Saleroom

I've added the individual links below for Lots #67, 68, 79, 82 and 85 which are original art pieces by Frank Bellamy, so let's go through them and preserve them here for posterity (or as long as this website lives!)

The first is a rather faded Thunderbirds double page - from the second Thunderbird story in TV21 #64

"Thunderbirds" from TV21 #64

This piece is described:
Thunderbirds original double-page artwork drawn, painted and signed by Frank Bellamy from TV Century 21 No 64 (1966). Virgil jumps for his life as the International Rescue Machine is charged by the crazed rhinoceros… Some minor fading to the Pelikan inks. 27 x 19 ins.
This is certainly very collectable, being such an early story and also a double page spread. These first few stories are cherished by fans and this one shows Bellamy's love of Africa.
The second lot is of the nude above and has this description:
Angela Mansi nude study drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy (mid 60s). During this time Frank Bellamy ran and organised life drawing classes at the Studio Club in London's Piccadilly. From the Bob Monkhouse Archive. Brown crayon on paper. 17 x 10 ins. No Reserve

If you search the blog for 'life studies' you'll find others that I've shown. It'll be interesting to see what price this fetches.

"Discreditable exercise" Sunday Times 6 December 1970

The third lot is from the Sunday Times Colour Magazine (6 December 1970) and was written by Robert Lacey, the British historian and writer. I've communicated with Robert over this series and have captured his memories for use on this blog in the future. This piece appeared on pages 22-23 and is all about credit checking. It's described thus:

A Discreditable Exercise' original double-page artwork painted and signed by Frank Bellamy for The Sunday Times magazine (late 1960s). From the Bob Monkhouse Archive. Bright Pelikan inks on board. 28 x 20 ins. No Reserve

This is the sort of design layout that made me fall in love with Bellamy (despite having seen his work from circa 1963 in Eagle, TV21 amongst others). Where and how he places panels is superb - and remember - this is way before any comic strips were standard in the relatively 'new' glossy Sunday magazines, let alone such a quality paper as the Times was!

The next two lots are Garth strips

Garth: "Beast of Ultor"H108-H109

The first pair are lovely- the hands depicting the Harpies attack have that three-dimensional look and we have the Bellamy 'swirls' as I call them.  But not only that, this strip shows the recurring character in the Garth strip - Astra.

The auction description:

Garth: The Beast of Ultor. 2 original consecutive artworks (1974) drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy for the Daily Mirror 9-10 May 1974. Indian ink on board. 21 x 7 ins (x2)


Garth: "The Bride of Jenghiz Khan" H265-H266

Both these show how Bellamy depicts three-dimensions in two so effectively in a comic strip with three panels. The description:

Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan. 2 original consecutive artworks (1974) drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy for the Daily Mirror 11-12 November 1974. Indian ink on board. 21 x 7 ins (x2)

Both pairs of artwork are lovely and it's great to get consecutive numbering.  As usual I'll update the details below when the auctions are finished


WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions
Auctioneer's estimate
£1,800 - £2,400

END DATE: 30 August 2020

WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions
END DATE: 30 August 2020

WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions
END DATE: 30 August 2020

GARTH: H108 + H109
WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions
Auctioneer's estimate
£500- £600
END DATE: 30 August 2020

GARTH: H265+H266
WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions
Auctioneer's estimate
£500- £600
END DATE: 30 August 2020

Saturday, 1 August 2020

More Kettering Leader & Guardian

Continuing my previous articles on what I found from the Kettering Leader & Guardian before lockdown I'm sharing some more of, what I think, are great Bellamy interpretations of the text provide by "Riston/Ristone" in his gardening column

This time all 20 come from the first six months of 1948, a time when the words "Dig for Victory" were still fresh on the minds of the people who stayed at home during the Second World war

January 2 1948 p.12
Seed Germination

January 9 1948 p.12
Rotation of crops

January 16 1948 p.12
Work among the vegetables

January 30 1948 p.12
A few don'ts for amateurs

February 6 1948 p.2
Sow beans now

February 13 1948 p.12
An essential "Family"

February 27 1948 p.2
Now is the hour

March 5 1948 p.2
Fruit tree planting

March 12 1948 p.2
Starting young

March 19 1948 p.12
Good fruits to grow

April 2 1948 p.2
Best way to grow peas

April 9 1948 p.12
These veg need rich soil

April 16 1948 p.5
Make the best of your flowers

April 30 1948 p.12
Prepare celery trench now

May 7 1948 p.12
Give potatoes plenty of room

May 14 1948 p.12
Grow better strawberries

May 28 1948 p.12
Prepare celery trench now

June 4 1948 p.12
Salad secrets

June 11 1948 p.2
Still time to plant seeds

June 25 1948 p.12
Destroy that caterpillar

Monday, 13 July 2020

Jim Edgar and John Allard interviews

As so little appears on the Internet about Jim Edgar, the writer of amongst other things, "Garth" which was illustrated by Bellamy I thought it was time to show you this interview and I'm hoping this is a case of John Dakin (who I've tried and failed to track down) forgiving me for publishing his material!

After this is an 'interview' with John Allard by Dakin. Both were conducted in 1980/1 and I've transcribed them below to make them searchable on Google for others to see and appreciate as the historical documents they are!


Back in January 1979 I did some research for an article on Frank Bellamy's Garth, that I had intended to submit to an American fanzine. For one reason or another I never completed the article, so I've decided to include portions of that research in upcoming newsletters. As this newsletter is to accompany (or follow on closely after) the Jim Edgar written "Night of the knives" I thought it would be a good idea to include a short postal interview with Jim Edgar. Please bear in mind that at that time the only aspect of newspaper strips that I was interested in, was Frank Bellamy's work. The questions asked were sometimes quite naive but even so they were answered more than courteously by Mr. Edgar. Needless to say, were I conducting the interview now, it would turn out rather differently. For instance, the more I see of Martin Asbury's version of Garth, the more I like his artwork, so much so that at present I like his work equally as much as Frank Bellamy's. I've just finished reading an old Jim Edgar - Martin Asbury collaboration "Mr Rubio Calls" which I found highly entertaining in both script and artwork; it included a nice satire on the sordid side of city life. Anyway, I think that's enough of the waffle and time to begin the interview.

Q: Could you explain the way in which Garth travels through time, as in the past it has happened in different ways?
JE: Garth's transference backward and forward in time is triggered by a psycho time-switch. It could be atmosphere as in the "Jack the Ripper" story or some force emanating from another period in time. This facility is part of his make-up.
Q: Could you give me a run-down of your past career?
JE: I've worked on the Evening News feature "Matt Marriott" which closed down last year after a run of 22 years, and also "Wes Slade", a western strip in the Sunday Express. Over the past 25 years I have worked over the field of strip cartoons ranging from "Buck Ryan", "Carol Day" and Gun Law", plus numerous assignments on weekly journals. Additionally, various radio plays, short stories and comedy scripts.
Q: Did Frank Bellamy have any say in the scripting or plotting of Garth?
JE: Frank Bellamy had little or no say in the scripting or storyline of Garth. However, some of the stories emerged from discussions between myself and Frank. He certainly was fond of the western aspect and accordingly several westerns were written. Frank usually worked tightly to the scripts which were always written by me.
Q: Did Frank Bellamy do all his own visual research?
JE: I imagine Frank did his own research on Garth. He had a fine library of such material. Sometimes when I planned a story I found for him a source for pictorial reference.
Q: John Allard said he thought that Frank Bellamy had a model for the recurring dark-haired woman in Garth, is this true?
JE: There is no record of any specific model for the dark-haired woman in the Garth stories, she is usually made a brunette because Astra, the goddess-type, who frequently appears in Garth stories at a climactic period, is blonde.
Q: One of my favourite Garth episodes is "Sundance". It was different from the traditional western as it favoured the Indian. What influenced you in writing that story?
JE: Any writer who has studied the western scene from around 1855 to 1890 cannot fail to have an instinctive sympathy for the American Indian. They were virtually wiped out by the sheer pressure of immigration. Whatever atrocities they committed were triggered off by despair and the hopelessness of pushing back the invasion of their tribal lands.
Q: Why has Garth's character (and that of the few supporting characters) never been developed very far during his 35 years? Is it retaining the status quo?
JE: Of course Garth has developed considerably over his incumbency. If you had read the earlier stories of 20 to 50 years ago you would find a vast difference. There is no status quo in the cartoon strip field. Over the years it is inevitable that the hero and his supports must adapt to changing conditions.
Q: Could you give me any other information concerning yourself and your work on the Garth strip?
JE: I have been associated with the Garth strip for around twelve years. The previous writer, Peter O'Donnell wrote it for 15 years prior to that. We worked in the same office block, so that I was as familiar with Garth as perhaps he was, and he wrote a lot of fine Garth stories.
Q: Can you give me any other information on Frank Bellamy's work on Garth?
JE: Frank lived in the village of Geddington. He was the ultra-perfectionist, the only artist I ever met who worried over getting the right shade of black. Garth was the first national strip he ever handled, and I think it was Frank's first true bid for recognition as an artist. I think his chief failing was that he never quite learned to relax on the job. This is a failing of other fine artists I have worked with. Maybe it is endemic to the profession.

Newspaper Strip Society Newsletter #2 (July 1980)
Details of Jim Edgar are thin and there's debate about his place of death.Read more here and if you can add more please let me know

© Anthony Jones, 2014

The interview with Jim Edgar that appeared in the 2nd newsletter was part of some research I did for a never completed article on Frank Bellamy. At the same time John Allard was good enough to allow me to spend a day in the Mirror offices, and this article is a result of that interview. A few days after our meeting I had the idea of publishing a complete Frank Bellamy story, and wrote to John asking if it was possible. When I phoned him shortly afterwards he said that the art proofs were waiting there on his desk.
Getting involved in publishing meant that I had little time for anything else so the article/ interview was put to one side, but before it gets lost completely I've decided it's about time I set out the information John gave me. As mentioned before, at the time I was only interested in Garth for Frank Bellamy's artwork so the questions I asked had a bias in that direction.
In 1943 Steve Dowling devised a mysterious strongman and took the strips he'd drawn into the editor, who being a lover of fast moving action, immediately tore up half of them. The strip was then accepted and Garth made his debut in the Mirror on Saturday July 24th 1943 • At that time the paper was only 3 pages and cost one penny. At first Dowling both wrote and drew the strip, but later staff writer Don Freeman (who was also writing "Jane") took over the scripting. Right from the beginning of the strip John Allard was taken on as assistant artist. He was then 15 and as an apprentice he drew the backgrounds.
Each day Steve Dowling would commute from the West Country. He lived so far away from the Daily Mirror offices that he was only able to stay for around two hours before travelling home again, He would draw on [the] train and also at home while watching TV,  and in fact his dexterity became something of [a] standing joke with friends in the office: it is said that he would draw three of four strips while taking is coat off in the morning.
John Allard by no means takes Garth deadly seriously. He will chuckle over the way Garth seems to have no attachments or visible means of support, he sees humour in the relationship with Lumiere and the way in which his eternal lover Astra always forgives him after he's been to bed with yet another female.
When Peter O'Donnell followed Don Freeman in writing the strip he immediately wrote the blonde Dawn and the dark haired Karen out of the story line. They were replaced by the fair haired Goddess Astra.
When Steve Dowling retired in 1953 (his last story being "The Glendig Miracle") John Allard was promoted to artist and the strip continued in the long established Dowling style. John's first story as artist was "The Time Lock", and the stories were now being written by Jim Edgar who had been recommended by Peter O'Donnell when, he left the strip.
In March 1971 Mirror editor Mike Malloy [sic] introduced the first of two major alterations to the strips page, "Fosdyke Saga" began. Then in July John Allard was told at very short notice that he would revert back to assistant artist on the strip. After just two weeks of illustrating "Sundance", John stepped down and Frank Bellamy began in mid-story.
Under the terms of the agreement John Allard continued to do much of the background artwork and he even drew the occasional complete panel (the last panel of "Sundance" for example). This situation continued up until the end of "Ghost Town". Beginning with his eighth story Frank Bellamy drew the strip,entirely on his own. The title strip of "Mask of Atacama" is the first Garth strip to bear the famous Bellamy signature.
With sex and violence becoming commonplace in the media, to coincide with the change in artists it was decided at editorial level to make several changes. Now Garth would kill, sometimes quite viciously, and although there had always been a certain amount of nudity in the strip, it would now become more sensual by the inclusion of bedroom scenes. As John Allard recalls with amusement the sexual element was included partly to dispel some of the unsavoury rumours,that had been circulating around the newspaper offices, about Garth's relationship with Professor Lumiere.
As well as these changes there was also the more realistic Bellamy style to turn the strip into something very different. Garth himself looked broader in the shoulder with slimmer hips and a more contemporary hairstyle; and his features were more strongly defined. All this led to a completely unexpected occurrence, the Daily Mirror offices were flooded with letters complaining about Garth's changed appearance. Charles Roger, the then head of the Mirror's strip department asked Frank Bellamy to adapt his pencils to the old style in which Garth had been drawn. Understandably Bellamy angrily refused, and there the matter was left, never being taken as far as editorial level. John says it was the only time that he ever saw Frank Bellamy lose his temper. John had had lunch with Frank a few times and found him to be nervous, quietly spoken, courteous and proud of the recognition that his work received.
After completion of 17 Garth stories Frank Bellamy died suddenly on the 5th July 1976 of a heart attack.
Fantasy Advertiser International Vol3 No50 (Nov. 1973) included a long and highly illustrated interview with Frank Bellamy. The interview concerned his pre-Garth work, and a planned sequel covering Garth unfortunately never took place.

I'd like to thank John Allard for the help he has given me over the past two years.
Since typing out the last page I've found out that Harry North who is drawing "James Bond" has since
1976 actually been an artist on MAD. The writer is again Jim Lawrence who I mentioned earlier.
Fantasy Empire a magazine devoted to all aspects of British fantasy is due out in February.

Newspaper Strip Society Newsletter #4 (Feb 1981)

John Allard passed away in November 2018

So no photo of Jim Edgar! The paucity of information on him particularly reflects the British lack of interest in its own newspaper strip creators. If anyone can add anything I, for one, would be really grateful


Wednesday, 1 July 2020

ORIGINAL ART: Garth on ebay - The Beautiful People (K6)

Garth: The Beautiful People (K6)

This strip has appeared for auction or Buy It Now on eBay. It's a nice example of Frank Bellamy's work on Garth, presented by robinb.76  The seller states:
Frank Bellamy Genuine Garth strip from the Spanish Lady [sic] series, 18cm x 54cm approx, genuine one off artwork and much sought after, being sold by a family member (so can confirm genuine. Will deliver very well packaged by recorded delivery.
It actually appears in "The Beautiful People" the story about Garth's 'cool' friend Marc Serrano who needs Garth's protection on the island of Ikonos in the Aegean.  here are other images the seller has uploaded.

Here's the other strips that appear before and after this one for your delight!

Garth: The Beautiful people (K5-K9)


WHERE?: eBay
Buy It Now: £375
ENDING PRICE: [Sold to a private buyer for £350]
END DATE: Monday 6 July 2020