Tuesday 21 January 2020

Frank Bellamy and John Burns draw Garth

Comparison between John Burns and Frank Bellamy
on Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan

Recently I was having an email conversation with Alan Davis, the famous comic artist and he was chatting to Colin Brown, who runs amongst other things, the JOHN M BURNS ART Facebook group.  Colin gave me permission to share  some artwork (which Alan constructed from stuff shared with him by Colin).

"About a year ago, I posted several Garth strips John sent me. In his accompanying letter, he mentioned that he’d submitted sample strips when Frank Bellamy died. I misread the letter and assumed that the copies of strips he’d enclosed were the submissions. I’ve recently found out that’s not the case and that they had been drawn 10-15 years later. The error is entirely mine. This has come to light due to Alan Davis, who is a huge Bellamy fan, asking John about them as part of his research into Garth. He discovered an interesting paragraph in a a huge article on [John Freeman's] Down The Tubes in November 2018. 
The relevant paragraph reads “When news of Bellamy’s death became known, several top artists (including John Burns) submitted samples, hoping to take over the strip. However, they were too late! As John Allard recalls, “The Mirror editor Mike Malloy [sic Molloy] never saw their samples because he had already appointed Martin Asbury, who had got his samples in double-quick.”
John [Burn's] memories of the time are “The actual art sent in was I believe 1 or 2 strips in black and white - I can't find the originals. John Allard phoned me and told me about Bellamy’s sad demise. I asked if I could do anything to help (art wise). John asked me to send in samples of a Garth strip (not in Frank’s style) should I be interested in taking over from Frank. There was no mention about other artists - I don't know which ones were sending in their take on Garth. But it seems Martin got in first.” For the strips done later, John used the story “Brides of Jenghiz Khan”. Alan has put together John’s strips and the originals as a comparison."

Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan
One of the commentors on the Facebook page asked if these weren't to get the work  were these strips drawn and Colin confirmed "John Burns says he did them just to see if he could". Looking at them, we can see John Burns has amalgamated, omitted and even re-imagined some scenes, as you would expect. I'd love to see what John would do if he had the original scripts to work from, as we know Bellamy changed things to suit the needs of his designs.

Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan

Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan

Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan

Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan
And as Colin has been so kind to allow me to share the above, I've also borrowed the image below, drawn by John too, featuring UK artists whom he respects. This is a rough copy of the original which is owned by a collector.
Sydney Jordan (Jeff Hawke), Ron Embleton (Stingray, Captain Scarlet etc.)
Frank Hampson (Dan Dare), Frank Bellamy, Ron Turner (Nick Hazard),
and Don Lawrence (Trigan Empire etc.) and of course John Burns seated