Wednesday 17 June 2020

Frank Bellamy and Garth in the Daily Record (December, 1971-1973)

Back before Christmas I discovered a mystery - as far I was concerned: a Garth strip was offered that I'd never seen before. It soon came to light that it was from the Daily Record (in Scotland). So before lockdown I had the opportunity to review the Daily Record - God bless the British Library! - and am now writing this up with images to make a bit more sense.


"G305.5" from Daily Record
  • This Garth strip featured characters from "The Wreckers" story which ran in the Daily Mirror 26 October 1973 - 18 February 1974 (G255-H41)
  • The seller noted the strip was numbered "DR.CH.73" and the printers' instructions in pencil written on front state "Daily Record 26-12-73"
  • With a bit of research I discovered that Scotland and England published different papers on different days over the Christmas/New Year period, so I knew we might have extra Garth strips by Bellamy that I'd not seen in England before.
As Bellamy started on the Garth strip in July 1971 and died in July 1976 I thought there might be at least one strip for each Christmas / New Year holiday period. Once I found that the Daily Record published on Christmas Day and Boxing Day (where the English counterpart did not) I wanted to see how this looked in the paper.

I then found I needn't worry about Boxing Day in Scotland AFTER 1973 because:
  • 1973 - 2 January was created an additional bank holiday in Scotland by the 1971 Act. However, the provision did not come into effect until 1973.
  • 1974 - New Year's Day became an additional bank holiday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Boxing Day became an additional bank holiday in Scotland. ~ Taken from the archived Government page
I then went through every published Daily Record in December 1971, 1972 and 1973 and noted when it was published and which Garths appeared

Dates of Garth in Daily Record & Daily Mirror 1971

The notes above show the DAY on which the paper was published, its DATE, together with the NUMBERING for "Garth" and "Angus Og" (as that appeared together with "Garth" on the same page in the paper). Lastly the "Garth" notation in the Daily Mirror.

It appears that when an Angus Og story finished its numbering changed (as opposed to "Garth" which changed the letter prefix every calendar year, i.e. 1971 = E, 1972 = F, etc.).
Interestingly my first discovery  was that everything matched until the Christmas Day issue of the Daily Record. There is an additional strip that didn't appear in the Daily Mirror and it fits between E300 and E301, so I'm calling it "E300.5" - apologies for the poor photo

Garth E300

Garth "E300.5"

Garth E301

I'm going to take a guess and say this is an additional strip drawn by John Allard himself as his lettering looks the same and the art looks like his too. The Perishers strip  was labelled "DR.25.12.71" so I'm guessing this didn't appear in England either - oh and by the way, the weekend Perishers strip tended to be coloured! - and as I'm a fan, here that 'missing' one

Perishers Daily Record DR.25.12.71


Dates of Garth in Daily Record & Daily Mirror 1972
1972 got even more scary for me. I'm glad I captured all of December while there! Everything was fine until we get to the Daily Record dated 16 December 1972 where panels get repeated and skipped. I've labelled each panel A, B, and C and compared the Record to the Mirror's numbering

Daily Record 15 - 19 December 1972

F299 A + B panels were not published in Scotland

Garth F299
Why this occurred at this point, I have no idea. Every day was published (no strikes) and we are not yet at 25th December yet.

Garth F303
Talking of which, F303 is the end of the "People of the Abyss" story in England but in Scotland there is another episode rounding it off.

For the first time I present "F303.5"

Garth "F303.5"


Dates of Garth in Daily Record & Daily Mirror 1973

The Christmas day edition of the Daily Record was not published and a note in the Christmas Eve edition says "We'll be back Wednesday" which is Boxing Day 26 December 1973 and here is where this hunt started with Rhona Flin offering this Garth for sale last year.

Garth "G305.5" or "DR CH 73"

So the Daily Record had some different Garth strips from the Daily Mirror, the paper that hired Frank Bellamy. It appears in these three Decembers that Bellamy produced 2 episodes and Allard one. Unfortunately both John and Frank are no longer with us to ask about this. John Allard will certainly have known about this different publishing schedule as he produced one episode in the time period I examined, during the Bellamy run - which stands out a mile due to the difference in style.

Looking at the history and outline of Public Holidays in Scotland, I feel it will be a long time before I look at the rest of the Garth publishing in the Daily Record but I'm happy to give others credit if they share the information!
[UPDATE DECEMBER 2020: A website for Angus Og now exists:]

Thursday 4 June 2020

Masters of British Comic Art - Review

Cover by Brian Bolland

This is a long indulgent piece from me - a love letter of sorts to David Roach or more specifically his work in mapping artists and comic history.  Let me say before I start, as soon as you create something there are people who will criticise and that's fine as long as it's done constructively. So hopefully I'll be one of those, as I love this book!
I bought this book because I loved the way David Roach shares his passion for illustrative art in magazines, fine art and comics on social media. I'd read his previous book done in a similar vein: "Masters of Spanish Comic Book Art". The first part is text of the history of comic art with loads of facts, dates, and personalities. The second part is an alphabetical showcase, or gallery of top quality reproductions of artists' works - most from original art. This book is similar but he does break it up slightly by having a 21st century section later in the book with a similar introduction and art.

Now I know a thing or two about UK comics of the 1960s-1970s but would by no means think myself an expert - except in Frank Bellamy's work. The history section - beginning right at the start of 1825 - has a tone that speaks of knowledge and the love of making connections, for example at the start of Chapter Two ("It's a funny old world"), David says "For the next forty years nothing happened". That's a bold statement but once one thinks about it in the context of what he writes, he's right. I'd never made the connection before!  The range of artists and comic titles included will let hardly anyone down. The beauty of the book lies in the illustrations too. Every page in colour and with Roach's catholic tastes well represented.
Full disclosure: He meant to say 'total geeks'!

The artwork is first class in many ways - the choice, the reproduction and seeing some for the first time, gorgeous. I expect a rise in interest to occur in some artists as a result of this book - surely Roach's aim achieved! I've loved Mike Hubbard's work, after 'borrowing' my sister's Princess Tina and reading "Jane Bond" and also the strip "Alona, the wild one" drawn by Leslie Otway. But some of the 40s and 50s artists were new to me and they are gorgeous. Bellamy is very well represented.

Masters of British Comic Art p.50

I've listed all the appearances in the book of Frank Bellamy's work on my Articles about Frank Bellamy page and repeat them here for convenience:
  • pp.49-50 (within "Chapter 5: The Golden Age")
    • "Heros" Eagle Vol.15:31;
    • "Thunderbirds" TV21 #68, p2
  • pp.84-85 (within "Chapter 8: Newspaper Strips")
    • "Garth" G156
  • pp. 146-152 (within the "Artists Gallery") -
    • "Dan Dare: Project Nimbus", Eagle Vol. 11:21;
    • "Fraser of Africa" Eagle Vol. 12:21;
    • "Only the brave" Eagle Vol. 13:38;
    • "Ghost World" Boy's World Vol.1:46;
    • "Heros" Eagle Vol. 14:15;
    • "Thunderbirds" TV21 #232, p2
But all is not well. I may be getting old but the spelling of Tattler, the capitals (The Mirror, rather than 'the Mirror' in the middle of a sentence), simple typos (Pip, Squeak and Wifred = Wilfred) phrases look to be translated (which I doubt) e.g. "dispersing [rather than "dispensing"] with borders entirely" and the many stray inverted commas, all annoy me personally.  I desperately want to know (p.84) what notoriety Conrad Frost went onto - I didn't see it in the text later on - as Bellamy and Frost worked together in the late 60s. There are many typos but none more aggravating to a Bellamy fan than "Frazer of Africa" - even though it's very common. But these can be overlooked in such an exhaustive work (exhausting too when held in the hands - it's so heavy!). I was very grateful for the bookmark too - a silly little thing but lovely.

Errors spotted  - Sparky started in 1965 not 1967 (p.14), I happened to buy one and the eponymous character appeared in the first issue; Hampson's work was called 'The Road of Courage' not 'to Courage', some Christians may be offended by the thought of Jesus needing to build up courage!

Garth strip
Masters of British Comic Art pp.84-85

The biggest failing, I discovered very soon into the text - no index. That would be such a research aid to future comic historians. I could find that reference to Conrad Frost so much easier. There's a piece of information on Tom Kerr which appears in the text, telling us he worked on D.C. Thomson's nursery line of comics, but where? (page 28). If Google Books indexes this, we may find it but it's still simpler to have it in the book! I wonder how many names are mentioned in this book? Also I was surprised not to see a Contents page. A little thing, but did you know this book includes a look at Underground, American and Newspaper Strips? Well that's what a Contents Page is for - there is none. These days with the Amazon "Look Inside" facility, it would seem essential to me.

I can't imagine how you would go about choosing artwork for such a book. I know from his Facebook page that David asked Facebook followers what they would include. He has final say and I'm not arguing. However, I looked for Parlett's work when he says "Reg Parlett worked for almost all the new humor comics" (an index would have helped!) but pages 18-19 only have 2 Baxendale examples. How would he have worked a small image in the text section to accompany comments on Baxendale and Reg Parlett? My mind is blown thinking of the logistics, so he can be forgiven.

Let me finish with telling you that I LOVE this book. All the moans above are trifling but highlight how the book could have been an even better book. It's certainly a lot better than some older more famous books on British comic art and we should all thank David for his brilliant work. Putting together such a lot of facts, stories, artwork and not making mistakes in some areas would be a miracle.

I might even have created errors here myself! let me know if I have!