Wednesday 28 July 2021

The Art of Frank Bellamy: Illustrators Special #11 IT'S PUBLISHED!!!!

"A unique British trailblazer"

The Art of Frank Bellamy (Illustrators Special #11) Front Cover

In March 2020, I got a phone call while walking in my local town. I ducked down an alleyway to be able to hear Geoff West of Book Palace, (I'm not as young as I used to be and that background noise of traffic is hard work!). He asked me if I fancied writing an Illustrators Special on ......Frank Bellamy! Some of you may know I've been part of the Illustrators team in a minor way since about issue 3. Now issue 34 of this quarterly 'bookazine' has just been published as well as, along the way, eleven Special issues focussing on a topic or artist! (you can see a full listing here). 

But the focus today is on the Frank Bellamy Special

"Robin Hood" from Swift Vol. 3:25 (23 June 1956)

The work includes a page introduction by Oliver Frey, who I have quoted at the head of this article, who also explains how Bellamy was truly British, with no influence from America or Europe (which I liked and suspect Bellamy would too!). 

"Thunderbirds" from TV21 #115

Then you get an overview of Bellamy's life and career from the start to the end, written from scratch by yours truly. I decided this would be a great opportunity to discipline myself into focussing on essential information only - not everyone cares that Frank and Nancy were great lovers of all things Spanish and took a trip there in May 1959, taking in the southern region of AndalucĂ­a! I double-checked all my facts - as this is likely to be the longest biography of Frank Bellamy for a while, depending on who takes up the baton! Experience taught me that many errors slip into narratives about the artist over time, so I was extra careful!

"The Winged Avenger" from "The Avengers" TV series

We managed to get a load of scans of original artwork - and here I have to say a HUGE thank you to Paul Holder and many others too numerous to repeat here, but who are listed in the book. If they hadn't come forward, the work would be full of work scanned by me from my collection of books and magazines, tears, thumbed pages and all! I've sampled some work here, but the print versions are at a higher resolution which you can't appreciate until you see it! You will see loads of things not seen before- even on this blog - which illustrate how Bellamy was so talented, flexible, imaginative and inspirational.

"The Doomsmen" - Garth J161

Lastly I re-wrote this website's listing of Frank's work so you can have a bibliography of his works which fits legibly on three pages due to the brilliant designer who put this all together, Diego Cordoba - thanks Diego for being so amenable to design suggestions. 

Portakabin (4 sided 2 page colour advertising brochure)
I got my copy this morning and thought, although "un-boxing" is fashionable, I'd just do a flick through in my back garden, thus the birds, kids and car noises! Book Palace have one on the Art of Frank Bellamy page which gives a great overview, click on Take a Peek

And finally here's the back cover. Any other variants you've seen only exist electronically as early drafts! Yes, including the one with my name in a speech bubble!

Here's the true back cover:

The Art of Frank Bellamy (Illustrators Special #11) Back Cover

August 2021: Page 3: Oliver Frey says: 
"My first exposure to this exciting world of adventure was in late 1956 when, as a boy of eight, just arrived from Switzerland and with no grasp of English, I leafed through a copy of Eagle. It was a turning point in my life, and Frank Bellamy’s work proved seminal to my own career in illustration".

The reference to "1956" implies that FB was seen in Eagle when he actually started in October 1957. Prior to that, he was drawing in Swift [DJ]

August 2021: Page 28 Caption: 

"This is early Bellamy, before he started using stippling, but was still the work of an accomplished artist"

In fact he used stippling in the first frame of the first episode of "Monty Carstairs" and further developing practically in weekly episodes from then on. [DJ]

August 2021: Page 96:

Other opportunities were presenting themselves and one such commission enabled Bellamy to contribute an unusual villain to the TV series The Avengers. The episode in question was titled, ‘The Masked Avenger’ and revolved around Emma Peel and John Steed investigating a series of ruthless murders of businessmen who, unusually, are killed by a comic character come to life—the Winged Avenger

Of course this should read 'was titled 'The Winged Avenger' [DJ]

August 2021: Page 142: Bibliography:

The Thunderbirds listing starts part way through, not from the series beginning [DJ]. It should read:

‘Heros the Spartan: The Slave Army’ Eagle (27 February 1965- 24 July 1965)

  1. ‘Thunderbirds: Forest Inferno’ TV Century 21 (15 January 1966 - 26 February 1966)
  2. ‘Thunderbirds: White Rhino Rescue’ TV Century 21 (5 March 1966 - 16 April 1966)
  3. ‘Thunderbirds: Shoot Down the TC193’ TV Century 21 (23 April 1966 - 4 June 1966)

‘Thunderbirds: The Atlantic Tunnel’ TV Century 21 (11 June 1966 - 13 August 1966)

My wife gave me wonderful feedback on the Special and mentioned these typos:

  • p. 10 "as he was soon hard at work producing paintings"
  • p.19 "The very first place he saw was Bride Lane and on his list was Norfolk Studio, Bride Lane"
  • p.82 "When he picked up the phone to enquire whether or not Bellamy would be available to illustrate Stingray, it was with the certain knowledge"
  • p.94 "‘The Atlantic Tunnel’ allowed Bellamy to make full use of the visual acreage afforded by the double-page spread format"
  • p.104 "Bellamy’s usual attention ensured the art was always underpinned with the correct historical detail."
  • p.106 - Two occurrences of Radio Times not being completely italicised
  • p.114 "as the train rattled back to on its journey west."
  • p.114 "Eventually the logistics proved too much"
  • p.114 "Asked about what the responsibilities"

Thanks darling!

December 2021:

Richard Sheaf really has a good eye - 

  • p. 43 - "Chad Varah" not "Chad Vara"
  • p. 47 - should be copyright "Dan" not "Dab"
  • p. 57 - "series" rather than episodes [Ahh, see what you mean there Richard! ~Norman]
  • p. 82 - "recognisable" rather than "recognizable"
  • p. 106 (twice) - Radio Times not Radio Times
  • p. 113 - "realised" not "realized"
  • p. 113 - Stephen Dowling is correct but it's usually Steve Dowling
  • p. 138 - The Times not Times 
April 2022:
John Wigmans spotted something - 
  •  p. 28 -  "Bellamy followed up his 'Carstairs' work with a five-week six-week run [...] of Walt Disney's The Living Desert."

October 2022

David Driver (Frank's Art Editor) wrote:

  • Just a small observation on the caption page 128, “use of Bellamy so much”! It was the editor, who was against me featuring ‘Dr Who‘ so regularly. He felt my enthusiasm for the programme was in need of control, he was wrong. He loved Frank Bellamy’s work and encouraged it being featured.



Frank Bellamy is an artist whose work reflects much of the century that he inhabited. Born a year before the end of the First World War, his art documented an age of conflict, exploration, technological advancement, social change and an age which could envisage worlds as yet undiscovered as well as worlds long departed deep beneath the sands of time.

His story follows the course of many of his contemporaries, a driven determination to secure a living as a illustrator, bolstered by sporadic exposure to art tuition, stints in a provincial studio “learning on the job”, and the “pilgrimage to London” and more specifically Fleet Street, which in the 1950s was a veritable Mecca for aspiring illustrators.

What makes Bellamy's story so particular is his development into a pre-eminent graphic artist. (Robin Hood, King Arthur, Heros the Spartan, Montgomery, Churchill, Fraser of Africa, Thunderbirds and Garth.)

From a relatively staid and unremarkable (yet highly competent) artist to a ground-breaking master of the comic strip, his rise to fame presents not just a fascinating tale about his life and work but also the story of UK comics from what was a golden age through to the influencing of the next generation of comic artists—and creatives in other fields—who would succeed him.

Typical of those who fell under Bellamy's spell is Oliver Frey who graces this edition with his introduction to the work of Frank Bellamy.

More like a book than a magazine, illustrators is the art quarterly devoted to the finest illustration art ever published. It guides you through the stories behind the artists and their art, with features written by some of the leading authorities on this important art form.

As well as building into an indispensable reference library, illustrators gives readers an insight into the creative process, from idea to sketch to painting, and from painting to the image seen by millions.

Truly fabulous artwork abounds in every issue, much of the art taken from scans of the original work.

This illustrators Special Edition limited to just 1000 copies worldwide. A Book Palace Books publication.

Authors: Norman Boyd, Oliver Frey (intro)
Artist: Frank Bellamy
Publisher: Book Palace Books, July 2021
Number of pages: 144
Format: Soft Cover; Full Colour illustrations
Size: 9" x 11" (216mm x 280mm)
ISBN: 9781913548087

Buy here: The Art of Frank Bellamy (UK) (USA)

Thursday 1 July 2021

Unknown Frank Bellamy #17 & 18: Aliens

Continuing our look at the 'unknown' Bellamy artwork with thanks to Alan Davis for giving permission to use these images

Used by permission of Alan Davis

Used by permission of Alan Davis

Alan Davis' images above, show how he found two of Bellamy's Polaroids which were 'snaps' of the TV screen when Bellamy's images appeared and Alan added them to the photo of the original art. This gave me the clue that these two aliens appeared on the BBC.  But so did the following correspondence, addressed to Bellamy:

Letter addressed to Frank Bellamy 18 May 1960

So here we have proof Frank Bellamy was asked to produce artwork of two aliens. In the Radio Times edition  (15 May 1960 - 21 May 1960) on the 13 May 1960 (p12 of the Radio Times) we find:

FOCUS at 5:10pm
  • Vera McKechnie introduces Your Monday Magazine.
  • Life on Other Worlds examined by Tom Margerison
  • An Introduction to Make-up with Richard Blore
  • Fencing: A demonstration of electric epee, electric foil Hungarian sabre and classical Japanese sword play. - See Junior Radio Times
  • Would You Believe It? Illustrated by Bill Hooper.
  • Robin Adler's Camera Club
  • The Ideal Four


  • Presenter: Vera McKechnie
  • Item presenter (Life on Other Worlds): Tom Margerison
  • Item presenter (An Introduction to Make-up): Richard Blore
  • Artist (Would You Believe It?): Bill Hooper
  • Item presenter (Robin Adler's Camera Club): Robin Adler
  • Performers: The Ideal Four
  • Producer: Leonard Chase

Focus ran for 50 minutes, so  therefore 5 (or is it 6?) items listed would likely mean the space article was ten minutes long. You can also see that the letter above came from the person who produced the show in which Bellamy's drawings appeared. Interestingly, he is not credited, but I expect that's because he wasn't the "artist" that week but the "illustrator" for a topic that was difficult to film without images!

The Junior Radio Times section, mentioned in the listing often featured an article from the Focus programme, but not in this particular issue - which is a shame, because that would have been Bellamy's first work for the magazine, if the aliens had been reproduced in print. But "Star Trek" was his first.

Interestingly Frank Bellamy's aliens came from "the same design lineage as those at the close of [his] tenure on "Dan Dare"", said David Jackson when we talked about this article.

The Bellamy "Dan Dare" aliens were designed for the "Project Nimbus" story, first in the form of a machine-robot weapon, which made its appearance in Vol.11 No.20 (14 May 1960)

Bellamy's alien tech - Eagle Vol 11:20

Bellamy's alien tech - Eagle Vol 11:20

There is another design in the next issue and the aliens themselves appear in No.22 to No.26.


Bellamy's aliens - Eagle Vol 11:22

More bellamy Alien tech, from Eagle Vol 11:21

Thanks to David for reminding me!