Saturday, 21 May 2022

Happy Birthday Frank Bellamy

Crosse & Blackwell advert 1971

It's the 21st May and in 1917 one of Britain's greatest artists was born in Kettering 105 years ago - not "600 years ago"! I'm happy to remember this date every year, but what to show you?

I've decided, for no other reason than these are images with a subject of "many years ago" to show you three pieces you will enjoy

The first (at the head of this article) comes from an advert drawn by Bellamy for the agency Lonsdale Crowther Ltd whose client was Crosse & Blackwell. Bellamy was paid £115.50 for the full colour battle scene titled "Life as it was 600 years ago". Notably there is no signature. This advert appeared in various comics (where they were printed in colour) including, but not exclusively Countdown No.12 (Week ending 8th May 1971) and Look & Learn No. 485 (1 May 1971). If anyone knows where the original artwork is, I'd love to know and if you spot the advert anywhere else, I'd add that to the listing. 

Eagle 28 August 1965 (Vol.16:35
The second piece appeared in Eagle in the summer of 1965 and shows one of the "Arms through the ages" series. You can see the others here. What's interesting is the missing panel which appeared bottom left on the printed cover. As it contains a somewhat violent image(!) it may have been cut out and omitted in a further reprint, but I've not found one yet! Bellamy was paid £44 for this.

Eagle 28 August 1965 (Vol.16:35

 And lastly, again through the kindness of collectors, I have another original art to show you. This comes from Swift Vol2:37

Swift Vol.2:37 (10 September 1955)

The seventh episode of "King Arthur and his knights" - copies of the whole story can still be found on Book Palace's website.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

More Original Art for auction! garth, Robin Hood and Heros, oh my!

Eagle 10 Nov 1962, Vol:13:45

The Compalcomics auction just gone live features loads of Frank Bellamy original artwork - all captured here for your delight! It's mirrored on Thesaleroom where you can bid and see live bids too. I've placed the direct links to Bellamy's wonderful artwork below.

That's enough of the technicalities. Let's get to the artwork....

HEROS THE SPARTAN: Eagle 10 November 1962 (Vol. 13:45)

The image at the top of this article shows the 4th episode of the first "Heros" story. the colours are very vibrant and it seems the piece has not been displayed and allowed to fade and the presence of the lettering in such perfect condition is explained in the blurb below. The estimate is £4,500-£5,000. 

It is described as:

Heros the Spartan original double-page artwork (1962) painted and signed by Frank Bellamy for The Eagle Vol. 13 No 45 centrespread, 10 November 1962. Caesar has sent Heros, with a hundred men, to conquer the mysterious Island of Darkness. But Heros's cohort is ambushed by animal-like warriors. Luckily the survivors reach a stockade, built by previous ill-fated legions. That night, from the mountainside, an awesome figure taunts Heros and his men to battle ... Pelikan inks on board, 28 x 20 ins. The Heros the Spartan title lettering and square text boxes are laser colour editions to complete the look of the artwork and may be removed if required.

There are loads of Garth strips in this auction, but the most exciting, for its historical significance is this one:

GARTH: Sundance - E164

Garth: Sundance - E164

This is the third episode of Garth that Bellamy drew. I've used it in previous blogs to illustrate how Allard added pieces to the early Garth strips after Bellamy took over. Technically it should be credited to Bellamy and John Allard as the latter added the trees in the third panel and the Letraset on the soldier's trousers. It's described as:

Garth original artwork by John Allard for the Daily Mirror 14 July 1971. Two light bends to the board, not breaking the ink. Indian ink on board. 21 x 7 ins

The estimate is £100-£150 but i suspect might be greater than that as Sundance does not come up that often.

GARTH: Freak out to fear - H182+H214

Garth: Freak out to Fear - H182 and H214

"Freak Out To Fear" ran in the Daily Mirror originally from 6 June 1974 - 27 September 1974 - H132-H227 and these two strips show strong figure compositions in a small space. The auction is estimated to reach £450-£500 which seems reasonable to me for two original Garths, these days. It's described thus:

Garth: 'Freak Out to Fear' (1974) two original artworks drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy for the D. Mirror, 6.8.'74 and 12.9.'74. Indian ink on board. 21 x 7 ins (2)

GARTH: The Angels of Hell's Gap - J35

Garth: The Angels of Hell's Gap - J35

Bellamy's Western Garth strips are always popular and this one is estimated to reach  £250-£300 which seems reasonable too. 

Garth: 'The Angels of Hell's Gap' (1975) original artwork drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy for the D. Mirror 13.2.'75. Indian ink on board. 21 x 7 ins

GARTH: The Bubble Man- J278

Garth: The Bubble Man - J278

This strip has a bevy of beautiful ladies which tends to bump up prices, but there's no nudity here, so who knows. The estimate is £250-£300 (and at the time of writing this is the first of the Garths in this sale to get a bid) so let's see what happens. I love the devices like the shading in the first panel and the way Bellamy portrays the building in panel 2

Garth: 'The Bubble Man' (1975) original artwork drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy for the D. Mirror 25.11.'75. Indian ink on board. 21 x 7 ins

GARTH: The Spanish Lady - K136+K160

Garth: The Spanish Lady - K136 + K160

"The Spanish Lady" is a story that is fondly remembered by Garth fans, as Garth (as John Carey) travels in Elizabethan times and with Sir Francis Drake tackles a Spanish galleon with - you guessed it - a Spanish lady aboard, with whom he has his dalliance! One of the strips offered is the last strip of the story which ran 17 March 1976 - 7 July 1976 - K65-K160. These are estimated to sell at £450-£500, but I wonder! Bellamy passed away on 5 July 1976 and began the next story's artwork - there being a lead time between completing the artwork and its publication.

Garth: 'The Spanish Lady' (1976) two original artworks drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy for the D. Mirror No K 136 (undated) and 7.7.'76. Indian ink on board. 21 x 7 ins (2)

Lastly we have an unusual piece in a series that does not come up often.

ROBIN HOOD: Swift Vol3:41 (13 Oct 1956)

Swift 13 Oct 1956 (Vol:3:41 p.2)

If you haven't seen Book Palace's reprints of "Robin Hood" (and "King Arthur" - and I should mention immodestly, my "Art of Frank Bellamy" with loads of artwork and my bio of Bellamy's work and life), then hop along there. 

But back to the above "Robin Hood". Malcolm describes this lovely piece:

Robin Hood original artwork (1956) by Frank Bellamy for Swift Vol. 3, No 41 pg 2 (1956). Black ink and wash on board. 18 x 14 ins

I'd say a bit more. Pause for a moment and gaze at that first panel - the servant is in the shade (a lovely ink wash)  and perspective is shown by the light in which the Normans stand compared to him. The second panel shows intricate brickwork and Bellamy could   have made it much simpler for himself, but gloriously didn't! And in the last panel I'm reminded of dioramas with the foreground cut out and an image placed behind it. Did he really have to add the bird scattering its way through the forest? Beautiful and dedicated work.

For your pleasure and because. like me, I'm sure you want to know what led to this page and what happens next, I give you.....

You might also be interested in this lot of assorted books and fanzines

I'll update the spreadsheet as usual after the auction. Happy Bidding!


WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
END DATE: Sunday 29 May 2022

GARTH: Sundance 

WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
END DATE: Sunday 29 May 2022
GARTH: Freak out to fear (2 epsiodes)
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
END DATE: Sunday 29 May 2022

GARTH: The Angels of Hell's Gap
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
END DATE: Sunday 29 May 2022

GARTH: The Bubble Man
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
END DATE: Sunday 29 May 2022

GARTH: The Spanish Lady (2 episodes)
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
END DATE: Sunday 29 May 2022

WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
END DATE: Sunday 29 May 2022

Monday, 25 April 2022

Frank Bellamy and Brian Lewis and Captain Condor

Eagle Vol.11:9 (27 Feb 1960)

You may have seen adverts for Hibernia Comics latest collection in their "Fleetway Files" series. It contains three "Captain Condor" stories illustrated by another artist I like, Brian Lewis. Bellamy and Lewis were contemporaries and I always say Bellamy's demise was too soon, but Lewis was only 49 when he passed away (3 June 1929 - 4 December 1978) but he left us with some superb artwork

The character Captain Condor was created in February 1952 as a direct competition to Eagle's "Dan Dare" by Frank S. Pepper, a stalwart of story papers and Tiger and Lion - the latter is where Condor first appeared.

Hibernia Comics "Captain Condor"

I bought the Hibernia comics book and was reading quite happily in my nostalgic place when I was brought up sharp - some of these images looked similar to Bellamy's "Dan Dare" - what irony as the two were seen as competitors!

Taking each image that I spotted in order - there are likely to be a few more  as so many faces and groupings of people look very familiar but as a quick glance I couldn't find their immediate references so i thought I'd publish this and see if others can play along! 

The first I spotted was on page 5 of the Hibernia version (originally published in Lion 30 December 1961)

Lion 30 December 1961 -
scan of original comic

Compare the bottom row to the Eagle comics - firstly at the top of this article (where we see the helicopter devices strapped to Dan Dare and friends' backs) and then the following where Dan Dare is looking somewhat shocked (bottom right)!

Eagle Vol.10:30 (12 December 1959)

On page 62 of the Hibernia book we get our first glimpse of the aliens in the story "The Slave Hunters from Space", and they appear very similar (to me at least) to the aliens from the Dan Dare "Project Nimbus" story.

Lion 21 July 1962 -
scan of original comic

And here is the Bellamy version from 2 years earlier!

Eagle Vol.11:22 (28 May 1960)

Next we have (on page 93 of the new book) what some think might be a predecessor to Thunderbird 2 - which I cannot prove or disprove as I don't know if Derek Meddings - its designer -or one of his children read the Eagle comic. But I'm certain Brian Lewis did. He contributed to that comic too, drawing fill-ins on "The Guinea Pig", a long run on "Mann of Battle", and even a spoof strip "Blunderbirds" in 1966!

Lion 3 November 1962 -
scan of original comic

Eagle Vol.11:2 (9 January 1960)
A note to the unwary that only the lower row (in the above image) is by Bellamy as the main frame had been drawn up on the fly by Gerry Palmer without Frank's knowledge or consent..! [Thanks for the reminder from David Jackson]

Of course I started to see other influences - even what I thought might be based on Frazetta's cover to Famous Funnies #214 on page 94! At that point I thought I'd better stop. There's a Facebook group if you'd like to see more of Brian's work, and I uploaded some rare images of his work in "All about science" - a part work from the 70s - to Flickr.

Let me finish by quoting John Freeman from his review of the new collection:

The team at Hibernia have again done a cracking restoration job on the pages featured in this 120-page collection, treating us to three three enjoyable SF-inspired romps, "The Push Button Planet", "Slave Hunters from Outer Space" and "The Unseen Invaders".

Monday, 7 March 2022

Frank Bellamy and Joe 90

TV21 is my favourite comic! It ended its second run (as TV21 & Joe 90) in 1971. I'd left it a year earlier as the Gerry Anderson-inspiration had been diluted or gone! That's 50 years ago. 

I also ordered the spin-off Joe 90 comic which ran for 34 issues and it wasn't until Alan Davis highlighted the fact, that I realised Frank Bellamy drew TWO covers for Joe 90.

Joe 90 #1 cover by Frank Bellamy

This cover for Joe 90 #1 was -sort of - reprinted in 1994 when a new comic dedicated to Joe 90 was published in 1994. This happened because of the revival of Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Joe 90 which the BBC screened. People as old as me could sit with our children and enjoy it all over again. The Joe 90 revival was a bit of a flop, the comic running for just 7 issues!

Joe 90 #1 (1994) p.15

But these are not the two covers I am referring to. 

Here are the first 8 issues of the original 1969 publication:

Thanks to

You'll notice that Bellamy drew the first issue cover, but #2, 3, 4, 5 and #7 are drawn by someone else, who, although some credit as being by Harry Lindfield, I'm not convinced, especially as Shaqui Le Vesconte's (now defunct) site stated 'Unknown'. But I'd love to know. 

Summarising the covers, Joe 90 #1 to #5 had drawings and paintings, #6 shows Professor Maclaine and Joe in a photo, #7 painting, #8 photos, #9- 12 paintings and #13 has John Cooper (?) starting the strip on the front page - so flat colour and then #14-#16 paintings and 17 and 18 photos. #19 is same style John Cooper cover. From #20-22 paintings and then we get the single big image by Gerry Haylock through to #26. #27 is a single image painting for "Star Trek" and that continues till #30 when again Haylock does "Land of the Giants" again from #31 through to the end - #34.

Anyway issue 6 had a photographic cover, as did issue 8. However we know that Frank Bellamy drew a cover for issue 8 as Alan Davis saved the Polaroid from Frank Bellamy's studio after helping clear it out.

Unpublished cover for Joe 90 #8 by Frank Bellamy

We see three turbaned men, two with briefcases leaving a palace to a red car, The smaller panel shows in the foreground a turbaned man - seemingly - covering up a body in the undergrowth nearby. 

However looking at the story inside issue 8, it appears maybe the script was changed as the published version begins in London and WIN (World Intelligence Network) not in "Bhunistan" as the above does.Joe impersonates the young prince who is a friend of the West and speaks perfect English. I suspect this story may not be reprinted (or the TV programme not re-broadcast - although search YouTube for "King for a Day" ) in these more 'sensitive' times. Here's the first page for you to get the gist of how different the story became - perhaps why Bellamy's artwork was rejected. 

Joe 90 #8 as published Page 1

As a bonus here's where the cover of #1 of Joe 90 first an advert in TV21 #209

Friday, 11 February 2022

ORIGINAL ART: Heros and a lot of Garth

'Heros the Spartan' Eagle Vol.16:24 (12 June 1965)

That lovely piece of art is in the latest auction from Compal. It's going for an opening bid £4,050 with an auctioneer's estimate of £4,500 - £5,000!

Let's get the basics out the way. as usual I've listed these below and will update the prices here and on my spreadsheet. The listings are at both Compalcomics and TheSaleroom

HEROS THE SPARTAN (Eagle Vol. 16:24)

This episode comes from the last story that Bellamy drew of Heros the Spartan, in the comic, "The Slave Army". As Malcolm Philips states on the auction page, the block printing has been added - presumably because some was falling off with age and the collector wanted to show it complete:

Heros the Spartan original double-page artwork (1965) painted and signed by Frank Bellamy. From The Eagle Vol. 16, No 24 centre spread, 1965. Matoumin rescues Heros from his prison to help plot revenge on El Raschid but they are caught in El Raschid's trap, Matoumin is stabbed to death and Heros condemned to die in the arena at the hands of his own men... Pelikan inks on board. 28 x 20 ins. The Heros the Spartan title lettering and square text boxes are laser colour editions to complete the look of the artwork and may be removed if required

A scan from the comic
It's lovely to be able to see the original with those expressive faces Bellamy drew. The more I look at Heros, the more it grows on me, especially after realising how dark the comic reproductions were.

GARTH: The Wolfman of Ausensee - F150 and F190

Garth: The Wolfman of Ausensee

These two wonderful episodes from my - I suspect - favourite of Bellamy's Garths have a starting bid of opening bid £400 and an auctioneer's estimate of £450-£550

Garth's 'Wolfman of Ausensee' two original artworks (1972) by Frank Bellamy for The D. Mirror 24.6.'72 and 14.8.'72. Indian ink on board. 21 x 7 ins (2)

I don't think the photo is as clear as it could be as it makes the whole thing look faded but that it very unlikely.  usually the boards behind the ink 'brown' with age before the blacks go. Anyway, if any millionaires out there fancy rewarding me for all my hard work....!

GARTH: The Wreckers - H15 and H35

Garth: The Wreckers

The opening bid £450 seems reasonable to me for two originals - the auctioneer's estimate
is £500-£600 - and which include Garth's disappearing / reappearing girlfriend Andromeda

Garth: 'The Wreckers'. Two original artworks (1974) drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy for The D. Mirror 18.1.'74 and 11.2.'74. Indian ink on board. 21 x 7 ins (2)

GARTH:  The Doomsmen - J131

Garth: The Doomsmen

I always have a look at each image to see what they're like and the design here is lovely. We have Bellamy cross-hatching and 'vignettes' to highlight the action.

Bidding starts at £230 and the lot is described:

Garth: 'Doomsmen'. Original artwork (1975) drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy for the D. Mirror 6.6.'75. Indian ink on board. 21 x 7 ins

GARTH: The Bubble Man - J269

Garth: The Bubble Man

Lastly we have another Garth strip, this time from the Bubble Man story. Bellamy was always good at devising aliens and these moth/ant like creatures are great. Bidding starts at £230 and has already started. It's described thus:

Garth: 'Bubble Man'. Original artwork (1975) drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy for the D. Mirror 14.11.'76. Indian ink on board. 21 x 7 ins

WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
END DATE: Sunday 27 February 2022

GARTH: The Wolfman of Ausensee - F150 and F190
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
END DATE: Sunday 27 February 2022

GARTH: The Wreckers H15 and H35
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
END DATE: Sunday 27 February 2022

GARTH:  The Doomsmen - J131
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
END DATE: Sunday 27 February 2022

GARTH: The Bubble Man - J269
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
END DATE: Sunday 27 February 2022

Monday, 31 January 2022

Frank Bellamy auditions for newspaper strips

What do Leslie Charteris' "The Saint", "Modesty Blaise", "Antony Falloway", "Wes Slade" and "Garth" have in common?

Frank Bellamy drew them all. What? you didn't know? Well, let me explain....

Antony Falloway by Frank Bellamy

ANTONY FALLOWAY (Daily Express) c.Oct 1955

In chronological order, we have a strip which did appear in the Daily Express, in October 1955 just not by Frank Bellamy!  I would guess - and have no evidence -, that the above was a try-out for the newspaper, which for whatever reason was rejected or perhaps merely done for his portfolio! At this point in his career Bellamy was really busy - he was 38 years old and already appearing with "King Arthur and his Knights" in Swift; doing regular illustrations and covers for Boy's Own Paper; and even appearing in the South African weekly Outspan. He also drew a short 4 parter in Everybody's  weekly and went onto a long running "Robin Hood" two page strip in SwiftRead more about Antony Falloway here.

"The Saint" by Frank Bellamy - thanks to Alan Davis

THE SAINT (Daily Express?) c. 1969/1970

On 7 January 1969 Conrad Frost spoke to Bellamy about a newspaper strip project, saying the Beaverbrook Newspapers syndication agency was interested in The Saint. Steve Holland wrote to me that "Conrad Frost was a very prolific writer; he wrote hundreds of romance stories and newspaper columns before switching to comic strips in the 1950s; for twenty years or so he was the writer of the George & Lynne strip in The Sun".

The US version of "The Saint" strip started in September 1948  drawn by Mike Roy, then John Spranger, Bob Lubbers  and finally Doug Wildey ending 13 years after it started, in September 1961. In France they had comic stories which were even reprinted in India, using Roger Moore's version of Simon Templar! 

So in January 1969, Conrad Frost, who knew a thing or two about writing comic strips saw the immense popularity of Roger Moore's portrayal during the Sixties, with no strip produced in this country, and thought this a sure-fire winner. Bellamy's fee would be sixty guineas a week. A year later on 8 January 1970, Frost sent Bellamy an overview script "Meet the Saint". On 12 October 1970, 9 months later, Conrad Frost wrote "finally got a script that pleases Charteris" and it looks to be this that started Bellamy on a prospective regular strip again. However, after drawing these strips for the project, Frost wrote to tell Bellamy in the following month, it was a no-go and - for an unknown reason - might go to another artist! The following year would see Bellamy's brilliant run on "Garth" for the Daily Mirror. (Thanks to Alan Davis for preserving this bit of history)

"Wes Slade" by Bellamy

WES SLADE (Daily ) c. 1969

Now this is a bit harder to write about, despite knowing of the top two strips thanks to their owner Alberto. Paul Holder was contacted by John Hill, whom I followed up with and had a lovely conversation in 2015. John told me he was a design consultant to the Daily Mirror and employed Bellamy with Mike Molloy to do the Moon Landing feature.  John loved Bellamy's work in Eagle - "David" and "Churchill" particularly - and therefore tracked him down. "Frank visited the office to be briefed and brought in the "Wes Slade" strips to show them.  It was this that convinced Mike that Frank ought to be doing Garth". John went on that Frank visited with "his lovely wife Nancy" and Bellamy was very unassuming but a genius. He also added as an aside that he was pleased they gave FB work at a time when John thought things "were not going swimmingly" for Frank.

Now as to dates and why Frank drew this, I have no idea especially as George Stokes, a Canadian, drew and wrote "Wes Slade" in the Sunday Express, from 29th January 1961 to, at least, 1979, when Jim Edgar took over the writing chores and in 1980, after Stokes early death at 47, Harry Bishop took over as artist. I presume it was Bellamy's interest in Westerns and the fact he was looking for a regular strip (after coming off TV21) - and thus "things not going swimmingly". According to David Slinn, George Stokes had a dreadful dispute with Inland Revenue for two or three years about his overseas earnings from the Sunday Express which David believes affected his health.


"Modesty Blaise" by Frank Bellamy #2100-2102

MODESTY BLAISE (Evening Standard (London)), 1970

Steve Holland wrote in the Eagle Times (Vol 3:4 (Winter 1990) pp. 33-37 "Frank Hampson and Modesty Blaise") about Frank Hamspon's try out for the Modesty Blaise strip and discovered that Bellamy too, had tried out for the strip. Bellamy was called on when Jim Holdaway "drew the strip until his sudden death in 1970". Bellamy has coded the strips #2100, #2101, #2102 and from a quick search it seems that these would have appeared in the story "The War-Lords of Phoenix" (which eventually ran from 12 January 1970-30 May 1970 #2044-2162), reproduced below. As you can see, for some reason, Bellamy didn't get the gig, instead it went to Enrique Badia Romero (followed by John Burns, Pat Wright and Neville Colvin and then Romero again. 

Romero's "Warlords" Modesty Blaise strip

Nancy Bellamy (Frank's widow) once told Bill Storie "that although he did the Modesty Blaise tryouts (possibly at the request of his agent) Frank wasn't actually all that keen on taking over the strip as he didn't fancy "stepping into a dead man's shoes" as he put it and I think it showed in the art which didn't (imho) show him at his best. The Saint strips were a surprise to me though and they represent his work much better I feel" - Thanks for that Bill. 

I speculated that Doctor Janet Brown might also have been a newspaper strip, but I suspect now I was reaching a bit. What do you think? 

Thanks to so many people for preserving and sharing these beautiful missed opportunities! Imagine if Frank Bellamy had started a strip earlier than Garth what we would have got? A long running Western strip? Frank would have loved that!

Thanks to Alan Davis for saving so much from landfill; John Hill for sharing his thoughts and the FOUR strips; Garth Groombridge for help with Modesty Blaise; Steve Holland as usual; Bill Storie (for the quote and Gopherville Argus); David Slinn; Aberto Soares who first made me aware of "Wes Slade". And I mustn't forget Alan Vince who brought the Hampson "Modesty Blaise" and the Bellamy version to Steve Holland's attention.