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Unpublished cover for Joe 90 #8 by Frank Bellamy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