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Unpublished cover for Joe 90 #8 by Frank Bellamy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


Kid said...

I'm not sure that I bought the Joe 90 comic at the time, though I acquired #1 a goodly number of years ago, and read the reprints in the '90s comic. I recently completed my collection of the first year of TV Century 21 and have a number of other issues in its various incarnations, but I'll probably call it quits at that. It started with a bang and finished with a whimper, but while it burned brightly, it was a superb comic. Apologies if that's not exactly relevant to your post, but I just wanted to leave a comment to show my support of your blog.

Mike Nicoll said...

Hey Norman, Bill Storie again under my nom de plume because Blogger still doesn't accept my non google email address...but I digress, my thought on that cover was that was rejected because it maybe didn't leave enough space to feature a decent sized photo insert of Joe 90 himself like the others did (unlikely I know) or possibly a marketing/ Anderson license holders request because the cover was not as action-filled as others in the series. It's a beautiful piece right enough but for kids looking for explosions and action ... maybe too much like a travel brochure? Those other covers I had always assumed to be Rab Hamilton art but I have no evidence, just a gut feeling. Thanks as always for the article.!!!

Norman Boyd said...

@Kid: HEY! I love support for the blog. I'm nowhere near as prolific as you but it's nice to know it's not a total waste of time. Thanks

@Mike / Bill: Thanks for your thoughts. I don't know of Rab Hamilton doing any cover art, but hey! I don't know who did them! Thanks for calling in.

Kid said...

Regarding TV21, NB, I found it a less interesting periodical from the start of its second year. They put Stingray in the pages where Fireball had been, and Fireball where Lady Penelope had been, and somehow it changed the visual dynamic of the comic. And when The Daleks ended with #104, nothing that replaced that strip was anywhere near as good. It's strange that I could always recall the Fireball and Stingray strips from 1-51, but with a couple of exceptions, neither of those two strips made much of an impression on me after that. I continued to buy it for quite a while afterwards (though perhaps not as regularly), but it was never as good a comic approaching the end of its original run as it had been at the beginning.

Norman Boyd said...

I recently wondered about selling my collection of all the original series, but then came to my senses. Yes, you're right, it faded towards the end. Much as I expect to!