Monday 13 June 2022

Frank Bellamy and The Thunderbirds Duvet!

 Yes, you read the title right. I received this from David Finchett:

Hi Norman,
I read your Frank Bellamy article about this duvet cover on your website and thought you might be interested. It was a limited edition duvet cover of 1000
so not many are about. I enclose a photo. I am going to put it up on ebay when I get time.
At 200cm x 220cm it's awkward to photograph!
Kind Regards
David Finchett
Original advert 1992 (Thanks to Shaqui)
The original story - as credited on the quilt - was written by Alan Fennell and drawn by Bellamy.
TV21 #146 p18

TV21 #146 p19

I have stored some other images from this quilt which I've found over the years, so here you go for those interested! As the advert suggests these 1000 limited edition were autographed by Gerry Anderson. I presume no-one dared wash these!

Credit for the story

Actually autographed by Gerry Anderson

There have been other duvet covers but not with Bellamy's art on them.

Wednesday 1 June 2022

Frank Bellamy and John Tornado

 JOHN TORNADO: der Mann mit den tausend Masken [The man with a thousand masks]


John Tornado #1 cover by Ertuğrul Edirne
An old friend of the blog, Bill Storie asked about German reprints of Garth. I list all known international instances of Frank Bellamy and his artwork so you'll see that "John Tornado" is what Garth was called in Germany when he appeared between 1979-1981. There were only 20 issues of the 50 page comic published fortnightly by Bastei Verlag, which included a second strip "Stargo", more on that later. The last 4 issues were illustrated by Martin Asbury so fall outside the scope of this blog, but I've listed them below for completists.

Firstly, notice the sub-title "The man with a thousand masks", which I presume is how the German Editor (named as Manfred Soder) at Bastei Publishing explained the English time-traveller who goes to all points of the compass and travels through time!

There are 24 pages of Bellamy strips in each issue but - and here's the interesting thing - the strips are coloured red (with the black and white left as is - mostly!) and cut up, shrunk and enlarged and also 'foreign' panels added by another artist. The single colour is not unusual in UK comics (even the 1970s Marvel comics first appeared like that in the UK). 

John Tornado #1 p.1
My translation of the paragraph above - which appeared in each issue (with a new introduction on the relevant story):

A balloon floats out of the steel-blue sky over Tibet and lands on the roof of the world. A young man lies unconscious in the gondola. Where does he comes from? From a European country? Maybe even from the starry world? The man remembers nothing. They give him the name JOHN TORNADO. Soon he has to realize that the laws of space and time do not apply to him... The man who came out of nowhere experiences breathtaking adventures in the past, present and future. Are his fights dream or reality? John doesn't know himself! Perhaps the beautiful goddess from the world of stars knows the secret of the man who has to face ever new dangers in a thousand masks. She always encounters John when he is in grave danger. But in human form she cannot intervene. The moments of reunion are only short, then she has to go back... to where, maybe, JOHN TORNADO came from...?

The following is the opening page of the strip in issue 1 which you'll no doubt have identified as "The Women of Galba". There is only a piece of Bellamy's original drawn title - obviously because the original is in English. Then note the top 'banner' which fills space. There are four of these collage images which rotate through the 24 pages. Also of interest is that nudity is covered by bikinis and other underwear! It was a children's comic after all, but surprising as I remember the 70s magazine displays in Germany as showing a LOT more than Bellamy's drawings portrayed!

John Tornado #1 p.2
Here are the first three episodes of the original publication in the Daily Mirror  to make your own comparison

Later in the story we see other panels enlarged, I assume to justify the first page's enlargements.

John Tornado #1 p.12

For those who are keeping track, I looked at Issue 10 (The Wreckers) in case the Daily Mirror sent Germany the Daily Record strip and the answer is no! Ditto for issue 8 (People of the Abyss).

Here are some more assorted pages, note particularly the large panel in issue #6 :

John Tornado #2 p.16

John Tornado #4 p.9

John Tornado #5 p.25

John Tornado #3 p.27

John Tornado #6 p.7

Here are some more pages by, I suspect, the cover artist  Ertuğrul Edirne which are interesting as they show the Garth characters

John Tornado #2 p.28

John Tornado #11 p.1

John Tornado #2 p.35 pin up of Stargo


To read details of who did what on the strip, you can't do better than RalfH. I also wrote to Peter Mennigen on Facebook - an author of an extraordinary amount of German comics including the excellent "Malcolm Max" which ironically, being a Victorian demon-hunter in London, is not available in English...yet! 

Hi Norman, the original title of "Stargo" is "Tenax". But Frank Bellamy has nothing to do with it, his series "John Tornado" appeared first in "Stargo" before he got his own 15-issue series. The author of "Stargo" is Pedro Muñoz. The artwork is by José María Ortiz Tafalla (who also drew many of my "Phantom", "Ghost Stories" and some "Vanessa" Comics.) The cover artist of the "Bastei" books is Ertugrul Edirne. More information may be found in a " Bastei Freunde" magazine, which deals with the topic "Stargo" in detail. Unfortunately, I don't have the magazine here, so I don't know how helpful it could be. - Kind regards and have a nice weekend - Peter

Lastly I should mention the indicia state that copyright is held by Bulls, Frankfurt am Main and Syndication International, London. ("Stargo" is copyright Imperia/Graphlit)

Back page of John Tornado #1
Translation of the "breathtaking" adventurer's next episode in 14 days!:

Nobody knows the secret of the fighter with a thousand masks. As a lone wanderer
he is chased through space and time by powerful opponents. JOHN TORNADO has to face incredible dangers in the past, present and future.
In the next adventure, JOHN TORNADO stays in a ghost town of the Wild West. The wind howls eerily through the shattered windows of the Star Saloon... A swinging door creaks... Suddenly the ghost town awakens to new life. And JOHN TORNADO wears a new mask: As the sheriff of Silver City, he hunts down a ruthless gang...
And as a bonus, just for Bill, here's the pin-up from the centre pages of issue #1 where we can see some of Bellamy's art and the rest, I suspect is by Ertuğrul Edirne.

John Tornado #1 centrespread


John Tornado #1-20
Covers by Ertuğrul Edirne

  1. Die Gefangene des Gladiators [The Gladiator's Prisoner] = The Women of Galba
  2. Duell in der Geisterstadt [Duel in the Ghost Town] = Ghost Town
  3. Der Dämon in der Zauberkugel [The Demon the Magic Bubble] = The Bubble Man
  4. Im Hinterhalt der wilden Horde [Ambushed by the wild horde] = The Bride of Jenghiz Khan
  5. Die Schreckensreiter von Montana [The Horror Riders of Montana] = The Angels of Hell's Gap
  6. Aufstand der Galeerensklaven [The Galley Slaves Uprising] = The Orb of Trimandias
  7. Die Verräter von Soho [The Traitiors of Soho] = Freak Out to Fear
  8. Die Ungeheuer von Azlan [The Monsters of Azlan] = People of the Abyss
  9. Die Meuterei der Roboter [The Robot Mutiny] = The Doomsmen
  10. Fluß ohne Wiederkehr [River of no return] = The Wreckers
  11. Der Fluch von Atacama [The Curse of Atatcama] = The Mask of Atacama
  12. In der Arena des Tyrannen [In the Arena of the Tyrants] = The Beast of Ultor
  13. Das Rudel der grauen Wölfe [The Grey Wolfpack] = The Wolfman of Ausensee
  14. Die Verschollenen des Alls [The Lost Ones of the Universe] = The Cloud of Balthus
  15. Die Menschenjäger von Ikonos [The Manhunters of Iconos]The Beautiful People
  16. Die Galeone des Teufels [The Devil's Galleon] = The Spanish Lady
  17.  Der Hexer von Darkville = The Long Sleep
  18. Die Sendboten des Unheils = Sapphire
  19. Die Wächter des vergessenen Sterns =  Finality Factor
  20. Die Garde des Teufels = Power game

Thanks to's John Tornado thread here's the chronological reading order for Garth in German:
14, 6, 13, 8, 1-2, 11, 10, 12, 7, 4-5, 9, 3, 15-16, 18-20, 17 but of course you are missing Sundance (Bellamy's first Garth story and "The Man-Hunt" his last.

I'm grateful to the German Comic Guide and for their information.