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.

1 comment:

Norman Boyd said...

This comment came from Bill Storie and he said I could copy it here and I think you might be interested in reading it too.

Wow that's amazing, Norman - thank you so much!!! I've definitely decided to pick up a few from ebay.

You were obviously thinking ahead of me on the Daily Record missing episode - having managed to get one missing (ie never published in the UK) Mike Noble episode of Look-in's Black Beauty strip from a German magazine I hoped that lightning might strike twice. Oh well, as Fleetwood Mac once said.

I much prefer the b/w version but this, like the early issues of Mighty World of Marvel, is not without its charms in using the red ink. The enlarged panels are an oddity - clearly an idea to get around the English language title panels and the artist who made alterations at least tried to emulate the source material so kudos for that. It's not a million miles away from a couple of mock-ups I once made to show how the Garth dailies could be reformatted into standard comic pages - think I put an example in the Garth special of The Gopherville Argus near the end of that magazine.

That centre spread pinup....only word I can think of is "cheeky". Bellamy swipes with Chris Foss backgrounds - if I'm brutally honest I have to admit that I have experimented with that very concept back in the day but my ego got the better of me, as in "I can't publish this! The sources are too bloody obvious and I'll get pelters from everyone about it" lol but obviously this artist had a copy of 21st Century Foss in his library and thought - "why the hell not?". Was it Wally Wood who said if you're gonna crib, crib from the best, heh.

Oh yes, that Stargo character - can only say my first thought was Supertrafficman meets Dan Adkin's Starhawk! Not a criticism, just a wee observation hehe. Kind of makes it a full circle tho' because Al Williamson and Dan Adkins freely admit to cribbing from our Frank and now we have European artists cribbing from second generation Frank lol. Funny how it goes innit? BTW, as much as we know that Al Williamson cribbed from Frank I reckon he cribbed from Mike Noble more - I have a complete set of his Corrigan strips and the number of "hmmmm?" panels is off the scale - there was even as Spectrum helicopter from Captain Scarlet in one panel! Still brilliant art though all the way through.

Many thanks again mate - this really broke me out of the doldrums and lit a fire under my proverbial lol!!

Take care - speak soon!!


I've replied privately to Bill but want to say thanks for the suggestion to write about this as I'm always needing inspiration. Bill mentioned one Garth strip which wasn't published in the UK. It's actually TWO Bellamy strips and they weren't published in England to be precise. But that reminded me to update the article above with that info. Bill produced with Terry Doyle and others the Gopherville Argus mentioned in his comment. A fan magazine which highlighted some of the things I've brought to light since.