Monday 12 June 2023

Frank Bellamy inspired the Italian UFO

Shaqui Le Vesconte, a long-time friend of this blog, forwarded me some scans which I'm sharing in this quick article. He states:

Here's a scan from UFO - Paura Dallo Spazio from Italy in November 1975. The strip is abridged from one originally in UFO - Verso La Morte in 1974

"UFO - Paura Dallo Spazio" November 1975
Published by Edifumetto

In the excellent reprint of all the original British UFO comic strips, UFO Comic Anthology Volume 2, Shaqui tells the history of Italian versions of fumetti (comics) based on the Gerry Anderson series UFO. On page 220 he talks about the comic artist who handled these strips:

[Vladimiro] Missaglia obviously had access to copies of TV Century 21 or Countdown. Some issues featured craft based on Fireball XL5, Stingray or Thunderbird 1 with Marineville appearing as an alien base at the end of Base Luna Non Risponde, Others were cribbed from Dan Dare, the Gold Key Star Trek comics and Garth, drawn by ex-Thunderbirds comic artist Frank Bellamy. Biffìgnandi's covers, when not referencing UFO, used images from 200I: A Space Odyssey, TheTrigan Empire and, on one cover, Mechani-Kong from the 1967 Japanese film King Kong Escapes, even if these had nothing to do with the contents. [Emphasis mine]

The comic ran apparently "for over two years of original strips, totalling 37 issues. Releases were monthly during 1973 but there was a new issue nearly every two weeks at the height of its popularity during 1974." (p.220). 

UFO #12 - "Verso La Morte" [Artist unknown]

 The example above comes from the third series of "UFO" fumetti, #11 published in 1975 - "Paura dallo Spazio" ["Fear of Space"] which, as Shaqui says, was an edited version of the second series of UFO #12 (1974) title "Verso La Morte" ["Facing death"]. 

This was also reprinted later in French in "Sunny Sun" #30 with the title "Mission impossible" (which needs no translation!) in 1980. "Sunny Sun" itself ran for 54 issues (1977-1986) starting as a fortnightly publication before moving onto being a monthly.

Now this is interesting to me as I guessed the artist couldn't have been copying from John Tornado, the German reprints of "Garth", nor the French or Italian reprints of Garth which seems to suggest he was following the Daily Mirror as it was published, or more likely the American Menomonee Falls Gazette where the story was published between issues #52 - #67 (11 December 1972 - 26 March 1973).

The images in question come, of course, from "The Cloud of Balthus" story (12 October 1971 - 27 January 1972 - E237-F23)

Shaqui wondered if the spacesuits were taken from anything Bellamy drew but I couldn't spot that coincidence. If you can do let us know!

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