Showing posts with label Alan Davis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alan Davis. Show all posts

Thursday 15 September 2022

Frank Bellamy and Mike Noble

"Thunderbirds" by Frank Bellamy from TV21 #138
It was only at his memorial service in January 2019, I found out Michael Kenneth Noble had a middle name! Of course he was known to one and all as Mike Noble

Back in the mid-60s I recognised this man's art style in TV21 on "Fireball XL5", "Zero X", "Captain Scarlet", but it was only when he drew "Timeslip" in Look-In, that I knew his surname was "Noble" and mysteriously his (/her?) first name began with "M." Frank Bellamy, of course, signed his name all over the place and his distinctive signature made it easy to know this artist's work. Eventually as time went on I learned that "M. Noble" was Mike Noble! Mike was born on the 17 September 1930  and sadly passed away on 15 November 2018 in Balcombe, West Sussex. I was privileged (like many people I found out later!) to interview him and my thoughts from that interview were published in True Brit. which is still available in digital form. 

The story about a Space Mirror that appeared in TV21 #137-140 was a short one, perhaps ended very quickly due to the change in the "Thunderbirds" strip's position - from centrespread to two separate colour pages from issue #141. These are the photos, scanned by myself from the collection Alan Davis kindly shared.  How he came to have these is outlined here on his site. These show the finished artwork before Bellamy sent them off to the publisher - and more to the point - without captions and balloons

"Thunderbirds" from TV21 #137

"Thunderbirds" from TV21 #138

"Thunderbirds" from TV21 #139

"Thunderbirds" from TV21 #140

They make a fascinating study in themselves and I so wish that Bellamy had better technology at the time to record these things. Polaroids were some of the best colour film at the time that allowed him to capture what he no longer had and for us to now enjoy them thanks to Alan..

The reason for the focus here is that Bellamy's episode  in TV21 #138 (the second episode) was re-drawn by Mike Noble for school children! Jeff Haythorpe shared these on a Facebook group in 2019 - whoever said I was fast! And they make interesting viewing. My memory from Mike's tale was that he was asked by the local school to do a talk on comic art. He used Bellamy's comic as an example and showed the very fortunate children the stages of creation.


Mike Noble - Pencil art

Mike Noble - Inked art

Mike Noble - Coloured art

Frank Bellamy's original version

ANIMATION of Mike (and Frank)'s work, because I wanted to see what it looked like! Hope you enjoy it too!

Sunday 15 March 2015

Frank Bellamy and "How the West was won"

Updated -see bottom of page
Radio Times 22  Dec 1973- 4 Jan 1974 p.27
I can't tell you how many westerns I've watched in my lifetime, but my dad, who loved western novels, and films died in 1982 and we watched loads together. But what's an 'oater'?
The thing that really caught my attention in the 1970s was Frank Bellamy's artwork in the Radio Times. I'd seen his "Heros the Spartan" and "Thunderbirds" comic strips, his "Captain Scarlet" and "Joe 90" covers, his Sunday Times work and of course his "Garth" strip in the Daily Mirror. But it was the design element of his work I loved.

One of my favourites appeared in the Radio Times, the UK's leading magazine at the time, published then by the BBC itself with only BBC programmes listed, dated 22 December 1973 - 4 January 1974. At that time Philip Jenkinson was reviewing the upcoming films for the Christmas period. This is what he said about "How the West was won":

Star-packed oater about three generations of Western pioneers. The best 'episode' is George Marshall's railroad sequence, but everywhere the giant screen visuals are too gimmicky for their own good. Terrific musical score

Did you see the word? Apparently, 'oater' refers to the feed bags that horses had and therefore were very common in westerns. Did you ever see one in a movie? I might have seen one, but 'common'? I don't think so, so where did that word come from?  The Oxford English Dictionary says it's a colloquialism for "horse opera also a radio programme or book of this nature" Its first usage recorded by them is "1946 Time 29 Apr. 94/2 The first successful storytelling movie made in the U.S...was what the trade calls an oater—a Western."

Oh well, let's get on. Why am I so obsessed with the word 'oater', it's because it appears beneath Bellamy's splendid drawing.

Radio Times cover 22  Dec 1973- 4 Jan 1974
Bellamy uses the episodic nature of the film itself and shows scenes representative of the Wild West.he shows buffalo, U.S. cavalry, an 'iron horse' a raft in a river, and some Indians (as they were called back then - my dad wouldn't have known the phrase 'native Americans')

The way that Bellamy has shown the wide angles of the three projectors process "Cinerama" is brilliant in my opinion. The title wraps from left to right and crosses the last word which fades from right to left. The curves continue to the right to show an apparent complete screen but it actually isn't equal in terms of the full screen curves and the edge of the filmstrip with its sprockets emphasises this incompleteness as we wouldn't see this in the cinema. The loaded scenery in the bottom right balances the left side of the image where, if we follow the receding word 'WEST' (notice it's in that stocky Playbill font!), we see a wagon travelling away from us, but also those famous Bellamy 'swirls' are emphasising the forced perspective in the word 'West'. Beautiful design! The experience in designing cinema cut-outs in the 1930s back in his home town of Kettering must have inspired his love of film and brought out this imaginative scene.

But interestingly the figure in the bottom right caught my attention as I immediately realised that it matches one of Alan Davis' polaroids that he rescued from the Bellamy house rubbish sacks

Cowboy shooting gun
Alan Davis polaroid
Thanks go to Alan for permission to use the photograph. He's a star!

As is Bill Storie for reminding me he's seen this somewhere else:

I knew I'd seen that cowboy before !! Wonder if the Hombre strip was intended to be a spin-off from the movie?? Was also a bit surprised to see the Radio Times pic again after so many years - haven't seen it since first published in the magazine - but in my mind's eye the version I thought I'd seen then had a steam train racing towards what looked like a wall of logs or a barrier of some sort and about to impact it rather violently. Weird - dunno if I'm thinking of another Radio Times illo by another artist - the old neurons are a bit fuzzy these days but even when younger I recall seeing that image somewhere and always attributing it to Frank. 

Blow-up from the famous photo of Frank in his studio

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Bellamy and bags of rubbish

The famed comic artist Alan Davis has taken a lot of trouble in scanning a large range of images of Frank's work.

He helped Nancy Bellamy clear out Frank's studio after his early death and rescued many things from ending up in the rubbish for which Bellamy fans should be eternally grateful.

Some of this I have seen before and listed on the Frank Bellamy website, and it's great now to be able to see the pictures online but some is new even to me.

Take a long time over it and visit each link and slowly be amazed

MANY THANKS to Alan for sharing!

Thursday 24 May 2007

Eagle Times information to be added

Today I was contacted by Richard Sheaf who is passing on data about the series the Eagle Times ran on Bellamy. That was a long series because it covered a lot of ground with many authors. The Eagle Times is published 4 times a year and covers all thing Eagle (that is, the original run from the 50s and 60s)

And Alan Davis, yes fanboy, THE Alan Davis, wrote
"Congratulations on getting the site up and running. I haven't given it a thorough reading yet but it looks very informative." Thanks Alan. I'd still love to see you and Don McGregor on Killraven together. Alan has a nice section on his website showing his inspirations and one happens to be Bellamy. Alan shows some unpublished materials one of which we have yet to identify. For more details look on our Unpublished Bellamy page