Showing posts with label Boy's World Annual. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boy's World Annual. Show all posts

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Frank Bellamy and Boy's World Annual 1966

Paul Green and I were corresponding recently and he asked if I'd like some scans of Bellamy's work for Boy's World Annual 1966. I had the annual and hadn't got round to scanning it, so with much gratitude here are the scans Paul sent.

Boy's World Annual 1966 pages 4-5
The uncredited story that Bellamy illustrates is the tale (and I can't find any evidence of an "Operation Horseshoe" beyond a later dated ethnic cleansing in the Balkans) about a raid to destroy 20 invasion barges in the harbour of Portard, between Calais and Dunkirk. The thrust of the story is about the battle between two commanding officers Lieutenant-Colonel March and Major Hart and their disagreements in how to handle the men and also whether to retreat or attack during the battle. It's a simple tale but made more exciting in my opinion by Bellamy's vivid red drawings. The perspective of the charge on the gun placement, the brooding clouds hanging over the landing craft are brilliant.

Boy's World Annual 1966 page 6
"The landing craft were already nearing the coast."

Boy's World Annual 1966 page 7
"Hart had his revolver in his hand."

The story appears in Boy's World Annual 1966 and like a lot of publications that use a single colour throughout, this might explain why this unusual piece was created in such a vivid way. Having said that there are several full colour articles and stories and black and white pages too. But I suspect that if I were to work out how these pages came off the press before being cut I'd be right!

The cover showing a Saturn V launch
Whilst looking at this I checked Steve Holland's excellent index of Boy's World and he hasn't got a credit for the author either.

Paul also scanned the images by themselves so I'm sharing those too - many thanks Paul

I thanked PAUL GREEN for his kindness and he corrected my stupidity  he is PAUL not Peter! Sorry Paul.

He also kindly added this:

Regarding the colouring, having worked as an artist on many annuals for World Distributors there were pages that were "duotone" due to budget constraints. We applied them with photopaque on acetate film overlaying the illustrations. Clearly Bellamy has applied his colour with inks as there is some tone within the red. Duotone always produces a flat colour. So I'd say this was a purposeful effect by Bellamy. Much like his Fraser of Africa strip where sepia tone was applied to indicate Africa. Red here signifies the blood of war.

ADDITION (11 April 2018)
David Jackson asked to see the final page so here it is with a bonus...Ron Embleton!

Monday 21 November 2016

Fine Art vs COMIC ART

GUEST POST from my good friend David Jackson

"Tiger face" by Frank Bellamy

A previous post, "Frank Bellamy at Kettering Exhibition ended", includes a photograph of a word-balloon wall plaque inscribed 'Fine Art vs COMIC Art' and Norman's comment: "I enjoyed seeing the placement of oil paintings from the Alfred East collection alongside some comic covers, raising the perennial question of what is 'fine art'."

'Fine Art vs Comic Art'.  Result: it's a draw..!

Comics might have had the last laugh, in some cases all the way to the bank, or to a respectable art gallery, which can hold an exhibition of comics art without it being thought funny. But, within living memory, looking back over the not that distant past a very different picture emerges. At one time, Roy Lichtenstein notwithstanding [See David Barsalou's excellent site - Norman], it would be the exception for an art critic to express any appreciation for comics or illustration. It wasn't until I became aware of comics fandom that I even knew I wasn't in a minority of one.

Home Notes (27th July 1951)
"Impatient heart" by Judith Blaney - illustrated by FB

An arts programme piqued my interest a few years ago when commercial art of all types, even the printed versions, was finally, officially, brought in from the cold, as it were, and taken note of as a substantial sub-category of Art: 'Ephemera' - work which by definition is produced with no intention of being kept for posterity. Ephemera would also include highly regarded works from another age such as the Japanese woodblock prints of Hokusai and other masters which were originally sold as transient decorative pieces subject to fashion.

The Society of Strip Illustration was founded with the improvement of the standing of the profession as one of its objectives.The SSI Newsletter of May 1985 includes a quote sent in by me of Milton Schulman, then drama critic of The Standard, in conversation on Radio 4's 'Stop the Week':

"You've got an elitist approach to the art form.  You are basically saying there are certain things like the printed page which give people a more emotional and cultural thrill and impact than other things.  You start off with books and go to poetry, then you go to painting, then you go to opera and to ballet - descending, I'm saying - theatre ... telly ... comic strips". 

Just so we know where we stand...

Neal Adams himself has related how, when he was trying to break into the business, the comic book company men tried to 'save' him by not giving him a job - they wanted him not to waste his talent and to go into something more respectable..!

A young Barry Smith in turn found himself on the receiving end of unappreciative art advice - which he related in an interview but quoted here from memory - a life drawing class tutor noticed that Smith had added a helmet and spear, or suchlike, from his own imagination, and declared that it wasn't drawing, 'it's make-believe!'

Frank Bellamy's figure studies drawn from life models naturally seem, by definition, to belong in the category of fine art.
"Life Study" by Frank Bellamy

The 'set-up' scene, from imagination, reference or arranged props and models, particularly for decorative purposes, however, seems to be made into a contentious issue by not being a record of real life experience as it occurs, viewed directly and rendered on the spot.

In marked contrast, the depiction of imagined scenes never detracted from art establishment approval of favoured historical works of fine art.  There is a similar contradiction in the fine art establishment criticism which makes itself evident in dismissing the work of artists which is viewed as populist. David Shepherd, whose 'Wise Old Elephant' was an unexpected best-selling print on sale in Boots the Chemist, has had to contend with this. Jack Vettriano likewise and more so.  He was even criticised for the fact that his figures for 'The Singing Butler' were derived from the 'Illustrator's Figure Reference Manual'.  A volume also on other bookshelves (mine included) all this entire time without it ever occurring to anyone else to paint 'The Singing Butler' from it - had not Vettriano done so. Critics seem to have taken issue with his stylistic associations with early 20th century film noir posters and pulp covers.  Criticism seems to be that Vettriano's art 'is not contemporary art'.  How could it not be 'contemporary'?  He is painting it now!

Frank Bellamy would no doubt have seen the wry irony of Vettriano's great success and fortune, given Frank's stated lack of sympathy for this type of subject.

Fantasy Advertiser Vol.3 No.50 says:

FB:  I had a commission to do two love story illustrations for Home Notes, a women's magazine.  [...]  I was never cut out to do love strips for the IPC girls' paper.  I'd have a go, but I prefer something with a bit of meat and guts."

In Speakeasy #100 Nancy Bellamy said the same:

"When he first decided to go freelance after we moved down to London in 1949, or even before, he used to draw for Home Notes, and he hated those sort of girlie illustrations, static things which he hated drawing.  It wasn't his cup of tea at all, but he did them for the money.  He wanted to draw something with a bit of guts to it."

Frank Bellamy expressed a personal appreciation for the illustrator Norman Rockwell, and it is easy to see why. In contrast to the left-handed compliment by some fine art aficionado in response to viewing a Rockwell enthusiast's collection: "He sure is a hard worker."

FB collector Bob Monkhouse once gave a talk to a comic convention (engagingly as his real self rather than in his self-acknowledged 'TV persona') and described the reception of comic art by the UK general public as "Pearls before swine!"

This was the era in which Frank Bellamy worked.

But it was changing, even then, and Frank himself was at the forefront in changing it.

Sunday Times Magazine 5 October 1969
Artist posed by David Bellamy

To quote Frank Bellamy in Fantasy Advertiser (FA)   [compiled in this post from various sections of the interview]:

FB: This kind of work has been under-rated for many years.  Throwaway artwork to be looked at and immediately discarded.  This is a viewpoint I strongly disagree with.

FB:  I've always had a great regard for professionalism.  One of the best things that was ever said to me was when I was called a "professional's professional".  And this just underlines what I mean.  I'm a great believer in doing a professional job.

FA:  Surely, people are beginning to see that comic strips can do more than amuse, as can be seen from any of your strips in the Sunday Times Magazine...

FB:  Well, there were no adverse reactions to them ... no-one was turning round and saying, "Good God, what's this...comics strips in the Sunday Times Magazine?"

FB:  I've always liked using the the graphic approach instead of the ordinary comic strip way.  Almost a sort of pictorial journalism.  My work for the Sunday Times Magazine in particular was pictorial journalism.  I used this graphic technique for the juvenile market - though many of Eagle's readers were adults - because I've never believed in drawing down to the reader.  If I was drawing for a seven year old, I'd still be as conscious of what I was doing as if it was a cover for the Radio Times.
Radio Times 29 May 1971

In his BBC 'Edition' interview 30th November 1973 FB says:

"I wanted to bring out the page as a complete page, a spread as a complete spread, to make it a unit in its own right."

A discrete coherent original work of art.

The comic art form has always had more serious appreciation in France where it is acknowledged as "the ninth art". The graphic novel format in Japan found a wide general readership.

The experience of Frank's contemporary, Don Lawrence, contrasted working relatively unappreciated for comparatively unrewarding one-off final payments in this country, as compared with the creative rights, collected volumes of his work, an appreciative audience abroad, and the 2003 award of the Netherlands Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau.

Possibly the indifference experienced here in Britain was related to the focus on primarily literary English, as opposed to the visual arts heritage; Shakespeare particularly.  Which is a bit of an oddity in itself, given that comic art - the graphic novel - is more of a 'theatrical play' on a page than a novel in type, as such, is.

'But is it art?'

"What is 'fine art'?" was the question, and it has a straightforward answer, which is: "'art for art's sake' rather than for commercial or functional use".  Self-expression.

Which would exclude Michelangelo to name but one.  The Sistine Chapel ceiling can be categorised as commercial illustration, albeit on a grand scale.  As someone once observed, the old masters and their vast commercially orientated studios would have all laughed themselves sick at the very idea of 'art for art's sake'.  As someone else [that's 10cc David - Norman] has put it: "Art for art's sake, money for God's sake."

It's arguable that it isn't a question of what art 'is'.

It's more a question of: 'do I want to look at it?'

The issue of what actually 'is' art was once illustrated by the following comparison.  A pile of bricks in a gallery is art and a pile of bricks in the gutter is just a pile of bricks but a Rembrandt which is lying in the gutter is still a work of art.

Oddly enough, and it is odd, the art world, claims its raison d'etre is being able to 'see past' the pile of bricks - or found objects, abstract colour, dribbles of paint, or whatever (or the material of which any work might be composed) - to perceive the genius of and in art itself.

And yet...

The fine art world for so long remained essentially unable to see past the fact of an original piece of comic art being commercially produced for a mass market juvenile readership.

It is a question of being able to see something which, literally uniquely, only one individual, was not only capable of producing, but it is something which we might have assumed to be beyond anything which any human being was capable of producing.

If the development over time of the unique Frank Bellamy 'look' came as a revelation to his fans it can only be imagined how much more so it came to Frank Bellamy.  His self-appointed task and motivation might well be imagined as answering the question: 'just how good can this be?'

It is self-expression at the service of professional purposes.

In the postscript to 'One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji', Hokusai writes:

"From the age of six, I had a passion for copying the form of things and since the age of fifty I have published many drawings, yet of all I drew by my seventieth year there is nothing worth taking in to account. At seventy-three years I partly understood the structure of animals, birds, insects and fishes, and the life of grasses and plants. And so, at eighty-six I shall progress further; at ninety I shall even further penetrate their secret meaning, and by one hundred I shall perhaps truly have reached the level of the marvellous and divine. When I am one hundred and ten, each dot, each line will possess a life of its own."  - "Gakyō Rōjin Manji" (The Old Man Mad About Art).

To borrow another unrelated quote from the web:

"There are two kinds of geniuses: the ‘ordinary’ and the ‘magicians’. An ordinary genius is a fellow whom you and I would be just as good as, if we were only many times better. There is no mystery as to how his mind works. Once we understand what they’ve done, we feel certain that we, too, could have done it.  It is different with the magicians..."

The 1989 Speakeasy #104 Frank Humphris interview by Alan Woolcombe asked what he thought of the other Eagle artists' work, and he said of Frank Bellamy:

"His draughtsmanship was absolutely fantastic, far beyond the usual standard for cartoons and comics - in fact the word comic doesn't really apply."  

Eagle 13 Aug 1960 Vol.11:33 p.12

The above "Fraser of Africa" strip was reproduced in black & white in the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers Designers in Britain No.6. Many thanks David for such a much better expressed article than I could have done!  David suggested some illustrations to accompany the article. I've added one or two he may not have seen before as a thank you and also I thought I'd add to the debate by showing you the following.

Tim Barnes sent me this a long time ago. Now why is this fine art and the following an illustration to a story?

"A question of honour" by Henry Casson
from Boy'sWorld Annual 1965 pp116-117

Sunday 2 December 2012

Gold Star Gift Book for Boys

I recently had communication from one Peter Sutherland. The name rang a bell and after asking, found out it was not the artist of Alf Tupper the Tough of the Track: Britain's Favourite Comic-book Athlete as the recent reprint book title goes - I thought that would be Roy of the Rovers, myself! Anyway, enough of showing my ignorance of British comics history, here's what Peter kindly shared:

Gold Star Gift book for Boys, an obscure reprint annual of Boy's World Annuals from 1970 and 1971 contains the reprint  of a Bellamy illustrated story from Boy's World Annual 1971 "Johnny Boyland and the quail hunters" by J. T. Edson

The reprint was published in 1972 by Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd. (ISBN 60033922X). It also contains a picture strip by Don Lawrence, Countdown to Death and a text story illustrated by Ron Embleton, Hunter's Lance. You probably know all about it, but just in case. Great blog about Frank by the way, and good to see lots of his great work getting reprinted now. All the best, Peter Sutherland. 

Those words "you probably know all about it"can sometimes be correct but as in this case, no, this is completely new to me. I wrote back to say thanks and also clarify a few points:

Hello, the book is 48 pages including the covers.I checked the 1971 Boy's World Annual and the Frank Bellamy story is reprinted exactly as it first appeared, all the same text and all the illustrations in all the same places. The 1st illustration is on page 33, the 2nd on page 34, the 3rd on page 35, the 4th on page 36 and the 5th (final) one on page 37. All the captions beside the last 4 pictures are included as well. All the best, Peter S. (NOT the Tough of the Track artist)

A man after my own heart - a true bibliographer - so I've updated the annuals page and included the illustrations as taken from Boy's Own World Annual for those who have never seen them. The first is my rough scan showing the lovely billboard font to accompany the stiory and the second is stolen from someone's website. A thorough Google search didn't reveal whose i took it from.

If it's yours please let me know so I can give you credit for stitching these together so nicely

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Bellamy and the Wild West:

Frank Bellamy illustrated pieces in the Boy's World Annuals of 1965 and 1966. He then only appeared in 1971 edition to the best of my knowledge - (and I love being contradicted!)

In the 1965 he illustrated "A Question of Honour" by Henry Casson, various matador drawings - a subject he loved very much. His subject for 1966 was "The Raid" showing war topics - wish I'd remembered this for the essay I wrote for Steve Holland's new book Frank Bellamy's Story of World War One (for the latest on this follow Steve's blog or take a look at Geoff West's site - scroll down the page a bit). I've reproduced the cover here and would expect it to be available on Amazon fairly soon and as Geoff says, you can pre-order on his siteAnyway, getting back to Westerns and Bellamy. In the Boy's World Annual 1971 he illustrated an author my Dad loved - no, not Zane Grey this time, but J.T.Edson. Steve asked me to help out by providing an illustration or two from that annual - which I do have in my collection - for his article written by Jeremy Briggs on Edson and his stories in the Victor comic. Click here for Part One and here for Part Two. This set me thinking about a theme for the blog: Bellamy and the Wild West

Bellamy's love of Africa is well known, but he was also very keen on cowboys and the Wild West. Throughout the 1950s Bellamy produced many illustrations to accompany Boy's Own Paper stories such as "Phantom buffalo" by Gerald Wyatt, "Vivo the wild colt" by Ross Salmon and "Stormy round-up" by Ross Salmon. For the children's annual Swift 1956 he drew some pictures of a young Indian brave, and various illustrations for Lilliput magazine such as "War Party" by W.R. Burnetta and "The drifters" by John Prebble.

In the 1970s he illustrated the annual that started this article, the particular story being on pages 23-27 "Johnny Boyland and the quail hunters" by J. T. Edson, and of course, one of his most famous works "Garth" saw two great western stories - "Ghost Town" and the one he opened the series with "Sundance". "Ghost Town" was reprinted around the time of Bellamy's death whilst a replacement was found (Martin Asbury) as it was one Bellamy's personal favourites.

He also did some odds and ends during the 70s such as the cover later used after his death for the Comicon '78 cover and a sketch of "Chilli Willi" whatever that was! One interesting cowboy feature at this time was for the Monty Python team - Bert Fegg's nasty Book for Boys and Girls, published by Methuen, in 1974 (also reprinted in Dr Fegg's Encylopedia of All World knowledge 1984. The story was called "A Cowboy Story" and was in full colour. "How the west was won" was drawn to accompany the showing of that famous film, in the Radio Times

The next piece to mention is "Hombre" as we have no idea what it was. In the picture below of Bellamy in his studio, we can just see "Hombre" in the picture on the right.

The content looks very similar to the last strip he published before his untimely death in 1976 "Swade" in Denis Gifford/Alan Class magazine Ally Sloper.

Then finally I also ought to mention again "Wes Slade" which you can read all about on my website, he also produced a cover posthumously (sort of) in 1980 for Marvel Comics (UK) of all people, thanks to Dez Skinn - Marvel Western Gun Fighters.

I suppose I could also add that as Bellamy appeared on ITV and this feature is on Westerns I should mention Quick on the draw, but as the quiz show from 1974 was about cartoons and comic artists , then again I don't think I will as that pun would be too awful!

Happy Trails Pardners!