Showing posts with label Countdown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Countdown. Show all posts

Sunday 13 July 2014

Frank Bellamy and Countdown comic

I am not scared sometimes to include oblique references to Frank Bellamy if I think it does some good. For example Steve Holland had published his latest UK comic index: Countdown to TV Action.

Bear Alley books' Countdown to TV Action

As usual his scholarly precision leaves me feeling inadequate but what enjoyable material. My memory of the Countdown comic was that it was great to see the Anderson strips after the slow and painful death of TV21 in 1971. I'd abandoned the title way before that as the merger with Valiant was of no interest to me, at that time.

And here was a shiny new comic printed on very shiny paper (and tatty edges!). The artwork by Jon Davis and John Cooper (who I always get confused) never appealed to me and browsing through the comic I can't see why I kept ordering it until very late in its run, but I did. Don Harley's art was perfect to my eyes and that John Burns art with its heavy colour shadows made no sense - sorry John! Now I can appreciate Gerry Haylock, John Burns and others.  I do remember really appreciating the space news. It was the time of Apollo and Skylab which I found thrilling and as a teenager I was not averse to the flying saucer material either - after all I did watch UFO, didn't I?

I sold all my original copies to David Nightingale for £100 in the 1980s and was glad for the money. But enough of my life story.

Countdown #24 (Saturn V art by Roy Cross)
Read the story of how this art was used in Countdown Steve's book
The Frank Bellamy strips reprinted from his 'Thunderbird' run in TV21 appeared in Countdown #24 - 30 (each 3 page instalment reduced to 2 black and white pages - see example below). The 'cutting up' of Bellamy's art was produced in such as a way that unless you knew it had been done, it was hard to spot. 

Countdown #24

Countdown #24

TV21 #59 pp.10-11

TV21 #59 p.12

Secondly TV Action & Countdown #71 - 77 reprinted in colour this time and in the centre pages as they originally appeared, the 'Thunderbirds' story from TV21 issues 52-58, the first Thunderbirds story in TV21. As Steve explains in his book, these reprints saved costs in the production of the comic but new art was still being commissioned e.g. Gerry Haylock's 'Doctor Who' cover for issue 71 shown here

TV Action & Countdown #71

TV Action & Countdown #71

TV Action & Countdown #71
'Thunderbirds' also appeared in other Polystyle productions (the publishers of Countdown) such as the Thunderbirds 48 page Holiday Special (1971). I no longer have this one so rely on Shaqui's excellent website for more details. 

Thunderbirds Holiday Special 1971
But in reading Steve's Countdown to TV Action book I discovered he'd missed a Holiday Special.

Thunderbirds Holiday Special (1984) (Unknown artist)
If you're curious as to what the contents are, then allow me to help you.

To give the publishers credit they did reprint these stories as they were published - as a centrespread...but lost some of the captions in the gutter! The Holiday Special contains the stories from TV21 #66 through to #82 and #99-104 but with awkward additions.

Shaqui sums this up well "The mastheads from the original Thunderbirds strips are redrawn by an unidentified artist to make the stories complete compilations".

He is kinder than me and actually whoever was given the job of filling the headers that Bellamy drew, summed it up him/herself in this scan, where I think they mean to intimate "Danger" but it comes out as "Anger"!

You can see here how awful the black and white version of Bellamy's gorgeous colour is and also how the 'header' or masthead is filled in.

TV21 #75

None of this diminishes the work that Steve has done. The history of the company and the set up of Countdown under Dennis Hooper is worth the price of admission! But you also get lots of Brian lewis, Gerry Haylock, John Burns, Peter Ford artwork. To see more go to his page dedicated to the book which has pricing postage and far more details than covered here

Cover wraparound

Sunday 19 August 2012

Fans of Frank: Andy Walker

By Andy Walker
In my continuing series (where I unashamedly ask fans of Frank to tell me why they are) I had my attention drawn to this interesting piece on eBay which at first glance made me think of Orson Welles and then I realised it was in a style like Bellamy's. I wrote to the seller - Andy himself - and he replied:

I have just listed my Frank Bellamy inspired comic strip artwork on eBay. I think I first encountered his amazing artwork in the form of reprints of his THUNDERBIRDS comic strip in the pages of Polystyle's COUNTDOWN comic. The artwork that really struck me however were the illustrations he did based on DOCTOR WHO for the RADIO TIMES in the early to mid 1970s. He was one of those very gifted artists who had that almost indefinable extra something that always shone through all of this work. This artwork of mine is a humble nod to an amazing talent that has inspired an entire generation of artists across the globe!
 His description on ebay explains a bit further:

"THE TRAVELLER" ORIGINAL COMIC STRIP ARTWORK SIGNED BY UK ILLUSTRATOR ANDY WALKER. This is a high quality, full colour double page comic strip rendered in black Indian ink, coloured inks and gouache on thick watercolour board. It was originally commissioned in 1987 as a promotional piece of artwork for the "Traveller" series of books which failed to be published. My brief was to produce a double page comic strip splash in the style of the hugely popular British comic strip artist Frank Bellamy. "The Traveller" books were a series of 5 novels that sadly remains unpublished, however all 5 covers won me many future commissions and formed a crucial part of my original portfolio.The 5 stories concerned the journeys through time of a mysterious character known only as "The Traveller". Sound familiar? Perhaps that's why they remain unpublished!
Take a look at Andy's other sales to see more of his more mature artwork including another Traveller artwork which shows he had Brian Blessed rather than Orson Welles in mind (in my opinion!)UPDATE: and of course have a look at his website which I almost forgot to mention!

So for Andy here's the first Bellamy story form Polystyle's Countdown comic which was the 1970s answer to TV21 in which Frank Bellamy's Thunderbirds strips were reprinted (and Don Harley drew new art for Thunderbirds stories too). The editor was the former Art Editor of TV21, Dennis Hooper. Read more about it on Lew Stringer's ever interesting blog. I have reproduced the reprint of the first part of the story from TV21 #59 (5 March 2066). Presumably the reprint was cheap, but after hacking Bellamy's artwork from 3 pages to 2 and in black and white, surely it would have been easier just to reprint as was!

Countdown, #24, 31 July 1971

Countdown, #24, 31 July 1971

Andy mentions his love of Doctor Who too so here's a set of those famous cameos that were printed at size12/16 inch width by 1 inch tall - yes I checked! The paper of the Radio Times at that time was of a pulp feel and therefore reproduction wasn't superb. Here are three of the Doctors up to that point - from left to right Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton, William Hartnell
Radio Times - various

Lastly, just because we mentioned Countdown here's the cover of the issue that saw Bellamy's reprint start which shows, what I think must be Roy Cross artwork for the Airfix Saturn V - let me know if I'm wrong. A very iconic image for little boys my age - and covered later by Mike Noble on a cover of Look-In (where the former TV21 editor Alan Fennell was resident!)

Art by Roy Cross?

Sunday 8 February 2009

Baked Beans and Bellamy

Steve Holland forwarded a piece of information which reminded me to post this picture. I had always listed Countdown as being the earliest copy of the advert for Crosse & Blackwell Baked Beans, but Steve has trumped me

Look and Learn 485, dated 1st May 1971 has the wonderful piece by Bellamy

Bellamy produced a lovely clear picture of knights in battle to illustrate the free pictures (on the rear of the wrappers)for the series "Life as it was 600 years ago". I can't personally remember seeing the wrappers, but feel that C&B beans were too expensive for my family at that time!

I've added large scans on the Advertising page of the website, as usual click on the Note

If you spot an earlier appearance I'd love to know