Showing posts with label Daily Mirror. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Daily Mirror. Show all posts

Tuesday 21 December 2021


The first episode of "Balthus" Daily Mirror 12 October 1971

In the previous episode of this series, we looked at the first Bellamy-illustrated Garth story, "Sundance" in detail.  This time we are focussing on the second story: "The Cloud of Balthus" which originally ran in Daily Mirror  (12 October 1971 - 27 January 1972 - #E237-F23). I've provided example strips to illustrate some of the points, but if you have access to a copy of the full story, follow along!

I must thank David Jackson and Paul Holder for examining the artwork in such depth and detail in order to outline who drew what in this story. David started the whole procedure and I've created another spreadsheet to show which panels we think are purely Frank Bellamy and which have John Allard's work.

It's at this point I should highlight that the aim of doing this is merely to catalogue what artwork Frank Bellamy did and to show what a collaborative process creating the daily production of the strip was. We merely wish to examine and list what is Bellamy's art and what is Allard's, especially as even Bellamy had trouble explaining what went on. It is an open question how FB and JA's roles were contractually defined Bellamy had to collaborate with others on the Dan Dare strip in Eagle and is on record about the situation being awkward with a jarring of styles within the two pages each week for a year. As we hope to see in later stories there's a consistency of style when Bellamy worked alone on the artwork (as there was on the popular Garth stories drawn solely by Allard, before Bellamy came on board).  

One interesting aspect of examining this story was that I have never seen any episodes come to auction or sale. If you have any idea where these are, I'd love to know. We worked from any versions we could find including the original crudely printed newspaper cuttings! Many times throughout this story David, Paul and I thought we couldn't be definitive without viewing the original boards.

THE CLOUD OF BALTHUS - An overview of the story:

Garth and Professor Lumière holiday in the Caribbean but news comes that NASA has lost contact with not only the orbiting space platform but also the rescue mission. Garth decides to go skin-diving and leave the Americans to it.  Meanwhile a Korean girl, Lee Wan, has been instructed to win over Garth, by whatever means. We learn she is working for Mr Ching and lures Garth to the sea and fires a sedative dart at him before taking him on board Mr. Ching's submarine. His plan is to send Garth to the NASA space platform orbiting the Moon to steal technological secrets. As Lee and Garth explore the outside of the space platform they are being watched by aliens - "Lord Balthus", and other bubble-shaped beings. Garth wants no part of the filming Lee does, but he is sedated again by her and a microfilm hidden in Garth's scalp whilst suddenly the bubble-shaped beings fade into view on the space-platform. Lord Balthus of the Cariads wants to examine this female shape and transports them both across to his ship, where we find the missing astronauts. They are all sent back to earth, after the Cariads destroy the space-platform leaving Garth and Lee Wan aboard the Cariad ship. We learn Balthus has a plan to use them to create new Cariads. Garth discovers sustained vibration affects the Cariads and breaks free, destroying the aliens. On return to Earth in the Cariad ship, they are picked up by a trawler and discover they are world famous. But Garth rightly sees that Mr. Ching will be after them and his agents follow Lumière to Garth's country retreat, where they gas Garth and the Professor. But Lee has proven her loyalty to Garth by helping him destroy the microfilm hidden under his scalp. Garth wakes and chases after the agents, and works with Scotland Yard but Lee has been given an ageing serum to disguise her looks in order to smuggle her back to Mr. Ching. Garth and friends watch the airport, where Garth has suspicions an old lady is Lee. He boards the plane with them, but cannot stop the agents as they threaten to blow up the plane. They force the captain to reduce speed so they can make a parachute jump over the sea. The agent, Lee and Garth are taken abroad Mr. Ching's sub where Lee's good looks are  returned. Garth breaks free from his bonds and overpowers Mr. Ching and takes him and Lee to an escape hatch, while forcing the submarine down. A navy frigate rescues them and Lee and Garth plan their return to the Caribbean to finish their holiday.



"Garth: The Cloud of Balthus" E237

Interestingly, the opening title strip shows markings on the alien spaceship which do not show up later and John Allard had a hand in adding Letratone to the title strip - which is unusual in the Bellamy Garth run, but as this is the first title strip FB created, perhaps not - as JA and FB are working out who does what at this stage in the run. And where did the name 'Balthus'  come from? Maybe Jim Edgar, the author, liked the name of the French artist?

In going through every panel in this story - with 91 daily strips - it was interesting to see a few runs of strips where we are not sure whether John Allard (JA) did backgrounds. In various places we see that JA has actually taken, or more likely had been given space to draw 19 or 20 complete panels, not just backgrounds. Looking at the jarring changes in style in this story we wondered what was going on. Was it because the first Garth story ('Sundance') being Bellamy's first daily strip was too much and he invested so much in it he was having deadline problems? Perhaps he took "his foot off the accelerator" after "Sundance" to allow John Allard room to move? But it could also be that he was still trying to understand how JA and he should work together on the art. 

John Allard left school at 14 and at 15 submitted samples of his art to the Mirror offices and started work there as an assistant to Steve Dowling a few months before the creation of Garth in July 1943. Until 1969, when "Despite [Dowling's retirement at 65], John Allard recalled that Dowling “let me do some weeks of it entirely by myself – as Steve thought this would help in my obtaining the job of Garth main artist.” He continued the solo art chores from 1969 until Bellamy joined in 12 July 1971 (publication dates). Read the whole Allard interview here

I think there are 23 whole FB strips with no JA amendments / additions out of the 91 strips and the spreadsheet shows they are scattered throughout the story, so it's not just in one place. There are 5 strips with only two panels (most are three - where 'Sundance' had four sometimes) and some are fantastic examples of Bellamy art.

"Garth: The Cloud of Balthus" E240 Panel #3 is likely all John Allard

E238 we see an instance of Allard's Letratone appearing slightly more faint in panel #2. Has he covered some of FB's background art? E240 (above) shows one of the three panels is actually drawn completely by JA - the spaceship. E245 even looks Bellamy-ish in outline but the marks are certainly more Allard-ish with the shark actually having a strangely angled dorsal fin and even the marks on Panel #1's legs appear to be Allard. E247 make us wonder who did what. E251 shows a boat driver resting as Garth chases Lee Wan on the beach. Paul commented "Love the way the guy's boot overhangs the bottom frame of the boat." - breaking the 'fourth wall'! E254 Allard even does the figure work of Garth, Lee Wan and the boat owner. All three are located on the boat, mid-ground, so it's not immediately noticeable as JA. We see, in E255 Mr. Ching watching two skin-divers on his screen, but who drew them? I favour FB, but there has been disagreement between us, could JA have added them as background?. In E258 we see a shadow on the bulkhead, with what appear to be two eyes, but is this FB, or just a printing error? In E264 we have a gorgeous Frank Bellamy spaceship design, very similar to his T-Shirt designs

"Garth: The Cloud of Balthus" E264 a lovely spaceship design

In the context of "thought bubbles", David mentioned these being JA (and "pre-FB looking") but I'd thought surely they are plain and simple JA as he lettered and added all lettering. David replied "The word-balloons/pointer and thought-bubbles/pointers (the outlines) all start to look FB style from his first Sundance strip on - except for these two that I've noticed which are both JA early Sundance frames style". So JA did the lettering - no doubts there, but the shape and placement of the balloons is FB...except in a few places where we think Allard changed them for whatever reason.  

"Garth: The Cloud of Balthus" E266

E266 is a good example of the FB/JA mix. The figures in panel #1 are Bellamy; the star-field is Bellamy-ish; the design of the spaceship is Bellamy. However, who did the shadowing on the spacesuits? It looks like Allard might have done the star-field copying Bellamy's technique but maybe adding his own 'blobs' (on the left) - sight of the original might show process-white added to the black. But FB drew in this way too, elsewhere in this strip (compare the second frame of E284). And the spaceship although a Bellamy design, is filled-in by JA.

As David reminded me, "Very interestingly, at the time FB was drawing (i.e. before) the Apollo 11 Moon landing, nobody knew that the sky as seen from the Moon would be blank - no stars visible..! The evidence wasn't in until they landed. The explanation for the non-visible stars from the daylight surface of the Moon is because the sunlight thrown up from the surface (although made of very dark material in itself) is so strong the human eye shuts right down from the brightness so can't see any stars. The same goes when in close orbit around the Earth and the daylight surface is large in the field of vision. So before the landing it was a scientific debate as to what would turn out to be the case in fact." Here Bellamy drew stars as this is a story, not a factual account.

In E270 we see a strange addition of heavy cross-hatching (possibly Letratone) where we are used to seeing light backgrounds. Curiously in E271, the great Lord Balthus appears with two of his minions, and after introducing himself demands that Garth and Lee Wan take off their "hideous garments" and reveal themselves. Anyone reading at the end of 1971 felt they knew they'd see Lee Wan standing naked - well at least topless, but no, they both took off only their outer spacesuits and from that alone Balthus could now tell he had a female of our species! Anyway the first panel is interesting showing FB's figure work and left hand control panel, but JA's additions in the background. Paul and David mentioned this: "White on black cross-hatch b/g tone at top right would be JA. The (slightly not exactly parallel thickness) ‘strut’ or construction support, and the hatched vertical lines of work-surface, and the screens at left in (a bit variable) perspective possibly more JA than FB". You can see how difficult this is!

"Garth: The Cloud of Balthus" E276
There are some lovely Bellamy explosions in this strip and although this one looks like Bellamy's work it appears that maybe FB pencilled and Allard completed the sketch - an unusual instance. In E276 we also see some concentric circles made of white 'dashes' in the alien spaceship to which Garth and Lee have been transported. They add visual interest on a black background but are quite odd. We suspect they are by JA adding process white, but once he'd started it was quite possible FB added some when he needed background interest. It was only when Paul noted that there might be some process white on Balthus himself as an aside, that I looked again and realised that actually Bellamy drew the Cariads with a bit trailing from their 'bubble' shapes. As David commented " such inventive coherent design concepts" 

The next 'controversy' - if discussing artwork we haven't seen in the original format can be called that - was in E281

"Garth: The Cloud of Balthus" E281

Before I say anything, have a close look at panels 1-3. YOU decide who drew what.

Here's an example of where I wondered about that pole that we see in #1 and the other two panels. In the previous episode, Garth stumbles and grabs it, so I infer FB drew it with figure work. Here I wonder if he also added it in #1 but did he draw it in the other panels. David mentioned the ellipsis drawn by JA in #1, the "background curved lines tone does appear to intersect Garth's leg (probably a result of FB leaving folds highlights which JA accidentally drew b/g linework up to)". But I hope you can now see how detailed we looked at this art. Then there's the third panel. FB might possibly have drawn a minimal background leaving the details for JA to fill but we just don't know.  

In E283 we wondered where FB drew and where JA added work. FB did the figure work and the 'near-ground' control panel area operated by Garth. The rest of the background elements look like JA. Then the third panel looks to be JA using FB's star-field and spaceship outline.  E292 shows Garth offering Lee Wan a cup of something and what's interesting is the way she is covered up appears to be rather crude and we wondered if she might have originally been drawn naked. There is little nudity in this strip, as it is, and this (and the following 2 strips) have only one panel in which FB has her holding a sheet/ blanket to cover herself up.

E293 has an interesting, but hardly noticeable 'nick' in the speech balloon. Paul spotted it and said "Could have been put in by JA? At bottom of white panel it does nick into the speech balloon at that point so could have been cut in or placed on top?" Again we have no way of knowing beyond being able to see the original art, but the porthole's perspective is a bit rough.

"Garth: The Cloud of Balthus" E293

One funny aside: I queried with David, what I saw as scruffy lines delineating the clothing, Garth and Lee Wan had on after being pulled from the water. in E295. David replied "This was FB taking tremendous pains to ingeniously depict towelling material sweaters."! And I thought he was being sarcastic - I should have known better! Paul suggested maybe it was added later to cover Lee's nudity. Sight of the original would certainly help here.

In E297 Panel #3 Allard draws a copy of Bellamy's submarine from E257 and again in the third panel of E298, but not so well! E300 opens with a full JA panel and you might remember I uncovered an additional strip in this story from the Daily Record (I called it E300.5) when this was published in Scotland and all three panels were by Allard. In F302 we have an instance of something which turns up in later stories as a technique: FB does his usual 'swirls' in the third panel indicating shadows but also draws parallel diagonal lines underneath (or on top!).

In F7 we see Garth watching some suspicious characters and there are figures in the background existing the airport. Are they JA or FB? I've decided FB but they could well be JA! The story moves onto a plane with Lee Wan kidnapped and Garth watching from further up the plane. In F8 I felt FB left the background to JA here and also in the following strips where the interior of the aeroplane are drawn.  

"Garth: The Cloud of Balthus" F8

In F8, Paul pointed something else out to me which I would never have spotted. When FB took on Garth he expected to do his own word balloons and provide a finished article to the Cartoon Editor of the Daily Mirror. The arrangement with John Allard being around, meant it looked as if Allard was going to do the word balloons, but their positioning would therefore have to be predetermined by one of them.  But who? In 'Sundance' we see FB speech and thought balloons and most of the time it looks like FB does the shapes and placement in 'Balthus', but occasionally we see JA's style here, appearing, as Paul says, to be 'pre-FB balloons'. Compare the F8 #3 thought balloon to the E237, the opening strip, above, for example.  

"Garth: The Cloud of Balthus" F12
Now we get to F12. Again, pause here, blow up the strip above and YOU decide. 

David says: "On balance 'view out of plane door' probably JA (entirely blank white space would still work in reality - of perspective vis-a-vis Garth) but rest of strip could possibly be all FB". And later "I don't think the b/g through the open door look like FB as the scribble tones are none too even in thickness of pen-stroke or integrated tonally; the figures are entirely silhouettes, and one is against the line of the continuous line of the plane hatch (no break in the line); the plane's hatch lock (block of lines tone) doesn't have a stronger nearest edge shadow accent."

Here's what I think: I see #1 there as all FB, (with maybe the exception of the two silhouettes, but to be honest the figures look enough for crude reproduction in a newspaper at a reduced size). Yes the cloud swirls are rougher than usual, but I wouldn't be surprised, looking at this strip - and particularly the ending strips- that FB was either busy (see my concluding paragraph below), rushed, or even ill. Also I felt panel three would be very empty if FB did not fill in the pilot and co-pilot. But those foreground lines under the fist look crude. What do you think? We certainly looked in detail! Then Paul mentioned the background to F16 #1: "Reckon JA did the porthole and the side rivet strip to the right side. Perhaps he even put in the whole panel with porthole behind Garth as it looks a bit plonked in"!

"Garth: The Cloud of Balthus" F18

In F20 we see Garth use an oxyacetylene torch to destroy the controls but strangely there are four 'star bursts' represented, so we wondered if JA hand a hand in this - filling in using a copy of FB's first 'star burst'?

"Garth: The Cloud of Balthus" F21 Titan reprint in wrong order!"
+ Garth: The Cloud of Balthus" F22
Now we get F21! Boy, did this cause a lot of miscommunication until something Paul said made me look at the Titan reprint instead of the Menonomee Falls Gazette reprint or The Daily Mirror Book of Garth 1975 (or even the coloured reprints by Martin Baines for the Daily Mirror in Thursday 12 April 2012 - how's that for researching!). If you have the Titan reprint (with the Martin Asbury cover), open it at page 48, strip F21. Why Titan decided to move panel #3 to panel #1 and vice-versa, I have absolutely NO IDEA! Suggestions on a postcard please!

In F22 we see Lee Wan and Garth have a frigate bear down on them and David points out helpfully "Note the rules of perspective make the horizon / 'camera-eye-level viewing this scene' at Garth's eye-level ... but the ship is at least a quarter of the height of the hull (- at the horizon.)..!. If JA hadn't drawn in the b/g sea to the horizon (ie or a horizon either) then the two would have fit (both then been at the same level)" and further "If the scene had been of a very rough sea then there could be a situation where a head - at the top of a huge wave - might be at the same level as half way up a ship's hull - if the ship was down at the bottom of a massive wave trough - (in the same picture). But here in this frame the sea is relatively flat calm so Garth's eye level, at only a few inches above the water, can not be at the same time where the horizon is on the ship (a good fraction of the way up the hull of the ship). The horizon would in fact have to be at the same level as the water on the hull - in this frame therefore out of sight behind the foreground wave at about the level of Garth's chin".  And that's why I'm so grateful to David, being an artist, explaining this stuff.


I felt in various places Frank Bellamy and John Allard must have had an agreement where Bellamy concentrated on the figure work and where these are positioned (and also leaving space for word balloons based on experience of having done it himself in lots of comic strips). Then Allard could fill-in backgrounds. But why has Allard drawn so many frames by himself? We know from Alan Davis' discoveries that Allard laid out roughs with lettering completed which Bellamy balked at, as he re-drew some. Perhaps some of this story are the same? However, that still does not explain why.

The strip started publication in October 1971 and Bellamy, at this time, was submitting work to the Radio Times, created several spot B&W illustrations for David Driver, the Art Editor. We know in November 1971 Bellamy was given the brief for the Wilbur & Orville Wright feature which actually appeared in late January 1972 (Before this we see the classic Doctor Who cover published in early January too!). These colours pieces were hard enough, but he also supplied several Doctor Who 'cameos' (and Film Stars) to accompany TV listings, all of which would need reference photos. So I suspect he was working very hard and that led to him leaving space for John Allard to finish artwork and thus we see the mixture of styles I noticed, even as a teenager. This would not be Bellamy's favourite way of working, by any means, but needs must and deadlines were, as he said himself, a religion. It will be interesting to see what we encounter in the next story "The Orb of Trimandias" which on quick examination looks a lot more consistent in style.

Lastly, could anyone tell me what this Chinese writing means, I'd be grateful.  It appears in a few places where Mr. Ching appears. I almost see FB and 41 but maybe I'm being too imaginative!

"Garth: The Cloud of Balthus"E256

MANY THANKS go to David Jackson and Paul Holder (and an anonymous other - you know who you are!) for their support, interest and help. Let us know what YOU think!

Monday 14 June 2021


To start what might become a series, David Jackson and I were discussing what involvement John Allard had in the Garth strips which Bellamy illustrated. We've looked at the first story, "Sundance". It's been fascinating examining Garth panel-by-panel and seeing that John Allard added stuff to every strip in the story (except six, we think). I should add I am not about to show you every single episode - for copyright reasons. So I should get through a 'fair use' argument if it ever comes up! 

WE COULD REALLY DO WITH YOUR HELP - can you scan any ORIGINAL artwork you have? It's so much easier to analyze the artwork if we can. 

"Garth: Sundance" E150 John Allard art

To start let's get the first 12 strips in this story out of the way as they are solely John Allard (E150 through to E161). In the one above we can see a trademark Allard device - the 'dashes' in the sky applied through ink but also a lack of white space.

Here's the first Bellamy drawn strip E162 with E163 and E164

"Garth: Sundance" E162-E164 Frank Bellamy + John Allard art

However, as you'll soon see, Allard's imprint is on almost all strips in the Sundance story. As David said to me, Allard appears to add:
  • Screentone: A mechanical tint to shadows, background, skies and as 'local colour' to fabrics
  • Background elements: sky-tone 'dashes'
  • Background elements: Landscapes including lines of hills; waterfalls; trees and wigwams!
Taking the three images as an example, which are the first three where Bellamy joins the strip:
  • E162 - Panel 1 and 3 have a screentone added to clothing and also the trees in Panel 3 are drawn by Allard.
  • E163 - Panel 1  and 3 have the same tone added to Garth's trousers and Panels 1 and 3 have trees and background landscape added by Allard.
  • E164 - Panel 3 has background trees added by Allard. Also Panel 3 has tone added. Having had access to the original art in the past here's my photo to show that added tone/tint/Zip-A-Tone/Letraset that Bellamy never used in his career. 

"Garth: Sundance" Panel 3 of Garth E164
Artwork in newspaper strips tends to be drawn in pencil, followed by ink (Bellamy tended to sketch in outlines for himself and do the detail when inking) and the process can include ways the artist wishes to lighten from dark to light (or vice-versa) such as cross-hatching, 'spattering' (with a toothbrush for example) drybrush, or, as Bellamy brilliantly did in his artwork - stippling. But another way of showing texture might be to add Zip-a-Tone or Letratone, both screentone effects. Allard used it quite often as we shall see - and even misses it on Garth's trousers in E195!
"Garth: Sundance" E175
E.175 is interesting in how Bellamy left blank space only to have Allard add two pieces of mechanical tint. The sky-tone tint in panel #3 solidifying the background framing device, is otherwise so minimal to be hardly worth doing. As David said to me, Bellamy could have left the vegetation out of the first panel and also the background in the third, but didn't.  I wonder if his aim was to stymie Allard, but as can be seen he didn't succeed! Also have a close look at panel #3. Bellamy appears to have drawn the 'foreground' wigwams and Allard appears to have added more behind them! - Well spotted David - who also mentioned that stray ink blob in panel #3 which we guess is a shield.

Also that framing device in panel #3, which David pointed out to me, was like a device Fortunino Matania used (for example in Great Stories from History illustrated by Fortunino Matania. Sidgwick and Jackson Ltd, 1970: pages 56-57). I can't find anything else like it in Matania's work but would love to know if anyone has seen anything similar or have you seen it in other artists' works? Bellamy uses it again in E175 #3, E180 #2, E183 #1, E186 #2, E188 #1, E190 #2, E191 #1, E205 #3, E216 #2, E234 #3. Allard added a similar effect in E194 #2 with just tint behind Falling Leaf's portrait! In E226, Bellamy adds his 'swirls' in the same framing device, presumably to stymie Allard again!

Garth: Sundance E182 - Letraset on Garth's face (or FB stippling?)
Was Bellamy able to produce any strips by himself in the Sundance story? We're pleased to say 'yes'!E180, E182, E183, E184, E185 and E203 - so that's 6 strips out of 75 - drawn by Bellamy where we can't see any Allard artwork or tone being added.  [He could also have drawn of E222 but we're not sure using the reproductions we have - again the original art may be easy to 'read' ]
If you've followed us to this point, you must be interested in details too We also counted 21 individual strips without the addition of Allard pen and ink drawing (- i. e. where he only applied mechanical tone and no linework) were 21
Garth: Sundance E186 - Allard hills and sky 'dashes'

In E186 frames #1 and #3 we see Allard's hand in the added hills, clashing with Garth's profile; but in the second frame the background hills by FB are overlayed by 'overspill' Letratone over the middle-ground cavalry, presumably in error. In E208 we see Allard draw tracks, and as David said to me "though looking down on the Indian tracker, from the point of view of the officer on horseback, the b/g could have been completely blank (readers don't need to see the tracks to follow the story).

I asked David about E209 as I wasn't sure that Allard drew the wigwam and waterfall as he would have had to 'grab' some space from the Bellamy drawing. He replied  
"Not that John Allard couldn't insert 'negative' white space with his use of process white.  I'd think the background marks indicating fir trees at the left edge of the first frame are John Allard (the FB figures and horse, ground and trees read clearly  without any further b/g) - the waterfall is in optical competition with the flank of the horse, so the falls would not be FB in this frame (as with middle frames of E.204 and E.207 and the first frames of E.208 and E.213) - compare the established design by FB in E.199 to E.201 and looks also to be FB (except the sky dashed tone) in E.212.
I wonder if Allard didn't see value in leaving white space as, a glance at earlier stories illustrated by him appear very 'cluttered' at first glance, in my opinion, where Bellamy left white space, or added circular 'cameos' to highlight, or enclose figures. Every space seems filled by something where Bellamy was a consummate designer, in the service of legibility, leaving balancing elements to his strips and illustrations. We should add that John Allard definitely did all the lettering on this strip all the way through to Bellamy's death in 1976.

David also pointed out:
I notice E179 has (seemingly, to me, redundant) the identity trope about Garth and the surname "O'Hara" in this story; although Falling Leaf calls him Garth (and Pehizizis in E191 for example) many times, as does Sitting Bull (e.g. E227).
 Some of our discussions were around how difficult it is to identify who did what - which isn't surprising. I thought in strip number E166 the left-hand side wigwams work as a composition  but on the right of this frame and the other frames' wigwams looked awful. I mentioned to David that 
"Allard did the poles in a linear frame in one of his episodes at the start of the story (E152) which appears in panel #1 of E166 and I wonder if maybe Bellamy would have emphasized the 'sundance' Indian, and so left out the wigwams on the left. However, if he did, that space would be too tempting for Allard! But then, Allard added the one on the right of the frame and maybe that linear pole frame too! Oh dear!" 
David replied
"All that, exactly spells out the problem.  It seems impossible that the same hand could have drawn the wigwams at the right and those on the left.  Same goes too for the linear poles structure in this FB frame compared to the second of JA's Sundance opening centre frame.  I doubt FB would have pencilled those in for JA to ink or as reference". 
Norman: "E222 = hills query?"
David: "Difficult.  Line and stipple hills look FB, as also dark hatch above wigwams, but vertical hatch hill at right obscure/ blend heads of soldiers as does in next frame horses and figures profile"

You get the idea, how we went back and forth!

E218 caused a lot of back and forward discussion - see below

Garth: Sundance E218

Enlarge this image (excusing the "spine curl" on the left in my scan!)  and you'll see an interesting effect, Custer and the men in the foreground are visually distanced from the rest of the column and the trees. It's  perspective shown by changing the tone, much like in a colour painting, where hills at a distance are a lighter colour than those in the foreground. To me it looks like some Letratone placed over Bellamy's original artwork. it also occurs in strips  E219 (#1), E221 (#1 and #2), [E224 (#1)?], E225 (#1) , E227 (#1) and looks to be transparent to allow the artwork through. We explored Letratone on the Internet until our eyes went all funny, but couldn't find any proof. Can you help? Was/Is there a Letratone that allows the user to place a tonal pattern over the art but not hide it completely?  We know that some Letratone was available in WHITE.

We found some awful examples where Allard added backgrounds which just weren't needed and worse detracted from a nice frame. But we also suspected there are places where Bellamy left some space after seeing how Allard performed and that's what Allard did -filled that space. We also spotted E177 #3 where the background appears to be unfinished!
If you want to explore further and follow along, I've created a spreadsheet showing the details with some added notes where pertinent. These are always up for debate, especially as we are working on printed copies, not originals - the best reproduction so far has been the Titan book published in 1984, Garth Book One: The Cloud of Balthus (London: Titan Books, 1984) which had 96 pages, an introduction and checklist of Garth strips. It reprinted Sundance, Cloud of Balthus, The Orb of Trimandias, Wolfman of Ausensee. In some paces we found backgrounds a bit faded, which is odd given the great reproduction elsewhere. Note that Titan reprinted the original strips (including nudity). The second Titan book is listed in detail here.

Do feedback as to whether this is worthwhile as we have started on the other stories in which Allard participated but as you can appreciate they take a lot of time and work. I must say a huge thank you to David Jackson and Paul Holder, true friends, whose eyesight is still functional enough to do such a detailed analysis! If you have any originals from this story or hi-res scans I'd love to see and share them?

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Frank Bellamy and Garth in the Daily Record (December, 1971-1973)

Back before Christmas I discovered a mystery - as far I was concerned: a Garth strip was offered that I'd never seen before. It soon came to light that it was from the Daily Record (in Scotland). So before lockdown I had the opportunity to review the Daily Record - God bless the British Library! - and am now writing this up with images to make a bit more sense.


"G305.5" from Daily Record
  • This Garth strip featured characters from "The Wreckers" story which ran in the Daily Mirror 26 October 1973 - 18 February 1974 (G255-H41)
  • The seller noted the strip was numbered "DR.CH.73" and the printers' instructions in pencil written on front state "Daily Record 26-12-73"
  • With a bit of research I discovered that Scotland and England published different papers on different days over the Christmas/New Year period, so I knew we might have extra Garth strips by Bellamy that I'd not seen in England before.
As Bellamy started on the Garth strip in July 1971 and died in July 1976 I thought there might be at least one strip for each Christmas / New Year holiday period. Once I found that the Daily Record published on Christmas Day and Boxing Day (where the English counterpart did not) I wanted to see how this looked in the paper.

I then found I needn't worry about Boxing Day in Scotland AFTER 1973 because:
  • 1973 - 2 January was created an additional bank holiday in Scotland by the 1971 Act. However, the provision did not come into effect until 1973.
  • 1974 - New Year's Day became an additional bank holiday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Boxing Day became an additional bank holiday in Scotland. ~ Taken from the archived Government page
I then went through every published Daily Record in December 1971, 1972 and 1973 and noted when it was published and which Garths appeared

Dates of Garth in Daily Record & Daily Mirror 1971

The notes above show the DAY on which the paper was published, its DATE, together with the NUMBERING for "Garth" and "Angus Og" (as that appeared together with "Garth" on the same page in the paper). Lastly the "Garth" notation in the Daily Mirror.

It appears that when an Angus Og story finished its numbering changed (as opposed to "Garth" which changed the letter prefix every calendar year, i.e. 1971 = E, 1972 = F, etc.).
Interestingly my first discovery  was that everything matched until the Christmas Day issue of the Daily Record. There is an additional strip that didn't appear in the Daily Mirror and it fits between E300 and E301, so I'm calling it "E300.5" - apologies for the poor photo

Garth E300

Garth "E300.5"

Garth E301

I'm going to take a guess and say this is an additional strip drawn by John Allard himself as his lettering looks the same and the art looks like his too. The Perishers strip  was labelled "DR.25.12.71" so I'm guessing this didn't appear in England either - oh and by the way, the weekend Perishers strip tended to be coloured! - and as I'm a fan, here that 'missing' one

Perishers Daily Record DR.25.12.71


Dates of Garth in Daily Record & Daily Mirror 1972
1972 got even more scary for me. I'm glad I captured all of December while there! Everything was fine until we get to the Daily Record dated 16 December 1972 where panels get repeated and skipped. I've labelled each panel A, B, and C and compared the Record to the Mirror's numbering

Daily Record 15 - 19 December 1972

F299 A + B panels were not published in Scotland

Garth F299
Why this occurred at this point, I have no idea. Every day was published (no strikes) and we are not yet at 25th December yet.

Garth F303
Talking of which, F303 is the end of the "People of the Abyss" story in England but in Scotland there is another episode rounding it off.

For the first time I present "F303.5"

Garth "F303.5"


Dates of Garth in Daily Record & Daily Mirror 1973

The Christmas day edition of the Daily Record was not published and a note in the Christmas Eve edition says "We'll be back Wednesday" which is Boxing Day 26 December 1973 and here is where this hunt started with Rhona Flin offering this Garth for sale last year.

Garth "G305.5" or "DR CH 73"

So the Daily Record had some different Garth strips from the Daily Mirror, the paper that hired Frank Bellamy. It appears in these three Decembers that Bellamy produced 2 episodes and Allard one. Unfortunately both John and Frank are no longer with us to ask about this. John Allard will certainly have known about this different publishing schedule as he produced one episode in the time period I examined, during the Bellamy run - which stands out a mile due to the difference in style.

Looking at the history and outline of Public Holidays in Scotland, I feel it will be a long time before I look at the rest of the Garth publishing in the Daily Record but I'm happy to give others credit if they share the information!
[UPDATE DECEMBER 2020: A website for Angus Og now exists:]

Thursday 13 February 2020

ORIGINAL ART: 2 Thunderbirds and 6 Garths!

Malcolm Philips' February/March auction at both his Compalcomics and (with better images) at  TheSaleroom  are now live and include three lots but several pieces of Bellamy artwork.

THUNDERBIRDS: TV Century 21 #162 (Page 2) + #163 (Page 1)

Thunderbirds from TV21 #162 and 163
How interesting to see these side-by-side, the last page of one issue and the first of the next. They come from the well-remembered story "Brains is dead!" in which the Hood uses Brains to get at International Rescue - shocking to this 10 year old at the time! They appear to have faded a little but what caught my eye was the employee's markings on the bottom. Bellamy always marked his work - presumably for his records as well as for the art editor at TV21. Where he wrote "TV21 No. 162 Part 1" he is referring to the story episode and the page as which of the two he intends to be published first. Someone has scribbled over "Page 2" and put which page it would be printed on in that issue. Bellamy changes the notation on the second offering here. 

The auction pieces are described as:
Thunderbirds: Two consecutive original artworks (1968) drawn, painted and signed (on the first board) by Frank Bellamy for TV 21 Nos 162 and 163
Brains and Scott touch down in New York in Thunderbirds 1 where Brains is kidnapped and booby-trapped in Hiram Blake's office. Scott, in hot pursuit, breaks down the door and Brains is tragically killed in the explosion. Grief stricken, the men of International Rescue bury the brilliant little scientist in outer space....
Bright Pelikan inks on boards. 18 x 14 ins each (2)

They are indeed consecutive but are page two of issue # 162 and page one of issue #163 (the latter would have had a masthead pasted over - see below. I have added the two scanned pages from the comic - but the colours are somewhat darker than Bellamy drew them so direct comparisons are hard as to how much colour difference there is.

Thunderbirds from TV21 #162, page 2

Thunderbirds from TV21 #163, page1

Now we have two lots of Garth strips from two different stories

GARTH: Mask of Atacama - 3 episodes

Garth episodes G169, G194, G200

Compal describe these as:
Garth: The Mask of Atacama: 3 original artworks (1973) drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy from the Daily Mirror 18th July, 16th/23rd August 1973
Indian ink on board. 21 x 7 ins (x3)
I suspect these will sell for quite a price.

and the second batch are:

GARTH: The Beast of Ultor - 3 episodes

Garth episodes H59, H96, H98
All three episodes come from "The Beast of Ultor" story which ran from February to June 1974

Garth: The Beast of Ultor: 3 original artworks (1974) drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy from the Daily Mirror 11 March, 14th/26th April 1974
Indian ink on board. 21 x 7 ins (x3)

All the Garths above are great examples of Bellamy's work in composition and use of space as well as demonstrating his techniques in shading.

All prices will be added 
when auctions end
 - and to the spreadsheet

WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
END DATE: Sunday 1 March 2020

GARTH: Mask of Atacama 3 episodes
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
END DATE: Sunday 1 March 2020

GARTH: The Beast of Ultor 3 episodes
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
END DATE: Sunday 1 March 2020

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Frank Bellamy and John Burns draw Garth

Comparison between John Burns and Frank Bellamy
on Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan

Recently I was having an email conversation with Alan Davis, the famous comic artist and he was chatting to Colin Brown, who runs amongst other things, the JOHN M BURNS ART Facebook group.  Colin gave me permission to share  some artwork (which Alan constructed from stuff shared with him by Colin).

"About a year ago, I posted several Garth strips John sent me. In his accompanying letter, he mentioned that he’d submitted sample strips when Frank Bellamy died. I misread the letter and assumed that the copies of strips he’d enclosed were the submissions. I’ve recently found out that’s not the case and that they had been drawn 10-15 years later. The error is entirely mine. This has come to light due to Alan Davis, who is a huge Bellamy fan, asking John about them as part of his research into Garth. He discovered an interesting paragraph in a a huge article on [John Freeman's] Down The Tubes in November 2018. 
The relevant paragraph reads “When news of Bellamy’s death became known, several top artists (including John Burns) submitted samples, hoping to take over the strip. However, they were too late! As John Allard recalls, “The Mirror editor Mike Malloy [sic Molloy] never saw their samples because he had already appointed Martin Asbury, who had got his samples in double-quick.”
John [Burn's] memories of the time are “The actual art sent in was I believe 1 or 2 strips in black and white - I can't find the originals. John Allard phoned me and told me about Bellamy’s sad demise. I asked if I could do anything to help (art wise). John asked me to send in samples of a Garth strip (not in Frank’s style) should I be interested in taking over from Frank. There was no mention about other artists - I don't know which ones were sending in their take on Garth. But it seems Martin got in first.” For the strips done later, John used the story “Brides of Jenghiz Khan”. Alan has put together John’s strips and the originals as a comparison."

Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan
One of the commentors on the Facebook page asked if these weren't to get the work  were these strips drawn and Colin confirmed "John Burns says he did them just to see if he could". Looking at them, we can see John Burns has amalgamated, omitted and even re-imagined some scenes, as you would expect. I'd love to see what John would do if he had the original scripts to work from, as we know Bellamy changed things to suit the needs of his designs.

Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan

Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan

Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan

Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan
And as Colin has been so kind to allow me to share the above, I've also borrowed the image below, drawn by John too, featuring UK artists whom he respects. This is a rough copy of the original which is owned by a collector.
Sydney Jordan (Jeff Hawke), Ron Embleton (Stingray, Captain Scarlet etc.)
Frank Hampson (Dan Dare), Frank Bellamy, Ron Turner (Nick Hazard),
and Don Lawrence (Trigan Empire etc.) and of course John Burns seated