Showing posts with label Dan Dare. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dan Dare. Show all posts

Sunday 18 February 2024

Frank Bellamy and OA Dan Dare

 

Eagle Vol.10:36 (24 October 1959)

Having just had the holiday that was planned many years ago I quickly added the latest Comic Book Auctions entry as a placeholder here. Here now are the full details for future reference.

Frank Bellamy's beautiful front page cover for Eagle Volume 10 issue 36 (dated 24 October 1959) is up for auction. It's Lot #38 on Thesaleroom.com and the opening bid will be £1260 with an auctioneer's estimate of £1400-£1800. This is from Bellamy's first story "Terra Nova".

The description goes like this:

Lot # 38:
Dan Dare/Eagle original cover artwork (1959) painted and signed by Frank Bellamy for The Eagle Vol. 10 No 36
'On Terra Nova Professor Jocelyn Peabody and Lex O'Mally are carried off by 'Nagrebs’ giant, man-eating ants. Dan's spacesuit is infused with 'Oro' - a vine-juice which repels Nagrebs and might protect him...'
Bright Pelikan ink on board. 15 x 13 ins
£1,400-1,800

Here's my scan of the printed page to compare but you can see the original is so much brighter.

This is quite an iconic page with Dan himself featured and will be interesting to see what happens with the bidding next week - as it appears many bids are placed at the last moment. I'll update the spreadsheet when the auction is over as well as completing the details below.


AUCTION SUMMARY

DAN DARE: Eagle 24 October 1959 (Vol. 10:36)
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
STARTING BID: £1,260 (Estimate: £1,400-£1,800)
ENDING PRICE: £1,700
END DATE: Sunday 25 February 2024

Wednesday 8 November 2023

ORIGINAL ART : Compal Auction November 2023 - Heros, Dan Dare and a cartoon

 

Eagle 27 March 1965 Vol 16:13, pp10-11

This time round we have three pieces of original art and lots of comics with Frank Bellamy's art up for auction.

The latest Compalcomics auction is now live. The listings at both on Compalcomics and TheSaleroom

HEROS THE SPARTAN: Eagle 27 March 1965 (Vol. 16:13)

The image at the top of this article shows the 5th episode of the story "The Slave Army". It looks very bright compared to the printed version but that's nothing as the print versions under Longacre were a far cry from the wonderful photogravure of the earlier Eagle comics. The blues are still bright which is normally where we see these artworks fade first.

It is described as:

Lot # 114:
Heros the Spartan original double-page artwork (1965) painted and signed by Frank Bellamy for The Eagle Vol. 16: No 13
'After a revolt in the gold mines of Libya, Heros was captured by the escaped slaves - led by a Briton called Garthac - and forced to lead them across the desert. Suddenly they are attacked by an army of strange horsemen...'
Bright Pelikan inks on board. 28 x 20 ins. The Heros title lettering and rectangular text boxes are laser copy additions to complete the look of the artwork
£3,000-3,500
I remember David Jackson pointing out to me an error in the story. The cry of the attacking group, the men of Raschid, is "By the Prophet!"

As Wikipedia tells us, Muhammad was born c. 570 and died on the 8 June 632 A.D., as we would have said back then. So the founder of Islam was born approximately 100 years after the initial sacking of Rome which led to the fall of the Roman Empire. But I notice that throughout Tom Tully's writings, he loves expletives - "By Mithras!" in this episode; "By the Gods!" and "By Tanarus!" in the previous one, so it's not too surprising he messed up here. I suspect if the Reverend Marcus Morris (Eagle's co-creator and first long-serving Editor) was still in post, he might have spotted this. Anyway, a lovely bright piece with a classic Bellamy battle scene.

DAN DARE: Eagle 12 September 1959 (Vol. 10:30)

Eagle 12 September 1959 (Vol. 10:30)
During the year in which Bellamy drew "Dan Dare" he was 'assisted' mostly by Don Harley, Bruce Cornwell, Keith Watson (and occasionally Gerald Palmer). The above page is undoubtedly Bellamy - the cover page this issue was by Harley. Bellamy hasn't signed this page but he didn't when he felt the whole thing wasn't his work and particularly while he was getting used to this peculiar work arrangement. His first signature on Dan Dare was three issues later in Eagle Vol.10:33 (3 October 1959). Take no notice in the following description where it says 'gouache'. These are all inks!

This auction is described as:

Lot # 65:
Dan Dare/Eagle original artwork (1959) by Frank Bellamy for The Eagle Vol 10, No 30 pg 2 with original comic
'As the rescue party follows along the Terra Nova Jungle trail, Dan, Sir Hubert and Digby are mysteriously given the freedom of Pax, The Novad central city ...'
Bright gouache colours [sic] on board. 15 x 13 ins
£1,500-2,000

BELLAMY SKETCH: To be or not to be

"To be or not to be"
This sketch originally was in the Bob Monkhouse collection and been moved around a bit since it was first sold. The valuation, in my opinion, is correct for an original Bellamy with such provenance. 

Frank Bellamy original signed sketch (1940s) 'To Be or Not to Be' The Catering Corps Sergeant in a dilemma over the troops tinned rations menu (Probably hung in the Sergeant's Mess!) From the Bob Monkhouse archive. Indian ink and wash on card. 14 x 10 ins

I have never seen this original in person but is it really ink "and wash"? I thought the paper just looked aged - and there was a war on!

Finally check out the complete runs of TV21s and some volumes of Eagle in the auction!



AUCTION SUMMARY

HEROS THE SPARTAN: Eagle 27 March 1965 (Vol. 16:13)
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
STARTING BID: £2,700 (Estimate: £3,000-£3,500)
ENDING PRICE: £2,700
END DATE: Sunday 19 November 2023

DAN DARE: Eagle 12 September 1959 (Vol. 10:30)
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
STARTING BID: £1,360 (Estimate: £1,500-£2,000)
ENDING PRICE: £1,520
END DATE: Sunday 19 November 2023

BELLAMY SKETCH: To be or not to be
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
STARTING BID: £70 (Estimate: £80-£120
ENDING PRICE: £60
END DATE: Sunday 19 November 2023


Sunday 21 May 2023

Happy Birthday and new original art

Today is the anniversary of Frank Bellamy's birth. In May 1917, the world was at war, Italy was struggling with anarchists, while a new Pope was consecrated.  F├ítima in Portugal was making a name for itself, and Atlanta in Georgia experienced a terrible fire leaving 10,000 people homeless.

This is a great day to highlight some new findings!  

Chris Hall got in contact and mentioned he had some Frank Bellamy original art he's selling. I'm always interested in recording these things to show how prolific and wide-ranging Frank Bellamy's talent was, and someone recently asked me about the artist's hobbies when not at work. Here's an example of a busman's holiday - his interest in portraying Africana and especially the Masai people. It's so sad he only ever got to Morocco on the African continent despite an interest in going on safari in Kenya.

MASAI WITH EARRING, NECKLACE, SPEAR and SEME

Masai with earring, necklace, spear and seme

Because of the differences between Masai drawings I have given them an arbitrary number and short description, so this one - totally new to me - becomes Masai Warrior #7. It looks to be more of an outline than others (but Bellamy also drew some abstract African pieces) and the warrior has two weapons: the spear and the leaf-shaped 'seme' - a 24 inch long sword (see here). 

Here are two similar drawings for comparison:

Masai (#5) with earring (and 'lightning' lines)


Masai (#3) circular earring, spear and partial shield
Here's the list of all of them so far:

  • MASAI WARRIOR #1 - Brown tonal small face-on portrait of Masai warrior with elaborate animal headdress
  • MASAI WARRIOR #2 - Brown tonal portrait of Masai warrior with large spear at left, thin band head-dress and animal hair covering neck
  • MASAI WARRIOR #3 - Portrait with large circular earring, spear and partial shield
  • MASAI WARRIOR #4 - Masai warrior with spear (triangular shaft)  and shield with necklace of animal hair
  • MASAI WARRIOR #5 - Side portrait with earring and necklace - bottom right signed
  • MASAI WARRIOR #6 - Indistinct portrait with spear and shield looking almost metallic
  • MASAI WARRIOR #7 - Outline portrait, with necklace spear, and seme.

The next artwork Chris shared was this one and bear in mind the titles are mine, until I can match any to Bellamy's exhibited artwork by name.

MASAI DESIGN with WARRIOR

Masai design + warrior

 It's hard to tell precisely what material was used here and descriptions by others doesn't clarify the position - but then I've seen big name auction houses mention Bellamy's watercolour paints on Thunderbirds - where he only ever used inks! 

We are seeing a side view of a warrior with his spear, seme and shield and to his left is, what looks like, connected bones with some fur attached. The Masai are well known for their elaborate clothing and decorations which include coloured bone beads,fur and ivory.

SCAM BUDDY, I SAW HER FIRST!

"Scram buddy" cartoon

The cartoon showing two 'squaddies' following a well-dressed lady,  and one says to the other "Scram buddy! I saw her first!". The style is definitely from the period around 1939-1946 and the squaddies and Bellamy's signature that can just be seen verify this thought. Was it published? Was it a doodle? A portfolio piece to show when he got out of the Army? We don't know.  

SPACEFLEET REDESIGNED BADGES

Dan Dare Spacefleet insignia
This piece is interesting as it forms one of several boards on which Bellamy drew preparatory materials for his requested re-design of Dan Dare - which eventually didn't 'take'. I've already shared two of them (which Alan Burrows shared with me) showing operational and Spacefleet uniforms - so now we have the insignia re-design too

Thursday 9 February 2023

ORIGINAL ART: Dan Dare from Eagle

Eagle 14 November 1959 (Vol 10:39)

***UPDATE February 2023***

This original is in beautiful condition and not at all faded, thanks to the owner storing this out of the sunlight. A more action-packed scene would be hard to find. It comes from Bellamy's first story "Terra Nova" for the Dan Dare strip in the Eagle from 14 November 1959.

The artwork appears in this quarter's Compalcomics auction ending 26 February and already two bids have bumped this piece (which I personally think has been under-valued), to £1,380.

As usual the listings for the auction appears at both Compalcomics and TheSaleroom with the latter showing current bids.
 

Lot #65 is described as:

Eagle/Dan Dare original artwork (1960) drawn, painted and signed by Frank Bellamy. From the Eagle Vol. 10, No 39 page 2. The missing panel texts are pasted to the back board. Anastasia zooms down towards the mound city of the fearsome Nagrebs… Bright Pelikan inks on board. 14 x 12 ins

The estimate is £1,500-2,000 but I predict, it will go for more, as the last one to appear (mentioned here) went for £2,050 and I'd say this was a lot more iconic.

Below are both pages from the story as printed in Eagle   - and you'll remember the famed American artist Al Williamson borrowed one panel from this very strip. The cover page with the Eagle logo looks to me to be drawn by Gerald Palmer (and a bit of Don Harley) but the second page is definitely pure Frank Bellamy whose middle initial was A - for Amazing?, no, just Alfred! 

If you want to see more of Bellamy's "Dan Dare" use the blog search box (or Google, please search Norman's blog for "Dan Dare")

Eagle 14 November 1959 (Vol 10:39) Page 1

Eagle 14 November 1959 (Vol 10:39) Page 2

UPDATE: Bill Storie provided this amazing Star Wars strip. Have you seen this explosion anywhere before? For more of Williamson's love of Bellamy start here

Al Williamson "Star Wars"

Anyway as Malcolm Phillips states:

Our UK artwork section continues with two action-packed Dan Dare boards, one by Frank Hampson, the other by Frank Bellamy. There’s also an iconic Daily Mirror piece from 1976 introducing the Garth comic-strip by Martin Asbury.

If anyone knows where the latter was published (if at all) I'd love to know as it's listed as having various art from the garth strip and being published in 1976 which is when Asbury took over from Bellamy, so seems unlikely to me, but who knows?

And don't forget there's a single Bellamy Garth strip on eBay that ends this weekend on the 12 February



AUCTION SUMMARY

DAN DARE: Terra Nova
WHERE?: Compal/Saleroom
STARTING BID: £1,360
ENDING PRICE: £2,650
END DATE: Sunday 26 February 2023



Monday 25 April 2022

Frank Bellamy and Brian Lewis and Captain Condor

Eagle Vol.11:9 (27 Feb 1960)

You may have seen adverts for Hibernia Comics latest collection in their "Fleetway Files" series. It contains three "Captain Condor" stories illustrated by another artist I like, Brian Lewis. Bellamy and Lewis were contemporaries and I always say Bellamy's demise was too soon, but Lewis was only 49 when he passed away (3 June 1929 - 4 December 1978) but he left us with some superb artwork

The character Captain Condor was created in February 1952 as a direct competition to Eagle's "Dan Dare" by Frank S. Pepper, a stalwart of story papers and Tiger and Lion - the latter is where Condor first appeared.

Hibernia Comics "Captain Condor"

I bought the Hibernia comics book and was reading quite happily in my nostalgic place when I was brought up sharp - some of these images looked similar to Bellamy's "Dan Dare" - what irony as the two were seen as competitors!

Taking each image that I spotted in order - there are likely to be a few more  as so many faces and groupings of people look very familiar but as a quick glance I couldn't find their immediate references so i thought I'd publish this and see if others can play along! 

The first I spotted was on page 5 of the Hibernia version (originally published in Lion 30 December 1961)

Lion 30 December 1961 -
scan of original comic

Compare the bottom row to the Eagle comics - firstly at the top of this article (where we see the helicopter devices strapped to Dan Dare and friends' backs) and then the following where Dan Dare is looking somewhat shocked (bottom right)!

Eagle Vol.10:30 (12 December 1959)

On page 62 of the Hibernia book we get our first glimpse of the aliens in the story "The Slave Hunters from Space", and they appear very similar (to me at least) to the aliens from the Dan Dare "Project Nimbus" story.

Lion 21 July 1962 -
scan of original comic

And here is the Bellamy version from 2 years earlier!

Eagle Vol.11:22 (28 May 1960)

Next we have (on page 93 of the new book) what some think might be a predecessor to Thunderbird 2 - which I cannot prove or disprove as I don't know if Derek Meddings - its designer -or one of his children read the Eagle comic. But I'm certain Brian Lewis did. He contributed to that comic too, drawing fill-ins on "The Guinea Pig", a long run on "Mann of Battle", and even a spoof strip "Blunderbirds" in 1966!

Lion 3 November 1962 -
scan of original comic

Eagle Vol.11:2 (9 January 1960)
A note to the unwary that only the lower row (in the above image) is by Bellamy as the main frame had been drawn up on the fly by Gerry Palmer without Frank's knowledge or consent..! [Thanks for the reminder from David Jackson]

Of course I started to see other influences - even what I thought might be based on Frazetta's cover to Famous Funnies #214 on page 94! At that point I thought I'd better stop. There's a Facebook group if you'd like to see more of Brian's work, and I uploaded some rare images of his work in "All about science" - a part work from the 70s - to Flickr.

Let me finish by quoting John Freeman from his review of the new collection:

The team at Hibernia have again done a cracking restoration job on the pages featured in this 120-page collection, treating us to three three enjoyable SF-inspired romps, "The Push Button Planet", "Slave Hunters from Outer Space" and "The Unseen Invaders".

Tuesday 2 February 2021

Don Harley (1927-2021)

Eagle Vol:10:28 (29 August 1959)

The news of Don Harley's death arrived the other day and it spurred me on to sharing a letter he sent to Richard Farrell (the creator and publisher of Andersonic and all round brilliant caricaturist). Richard used some of the letter in quotations in his article "Frank, Don, Dan and the Tracys" (way back in Andersonic Episode 4 Dateline (Autumn 2007) pp.4-8) and has given me permission to use whatever information I find useful from his letters from Harley and Keith Watson here for the first time. The topics covered by both artists are Frank Bellamy and the changeover at Hulton during a massive upheaval - the subject of an earlier article by David Jackson and here too. I also shared the drawing, with permission, of Bellamy by Don Harley way back in 2009 and another article in 2010

In Don Harley's letter (from 9 March 1991) Richard is given advice by Don on drawing and Don goes on:

"Both Frank Hampson and Frank Bellamy were skilled draughtsmen. Frank Hampson learned his skills at Southport art school and through working in a commercial art studio, but Frank Bellamy was self-taught, as was Keith Watson also, although the last two were self-taught, they aimed for perfection in their work. Frank Hampson's style of drawing was much more subtle and sensitive than Frank Bellamy's he paid much more attention to detail even small objects were drawn with great care. Frank Bellamy on the other hand relied much more on design and contrasting tones, he also aimed for great movement and impact achieved through the heavy use of black. 

Kieth (sic) Watson and I never saw Frank Bellamy at work as he worked at home and at this time, 1959, Kieth (sic) and I with other members of the Dan Dare team were working in Hulton House, Fleet Street. Frank would deliver his part of the work and we tied it in with what we were doing and as the two styles were so different it looked like two different strips. 

Frank Bellamy was secretive about his methods of working although he did reveal to us that he did not mix colours on the palette but applied washes of diluted ink using primary colours only, red, yellow and blue therefore he made green by putting a wash of yellow on top of blue to make a darker green he would add more blue and a touch of red to prevent the green from becoming too acidic the colours were pelican (sic) inks he rarely used watercolour. The board he used was CS10 which is normally extremely difficult to paint upon, it had a surface like scraperboard    he was able to obtain trick effects by scraping out colours with a razor blade and then flowing other colours over the scraped out bit."

Richard also had a reply from Keith Watson who drew Dan Dare solo from Eagle volume 13:10 to 18:1! An incredible run.

"I remember Frank Hampson telling me that Frank Bellamy's work "stood head and shoulders above that of other Eagle artists" and he had advised Marcus Morris to engage Bellamy as chief Dan Dare artist following his (Hampson's) departure. However many people, including Bellamy himself , were not entirely happy with the new Dan Dare. In my view Hampson's super clean crisp style fitted the futuristic world of Dan Dare like a glove but was not so suited to historical subjects like the "Road of Courage" [the life of Jesus].

The reverse was true of Frank Bellamy. In my opinion it was a case of the right men doing the wrong jobs. Hampson's hardware was the product of much time spent studying the latest in spacecraft or aircraft engineering and then trying to push it forward a generation. It looked functional and convincing. It looked as if it could work. Bellamy's designs were a quick flash of artistic imagination and looked like it.

It is all subjective of course but I'm glad to say that the Eagle editor received a flood of mail welcoming back the Hampson-type Dan Dare"

He went on...

"Bellamy used to tell me he didn’t approve of Hampson’s methods, too much use of references, photos, models, etc. But the truth is that when the cake is so good there can’t be much wrong with the recipe".

 

I must thank Richard for sharing his letters, and  I added a scan of the first Bellamy-illustrated "Dan Dare" story above as the first shot of Dan Dare's head is the one Don Harley was asked to re-draw. I am quite sure this is the ONLY one he re-drew. 

As a child I loved Don Harley's work as it mirrored my favourite artist Mike Noble as it was straight 'representational' art. In fact I loved the time Bellamy took a break to do The Avengers TV series from illustrating Thunderbirds in TV21. So here's the last episode of a very long story before Bellamy took the break followed by Don Harley's continuation. Harley drew 6 issues before Bellamy returned to draw Thunderbirds.


TV21 #92
Thunderbirds - drawn by Frank Bellamy

TV21 #93
Thunderbirds - drawn by Don Harley

Other thoughts on Don Harley



Tuesday 21 May 2019

ORIGINAL ART: Bob Monkhouse Estate: Thunderbirds, Garth and Dan Dare

Original art from the Bob Monkhouse collection
Thunderbirds from TV21 #105
UPDATED PRICES BELOW - Frank Bellamy record price for Thunderbirds!

I apologise for the quiet that has descended on this blog. Various life events occurred, the latest of which was my stupidity in lifting railway sleepers (used as raised beds in our garden) by myself and thus damaging my back! I'm recovering and doing my gentle exercises, but can I remind you all, be careful of your back... seriously!

Anyway better things. It's Frank Bellamy's birthday. The more I look at his artwork, the more I am amazed at how this self-taught man moved from a provincial advertising studio in Kettering to another in London before going on to a long career in comics and illustration week in, week out. His use of space in constricted newspaper strips was incredible - even to look at today and his full colour double page spreads still leave me wanting more!

In the latest (May/June 2019) Comic Book Auctions Limited  we have again some artwork released from the estate of the late Bob Monkhouse. By the way, watch him on YouTube in his final performance and remind yourselves what a great comic he was!)

Let's start chronologically with Dan Dare

Eagle 9 April 1960 (Vol.11 No 15)
The printed version
I wrote about how Wally Wood used some of this page (in an article on Al Williamson) and here it is up for auction! Monkhouse looks to have stored his stuff very well and this very unique piece is likely to have started fading before he got it, in my opinion. The printed version above is too saturated in blue and therefore is not a great comparison but I thought might be of interest!


This piece is described as:
Dan Dare original artwork painted and signed by Frank Bellamy for The Eagle Vol. 11, No 15 page 2 (9 April 1960)
Dan and Pierre blast off in Nimbus Two in search of the wreck of her sister ship
From the Bob Monkhouse archive
Pelikan inks on board. 17 x 13 ins
£1,200-1,500
It appeared in the third, and last Dan Dare story Bellamy part illustrated in Eagle, "Project Nimbus" - appearing in Vol. 11:12 - 11:28 (19 March 1960 - 9 July 1960) and it's amazing to see this piece become available.   

The second item up for auction in chronological order was produced by Bellamy in  1967 (see the top of this article)

Comic Book Auctions Limited describes this:
Thunderbirds original double page artwork (1967) drawn, painted and signed by Frank Bellamy for TV Century 21 No 105, 1967
From the Bob Monkhouse archive
Carrying a priceless shipment, Deathprobe 1's controls are jammed and the pilot is refused permission to abort ... Thunderbirds 2 and 3 are go ...
Bright Pelikan inks on board. 28 x 20 ins
£2,500-3,500
In the photos Nancy Bellamy shared with us, there was a photo of the cover of a magazine called Photography (May 1966). The same image was used on the Hotspur Annual of 1967 (dated 1968). Did Bellamy use it for reference for this Thunderbirds strip?
 
The Hotspur Annual 1968
Lastly we have also got three Garth strips from the story "The Mask of Atacama"  which ran originally in the Daily Mirror from 13 July 1973 - 25 October 1973 (#G165-G254). These are beautiful and show exactly what I meant by his use of such restricted space. Why Malcolm photographed them in the wrong order I don't know, but three consecutive numbers are up for grabs!

Garth #G238, G239, G240

Garth: 3 original consecutive artworks (1973) drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy from the Daily Mirror 6-9 October 1973
From the Bob Monkhouse archive
High priestess, Tiahuaca, sets a fiery trap for Garth and Atacama …
Indian ink on board. 20 x 18 ins (3)
£700-900
I suspect these will go further than the estimate (as will the ones above!), and I'll update the spreadsheet with the sale prices as soon as they are published - thank you Malcolm!

And because we are celebrating Frank Bellamy's birthday here's an added bonus from the brilliant Menomonee Falls Gazette (#181), some episodes before the ones above and including them too!




AUCTION SUMMARY

Dan Dare
WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions Ltd.
STARTING BID:£1080.00
ENDING PRICE: £2050.00 hammer price

END DATE: Sunday 2 June 2019 14:54 BST

Thunderbirds - TV21 #105
WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions Ltd
STARTING BID:£2250.00
ENDING PRICE: £8300.00 hammer price
END DATE: Sunday 2 June 2019 15:26 BST

Garth: The Mask of Atacama
WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions Ltd.
STARTING BID:£640.00
ENDING PRICE: £1120.00 hammer price
END DATE: Sunday 2 June 2019 15:27 BST

Saturday 29 July 2017

CENTENARY ARTICLE: Part Three: 1950s - 1960s continued by David Jackson

FRANK BELLAMY - design and technique
Part Three: 1950s-1960s continued

By David Jackson
[Part One] [Part Two] [Part Three] [Part Four] [Part Five]


1958 reprint of Clifford Makin / Frank Bellamy strip biography

1957
The opportunity to develop distinctive layout design innovations did not present itself until Frank Bellamy moved to Eagle to draw the back-page "The Happy Warrior" strip biography of Sir Winston Churchill in line and wash full colour. [I have to mention it appeared on the day Sputnik 1 was launched - 4 October 1957 ~Norman]

FB: "Apparently, someone on EAGLE had the idea of running a comic-strip biography of a still-living personality. They'd done biblical characters and such in the past, but never a living person. So they commissioned me from Swift, to draw the strip. And a real punishing job it was too."
FA: "Looking back over your EAGLE work, it seems you started experimenting with a few new techniques while drawing the Churchill strip."
FB: "With some adventure strips, it's often you see stunt colour effects of the lighting - for instance, a purple shadow on one side of the face - but I was nervous about treating Churchill in that way. Until one day I got a letter saying I could go to town on it and do whatever I wanted. So, I started out splitting frames with zigzags, and putting an oval frame into the middle of the page and from then on I experimented more and more. That's why it looks rather subdued at the beginning, but in the end it goes into a strip technique. But I never got to fully develop experimenting until later strips like "Fraser of Africa" and "Heros the Spartan"."

The publishers' formulaic set appearance of level banks of frames of the earlier b/w stories was gradually developed into bespoke designs allowing adjustments to be made for frame shape and importance and giving balance to the whole.
The extra dimension provided by full colour was made use of literally. Backgrounds of certain frames on the second page are early examples of creating a sense of depth perspective by means of black ink in-fill and linework for the foreground elements only.


The published pages of the series are credited but not signed, though in the frame which illustrates the WWII 'phoney' war with a figure of a relaxing soldier, the blades of grass read 'FB'.


The outline figures against the union flag background to Churchill's "Finest Hour" speech include portraits of the Bellamy family:

Eagle 11 April 1958

  • Frank himself (in a flying jacket) 
  • His mother Grace, above and right of him
  • Possibly his sister Eva slightly further right in a cap
  • His father Horace George Bellamy to the left
  • Nancy Bellamy in profile in a mop cap at left
  • Their son David is the boy in school uniform and cap. 

In the last frame of Eagle Vol.9 No.24 (numbered as p45 in the 1958 book collection, David's uncle, who was in the 8th Army, is giving the thumbs-up).

Eagle Vol.9 No.24

1958
"The Happy Warrior" concluded with a fine full page linear portrait graphic of Sir Winston Churchill in Eagle Vol.9 No.36. Whether the subsequent film Young Winston would have been made (either, at all, or in the way that it was) were it not for FB's picture strip biography for Eagle - effectively a 'storyboard' for the movie - is an open question!
In comics - rather than hiring an entire film crew, extras, cast and stars, costumes, and building sets, props and going on location - a 'shooting script' was given instead to Frank Bellamy.

Eagle 22 November 1958

The next strip was biblical: "The Shepherd King" - the story of David, again for the Eagle back page. The title portrait frame at top left, which continued to be revised as the character matured, was first replaced between No.41 and No.42 as FB recognised the potential of his depiction of David in the lower central frame of No.41 and the frame is further developed to use as the recurring portrait-frame for the next several issues.

Eagle 25 April 1959

1959
"The Travels of Marco Polo". Drawn by FB from Vol.10 No.16 until No.23 and taken over by Peter Jackson - who many years later wrote a few paragraphs about this: "Meeting Frank Bellamy".

"As I had never met Frank Bellamy, but only admired him from afar, this seemed as good a time as any to make his acquaintance. And since I was taking over from him I would now learn all the secrets of his technique. [...] He was quite willing to talk about his technique but there were not, as I might have guessed, any 'secrets'. Just sheer brilliance of draughtsmanship and years of hard work. The technique was there for all to see. He told me what it was that created those magical tonal values out of countless dots. Patience. Infinite patience."
From the Fantasy Advertiser interview:

FA: "One of your own personal touches, which makes your work so easily recognisable is your 'dot stipple' technique of shading..".
FB: "Funnily enough, the Radio Times people called on me and asked me to use that old technique in my artwork for them."
FA: "What made you start stippling your art?
FB: "It started when I wanted to break down an area of black into grey. I couldn't water the black into grey as it wouldn't reproduce - the printer can't water his ink. It had to be positive black or white, no in-betweens. So the only way to do it was to create an illusion of grey which I did with small black dots. And then, to supplement that I'd use the three colours together. Had they been 100% pure, they would give a white, but being impure they give a phoney grey."

FA: "Do you use a Rapidograph for your stippling?"
FB: "No, just a straight pen."
FA: "What nibs do you use?"
FB: "My favourite nib is a Gillott 1950. I find it very good, not too flexible or too hard."
FA: "And your brush?"
FB: "Just an ordinary sable brush."
These are from the 1950s but are still produced

FA: "Do you use a soft or hard pencil for your layouts and what kind of pencil layout do you do - a rough or finished one?"
FB: "I always use an HB moderate hard pencil. I've been using an HB since EAGLE, because, while it was easy to remove the pencil marks, if I'd used a softer pencil, the board would have started to get dirty. And it is quite a crime to put dirty board under infra-red camera. My normal way of working would be to draw in pencil and then ink in the linework with a pen. Then I would fill in the large black areas with a brush, and finally, when everything's done, I'd fill in the colour. But all of the pencil must be rubbed out before the colour is added, or it will be trapped under the ink, which is transparent. When using pure tone, not contained by line, you draw the shape lightly in pencil until you get it right, and then rub it out until it has almost vanished, so you can just see it, and then direct brushwork on the top. So, with an HB pencil you get no dirt on the CS10 and no retouch bill from the engraver."
FA: "I believe CS10 can be a difficult kind of board for colour - what brand of ink do you use?"

FB: "Yes. Ink can be a difficult medium. But I prefer it to water colour. I use waterproof inks for colouring but with the water colour technique. It's very difficult and I think it should be printed on the bottle...USE CONFIDENTLY, because that's what is needed. You've got to take a deep breath and slap it on. The actual inks I use are the German 'Pelikan' inks, because I find them to be the best inks in the world. [...] I boiled them down to one red, one yellow and one blue, and obviously, the black. I use vermillion for the red, ultramarine for the blue and straight yellow."
FA: "You mixed from the three basic colours rather than taking a shade straight from a bottle?"
FB: "I'd never take a green straight from a bottle. I'd mix my own with blue and yellow which is exactly the way it's printed. This way it has a better chance of being printed looking the same as the original."
He never used distilled water (recommended in manufacturer's instructions) to thin the ink washes.
FA: "How do you get such a flat edge to your colour work? Do you mask it?"
FB: "I use a very simple mask - a piece of Sellotape:

FA: "Of course CS10 is excellent board for this - this tape can be removed easily without damaging the surface."
FB: Yes. I stick it down, wash over with colour, let it dry and then peel it off, leaving a nice sharp edge."
Colyer & Southey's CS10 Line Board
 He used a razor blade to cut the Sellotape mask to shape.
He always said the sky effect was the most difficult to handle (in the medium - waterproof inks); sometimes when the phone would ring he'd shout down, 'TELL THEM I CANNOT POSSIBLY ANSWER YET AS I'M RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SKY!'


Taken form the reprint book "The Happy Warrior" 1958 showing skies!

David Bellamy comments in Timeview on how his father preferred working with waterproof inks - carefully mixed in a palette of about sixty sections - despite their difficulties as a medium, particularly on CS10 line board, on which the inks tend to dry unevenly, yet he could wash in skies or flat areas of colour and produce an almost airbrushed effect.

FA: "That cover you did for me, for Eureka a few years ago, I noticed the black areas were really solid. Was that ordinary ink?"
FB: "With ink it's true that you don't get a solid black area on your first coat, so, as with colour inks, I go over it again and again, as much as seven or eight times, until it is solid. I never use an air-brush, it's another trick I dislike."

His 'line and wash' work comprises solid black lines, solid black areas and optical tones created by dot stipple, scribble and crosshatch etc, all of which relates to the black being the 'key line'; this is a 'work-around' to pre-empt the possibility of out-of-register colour of some printed copies - i.e. to make such copies at least readable even if not in perfect synchrony.
With black and white letterpress newspaper printing, in any square millimetre or less, there was either a white space (the paper) or a black mark (the ink) - no 'in-between' dilute grey.

Among the items rescued from Frank's studio are pages of clipped printed frames kept as a record by the artist of how some particular effect had reproduced in print. Below a b/w frame from 'King Arthur' drawn for Swift, is the pencilled note: "THIS GREY TECHNIQUE CANNOT BE USED WITH INFR RED REPRO" [See Alan Davis' site for loads of great stuff ~Norman]


With 'line and wash' tonal originals for black and white halftone reproduction on glossier, magazine format, stock paper (such as the above - or the third page of the early "Thunderbirds") the solid black ink is overlaid with a tonal grey wash - over the same 'key line' solid black pen and brush work areas and dot stipple and line hatch technique, as if it were for full colour. In BBC TV's Edition, in 1973, presenter Barry Askew says:

BA: "Let's look at what did, in fact, change you. I mean, one of your classic periods was with EAGLE and there we have an example of Dan Dare. Now what kind of technique development did you put into Dan Dare?
FB: "The technique I used, you mean the materials?"
BA: "Yes."
FB: "The materials I use have been exactly the same in all my career as a strip artist; waterproof inks. In this case full colour waterproof inks."
BA: "What about the design techniques themselves, how were those developed?"
FB: "It was a development of mine. I was tired of seeing frame upon frame of little squared-off pictures and this was the old-fashioned idea. 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."

In reality Dan Dare proved to be more of a challenge in more ways than one, as outlined on this blog previously - primarily in terms of adaptation to the working conditions, the established page format, existing designs and the Dan Dare studio set-up with assistants rather than the science fiction genre as such.

FA: "On Dan Dare you were working with several other artists. How much of the strip did you actually draw?"
FB: It varied from week to week. Sometimes I'd draw half a dozen frames only, the following week I might draw both pages. But I'd always draw any frames that introduced new characters. It often depended where the awkward frames would appear. As senior artist in the studio, this was my problem. The eventual idea was that I would take over the whole strip and draw both pages by myself every week."
FA: "But you didn't want that?"
FB: "No, not really. Although, as a temporary measure, I'd have preferred to draw Dan Dare in that way, complete, as Keith Watson did later."
Eagle 14 November 1959 Vol.10:39
Vol.10 No.39: FB inside page demonstrates the above point.
Vol.11 No.9: FB produced both pages.

Eagle 30 April 1960 Vol:11:18 page 1

Eagle 30 April 1960 Vol:11:18 page2

Vol.11 No.18: inside page (page 2 above) single top left frame; FB introduces the new alien spacecraft as an 'on-screen schematic' with the rest of the page by the studio team.
The Dan Dare studio artists and FB collaborated on the front page of Vol.11 No.2 - the inside page is all Bellamy and signed - with the lower three frame sequence being by FB and the main frame by the team, might on first sight be taken to be a Bellamy page.

FB: "But the other artists were employed on a freelance basis to help me with fill-in frames and such. I never really have been happy working that way. If I look at Alex Raymond art, I like to see pure Alex Raymond, not inked by Fred Bloggs. It's okay if Fred Bloggs is helping out with some research or rubbing out the pencils, but I like the drawing to be a personal thing."

EAGLE Vol.11 No.4 front page illustrates the logic of this.
Eagle 23 January 1960 Vol:11:4 page 1

FA: "You had one restriction on Dan Dare, I believe ... You were drawing the originals printed size. Was this very difficult?"
FB: "Actually, I prefer never to have to draw a strip more than a quarter up..."
FA: "...Which is only fractionally bigger than the printed size. Why do you prefer this size?
FB: "I don't actually, I prefer never to have to draw a strip more than quarter up...
FA: But I would've thought you could get sharper lines and a tighter effect if the originals were drawn for reduction?
FB: "No. I don't want it to appear more detailed in print, just because it has been reduced a lot from the original drawing size. I'd rather present a finely drawn original in the first place, and therefore, once again, give the editor a piece of finished work ready for press, that he can look at almost exactly as it will appear in print."
 Some Dan Dare studio methods were alien to Frank Bellamy.
FB: "The Dan Dare team used to make roughs, but I always thought that if you make a highly detailed rough, you can't draw the same thing a second time, on your board, and capture as much atmosphere. There's always something lacking. There is no spontaneity or imagination in copying a rough on to board."
Keith Watson once related the following to me. One of the Hampson team was copying a rock formation from a reference photograph, FB was nonplussed and said to him, "Good God, if you can't draw a few rocks..!"

Eagle 24 October 1959 Vol.10:36 - NOTE the rocks!
 Many, possibly most, artists might have done the same. But though such a found reference would be 'realistic', it would not necessarily best meet the graphic dynamics, the 'flow', or shape required, on a particular frame or page - up to and including, depending on context, looking 'too photographic'.
What it pointed up was the difference between the long-term, comprehending, distilling and internalising, artistically, the essential structure of something, as opposed to short-term, short-cut copying what happens to be in a found reference source, which could be either ideal or not!
Interestingly, long before then, FB must have been somehow dissatisfied - possibly unconsciously but probably consciously - in the way he had been depicting rocky landscapes (though they would have appeared perfectly good enough to a reader) or gained new insight, and, over time had made refined incremental improvements in his way of rendering geology, so much so that, as his son David once rightly commented, as an aside, that the rocks look so rocky.


Eagle, Girl, Swift and Robin had been sold by Hulton Press to Odhams, publishing as Longacre Press, and Hulton's last issue of Eagle was Vol.11 No.1 dated 2nd January 1960.

Nevertheless, within the imposed limitations outlined above, experiments with page layout, innovative graphic design and dynamic panel breaks continued.

The original art from Eagle Vol:11:4

Such as the Vol.11 No.4 spectacular and vertiginous Dan Dare crash-dive cover sequence - the filmic contribution made by the altimeter numerals is in itself notable - culminating in a spectacular explosion (a Bellamy speciality).


The common British logo style through the Sixties

From its inception, Hulton's Eagle had carried the distinctive masthead (which no doubt seemed a good idea at the time) but was itself an invariable constriction, by its size and form and place on the front page, which meant, from a storytelling art and design consideration (let alone as possible collected volumes) the weekly loss of a quarter of the cover space. New owner Longacre Press lost no time in commissioning an updated new look for the Eagle masthead and front page, and particularly for Dan Dare. (Volume 11:12, 19 March 1960)

FB: "They asked me to redesign Dan Dare. The uniforms, space fleet, everything. This meant I had to make sketches of everything before I actually started drawing the strip, but I prefer to do that, anyway. I've always done so, on Fraser, Heros and so on. This let the editor know exactly what everything looked like from the start so he wouldn't get any surprises sprung on him in the middle of an instalment."
FA: "Did you have any qualms about re-vamping Frank Hampson's personal creation?"
FB: "Oh, yes. I didn't like doing that. But it was a directive from upstairs - that's what they wanted, and you can only give the client what he wants, so that was it." 
Republication of the Fantasy Advertiser interview in Warrior 22 (September 1984), with some variations, included additional art and this extra Q&A:

"Why did you get the directive to revamp the costumes and ships?"
FB: "I think it was just the march of progress. They had tended to look old fashioned, and they wanted to keep ahead of what was happening in Cape Canaveral. At the beginning of Eagle, everything looked super-futuristic, but the actual real life events were catching up extremely fast. They also wanted a 'new look' to coincide with the facelift the cover was getting. I did lots of drawings of the space fleet which were exploded drawings, showing the cabin areas, undercart, rocket compartment and that, which I'd hoped was also help an author so he wouldn't make the common mistake of having someone stepping from one cabin to another, when they are supposed to be at opposite ends of the ship. I tried to keep a realistic approach. Later, there was an exhibition, I think it was at Charter House School, showing 'the birth of the comic strip', and they used my approach, with my art, preliminary sketches, the script, pencil and ink artwork. The interest was so great that members of the American Air Force would go down, thinking these diagrams of ships were for real."
- Laughter -

Eagle Vol.11 No.12, 19th March 1960, is the 'new look' issue for which FB also produced both Dan Dare pages.

Eagle Vol.11 No.12, 19th March 1960
 Many of his pages which followed in the series stylistically prefigure TV21(for example, EAGLE Vol.11 No.15 p2).
Eagle Vol.11 No.18 cover page (see above) includes some innovative FB stars and space nebula development of his 'dot stipple' technique. This effect is further developed on the front cover of No.21. Frank's stars are distinctive and unique and appear as a pragmatic and brilliant design solution to the 'problem' (as Frank might have seen it) that the most efficient way of creating stars in pen and ink is to lay-in flat areas of black and speckle with blobs of process white - which technically, from all he has said, Frank wouldn't want to do. Hence his starfield design (requiring a thought-through understanding of its micro-component elements to produce the specific effect) which removed the need for process white.
FB also started to develop line-hatch alternatives to stipple tonals during Dan Dare which would develop over time and would lead in the 1970s to FB referring (above) to the stippling method as an "old technique" (returning to it for art editor David Driver at Radio Times). The pen-work change includes Vol.11 Nos.20-22-23 and the slight patch of tentative linework hatched along the cheekbone of Dan Dare in No.26, heralded a technique development which might then have seemed insignificant. By whatever insight, FB saw reason to experiment with what would be possible with another method.


Coincidentally or not, Eagle Vol.11 No.26, 25th June 1960, page eight, also includes an unattributed and so far unattributable depiction of Gary Player in a Slazenger sports equipment advertisement rendered in dot stipple effect.


Eagle Vol.11 No.28 front cover is the final Frank Bellamy Dan Dare, published on 9th July 1960.

Eagle Vol.11 No.28, 9 July 1960
FA: "You drew Dan Dare for exactly a year. Why did you stop?"
FB: "I'd only wanted to draw it for a year."
FA: "Have there ever been any sets you've particularly disliked drawing?"
FB: "Well, once again, Dan Dare, because I felt cramped on it, as I've said."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 Many thanks to David for this series of overviews of Bellamy's career.  In the next episode we plunge into the 1960s