Showing posts with label Thunderbirds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thunderbirds. Show all posts

Wednesday 3 April 2024

ORIGINAL ART ON EBAY: Thunderbirds from TV21 #217

The original art for Thunderbirds
for TV21 #217 page 10

Well, we saw just recently, three Thunderbirds pages that were extremely faded, sell for £1400 and £1800 (converted by me from US dollars) and now we have a gorgeous non-faded Thunderbirds page from the story "Zoo Ship" in which Professor Auldyn Beresford searches for the very rare Polynesian Sand Vole - which apparently lives only on Tracy Island. The Zoo Ship has blown up as two tigers escaped! The Professor turns out to be the Hood, International Rescue's old adversary. Exciting stuff.

Looking at the comic you can see that the strip's header would have been placed on the artwork before publication. So here, you have the unadulterated Bellamy work seen at its full size for TV21 #217 (page 10) and it certainly has been kept well as there appears to me to be no sun damage!

The published page

The starting price is £1,000 but there is also a Best Offer option (which eBay put in sales by default - apparently 65% of items have this on the site)

The seller describes the artwork thus:

Frank Bellamy original single page artwork.
TV21 • No 217 • Part 9 • 1st Page
Very Good condition, has been very well looked after. Absolutely no sunlight deterioration

BUT NOTE: it's "collection in person only" and the seller is based in Surrey

If you want to read the story it has been reprinted many times since its appearance in TV21 & TV TORNADO #209 - #217 (18January 1969 - 15 March 1969)

I'll add the final sales onto the spreadsheet, as usual.


WHERE?: ebay (seller:lenno64)
STARTING BID: £1,000 (or Best Offer)
ENDING PRICE: £1,000 (1 bid)
END DATE: Friday 12 April 2024

Tuesday 12 March 2024


There are three Frank Bellamy artworks on Heritage and I must thank them again for photographing them at such a nice resolution - it helps us historians of comic art! Unfortunately one can see without zooming in that all three of these pieces have been exposed to sunlight and faded. It's not uncommon. Perhaps sellers should have stipulated not to hang these in sunlight, but who knew! Anyway the last faded piece sold quite reasonably at £2,500. I've included the comic scans to show how vibrant - even printed in photogravure - the artworks were originally.

TV21 #67 (April 30 1966) - Thunderbirds

Original Art from TV21 #67- "Thunderbirds"

TV21 #67- "Thunderbirds"

Here's the Heritage description which states it comes from Greg Jein's collection:

Thunderbirds (TV Century 21, 1965-1969), Original Artwork by Frank Bellamy. Vintage original artwork accomplished in pen and ink on illustration board depicting panels from the Thunderbirds comic, illustrated by Frank Bellamy. The original work is matted with a silver-toned frame. Measures approx. 30" x 21". Displays minimal wear and age. Comes with a COA from Heritage Auctions. From the Collection of Greg Jein.

 Why do I mention that? It's because it's been an interesting thing to watch on Heritage (Read more here). Jein's collection included special effects models, outfits and other things. How interesting he liked Bellamy.

TV21 #77 (July 9 1966) - Thunderbirds


 Original art from TV21 #77- "Thunderbirds"

TV21 #77- "Thunderbirds"

The Heritage description:

Thunderbirds (TV Century 21, 1965-1969), Original Artwork by Frank Bellamy. Vintage original artwork accomplished in pen and ink on illustration board depicting panels from the Thunderbirds comic, illustrated by Frank Bellamy. The original work is matted with a black plastic frame. Measures approx. 31.5" x 23". Displays minimal wear and age. Comes with a COA from Heritage Auctions. From the Collection of Greg Jein

TV21 #149 (November 25 1967) - Thunderbirds

Original Art fromTV21 #149, p.19 - "Thunderbirds"
TV21 #149 page 19- "Thunderbirds"
The Heritage description:

Thunderbirds (TV Century 21, 1965-1969), Original Artwork by Frank Bellamy. Vintage original artwork accomplished in pen and ink on illustration board depicting panels from the Thunderbirds comic, illustrated by Frank Bellamy. The original work includes a red frame with a woven inner border. Measures approximately 19" x 15". Displays minimal wear and age. Comes with a COA from Heritage Auctions. From the Collection of Greg Jein.

As a special treat here's the scan of the Polaroid that Frank took himself of the artwork before sending it off to the publishers way back in 1967 - that's 57 years ago! Oh boy, I feel old now!.

Frank Bellamy's Polaroid of TV21 #149, p.19
I'll add the final sales onto the spreadsheet, as usual.


WHERE?: Heritage
ENDING PRICE: $1875 (inc. buyers premium) = £1491.93
END DATE: Friday 29 March 2024

WHERE?: Heritage
ENDING PRICE: $2375 (inc. buyers premium) = £1889.79
END DATE: Friday 29 March 2024

WHERE?: Heritage
ENDING PRICE: $1875 (inc. buyers premium) = £1491.93
END DATE: Friday 29 March 2024

Saturday 23 September 2023

The origins of Thunderbirds by Frank Bellamy

TV21 #54 page 12 Original art
The image from "Thunderbirds" above was posted recently on Facebook by my friend Jeff Haythorpe and this sparked a few discussions about how Bellamy managed a double-page spread plus a black and white page each week, which I'm picking up here. Before i start all the heavy detail, I want to repeat this is not a published black and white page from colour, it is in fact a black and white ink wash as Bellamy originally drew it.

We need to go a bit backwards in time. Frank Bellamy drew the last "Heros the Spartan" story for Eagle which when published ended in Volume 16 No. 30 (24 July 1965). After this he drew two covers for the comic "Arms Through the Ages:The crossbow" (Vol 16:35 - 28 August 1965) and "Arms Through the Ages:The floating mine" (Volume 16: 36) published 4 September 1965 - both can be seen here. We know that the lead time (from submitting artwork to its publication) was usually 6 weeks, so Bellamy looks to have finished with Eagle circa last week of August 1965. 

"Heros The Spartan" in Eagle Annual 1966, p.89
He received a cheque from Eagle paid in on 28 June 1965 and labelled "Heros #20" for £88/0/0d. So a double spread paid £88 (no shillings and no pence - pre-decimal money). Interestingly that last story has 22 episodes but I can't see these payments. He then received the same for the two "Arms through the Ages" covers (£88) paid in on 4 August 1965. I can't find any obvious record of the "Heros" story which appeared in the Eagle Annual 1966 (and would have most likely been completed before March 1965 - and gives me an excuse to show you the first page of that story!). So we can say the last cheque from Eagle was paid in on 4 August 1965.

So the big question is what did he do then? After such a long run with Hulton - and the new comics group under the title Odhams / Longacre Press / Fleetway where did he go?

We know that Bellamy submitted a letter of application to the Royal Society of Arts in March 1965 - perhaps thinking about the ending of a comic era, he wanted to look in other directions. The letter went before the committee on May 10th and following this he not only became a member but gained the post-nominals Fellow of the RSA such was his artwork held in high esteem by his peers - most likely his non-comic work which he had been exhibiting around various places in the preceding few years. 

On the 12 July 1965 he received a response to his resignation letter. It arrived on Odhams letter headed paper from Alfred F. Wallace (Managing Editor, Juvenile Publications), confirming Bellamy was free of any commitments, and wishing him all the best for the future.

TV21 #54 pages 10-11 - the third "Thunderbirds" issue

Looking at when the first "Thunderbirds" was published (TV21 #52 dated 15 January 2066 - actually 1966 as the clever device was it was a newspaper from 100 years in the future!), we see he drew both a colour centrespread plus a black and white page - so three pages a week. This lasted from #52 to #65 (15 January 1966 - 16 April 1966) covering two stories - "Forest Inferno" and "White Rhino Rescue" - 14 weeks. 

In their interview with Bellamy, Dez Skinn and Dave Gibbons asked about how he came to be involved:

Alan Fennell, the writer of the TV "Stingray", "Thunderbirds" and so on, was the first editor of TV21. He approached me saying he was wanting to start a comic of the same quality as Eagle, but with the Century 21 look about it, more S-F orientated. Alan wanted me to draw "Stingray", the lead strip in TV Century 21, number 1. But, because I was working for Eagle at that time I wouldn't leave to draw "Stingray". I felt I had to fulfil my commitments with Eagle, which I did, and then after explaining to the Eagle editor, Alf Wallace, we parted as best of friends and I started work for TV Century 21. It was clear, at this stage, that it would be a wise move to change anyway, because in 1966 Eagle was tailing off a bit, whereas TV Century 21 was a new magazine. [It actually ended with Volume 20:17 - 26 April 1969 ~Norman]

Asked if it was hard drawing puppets in an action setting, he replied

Yes, it was a problem. Everybody had seen them on the television, and so they would think of the characters as l8"-high puppets, which they were. So I had to decide whether to make them look like the puppets they were, or the people they were supposed to be. I went for forgetting they were puppets, other than simplifying the heads, which had to be recognisable from the established versions on the television.

Also Nancy told her version - expanding a bit - to Alan Woollcombe:

Gerry Anderson wanted Frank to illustrate ‘Thunderbirds’ so Alan Fennell (editor of TV Century 21) took us over to meet Gerry and Sylvia. He showed us all round the studios, showed us how they made the scenes and the puppets work so Frank agreed to illustrate ‘Thunderbirds’. Eagle was going down the drain anyway. The only thing was, be hated drawing puppets, so he made all the puppets look more human.

Asked if Frank had models to work from, Nancy replied:

Just the heads, white heads. The funny thing was, they were ever such ghastly things, and I was always playing jokes on my son David. One night he came in really late so I had got all these heads and arranged them along the pillow on his bed, and then covered them up with the sheet. When he came in, there were all these ghostly heads grinning at him, dead white... oh, I heard him scream!

In 1992 Nancy was interviewed on local radio and this is how she related the same story:

Gerry Anderson was deciding to bring out a comic on Thunderbirds and Alan Fennell, he was the Editor, got in touch with Frank and they had a meeting with Gerry Anderson at Slough.  So I went along as well and Gerry Anderson was very kind and he showed us all around.. well, it was a sort of factory where they made the Thunderbird films and he showed how the puppets worked, how the special effects were done, and it was a very interesting day.  Also, I was very thrilled when Sylvia Anderson drove up in a beautiful shocking pink sports car because it reminded me of Lady Penelope.

Getting back to the first "Thunderbirds" strips, in the records shared with us by Nancy Bellamy, we have not only the above payment data but a very interesting payment listed on 29 July 1965 for "TV21 1" which paid £126.  When he was paid for 'series three' which went down to just a colour double-page spread, he was paid £94/10/0d - so £94.50 in modern parlance. When it changed to 2 separate pages he was paid less - £80 - which I find strange!

Later in the interview he was asked about why Thunderbirds changed from a centrespread to two separate colour pages

The reason they split the spread with a gutter was purely that they could sell two separate pages to the continental market, for reprinting, better than an awkwardly—shaped centrespread.

But did you notice that he was PAID in July 1965 for "Thunderbirds"?

So between his last "Heros" and the two 'stray' covers he was already working on "Thunderbirds". We know he kept up the double-page spreads and later the two separate colour pages so I wonder how far ahead of himself he got? Also it must be said, Ron Embleton, Mike Noble and Don Harley were able to create 2 B&W pages plus one and half colour pages around TV21 #150 onwards so what looks like a tremendous output was similarly done by others too.  So Frank Bellamy had a long lead time to get his photo reference and puppet reference before commencing on, what I consider his most read comic strip.

During the discussion of the TV21 #54 image at the top of this article, Graham Bleathman kindly shared his TV21 #52 black and white page, so let's end this here - I've added the published double-page spread of the very first "Thunderbirds" comic strip written by Alan Fennell and drawn in inks by Frank Bellamy, for your enjoyment

TV21 #52 pages 10-11 

TV21 #52 page 12 Original art  

See additional thoughts in the comments below

Sunday 12 February 2023

ORIGINAL ART - Thunderbirds from TV21 #72

"Thunderbirds" from TV21 #72

I was speaking to my friend and fellow Frank Bellamy fan Paul Holder about the latest artwork to appear on eBay - a Thunderbirds episode from TV21 #72. We both mused what a shame it was that it's so faded. For those who don't know, Paul was the one who inspired me to get this blog and listing together when we first met in 2000. He has been scanning original artwork by Bellamy for many years and has assisted in many projects to display Bellamy's work at its best - (for example in my "Art of Frank Bellamy", still available, as they say, in good bookshops everywhere - or direct from The Book Palace.)

The shocking thing is Paul has a much better version of this piece, from the time before it faded. He photographed it on 10 x 8 inch large format film (which he subsequently had scanned), so was able to capture the artwork before it faded If any of you have Bellamy artwork you'd like scanned, he does a great job and we'd have artwork in its best condition to share with future generations when they mention the mythic Frank Bellamy and you'd have a true scan for your use. 

Here's the version Paul photographed before it faded, you'll see clamps holding the artwork as there wasn't much room to hold it as it had been cut down for some reason, perhaps framing.


Transparency of TV21 #72 before fading

I suspect the last line of the seller's description gives us a clue why he's decided to sell now:

Stunning 1966 TV Century 21 comic Double page
Rare chance to own a piece of ORIGINAL artwork from this very poplar [sic] comic .
Frank Bellamy art is highly collectible

The image is amazing Thunderbird 1 Thunderbird 2 and Thunderbird 4 included in the action
Sadly this double page has gone the way of most pages with fading to the overall image. The artist used cheap inks which do fade over time

Fantastic artwork by the late GREAT Frank Bellamy
faded pages are rare and fetch premium prices
Two individual unfaded pages sold at Heritage auctions in US for over £10000 each last month 

I have to mention that "The artist used cheap inks which do fade over time" isn't the case with Frank Bellamy at any time in his career. He was meticulous in using prescribed Pelikan inks for his work and even visited printers to ensure his work with those inks would remain true when printed. 

David Jackson, helpfully sent me this:

John Grant & Ron Tiner's The Encyclopedia of Fantasy & Science Fiction Techniques says:
TIP The great advantage of coloured inks is their transparency; you can get clear, delicate effects by overlaying successive glazes of colour.  But remember that artwork done in coloured inks is not lightfast.  There is no way a picture in this medium can be preserved. 

This piece is indeed faded and I'd warn everyone reading this - KEEP YOUR ART OUT OF SUNLIGHT. Art galleries cover display cases for a reason with cloths and museum glass (when added to a piece BEFORE fading occurs) works very well, but I still would treat any artwork carefully!

Here's the scan of the published comic to make a rough comparison.

"Thunderbirds" TV21 #72


WHERE?: ebay - d.g100
No of Bids: 5
END DATE: Saturday 18 February 2023

Friday 28 October 2022

Comparing unedited artwork with published art

TV21 #111
Thanks to the response to my last post which included some photographs kindly given to me by Alan Davis, I decided to go through the photos a bit more carefully and discovered something rather interesting.

In TV Century 21 (TV21 to its friends!) issues 110 - 117 (25 February 1967 - 15 April 1967) Alan Fennell wrote an eight part Thunderbirds story which I've called "The Bereznik Zoo Rescues" but is better, and more accurately known as "The Trapped Spy". 

To set the scene, U.S.S. Agent 39 has become trapped in an Eastern bloc country - often used in Anderson material - Bereznik. The World Security Council meet and ask Jeff Tracy's outfit to intervene, but receive an unexpected answer: "International Rescue is an organisation sworn to neutrality. Under no circumstances can it become involved in political problems".

This particular story is interesting in that we see some crossover with the wider Gerry Anderson universe - Commander Shore sits in the foreground of a panel(!) on the World Security Council. I can't imagine Frank Bellamy would have added him unless told to. After all he wasn't illustrating Stingray. 

TV21 #110 (cropped)

To Shore's left (our right) are 5 other figures, but who are they? Who do you think they should be? I would say besides the head of World Aquanaut Security Patrol, it might be good to have World Space Patrol  send Commander Zero, or Lieutenant Ninety or even Steve Zodiac. How about Colonel White, of Spectrum? Well, Bellamy's original art shows he delivered Steve Zodiac (and I think Commander Zero)

Same panel from Bellamy's photo of the original art

Then in the following issue #111 we see a different gentleman again! But this time he bears a resemblance to TV21's Brent Cleever, who has been known to readers since issue #21 as "Secret Agent 21". This began as an editorial and morphed into a proper comic strip which ran throughout TV21's initial run - drawn by Rab Hamilton - occasionally changing the title of the strip ( 21 / Agent 21 / Mr. Magnet and Secret Agent 21). But here, I'm guessing he is just some higher up in the U.S.S. as he sends for two agents to discuss a plan to force International Rescue to save their agent on the ground.

However it gets even more strange. Compare the man we have just been thinking about with the man - as delivered by Frank Bellamy - below in issue #111 

TV21 #111 - The printed panel

TV21 #111 - The delivered panel

You'll have to forgive the colour differences, because post-production can change anything and we are looking at a scan of a photo of original art. But that doesn't explain the changed figure next to Commander Shore. This figure is changed further on in #111 too.

TV21 #111 - The printed panel

TV21 #111 - The delivered panel

My guess is Alan Fennell realised he hadn't directed Bellamy to tie this in more accurately, and then got an in-house member of staff to paint over the moustache and bald head. We may never know. 

TV21 #125 "Thunderbirds"

This isn't the first Bellamy artwork we have seen which has been changed. Issue #125 shows the Goliath aircraft (labelled DT19) from the TV series "Captain Scarlet". It was broadcast as the second episode in October 1967. The issue Bellamy drew was published for the 10 June 1967 and shows Bellamy's version of this plane. If we go with the usual 6 week lead time, it was likely delivered around the end of April 1967 so he had access to some studio photos or visited the studio (which we know he did at least once), 6 months prior to broadcast.   

The DT19 coloured over

The DT19 coloured over BUT badly!

However unless you see the original artwork you will not notice that Bellamy actually drew the ‘DT19’ and very unusually someone has tampered with his art by colouring –clumsily – over the number in blue to try to match Bellamy’s blue. Why is anyone's guess as I can't imagine they'd be worried that a viewer would later moan about seeing the same aeroplane in a Thunderbirds strip!

TV21 #125 Photo of delivered artwork
with DT19 on the plane
Finally here's the whole Bereznik story in photos that Frank Bellamy took before delivering the finished artwork. As TV21 strips were seen abroad, the balloons and captions were added in-house not added by Bellamy (although he did do his own on many comic strips). Pay attention to the opening panels, many of which would have a text "catch-up" block placed over them somewhere.
TV21 #110 Original photo of the art

TV21 #111 Original photo of the art

TV21 #112 Original photo of the art

TV21 #113 Original photo of the art

TV21 #114 Original photo of the art

TV21 #115 Original photo of the art

TV21 #116 Original photo of the art

TV21 #117 Original photo of the art

Monday 13 June 2022

Frank Bellamy and The Thunderbirds Duvet!

 Yes, you read the title right. I received this from David Finchett:

Hi Norman,
I read your Frank Bellamy article about this duvet cover on your website and thought you might be interested. It was a limited edition duvet cover of 1000
so not many are about. I enclose a photo. I am going to put it up on ebay when I get time.
At 200cm x 220cm it's awkward to photograph!
Kind Regards
David Finchett
Original advert 1992 (Thanks to Shaqui)
The original story - as credited on the quilt - was written by Alan Fennell and drawn by Bellamy.
TV21 #146 p18

TV21 #146 p19

I have stored some other images from this quilt which I've found over the years, so here you go for those interested! As the advert suggests these 1000 limited edition were autographed by Gerry Anderson. I presume no-one dared wash these!

Credit for the story

Actually autographed by Gerry Anderson

There have been other duvet covers but not with Bellamy's art on them.