Showing posts with label Unseen Bellamy exhibition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Unseen Bellamy exhibition. Show all posts

Thursday 16 May 2013

Frank Bellamy and Red Devil Dean

Red Devil Dean (cropped image)
***STOP PRESS*** See the blog article expanding this one

The Unseen Frank Bellamy Exhibition has been mentioned on the blog a few times before and today we can close another mystery.

Chris Harris got in contact with me and innocently said:
I helped curate an exhibition called the Unseen Frank Bellamy, at a small gallery in Brixton in the late 80s/early 90s . We got artwork from his wife Nancy and presented it in our basement space. I still have a copy of the Escape magazine we put out at ACME comics with a brochure inside and some original artwork. The most significant is an exquisite watercolour treatment for a character called Red Devil Dean - never taken up I think. It still has his hand designed dust sheet, tracing paper insert and the treatment. Would you like me to send you a photo?
What would you say? OF COURSE, YES PLEASE etc etc. Fortunately I didn't scare him off and he was good to his word!

The next email came with attachments and I was bowled over by them. Remember the catalogue for the exhibition called this "Red Devil Dean Suggestions" - well it's obvious from the piece that Bellamy was trying out for something. The title on the artwork is "Suggestions for Red Devil Dean and Tug Wilson" and as Chris states he bought the artwork itself, plus an 'insert' which shows an amended Tug Wilson portrait plus a cover sheet to protect the artwork with the title on it. All the artwork can be seen on my website by following the 'More...' link on the Unseen Bellamy page

The artwork for Red Devil Dean
Bellamy often drew these overviews of characters before starting the assignment, such as the Garth one and others such as the Thunderbirds characters, Heros the Spartan, David the Shepherd King and Fraser of Africa. However, he swore to never having used 'white-out' or Tippex, to correct art (but that didn't mean someone else used it on his artwork!) But this is the first time I've seen an overlay like this which shows an alternative piece of artwork.

Express Weekly 3 March 1956, No76
Drawn by Ruggero Giovannini

So what about the title? Is the character a real person? Unlikely. The only references I've found to Red Devil Dean is when a person is called Dean and they gain this nickname. And the comic strip in the Express Weekly of the eponymous title illustrated above. I asked Steve Holland about this and he replied:

As far as I know there were just three artists on this strip -- but I've not seen all the episodes (nor, I should add, do I know anyone who has all the issues). Desmond Walduck was the original artist when the strip started in issue 41 of Junior Express Weekly (2 July 1955); Ruggero Giovannini took over with issue 59 and was the artist when it became Express Weekly (issue 74); and Bosch Penalva took over in issue 103 (8 September 1956). I don't know when the strip ended. Probably not long after in 1956 or maybe 1957. [Norman: I've seen Express Weekly #84 (28 April 1956) and it does appear there but not in #156 (14 September 1957)] The only episodes I have are in the issue 109-120 region in which Red is some kind of adventurer; in this story he's tracking down some crooks trying to rig the football pools and the crooks frame him for an attempt to blow up Parliament. Doesn't sound like the sort of thing that would involve a couple of British soldiers.

**ADDITION*** (Aug 2013) David Slinn states: "I can add to the information Steve Holland provided, in that the series was dropped from Express Weekly at the end of December 1956, coinciding with ‘Wulf the Briton’ being moved onto the cover and a number of new strips and features being lined up for the New Year."

So we still don't know and it seems unlikely Bellamy was commissioned to draw this strip as the dates are wrong. At the time of the strip beginning he was working on winding down Swiss Family Robinson, drawing Paul English and starting King Arthur as well as doing illustrations for Boy's Own Paper and Lilliput!

I wondered about the insignia on the art and  a kind 'Internetter' pointed me to the Wikipedia article on Combined Operations Headquarters As all three services were involved the only clue I gained was that landing craft and commandos are relevant but more of that later.

The Bellamy illustration above shows a redhead who is called Ted Dean. Could this be the origin of the name - redheads getting called "Red Devil"? No idea. Also I wondered if there was a player for Manchester United who was called Dean (as they are known by the nickname the Red Devils) but I can only find one name and he hardly played at all!  Any guesses gratefully received!

Lastly to add a little something else to the mystery, our generous friend Jeff Haythorpe sent me a picture that he always wondered whether it was Red Devil Dean

A boat (landing craft?) afloat with four soldiers, one of whom is redheaded!

He has promised a better scan so when that arrives I'll replace this one. But again it may be part of the above story. The signature is of the same pre-1950 period from what I can see.

So there you go a mystery solved (we now know what the Unseen Bellamy Exhibition refers to, but have a greater mystery as, like Anthony Falloway, we don't know if and where and when this was published!. If you have any ideas about the name's origins it would be interesting to hear from you.
My email is

Sunday 14 October 2012

Unseen bellamy - the story continues

I love the Internet  and the potential to identify works by Frank Bellamy. On the same day I wrote the last blog entry on the "Unseen Bellamy" exhibition of 1989, by sheer coincidence, Len Woodgate wrote to me to tell me he had spotted my notes on the website - not the blog. I have updated the note accompanying the entry on this exhibition. Over to Len:

I have just found your article about the "Unseen Bellamy" exhibition, Basement Gallery, Brixton, and can confirm I bought two pieces from the gallery in 1989. Images of the pieces, “Portrait of Nancy” and “The Postman always calls Twice”, are attached for identification. Both pieces match the sizes quoted and have been stored flat since the very poor frames in which they were exhibited, fell apart.

The Nancy portrait shows some foxing and also signs of unsympathetic care in the past but overall looks good.

Item # 22
The “Postman” piece has fared rather better, being on card, and contains the legend “James M Cain’s – “The Postman always rings twice” confirming what you thought about reference to the novel. I also have several of the postcards advertising the Brixton event using this artwork. 
Item # 3
Lastly I have a single “Garth” strip purchased from a Comic fair. I don’t know the story it is from, but it is referenced K141 and dated 15-6-76.

One of Item # 43
I let Len know that the Garth is from the Spanish Lady story which ran from from 17 March 1976 - 7July 1976 (numbers K65-K160) and was reprinted, coloured in June to August last year!

Regarding the portrait, it is unknown at which portrait of Nancy that Anthony Crossland was looking (or for that matter when) but, when asked in an interview,did she pose for Frank, Nancy Bellamy recounted:

Yes, though I hated posing because I had to sit still for such a long period of time. Anyway, he begged me so much that I relented and let him draw me. There was a little story attached to it: when the drawing was hanging in the Camberwell Art Gallery, we got a phone call from Antony Crossland the MP and minister, who said he would like the name and number of the model. I understood that at that time the House of Commons had their own little painting group which they must have used for relaxation. Anyway, my husband said "It’s my wife" and got quite embarrassed, so that was the end of the conversation!

Monday 1 October 2012

Original art on eBay: Antony Falloway Adventurer

***UPDATES****December 2021- see below
In 1989 (13 years after Frank Bellamy's death) an exhibition was held in London, called Unseen Frank Bellamy Basement Gallery Exhibition. Piece #35 was simply described as "Anthony [sic] Falloway" with its size beside it of 42 x 29 cm . Fortunately this is shown in part in the accompanying article by Alan Woolcombe who I wrote to, along with others who were involved in the exhibition, but found no further clues. I always suspected it was drawn around the late 1940s/early 1950s and because I could find no reference was leaning towards it being a newspaper strip as the style, although like Monty Carstairs, a strip drawn for Mickey Mouse Weekly (to see an example see my blog entry) is slightly different.

Imagine my excitement when Chris Power said "I suppose you've seen this" - words that are often answered by a 'yes' but in this case my eBay alerts have let me down and I couldn't believe my eyes.

On ebay seller susita66 has for sale (with a reserve) two strips mounted with signatures confirming this is a strip, but for which paper or magazine? We still don't know, but the title of the piece in Bellamy's writing is "Antony Falloway * Adventurer", the similarity to Monty Carstairs is very close. The fact that both strip appears to me to be on one board also makes me infer that it was never submitted and so might be a try-out. At this period Bellamy was working for Blamire's Studio in Kettering or in London for his first city-based assignments with Norfolk Studio. It's likely he was spreading his net a bit wider, as witnessed by how he quickly moved into freelance work and got an agent. So perhaps this is a submission to a daily newspaper, but we may never know. Thankfully it was included in the exhibition and therefore was not completely unknown.

I have written to the seller asking for further photos, and will update if I receive an answer but in the meantime here are the four photos she has used to accompany her auction on eBay.

UPDATE:  £393 (11 bids) (October  2012)  

Since writing the above and having a clue given to me by Mike Stacey and Hans Kiesl  (thanks so much guys), I have the following to add

Daily Express 24 October 1955 (First episode)

 "Antony Falloway" began in the Daily Express on 24 October 1955 (appearing, as can be seen, above "Jeff Hawke"). Notice, compared to Bellamy's version the misspelling (Anthony) and the sub-title which appears to have been removed "Adventurer" in the published version.  Bellamy's story revolves around a biography of General Starva called "The Dictator had a wife". The published story is centred around a visit to East Germany for our adventurer. 

Daily Express 1 November 1955 (#8)

Daily Express 2 November 1955 (#9)

I'm grateful to Paul Hudson who got in touch for the strip below - watch out for his  brilliant book on The A-Z of British Newspaper Strips in 2022

Episode 78

Here are two more taken from the original art and there a few people who would love to know who the artist is on this strip, if you have any clue.


Episode 60

Episode 84

And Hans Kiesl kindly sent me a run including the last strip - which mysteriously ends mid-story on 27 January 1956!

Daily Express 27 January 1956

Wednesday 30 June 2010

Bellamy and the Postman always rings twice, Hammett.and James M. Cain. 'Who?' you ask. The third name is not often quoted as being among the founders of the hard-boiled detective novel of the American early 20th century. These authors of noir classics inspired a decade of MGM and Warner Bros. lone detective stories. Femme fatales, heroes who are no good but who take the consequences of their actions when the time comes and so on. Cain's other works made into films include Mildred Pierce (starring Joan Crawford) and my favourite, directed by Billy Wilder 'Double Indemnity' starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck.

But I want to concentrate on "The Postman Always Rings Twice" the 1934 novel which was thought to be inspired by the Ruth Snyder case in America. Frank Chambers (John Garfield, in the original film) is a drifter who stops at a rural diner for a meal, and ends up working there. The diner is operated by a beautiful young woman, Cora Smith (Lana Turner), and her much older husband, Nick (Cecil Kellaway). It soons transpires that the appearance of the young brutal drifter inspires Cora to chase her dream of being free of her disappointing life and together they plot her husband's murder.

The steamy opening to the film begins with the line "It was on a side road outside of Los Angeles. I was hitchhiking from San Francisco down to San Diego, I guess. A half hour earlier I thumbed a ride..." We see a man with itchy feet enter a gas station. He tears down the "Man wanted" notice, enters the diner and sits - being served a hamburger by the friendly owner. Nick, the owner has to leave him to watch the burger, as he goes out to serve a customer that has just arrived at the pumps. Suddenly in the quiet cafe, a noise is heard and the camera follows a lipstick rolling across the floor. The camera, acting as the narrator's eyes pans along the path the lipstick took and hesitates on Lana Turner's feet, and travels partway up her legs. We then see her full figure in a two piece with 40s shoulder pads and hot pants. The lighting is pure film noir shadow, but not obscuring the beautiful 'sweater girl' as she was known.

Steve Holland very kindly sent me scans of a postcard used to advertise a 1980s exhibition of Bellamy's work - more on that later. Bellamy has chosen to compose an illustration showing Cora, a self-possessed woman looking at the guy peeping through the cafe door. The other elements are a circular barstool and a glass display stand with sloping front used in cafes to display their wares. Bellamy's use of shadow here must have come from his work on cinema hoardings and cut-outs that we know he produced while at Blamire's Studio in Kettering in his early life before heading to London and his later comic strip work. The work also shows his earlier signature - more cursive than the later one - and puts the piece firmly in the pre-1950s. But after that we have no idea of where the piece is now. It was shown (the reverse of the postcard is below) at the exhibition "Unseen Bellamy" at the Basement Gallery, Brixton, London between the 15th of July and 3rd of September 1989, 13 years after Bellamy’s death. Several of the pieces that were sold have been tracked down and the corresponding catalogue (see the website for details)  which was published illustrates this very piece. But I'm grateful to Steve for this version as it's much clearer and in monochrome colour. The rear adds a bit of information I didn't know - there was a private pre exhibition viewing. I would have loved to have been there. I would guess among the invited would be the late Bob Monkhouse who collected many of Bellamy's works.

I have added the larger scans to the website just follow the 'note' link on the Unseen Bellamy page  to view Catalogue entry number 3 "The Postman always rings twice" by Frank bellamy....and needless tro say if you bought the original at the event I'd love to hear about your experience.