Showing posts with label Westerns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Westerns. Show all posts

Sunday 15 March 2015

Frank Bellamy and "How the West was won"

Updated -see bottom of page
Radio Times 22  Dec 1973- 4 Jan 1974 p.27
I can't tell you how many westerns I've watched in my lifetime, but my dad, who loved western novels, and films died in 1982 and we watched loads together. But what's an 'oater'?
The thing that really caught my attention in the 1970s was Frank Bellamy's artwork in the Radio Times. I'd seen his "Heros the Spartan" and "Thunderbirds" comic strips, his "Captain Scarlet" and "Joe 90" covers, his Sunday Times work and of course his "Garth" strip in the Daily Mirror. But it was the design element of his work I loved.

One of my favourites appeared in the Radio Times, the UK's leading magazine at the time, published then by the BBC itself with only BBC programmes listed, dated 22 December 1973 - 4 January 1974. At that time Philip Jenkinson was reviewing the upcoming films for the Christmas period. This is what he said about "How the West was won":

Star-packed oater about three generations of Western pioneers. The best 'episode' is George Marshall's railroad sequence, but everywhere the giant screen visuals are too gimmicky for their own good. Terrific musical score

Did you see the word? Apparently, 'oater' refers to the feed bags that horses had and therefore were very common in westerns. Did you ever see one in a movie? I might have seen one, but 'common'? I don't think so, so where did that word come from?  The Oxford English Dictionary says it's a colloquialism for "horse opera also a radio programme or book of this nature" Its first usage recorded by them is "1946 Time 29 Apr. 94/2 The first successful storytelling movie made in the U.S...was what the trade calls an oater—a Western."

Oh well, let's get on. Why am I so obsessed with the word 'oater', it's because it appears beneath Bellamy's splendid drawing.

Radio Times cover 22  Dec 1973- 4 Jan 1974
Bellamy uses the episodic nature of the film itself and shows scenes representative of the Wild West.he shows buffalo, U.S. cavalry, an 'iron horse' a raft in a river, and some Indians (as they were called back then - my dad wouldn't have known the phrase 'native Americans')

The way that Bellamy has shown the wide angles of the three projectors process "Cinerama" is brilliant in my opinion. The title wraps from left to right and crosses the last word which fades from right to left. The curves continue to the right to show an apparent complete screen but it actually isn't equal in terms of the full screen curves and the edge of the filmstrip with its sprockets emphasises this incompleteness as we wouldn't see this in the cinema. The loaded scenery in the bottom right balances the left side of the image where, if we follow the receding word 'WEST' (notice it's in that stocky Playbill font!), we see a wagon travelling away from us, but also those famous Bellamy 'swirls' are emphasising the forced perspective in the word 'West'. Beautiful design! The experience in designing cinema cut-outs in the 1930s back in his home town of Kettering must have inspired his love of film and brought out this imaginative scene.

But interestingly the figure in the bottom right caught my attention as I immediately realised that it matches one of Alan Davis' polaroids that he rescued from the Bellamy house rubbish sacks

Cowboy shooting gun
Alan Davis polaroid
Thanks go to Alan for permission to use the photograph. He's a star!

As is Bill Storie for reminding me he's seen this somewhere else:

I knew I'd seen that cowboy before !! Wonder if the Hombre strip was intended to be a spin-off from the movie?? Was also a bit surprised to see the Radio Times pic again after so many years - haven't seen it since first published in the magazine - but in my mind's eye the version I thought I'd seen then had a steam train racing towards what looked like a wall of logs or a barrier of some sort and about to impact it rather violently. Weird - dunno if I'm thinking of another Radio Times illo by another artist - the old neurons are a bit fuzzy these days but even when younger I recall seeing that image somewhere and always attributing it to Frank. 

Blow-up from the famous photo of Frank in his studio

Sunday 30 June 2013

Frank Bellamy, Lilliput and W. R. Burnett

Lilliput 1954 (please excuse the crude joins!)
I have now produced 200 posts for this blog - frightening! If you had asked my teachers they would not have thought I could write the copy on the back of a [choose your favourite sweets/candy] let alone 200 articles!

I have mentioned the magazine called Lilliput in the past and felt it was time to show you some more of that artwork by Frank Bellamy.  The magazine begun by Stefan Lorant, photojournalist, was bought out by Hulton Press Limited who are best remembered for publishing Picture Post (which Hulton and Lorant created), and the famous and well-loved Eagle comic. But they also had Farmer's Weekly, Housewife, Electronic Engineering, Power Laundry and The Leader among others.

"War Party" by W.R. Burnett - Drawn by Frank Bellamy
The list of Bellamy's work in Lilliput:
  1. LILLIPUT Vol. 34:4 #202 (April 1954) "Que-Fong-Goo" by Gerald Durrell
  2. LILLIPUT Vol. 34:5 #203 (May 1954) "War Party" by W.R. Burnett
  3. LILLIPUT Vol. 35:1 #205 (July 1954) "The drifters" by John Prebble
  4. LILLIPUT Vol. 36:3 #213 (March 1955) "The raid to get Rommel" by Sandy Sanderson
  5. LILLIPUT Vol. 36:5 #215 (May 1955) "Trick justice" by John Prebble
  6. LILLIPUT Vol. 37:1 #217 (July 1955) "The demon bushranger" by Dal Stivens
  7. LILLIPUT Vol. 39:6 #234 (Dec 1956) "Men with horse" by Allan Swinton
In his interview  with Dez Skinn and Dave Gibbons, Bellamy stated:

As soon as I gave [International Artists] permission to represent me, I had a commission to do two love story illustrations for Home Notes, a woman's magazine, regular commissions from Boy's Own Paper - covers and inside illustrat­ions, Lilliput - where I did my very first western illustration for a story by John Prebble

He wasn't remembering quite right. His first western story was by W. R. Burnett and his third commission and second western story for Lilliput was by Prebble. William Riley Burnett (November 25, 1899 - April 25, 1982) wrote many of the screenplays to films which I loved in my youth - well, now actually! I remember seeing The Great Escape and Ice Station Zebra in the 60s and loving the characters and stories, but this guy was writing back in 1930s with Little Caesar, Scarface, and High Sierra, all films I remember vividly (when they were broadcast on BBC1 back in the late 60s and early 70s - noir on a black and white TV - lovely! A very full bibliography appears here and many of his works can still be purchased
on Amazon Here are all the illustrations by Bellamy to accompany "War Party"

Lilliput 1954 Page 53

Lilliput 1954 Page 57

Lilliput 1954 Page 61
That's all the illustrations for this story, but one of them appeared again. Burnett states at the end of the story in an 'Author's Note': "The character of Walter Grein was drawn in part from the famous Chief of Scouts,of the Apache Wars, Al Sieber".

On the letter page of Lilliput August 1954, the following appeared:

The Internet is wonderful and has details for you (via Wikipedia) of Al Sieber, who was apparently born in Germany before moving to the States and you can even see his gravestone on Find a grave!

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Bellamy and the Wild West:

Frank Bellamy illustrated pieces in the Boy's World Annuals of 1965 and 1966. He then only appeared in 1971 edition to the best of my knowledge - (and I love being contradicted!)

In the 1965 he illustrated "A Question of Honour" by Henry Casson, various matador drawings - a subject he loved very much. His subject for 1966 was "The Raid" showing war topics - wish I'd remembered this for the essay I wrote for Steve Holland's new book Frank Bellamy's Story of World War One (for the latest on this follow Steve's blog or take a look at Geoff West's site - scroll down the page a bit). I've reproduced the cover here and would expect it to be available on Amazon fairly soon and as Geoff says, you can pre-order on his siteAnyway, getting back to Westerns and Bellamy. In the Boy's World Annual 1971 he illustrated an author my Dad loved - no, not Zane Grey this time, but J.T.Edson. Steve asked me to help out by providing an illustration or two from that annual - which I do have in my collection - for his article written by Jeremy Briggs on Edson and his stories in the Victor comic. Click here for Part One and here for Part Two. This set me thinking about a theme for the blog: Bellamy and the Wild West

Bellamy's love of Africa is well known, but he was also very keen on cowboys and the Wild West. Throughout the 1950s Bellamy produced many illustrations to accompany Boy's Own Paper stories such as "Phantom buffalo" by Gerald Wyatt, "Vivo the wild colt" by Ross Salmon and "Stormy round-up" by Ross Salmon. For the children's annual Swift 1956 he drew some pictures of a young Indian brave, and various illustrations for Lilliput magazine such as "War Party" by W.R. Burnetta and "The drifters" by John Prebble.

In the 1970s he illustrated the annual that started this article, the particular story being on pages 23-27 "Johnny Boyland and the quail hunters" by J. T. Edson, and of course, one of his most famous works "Garth" saw two great western stories - "Ghost Town" and the one he opened the series with "Sundance". "Ghost Town" was reprinted around the time of Bellamy's death whilst a replacement was found (Martin Asbury) as it was one Bellamy's personal favourites.

He also did some odds and ends during the 70s such as the cover later used after his death for the Comicon '78 cover and a sketch of "Chilli Willi" whatever that was! One interesting cowboy feature at this time was for the Monty Python team - Bert Fegg's nasty Book for Boys and Girls, published by Methuen, in 1974 (also reprinted in Dr Fegg's Encylopedia of All World knowledge 1984. The story was called "A Cowboy Story" and was in full colour. "How the west was won" was drawn to accompany the showing of that famous film, in the Radio Times

The next piece to mention is "Hombre" as we have no idea what it was. In the picture below of Bellamy in his studio, we can just see "Hombre" in the picture on the right.

The content looks very similar to the last strip he published before his untimely death in 1976 "Swade" in Denis Gifford/Alan Class magazine Ally Sloper.

Then finally I also ought to mention again "Wes Slade" which you can read all about on my website, he also produced a cover posthumously (sort of) in 1980 for Marvel Comics (UK) of all people, thanks to Dez Skinn - Marvel Western Gun Fighters.

I suppose I could also add that as Bellamy appeared on ITV and this feature is on Westerns I should mention Quick on the draw, but as the quiz show from 1974 was about cartoons and comic artists , then again I don't think I will as that pun would be too awful!

Happy Trails Pardners!