Showing posts with label life drawing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label life drawing. Show all posts

Friday 14 August 2020

ORIGINAL ART: Various from Comic Book Auctions - Thunderbirds, Life Study, Garths and Sunday Times

Angela Mansi

This lovely nude or 'life study' (as I call them to avoid censorship), is currently appearing on Comic Book Auctions and The Saleroom

I've added the individual links below for Lots #67, 68, 79, 82 and 85 which are original art pieces by Frank Bellamy, so let's go through them and preserve them here for posterity (or as long as this website lives!)

The first is a rather faded Thunderbirds double page - from the second Thunderbird story in TV21 #64

"Thunderbirds" from TV21 #64

This piece is described:
Thunderbirds original double-page artwork drawn, painted and signed by Frank Bellamy from TV Century 21 No 64 (1966). Virgil jumps for his life as the International Rescue Machine is charged by the crazed rhinoceros… Some minor fading to the Pelikan inks. 27 x 19 ins.
This is certainly very collectable, being such an early story and also a double page spread. These first few stories are cherished by fans and this one shows Bellamy's love of Africa.
The second lot is of the nude above and has this description:
Angela Mansi nude study drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy (mid 60s). During this time Frank Bellamy ran and organised life drawing classes at the Studio Club in London's Piccadilly. From the Bob Monkhouse Archive. Brown crayon on paper. 17 x 10 ins. No Reserve

If you search the blog for 'life studies' you'll find others that I've shown. It'll be interesting to see what price this fetches.

"Discreditable exercise" Sunday Times 6 December 1970

The third lot is from the Sunday Times Colour Magazine (6 December 1970) and was written by Robert Lacey, the British historian and writer. I've communicated with Robert over this series and have captured his memories for use on this blog in the future. This piece appeared on pages 22-23 and is all about credit checking. It's described thus:

A Discreditable Exercise' original double-page artwork painted and signed by Frank Bellamy for The Sunday Times magazine (late 1960s). From the Bob Monkhouse Archive. Bright Pelikan inks on board. 28 x 20 ins. No Reserve

This is the sort of design layout that made me fall in love with Bellamy (despite having seen his work from circa 1963 in Eagle, TV21 amongst others). Where and how he places panels is superb - and remember - this is way before any comic strips were standard in the relatively 'new' glossy Sunday magazines, let alone such a quality paper as the Times was!

The next two lots are Garth strips

Garth: "Beast of Ultor"H108-H109

The first pair are lovely- the hands depicting the Harpies attack have that three-dimensional look and we have the Bellamy 'swirls' as I call them.  But not only that, this strip shows the recurring character in the Garth strip - Astra.

The auction description:

Garth: The Beast of Ultor. 2 original consecutive artworks (1974) drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy for the Daily Mirror 9-10 May 1974. Indian ink on board. 21 x 7 ins (x2)


Garth: "The Bride of Jenghiz Khan" H265-H266

Both these show how Bellamy depicts three-dimensions in two so effectively in a comic strip with three panels. The description:

Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan. 2 original consecutive artworks (1974) drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy for the Daily Mirror 11-12 November 1974. Indian ink on board. 21 x 7 ins (x2)

Both pairs of artwork are lovely and it's great to get consecutive numbering.  As usual I'll update the details below when the auctions are finished


WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions
Auctioneer's estimate
£1,800 - £2,400

END DATE: 30 August 2020

WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions
END DATE: 30 August 2020

WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions
END DATE: 30 August 2020

GARTH: H108 + H109
WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions
Auctioneer's estimate
£500- £600
END DATE: 30 August 2020

GARTH: H265+H266
WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions
Auctioneer's estimate
£500- £600
END DATE: 30 August 2020

Monday 21 November 2016

Fine Art vs COMIC ART

GUEST POST from my good friend David Jackson

"Tiger face" by Frank Bellamy

A previous post, "Frank Bellamy at Kettering Exhibition ended", includes a photograph of a word-balloon wall plaque inscribed 'Fine Art vs COMIC Art' and Norman's comment: "I enjoyed seeing the placement of oil paintings from the Alfred East collection alongside some comic covers, raising the perennial question of what is 'fine art'."

'Fine Art vs Comic Art'.  Result: it's a draw..!

Comics might have had the last laugh, in some cases all the way to the bank, or to a respectable art gallery, which can hold an exhibition of comics art without it being thought funny. But, within living memory, looking back over the not that distant past a very different picture emerges. At one time, Roy Lichtenstein notwithstanding [See David Barsalou's excellent site - Norman], it would be the exception for an art critic to express any appreciation for comics or illustration. It wasn't until I became aware of comics fandom that I even knew I wasn't in a minority of one.

Home Notes (27th July 1951)
"Impatient heart" by Judith Blaney - illustrated by FB

An arts programme piqued my interest a few years ago when commercial art of all types, even the printed versions, was finally, officially, brought in from the cold, as it were, and taken note of as a substantial sub-category of Art: 'Ephemera' - work which by definition is produced with no intention of being kept for posterity. Ephemera would also include highly regarded works from another age such as the Japanese woodblock prints of Hokusai and other masters which were originally sold as transient decorative pieces subject to fashion.

The Society of Strip Illustration was founded with the improvement of the standing of the profession as one of its objectives.The SSI Newsletter of May 1985 includes a quote sent in by me of Milton Schulman, then drama critic of The Standard, in conversation on Radio 4's 'Stop the Week':

"You've got an elitist approach to the art form.  You are basically saying there are certain things like the printed page which give people a more emotional and cultural thrill and impact than other things.  You start off with books and go to poetry, then you go to painting, then you go to opera and to ballet - descending, I'm saying - theatre ... telly ... comic strips". 

Just so we know where we stand...

Neal Adams himself has related how, when he was trying to break into the business, the comic book company men tried to 'save' him by not giving him a job - they wanted him not to waste his talent and to go into something more respectable..!

A young Barry Smith in turn found himself on the receiving end of unappreciative art advice - which he related in an interview but quoted here from memory - a life drawing class tutor noticed that Smith had added a helmet and spear, or suchlike, from his own imagination, and declared that it wasn't drawing, 'it's make-believe!'

Frank Bellamy's figure studies drawn from life models naturally seem, by definition, to belong in the category of fine art.
"Life Study" by Frank Bellamy

The 'set-up' scene, from imagination, reference or arranged props and models, particularly for decorative purposes, however, seems to be made into a contentious issue by not being a record of real life experience as it occurs, viewed directly and rendered on the spot.

In marked contrast, the depiction of imagined scenes never detracted from art establishment approval of favoured historical works of fine art.  There is a similar contradiction in the fine art establishment criticism which makes itself evident in dismissing the work of artists which is viewed as populist. David Shepherd, whose 'Wise Old Elephant' was an unexpected best-selling print on sale in Boots the Chemist, has had to contend with this. Jack Vettriano likewise and more so.  He was even criticised for the fact that his figures for 'The Singing Butler' were derived from the 'Illustrator's Figure Reference Manual'.  A volume also on other bookshelves (mine included) all this entire time without it ever occurring to anyone else to paint 'The Singing Butler' from it - had not Vettriano done so. Critics seem to have taken issue with his stylistic associations with early 20th century film noir posters and pulp covers.  Criticism seems to be that Vettriano's art 'is not contemporary art'.  How could it not be 'contemporary'?  He is painting it now!

Frank Bellamy would no doubt have seen the wry irony of Vettriano's great success and fortune, given Frank's stated lack of sympathy for this type of subject.

Fantasy Advertiser Vol.3 No.50 says:

FB:  I had a commission to do two love story illustrations for Home Notes, a women's magazine.  [...]  I was never cut out to do love strips for the IPC girls' paper.  I'd have a go, but I prefer something with a bit of meat and guts."

In Speakeasy #100 Nancy Bellamy said the same:

"When he first decided to go freelance after we moved down to London in 1949, or even before, he used to draw for Home Notes, and he hated those sort of girlie illustrations, static things which he hated drawing.  It wasn't his cup of tea at all, but he did them for the money.  He wanted to draw something with a bit of guts to it."

Frank Bellamy expressed a personal appreciation for the illustrator Norman Rockwell, and it is easy to see why. In contrast to the left-handed compliment by some fine art aficionado in response to viewing a Rockwell enthusiast's collection: "He sure is a hard worker."

FB collector Bob Monkhouse once gave a talk to a comic convention (engagingly as his real self rather than in his self-acknowledged 'TV persona') and described the reception of comic art by the UK general public as "Pearls before swine!"

This was the era in which Frank Bellamy worked.

But it was changing, even then, and Frank himself was at the forefront in changing it.

Sunday Times Magazine 5 October 1969
Artist posed by David Bellamy

To quote Frank Bellamy in Fantasy Advertiser (FA)   [compiled in this post from various sections of the interview]:

FB: This kind of work has been under-rated for many years.  Throwaway artwork to be looked at and immediately discarded.  This is a viewpoint I strongly disagree with.

FB:  I've always had a great regard for professionalism.  One of the best things that was ever said to me was when I was called a "professional's professional".  And this just underlines what I mean.  I'm a great believer in doing a professional job.

FA:  Surely, people are beginning to see that comic strips can do more than amuse, as can be seen from any of your strips in the Sunday Times Magazine...

FB:  Well, there were no adverse reactions to them ... no-one was turning round and saying, "Good God, what's this...comics strips in the Sunday Times Magazine?"

FB:  I've always liked using the the graphic approach instead of the ordinary comic strip way.  Almost a sort of pictorial journalism.  My work for the Sunday Times Magazine in particular was pictorial journalism.  I used this graphic technique for the juvenile market - though many of Eagle's readers were adults - because I've never believed in drawing down to the reader.  If I was drawing for a seven year old, I'd still be as conscious of what I was doing as if it was a cover for the Radio Times.
Radio Times 29 May 1971

In his BBC 'Edition' interview 30th November 1973 FB says:

"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."

A discrete coherent original work of art.

The comic art form has always had more serious appreciation in France where it is acknowledged as "the ninth art". The graphic novel format in Japan found a wide general readership.

The experience of Frank's contemporary, Don Lawrence, contrasted working relatively unappreciated for comparatively unrewarding one-off final payments in this country, as compared with the creative rights, collected volumes of his work, an appreciative audience abroad, and the 2003 award of the Netherlands Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau.

Possibly the indifference experienced here in Britain was related to the focus on primarily literary English, as opposed to the visual arts heritage; Shakespeare particularly.  Which is a bit of an oddity in itself, given that comic art - the graphic novel - is more of a 'theatrical play' on a page than a novel in type, as such, is.

'But is it art?'

"What is 'fine art'?" was the question, and it has a straightforward answer, which is: "'art for art's sake' rather than for commercial or functional use".  Self-expression.

Which would exclude Michelangelo to name but one.  The Sistine Chapel ceiling can be categorised as commercial illustration, albeit on a grand scale.  As someone once observed, the old masters and their vast commercially orientated studios would have all laughed themselves sick at the very idea of 'art for art's sake'.  As someone else [that's 10cc David - Norman] has put it: "Art for art's sake, money for God's sake."

It's arguable that it isn't a question of what art 'is'.

It's more a question of: 'do I want to look at it?'

The issue of what actually 'is' art was once illustrated by the following comparison.  A pile of bricks in a gallery is art and a pile of bricks in the gutter is just a pile of bricks but a Rembrandt which is lying in the gutter is still a work of art.

Oddly enough, and it is odd, the art world, claims its raison d'etre is being able to 'see past' the pile of bricks - or found objects, abstract colour, dribbles of paint, or whatever (or the material of which any work might be composed) - to perceive the genius of and in art itself.

And yet...

The fine art world for so long remained essentially unable to see past the fact of an original piece of comic art being commercially produced for a mass market juvenile readership.

It is a question of being able to see something which, literally uniquely, only one individual, was not only capable of producing, but it is something which we might have assumed to be beyond anything which any human being was capable of producing.

If the development over time of the unique Frank Bellamy 'look' came as a revelation to his fans it can only be imagined how much more so it came to Frank Bellamy.  His self-appointed task and motivation might well be imagined as answering the question: 'just how good can this be?'

It is self-expression at the service of professional purposes.

In the postscript to 'One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji', Hokusai writes:

"From the age of six, I had a passion for copying the form of things and since the age of fifty I have published many drawings, yet of all I drew by my seventieth year there is nothing worth taking in to account. At seventy-three years I partly understood the structure of animals, birds, insects and fishes, and the life of grasses and plants. And so, at eighty-six I shall progress further; at ninety I shall even further penetrate their secret meaning, and by one hundred I shall perhaps truly have reached the level of the marvellous and divine. When I am one hundred and ten, each dot, each line will possess a life of its own."  - "Gakyō Rōjin Manji" (The Old Man Mad About Art).

To borrow another unrelated quote from the web:

"There are two kinds of geniuses: the ‘ordinary’ and the ‘magicians’. An ordinary genius is a fellow whom you and I would be just as good as, if we were only many times better. There is no mystery as to how his mind works. Once we understand what they’ve done, we feel certain that we, too, could have done it.  It is different with the magicians..."

The 1989 Speakeasy #104 Frank Humphris interview by Alan Woolcombe asked what he thought of the other Eagle artists' work, and he said of Frank Bellamy:

"His draughtsmanship was absolutely fantastic, far beyond the usual standard for cartoons and comics - in fact the word comic doesn't really apply."  

Eagle 13 Aug 1960 Vol.11:33 p.12

The above "Fraser of Africa" strip was reproduced in black & white in the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers Designers in Britain No.6. Many thanks David for such a much better expressed article than I could have done!  David suggested some illustrations to accompany the article. I've added one or two he may not have seen before as a thank you and also I thought I'd add to the debate by showing you the following.

Tim Barnes sent me this a long time ago. Now why is this fine art and the following an illustration to a story?

"A question of honour" by Henry Casson
from Boy'sWorld Annual 1965 pp116-117

Monday 7 September 2015

Frank Bellamy and Bob Monkhouse


I apologise for the delay in posting recently (I missed my once-a-month target last month) this is due to re-plastering and the need to put everything into self-storage to protect it from the dust.  I have identified what I can below but not exact numbers, if you need to know let me know and on un-packing I shall pin the issues down.

Alan Burrows kindly forwarded these pictures he received from the late Bob Monkhouse from his extensive Frank Bellamy collection. He forwarded them to my FB Facebook page and I thought maybe some people here may not be on Facebook, so here for your pleasure is Mr Frank Bellamy.

Bob appeared to be a really amiable guy - just look at the drawing on the envelope he sent Alan. People forget he started out as a comic artist, because his later career as a comedian and quiz show host was so successful.

Bob Monkhouse cartoon for Alan Burrows

Fantasy piece by Frank Bellamy
On the websitelisting I labelled this "Fantasy piece" and put it under Unpublished material . Does anyone know any different? Was it published? I love the skull mountain and the usual Bellamy device of a man pointing out of the frame!
Heros the Spartan from Eagle

Heros the Spartan from Eagle

Heros the Spartan from Eagle

Life study by Frank Bellamy

Lord of the Dragons - published in Once upon a time
 This was published in Bellamy's lifetime in a book called Once upon a time (along with and the book is available via the usual channels and not too rare or expensive. I listed it in my Articles on Frank Bellamy section
Thunderbirds from TV21 #138
From the Thunderbirds story "Space Mirror" which ran in TV Century 21#137 - 140

 It's well known that Bellamy, before taking on a strip, would provide the editors of comics with a sheet of designs. These would show his vision of the characters he would be drawing. However two have lawys puzzled me as they seem very specific

Below we see Dan Dare, Fraser of Africa and Thunderbirds and bear in mind these are photocopies of negatives, or older photocopies so this is all we have as a record, until someone scans the artwork.

Dan Dare operational uniform

Dan Dare Space Fleet  uniform

Fraser of Africa

I have seen the next two before but not the inscription which explains why we have these pieces. In TV21 issues 93-98 Don Harley took over my favourite story from Bellamy while he took a break to produce the Avengers TV series episode "The Winged Avenger". So it looks as if Bellamy drew a character sheet for Alan Tracy and Brains in their spacesuits which Harley could follow. He could have just done a photo but we have to remember that this sort of reproduction process took longer than we do now, where phones, scanners and iPads are available to take instant photos for sharing!
"Frank Bellamy 'visual' given to Don Harley for Thunderbirds

Alan Tracy and Brains from Thunderbirds
I'll save the others for another day as I'd like to do some research in my comics but that will have to wait for my unpacking. Many thanks to the very generous Alan Burrows for sharing this wonderful collection of reference material

Saturday 15 August 2015

Frank Bellamy "Life Study" art for auction

UPDATE: Now for auction on eBay, starting at 99p!

This is just a quick note to mention Andrew Urquhart has alerted me to the fact that a 'life study' by Frank Bellamy is up for auction. There are many of these out there as Nancy Bellamy sold several of her husband's studies after his death but it's nice to see others.

Life study by Frank Bellamy

I have written about these previously here and fully expect many others to surface over time. How much are they worth? That's a difficult question, I'll enter the end price below as soon as a I learn what it is.


  • WHERE?: eBay
  • SELLER:  postmanag2001
  • ENDING PRICE:  £46.99
  • END DATE: SEPTEMBER 13  2015
  • No of bids:5

Saturday 21 May 2011

Happy Birthday Frank - More life studies

Life study (Thanks to Paul Vyse)

If you click on this previous post's link, you'll see a few life studies. I have been fortunate to receive a few photos by kind people of their copies of life studies, so thought I'd add to the blog for all to see. And especially as today would have been Frank's 94th birthday and I have a suspicion he enjoyed this part of his work! My thoughts are with Nancy his widow (who will be 89 herself this August) as I'm sure she'll remember today. She's been unwell recently, and a few fans have been visiting and reporting back  We wish you well Nancy.

Life study (Thanks to Paul Vyse)

The two studies were sent to me by Paul Vyse who also owns a Radio Times piece - very beautiful - coming up in a later blog entry. If you're following the reprints of Garth in the Daily Mirror you'll be seeing how Bellamy used his experience of life studies! I must say again that I am enjoying following the newly coloured adventures day by day. The reproduction of Martin Baines' colouring, has certainly got better! Although John Ridgway's colouring is printed on superior paper in Spaceship Away, I also enjoy having newsprint in my hands

The following studies were sent to me after I contacted  Peter Labrow (Author of The Well), as he mentioned on Twitter that he owned a couple of pieces. Peter has an interesting Kindle production on Amazon UK  or Amazon US and can be contacted via his website

Interestingly the first one below (the model holding a chair back),  has a name on the reverse "The model's name is on the back of this one - Angela Mansi - as is the date 22/2/65" which is useful as this confirms that Bellamy was participating in life classes at the Studio Club in Piccadilly at that time.

Thanks to Peter Labrow

Many thanks again top Paul and Peter

Sunday 26 October 2008

Frank Bellamy and life class sketches

Bellamy ran a life class whilst at Blamires' Studio in Kettering - his first art job - which was a modest affair (in both senses of the word!) and also later for the Studio Club, Piccadilly, London. The club was run for artists and musicians, and was situated in the basement of 15, Swallow Street, and was founded in 1915. I believe it was during the late Fifties and early Sixties that he committed loads of sketches of the female form to paper (I'm trying to avoid words that web-blockers will block!).

I don't own much Bellamy art myself, but I couldn't turn down these pieces when offered to me some years ago. One day I'll get them protected, particularly as you can see I managed to get a fold in one piece! At least I know not to let the light near them, so they haven't faded.

I hope you enjoy these simple speedy sketches done in pencil and coloured pencil. The lady who has her back to us, has a notation worth mentioning: 8.45

Now whether this is the time it was done, or the minutes and seconds the drawing took, I don't know. But I've been in art classes where we had a set time to complete a sketch, so maybe it's not too fanciful to assume the latter. I have seen other sketches in this 'series' from his art pad, and I've listed others I've found on Unpublished Bellamy webpage 

Bellamy proves here that he is adept at fine art and I'm certain his visits to Italy will have inspired his love of the naturalistic poses in these sketches.

If anyone has any others - with notes on - I would appreciate scans and details, thanks

Monday 19 November 2007

Anna Marita and King's Cliffe airfield

Unknown artist
I am always amazed that there are really kind people out in cyberspace.

I received an email from someone called Arthur Sevigny the other day and he wrote:
"Attached is a scan of Anna Marita who performed at King's Cliffe Airfield on May 7th 1945. This was the home of the 20th FG during WWII." Arthur Sevigny MSgt USAF (Ret), Historian, 20th Fighter Wing Association.

Attached was a scan of an old fashioned flyer. I still didn't understand what I had, but after plucking up my courage I wrote back to this Arthur.

He replied quickly, and stated:
"The flyer is for the V-E celebration for the defeat of Germany. Anna being an entertainer at the show. The 20th FG flew P-38 and P-51 aircraft out of King’s Cliffe which is near Wantsford. I spent 7 years (1980-1987) in the UK with the 20th TFW that was stationed at RAF Upper Heyford."
Now you're wondering what has this to do with Frank Bellamy. So was I until I searched my own website for the answer.....

Anna Marita's name appears in one place on the website - under Unpublished material search on that page for her name.

I had placed most of the extant life drawings in the late forties / early fifties - while Bellamy was working in Blamires' Studio, Kettering, or the Norfolk Studio in London. How? By the signature style which was more rounded earlier in his career. If that's correct then Bellamy managed to find Marita work as an artist's model (she was obviously supplementing her income as a 'performer').

Below are the items sent to me under a special note for those interested in King's Cliffe airfield and Ms. Marita. A simple search on the Net will give you more than enough information on the airfield's history. Now, we're not saying the above image had anything to do with Frank Bellamy, to be clear but is of interest historically for others maybe?