Tuesday 4 September 2012

Frank Bellamy and The Avengers

The Winged Avenger by Frank Bellamy (Thanks to Jeff Haythorpe again!)

What do Frank Bellamy and Blackhawk (the DC Comics character from the 60s) have in common? READ ON!

During the four years Bellamy drew Thunderbirds it has been assumed by fans that he only took one break when Don Harley covered Thunderbirds for him during autumn 1966 for six weeks. But as shown below this is one more myth surrounding Bellamy.

Bellamy was asked, in fact, to contribute to an episode of the highly popular (syndicated in over 90 countries) “The Avengers”.  whose best remembered characters were John Steed and Emma Peel. The episode “The Winged Avenger” from the fifth series of the Avengers was filmed around November and December 1966 (see the headline of the paper Steed and Peel reads stating November 30 1966 - it's 29:47 minutes into the programme), and was broadcast or transmitted in February 1967.

Now here's the first connection - Blackhawk. Below are some shots and I would love to see scans of the original comics if anyone has them and can identify them. You have the dates above - but bear in mind the cover dates of DC at that time were apparently the time by which news-stands had to return the comic for credit - and then they would have to have been shipped over to the UK to be bought by the props person for this programme!

***UPDATE: Now found - read about here ***


Bellamy's design stuck on a DC Comic - Marvel didn't have the Aurora car advert

  Meanwhile back to the Avengers.....

The plot of this particular episode contains the usual comedic interplay between John Steed and Emma Peel and far-fetched nonsense that was typical of the enjoyable series. Steed and Peel investigate. the murder of a businessman The episode is fondly remembered and contains such gems as Steed building a cardboard replica of the block of flats (apartment block) in an attempt to guess how the creature had access. It turns out the man-bird did it by magnetic boots which have been invented the eccentric Professor Poole. He sold his boots to Winged Avenger Enterprises, the producers of the eponymous comic books which have been discovered at the scenes of the crimes. The trail leads back to Professor Poole’s Gothic mansion where we see Bellamy’s artwork (as if from a comic book), and then the actual TV scene – implying someone is predicting the murders’ scenes in the comic strip! A fight scene with Mrs Peel and the murderer is aided by Steed who attacks the criminal with Batman-like onomatopoeic panels of art “POW!” “SPLAT!” and “BAM!” For a longer synopsis follow the "Bully: Comics oughta be fun" link

Bellamy was paid well for his 30 colour illustrations, not all of which were in the final cut but sufficient to make this a stand-out episode and Blackhawk comic fans can enjoy spotting their favourite comic character too.

End credits

If you visit Mike Noon's excellent site you'll see mouseovers emulating the TV fades and below is the original art sent to me by Jeff Haythorpe.

The Winged Avenger

Here are the shots I've grabbed from a DVD version.

The Bellamy design stuck to a DC comic   

The Winged Avenger logo on his 'shirt'

Headline states November 30 1966   

Enlarge to see back of comic

Odd page - ripped from a sketchbook?   

Note Winged Avenger logo

Compare this to the picture below
where blood is spattered on this image - this is a bit premature!   

Clear view of blood-spattered image on left
- note too the cutout on left and black & white drawing on right.
The latter is blown up at the bottom of this page

Note what appears to be B&W on right

Note Steed looks at panels - not a comic, or comic strip!
This comes from the DC Blackhawk comic #223- see cry of "Hawkaaaa"
Read more here

Tales to Astonish #84 shows the Marvel character Sub-Mariner!
Read more here

Don't try this address - it doesn't work!   

Don't miss the pencil sketch

3 images on wall

Note - image on right appears to be B&W but isn't - see later images

Closer view of background images   

Although this is hard to see I do not think this art is Bellamy's

You have to be quick to see pencil sketch on left   

Emma is holding a photo over back cover

Back cover is different from later one below

Notice blood-spattered drawing mentioned above!   

Steed reads "Elma Peem" but this is not shown -
although this piece is still known to exist - see below

I can't make this picture out

This sound effect is not by Bellamy

Credit where credit is due!

For fun I emulated the Michael Noon site and created gifs of some 'transitional scenes' from my own screen grabs

Emma enters Prof. Poole's establishment

Emma looks around

Professor Poole is attacked

Winged Avenger leaves through window

The Winged Avenger enters by window

Emma is attacked
UPDATE: Versions of this come and go on YouTube so I've linked to a search and will leave you to browse

Sunday 19 August 2012

Fans of Frank: Andy Walker

By Andy Walker
In my continuing series (where I unashamedly ask fans of Frank to tell me why they are) I had my attention drawn to this interesting piece on eBay which at first glance made me think of Orson Welles and then I realised it was in a style like Bellamy's. I wrote to the seller - Andy himself - and he replied:

I have just listed my Frank Bellamy inspired comic strip artwork on eBay. I think I first encountered his amazing artwork in the form of reprints of his THUNDERBIRDS comic strip in the pages of Polystyle's COUNTDOWN comic. The artwork that really struck me however were the illustrations he did based on DOCTOR WHO for the RADIO TIMES in the early to mid 1970s. He was one of those very gifted artists who had that almost indefinable extra something that always shone through all of this work. This artwork of mine is a humble nod to an amazing talent that has inspired an entire generation of artists across the globe!
 His description on ebay explains a bit further:

"THE TRAVELLER" ORIGINAL COMIC STRIP ARTWORK SIGNED BY UK ILLUSTRATOR ANDY WALKER. This is a high quality, full colour double page comic strip rendered in black Indian ink, coloured inks and gouache on thick watercolour board. It was originally commissioned in 1987 as a promotional piece of artwork for the "Traveller" series of books which failed to be published. My brief was to produce a double page comic strip splash in the style of the hugely popular British comic strip artist Frank Bellamy. "The Traveller" books were a series of 5 novels that sadly remains unpublished, however all 5 covers won me many future commissions and formed a crucial part of my original portfolio.The 5 stories concerned the journeys through time of a mysterious character known only as "The Traveller". Sound familiar? Perhaps that's why they remain unpublished!
Take a look at Andy's other sales to see more of his more mature artwork including another Traveller artwork which shows he had Brian Blessed rather than Orson Welles in mind (in my opinion!)UPDATE: and of course have a look at his website which I almost forgot to mention!

So for Andy here's the first Bellamy story form Polystyle's Countdown comic which was the 1970s answer to TV21 in which Frank Bellamy's Thunderbirds strips were reprinted (and Don Harley drew new art for Thunderbirds stories too). The editor was the former Art Editor of TV21, Dennis Hooper. Read more about it on Lew Stringer's ever interesting blog. I have reproduced the reprint of the first part of the story from TV21 #59 (5 March 2066). Presumably the reprint was cheap, but after hacking Bellamy's artwork from 3 pages to 2 and in black and white, surely it would have been easier just to reprint as was!

Countdown, #24, 31 July 1971

Countdown, #24, 31 July 1971

Andy mentions his love of Doctor Who too so here's a set of those famous cameos that were printed at size12/16 inch width by 1 inch tall - yes I checked! The paper of the Radio Times at that time was of a pulp feel and therefore reproduction wasn't superb. Here are three of the Doctors up to that point - from left to right Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton, William Hartnell
Radio Times - various

Lastly, just because we mentioned Countdown here's the cover of the issue that saw Bellamy's reprint start which shows, what I think must be Roy Cross artwork for the Airfix Saturn V - let me know if I'm wrong. A very iconic image for little boys my age - and covered later by Mike Noble on a cover of Look-In (where the former TV21 editor Alan Fennell was resident!)

Art by Roy Cross?