Monday 18 March 2013

Unexciting but necessary

This post is my way of catching up with myself and letting you know what I've been up to.

1. Steve Rubin let me know  a while ago about two gaps in my information regarding Garth reprints in Menomonee Falls Gazette - "MFG reprinted H132-H225, which was the final issue. Unfortunately, in addition to not printing the last two strips in the story, they inexplicably skipped H160-H165" He also mentioned "On the same subject, Sundance started in MFG 38, not 40". Checking my archive I see that the Garth story Sundance, the first in MFG, actually started as a story in #38 - see cover below - but Bellamy's strips started in #40 with a Bellamy panel on issue #38!
The first appearance of Bellamy's Garth in MFG
MFG #40 the first Bellamy Garth strip appearance in the USA
 2. I've realised that in keeping this complex machine going I had not updated Steve Holland's comments on the controversial Amundsen Swift cover. Follow this link to read all about it!

3. My old friend David Jackson mentioned that this reminded him of a Bellamy character...Fraser of Africa. The film is Never So Few and starred Frank Sinatra, Gina Lollobrigida, Steve McQueen amongst many others and was released in 1959. I've read the plot summary and still don't think I've ever seen it. It's actually set in Burma in WWII but knowing Frank & Nancy Bellamy's film-going habit they are likely to have seen it - especially as it featured these three popular actors.

EAGLE 1960 Dec 10 p6

That's all for this time, but I have other 'little bits' to add soon...

Friday 8 March 2013

Frank Bellamy tribute art in comics

Not wishing to turn this blog into an advert for Richard Farrell (who does Andersonic) but he inspired me to dig out some pictures from my collection to see what his article on Bellamy was about. I warned you all to buy it when his new fanzine came out, but it's obviously a collector's item due to #1 and #2 being sold out already!. It's called  Plaything of Sutekh and had an article called "Frank's Who: Bellamy's influence on the art of the Doctor" by Richard Farrell (Issue #1 April 2012, pp 24-27)

Issue 1 Art by Richard Farrell

Richard's idea is that he has seen Bellamy's influence in several places and being the detective I am, (well, librarian actually!) I decided to hunt them down- quite easy when Richard gives the references!

"If you're a real geek you'll notice that [Bellamy's] drawing of Pletrac for 'Carnival of Monsters' is based on a rehearsal shot of Peter Halliday in his braces"

Radio Times 3 Feb1973 - 9 Feb1973, p.13
I'm not enough of a geek/detective to ask how he knows that! His references to Gerry Haylock are interesting and I can access the art so here you go...

Countdown #5
Farrell sees Bellamy's art from his Sunday Times piece "Last great invention" (see my blog entry on this) particularly the last panel second from the bottom row

Here's the Bellamy to compare:

Yes, I agree, with the orange colour it's obviously a 'tribute'. Richard also mentions the launching of the Polaris missiles in Countdown issue# 52

Countdown #51
and again the Bellamy:

I can see the inspiration too. It's a shame Gerry's artwork hasn't been collected or at least a website created dedicated to his work. Anyone up for the challenge? His work appears in Hulton Press' Eagle, Girl, Look and Learn, World of Wonder and Schoolgirls Picture Library amongst many others.

Richard then goes on to mention Brian Lewis and his Thunderbird strip in TV Century 21 Thunderbirds Extra (1966).

TV21 #52

TV21 #55

TV21 #53
TV Century 21 Thunderbirds Extra (1966) Page 6

TV Century 21 Thunderbirds Extra (1966) Page7
I had never noticed this before and as Steve Holland recently said to me regarding this 're-use' or tribute to another's artwork, if you're asked for an item, you'd immediately look at what had been done and use that. In this case I think Lewis would have easy access to Bellamy's accurate drawings and use them instead of photos or models etc.

I have posted a few similar comparisons on my Frank Bellamy FaceBook page. I use this infrequently to put smaller stories, thoughts, links, but many thanks to Richard for writing an article that inspired me to do a longer piece - oh! and he mentions several other inspired artists such as Chris Achilleos. Hope you enjoy the art of these brilliant UK artists! Any other examples gratefully received. Email me:

Friday 1 March 2013

Frank Bellamy and The Sunday Times

Sunday Times17 August 1975

Richard Sheaf pointed out to me a comment by Terry Bave on Frank Bellamy. He saw it in the new book by Terry, which is published on Who's Terry Bave you might ask? Well like many of the artists who worked for D.C. Thompson and Fleetway in my youth, their artwork was very familiar across many comics and characters, but their name was never known to me - one reason I liked Frank Bellamy, he signed his work and got away with it! Thank God for enthusiasts who uncover this stuff!

Lew Stringer wrote about Terry's exaggerated demise (he's still with us...check out his blog which hopefully will grow with many examples of his art!) and shows off some examples of Terry's gorgeous artwork. [Update: Unfortunately Terry passed away on 6th December 2018 aged 87, his blog is stiill there ~2022] Any search on the Web will garner enough examples too. (Try and type in "Terry Bave"). George Shiers has reviewed the book here

"In August 1975 I was invited by The Sunday Times newspaper to assist with the preparation, followed by the final judging, of a super comic strip competition for children. The competition was divided into three age groups between five and fifteen years, with each group invited to complete a short comic The first frame had already been completed by a professional cartoonist. In the five to seven age group the first frame was drawn by John Ryan (of Captain Pugwash fame), in the eight to eleven age group I drew the first frame, for the twelve to fifteen age Frank Bellamy (who sadly died in July 1976), drew the first frame. At the outcome I had warned the organizers that there could be an enormous response from their young readers, would they be prepared? The weekend that the competition appeared thousands of children filled in the blank frames and sent them in, the editor's office was inundated"

Fortunately I have a photocopy of the item in question (see the top picture) from the Sunday Times (p.27 in the Weekly Review section) "Who will win our comic strip competition?"

The brief biography of Bellamy in this cutting has so many errors I shan't comment, but one would hope that the quotation is not incorrect. David Bellamy tells us in his book Time View: Complete "Doctor Who" Illustrations of Frank Bellamy that he used to sit with his father sometimes at night when he worked.

The single panel Bellamy drew shows "Captain Min headed for galactic planet Tosca when electric storms force him to dock on a worn out satellite" with Captain Min thinking "I get a creepy feeling we're not alone…" The monster looks very similar to others Bellamy drew in TV21 and for Doctor Who in the Radio Times

This frame was also reprinted in Fantasy Advertiser #57 (October 1975) as an advert for the New Cartoon Review

Fantasy Advertiser #57 p. 27

Thanks to Richard for prompting my blogging once again and David Jackson for reminding me about the reprint.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

New Garth Story: Bride of Jenghiz Khan

"Garth accompanies Lumiere on an archaeological mission close to the Great Wall of China. But he has not the dedicated enthusiasm of Lumiere or his Chinese colleague..." 

Thus the latest reprint, written by Jim Edgar, drawn by Frank Bellamy and newly coloured by Martin Baines, starts us out on another time-travelling adventure with Garth.

Tuesday 19 February 2013 © Daily Mirror

"Bride of Jenghiz Khan" originally ran between 28 September 1974 to 14 January 1975 (numbered H228-J11) and was reprinted twice before, to my knowledge:

  • Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan (Daily Strips No. 1). London: J. Dakin, P. Hudson & G. Lawley, May 1979 A5 size reprint 20 pages - Print run 400
  • Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan All Devon Comic Collectors Club Daily Strips: Collectors Club Editions No.1 [No date] 
I remember from childhood (and most likely in a comic!)  that the Mongol Empire stretched all the way to Europe from China, and Wikipedia has a wonderful animated picture of the growth of the Mongol Empire:

Map showing changes in borders of the Mongol Empire from founding by Genghis Khan in 1206, Genghis Khan's death in 1227 to the rule of Kublai Khan (1260–1294). (Uses modern day borders)

Genghis Khan is quoted as being the greenest conqueror ever! And you might be interested to learn that work on discovering his grave (a great historical mystery) is advancing and that Khan might have been the most prolific lover in history! However do take this with a pinch of salt. As Albert Lin, a National Geographic explorer stated: “It is undeniable that Genghis Khan changed the course of history. Yet I cannot think of another historical figure of comparable impact that we know so little about,” 

So follow Garth as he travels back in time The Daily Mirror! And of course thanks go again to Martin for sending me this first episode.

Friday 15 February 2013

Frank Bellamy and Thunderbirds monsters

Richard Farrell is a modest fellow who produces, as previously mentioned, a great fanzine called "Andersonic". It's a fun tribute lovingly assembled by asking people like me to jot a few lines about a topic on any of Gerry Anderson's works.

In Andersonic Episode 12, Summer 2011, pp33-43 you'll find an article called "John Blundall: APF'S Monster sculptor". To quote from Richard's back issues page this is an:

"Interview with former APF sculptor John Blundall in which he discusses his time working on series from Supercar up to Thunderbirds. John discusses how he got involved in puppetry, working with Christine Glanville, Wolfgang Manthey and Mary Turner, his favourite creations and what went into designing characters such as Robert the Robot, Professor Matic and of course Parker".

Worth buying for that alone, but in the interview John Blundall innocently mentions the following, quoted here with permission:

"John also came across a special visitor to the puppet studio back in the days of Thunderbirds... comic artist Frank Bellamy. "When I was a kid, I hated comics except the Eagle. The back and centre pages had wonderful strips based on historical things. l wasn't interested in the rest of the comic, but I was fascinated by the work of Frank Bellamy. It was quite early on in the early days in the studio workshop; one day a quiet fellow came in the workshop with a stool and a sketch pad. Reg Hill brought him in, and said, 'This guy's coming in to do some drawings of the puppet figures'. He sat down and started drawing the puppets. I looked at his drawings and thought 'Bloody hell!'. People often find it very difficult to draw my characters, and he was drawing them exactly. I thought, 'Oh, here's somebody interesting!' He was very shy, a timid character and I started to talk to him and then I said 'I'm sorry, l don't know your name.' He replied 'Frank Bellamy'. And that was the last I saw of him. I thought his work was wonderful, one of the few people who really captured the soul and spirit of the characters." (p.40)

A wonderful portrait of a talented artist!. But for me the connection to TV Century 21 numbers 90 - 92 (8 October 2066 - 29 October 2066) was striking. Blundall tells how Bellamy drew in the APF Studio - notice not from photos. We know from Alan Davis lots of materials went in the bin after Frank's death so it's unlikely we will find any 'stills' in the family's possession. But it doesn't matter as we know that Bellamy had photo references provided for jobs (David Driver at the Radio Times confirmed this) and we know from Nancy Bellamy that Frank had puppet heads to draw from. So why am I excited by John Blundall's comment?

TV21 #90

In the best of all the stories in TV21 drawn by Frank Bellamy (just my opinion) we see a fantastic creature in a Venusian lake drawn by Bellamy, and that creature appeared exactly the same way on the cover of issue 92.

Thunderbirds from TV21 #90

In an article by Bill Earle on a now defunct Supermarionation website he mentions that "In order to supplement a Thunderbirds comic strip story by Frank Bellamy in TV Century 21 numbers 90 through 95 [sic], Roger Dicken produced several sculptures of Venusian monsters in plasticine clay which were photographed with Thunderbirds craft".  Dicken created special effects for 2001 and Alien amongst others. The mystery for me was, did Dicken create the creature and then Bellamy draw it based on the photos or did Dicken follow Bellamy? I thought the latter unlikely.

TV21 #93
The mystery was settled when , in October 2012 I found an email address and wrote to Roger Dicken who kindly replied:
"Thank you for your e-mail.  I can confirm I did design and create entirely the model creature you have enquired about, along with a second figure, both of which appeared on the covers of the TV21 Comic.  The other monster also featured on the cover of a Thunderbirds Holiday Special Mag.Both were actually made of plasticene built over a strong wire and wood core.  Further, they were constructed at my home studio and brought in for the photo shoot at AP Films.  From this point Frank Bellamy was obviously supplied with prints of the beast of your interest and via his wizardry with the pencil he reproduced it in comic form. They were still up on a shelf when I left AP Films to work on 2001, thus I do not know what became of them following the demise of the studio.  One can only assume somebody appropriated them or they went into the skip with a multitude of other stuff I understand was, sadly, being disposed of at that time."

I'm very grateful to Roger for taking the time to indulge an old fool!

MYSTERY (if there was one!) SOLVED!

Thunderbirds from TV21 #92

Thursday 17 January 2013

Frank Bellamy appeared in Lion

Steve Holland's new comics index

Not many people realise that Frank Bellamy's work appeared in the Lion comic, which ran in the UK from 23 February 1952 to 18 May 1974.

I discovered this fact solely because someone mentioned it in their eBay listing years ago and I won the comic - ironically shipped from the USA!

The art in question isn't worth spending money on! I bet you never thought I'd say that about Frank Bellamy's art!

The Lion Holiday Special (undated but published in 1977) pp36-48 reprints the gloriously coloured Fraser of Africa in a horrible blurred black and white!!! And to add insult to injury, the panels were cut up and rearranged for the different sized page. It's a good thing Frank didn't see this travesty!

Lion Holiday Special [1977]

The original ran from 27 May 1961-12 August 1961 (Vol. 12:21 - 12:32) of the Eagle comic and looked like this

Eagle 27 May 1961

Why do I mention this now?

Because when a book is published (see the image at the top) that contains data on the run of Lion comics (and Annuals, Specials etc.) the librarian in me needs to check its validity. And once again I couldn't fault Steve Holland's dedication to his profession as National (Comics) Treasure!

If you pop along to Steve's Bear Alley Books website, you see his description and details of how to purchase it.

If you think £25.99 sounds expensive, it isn't. This work is not likely to ever be published again and especially in such detail with accompanying articles and pictures. It's a great read in itself and has sent me back to the Lion comic to re-read some of my childhood favourites.  The pictures are reproduced crystal clearly and even this old man can read the original art

262 pages is not stressed enough on the site. That's more pages than Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (and Lion: King of Picture Story Papers is eminently more readable IMHO). It's a gorgeous book and if we are snow-bound as the media has been saying for weeks, I have plenty to keep me amused this chilly January weekend!

Go and buy it and support this great work. I get no commission, I just love an excuse to praise and highlight brilliant comic scholarship and especially British comic scholarship...but it must connect to Frank Bellamy in some way as this did!

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Frank Bellamy and C. T. Stoneham

Charles Thurley Stoneham (1895-1965) Thanks to Richard Simms for the photo

Watching the fantastic David Attenborough series 'Africa' I was bowled over by the image of rhinoceros groups greeting each other under the starlight and it brought back memories of Bellamy's work on C. T. Stoneham's writings. 
I'm not sure if this works internationally but this link includes the clip I'm talking about. Sorry, if it doesn't work for you, but never mind here's Bellamy's cover for Boy's Own Paper March 1953. For a larger scan follow the 'More information' link on the website
Boy's Own Paper March 1953 Cover
Bellamy's internal illustration shows the rhino by moonlight (again follow the 'More information' link for a larger scan)

Pages 20-21
Besides the four Stoneham stories that Bellamy illustrated in Boy's Own Paper, he also did a cover for a Stoneham paperback reprint of Wanderings in Wild Africa  As Simms tells us "This volume includes chapters detailing Stoneham's experiences on five safaris, as well as practical information on how to hunt big-game and organize an expedition. This book was reprinted in 1957 under the title Wildest Africa."

Wildest Africa - my copy scanned and joined
Photo of the original art (thanks to Jeff Haythorpe)

The reverse of the original art (again thanks Jeff) - note the date

Interestingly Richard goes for 1957, where I took 1958 from the British Library's accession record. However looking again I see they have two copies of the Digit Book dated 1957 and 1958. If only Brown & Watson had included the publication date, we scholars would have less work! If Bellamy, in his own writing says he completed it in December 1956 it seems likely it was published 1957. So I have amended the webpage listing accordingly. I'll add these to my list for when I visit the British Library again. Fortunately they are printed covers not dustjackets, which the BL used to dispose of before adding books to stock. Tough luck illustration art researchers!

For larger scans see the 'More Information' link on the Book listing page

Lastly, Bellamy actually wrote to and received a reply from Stoneham when Bellamy was interested in going on safari. It never came to anything, but an interesting side note!