Monday 18 August 2014

Original art for sale: Comic Book Auctions - Thunderbirds

Original art TV21 #213 Page 1
 Comic Book Auctions Limited have an original Frank Bellamy for sale. Their description:

Thunderbirds original artwork (1969) by Frank Bellamy from TV 21 No 213
Leaving Scott for dead in the cavern Professor Beresford peels the face mask away to reveal the Tracys' arch enemy, The Hood ..!
Bright Pelikan inks on board. 18 x 15 ins £800-1000

For the first time you can bid via which means you have a better idea of live bidding and the amount collectors are bidding. CBA's blurb:

Welcome to our September catalogue. The catalogue is open for bidding. We are teaming up with to provide you with real time bidding details, viewable online, as bids are placed by our customers who have registered their details. To register to bid, just click on the link to and you will see how to register.

Click here to visit

For those of you who send us postal bids you may, of course, continue to do so and you might consider sending us your highest bids which will be entered online by us and not be viewable unless they are bettered - just like eBay. You will no longer need to telephone or email us to raise your bids as all the latest bids will be viewable online in real time at To include their commission of 3%+VAT our new buyer’s premium will be 14%.

The closing date is 7th September so good luck.

I remember this later run of Thunderbirds in TV21 and how the quality of the art appeared to me to become 'washed out' and comparing the beautifully preserved inks in the original to the page below I think you'll see what I mean - especially in the red background behind The Hood. Well done to the owner for preserving this piece so well

Here are the two TV21 pages of the story from #213 - the story appeared originally inTV21 #209 - 217 (18 Jan 2069 - 15 Mar 2069) and was called The Zoo Ship. It has been reprinted in 

TV21 #213 Page 10

TV21 #213 Page 11

  • WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions Limited
  • SELLER:  [Lot # 115]
  • STARTING BID:£800-£1,000
  • ART: TV21 #213: Thunderbirds
  • ENDING PRICE: £821 (including 14% buyer's premium)
  • No of bids: 

Thursday 14 August 2014

Frank Bellamy and the first parachute jump!

So someone is talking to you about Leonardo da Vinci's parachute design and we agree we don't know whether anyone has tried it out, and then get to wondering, but who was the first person to jump with a parachute? Imagine you are the first! That big open space and a piece of cloth on your back. Who did it first?
Eagle Annual #5 p.37

Frank Bellamy knew the answer - he illustrated a story in the fifth Eagle Annual (published in late 1955 for the Christmas market) - "Pull the ring, and you're a caterpillar!"

So who was it?

A snippet from a longer Wikipedia article:

Leslie Leroy Irvin (10 September 1895 – 9 October 1966) made the first premeditated free-fall parachute jump in 1919. Irvin was born in Los Angeles. He became a stunt-man for the fledgling Californian film industry, for which he had to perform acrobatics on trapezes from balloons and then make descents using a parachute. Irvin made his first jump when aged fourteen. For a film called Sky High, he first jumped from an aircraft from 1,000 feet in 1914. He developed his own static line parachute as a life-saving device in 1918 and jumped with it several times.

Eagle Annual #5 p.38
"The crowd thrilled with excitement as the parachutist floated earthwards."

Eagle Annual #5 p.39
"All the experience that Irvin had gained
with balloons at fairs, death dives and stunt jumps,
was put into the design for the new parachute."

Eagle Annual #5 p.40
"A body came away from the plane and hurtled earthwards."

Looking up Reginald Taylor, the author of this article, was difficult (with such a common name), but it seems fairly likely he is the same one who wrote the "Andy and..." series for Hamish Hamilton's Antelope imprint and by association I'm guessing these other Hamish Hamilton books.

Andy and his Last Parade. Illustrated by B. Biro. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1965.
Andy and the Display Team Illustrated by Biro. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1959.
Andy and the Mascots Illustrated by Biro. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1957.
Andy and the Miniature War Illustrated by Biro. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1962.
Andy and the Royal Review  Illustrated by Biro. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1963.
Andy and the Secret Papers  Illustrated by Biro. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1961.
Andy and the Sharpshooters . Illustrated by Biro. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1959.
Andy and the Water Crossing, London : Hamish Hamilton, 1961.

The Boy from Hackston, N.E. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1962.
Circus Triumphant Illustrated by Tony Weare. London : Bodley Head, 1955.
A First look at Sailing. A beginner's manual Illustrated by John Robinson. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1964.
The Mad Martins Illustrated by Gilbert Dunlop. [A tale for children.] London ; Glasgow : Blackie & Son, [1953]
My Friend, my Enemy. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1965.
Wild Frontier. Illustrated by H. Bishop. London : Bodley Head, 1957.
Wings over Tewkesley ... Illustrated by Tony Weare. London : Bodley Head, 1954.

As the Andy series is about experiences in a military setting I wonder if the following references in the British Library catalogue might a) be him too and b) tell us his fuller name

Phantom was there. [A history of the G.H.Q. Liaison Regiment, 1939-1945. With maps.] Great Britain. Army. G.H.Q. Liaison Regiment. London : Edward Arnold & Co., 1951.

Something About a Soldier. [An account of the traditions of the British Army.] R. J. T. Hills, (Reginald John Taylor) London : Lovat Dickson, 1934.

As many of the illustrators listed above worked in comics or comic strips it might also be that this Reginald John Taylor Hills was also the editor of Boyfriend in the sixties, as stated on Steve Holland's Bear Alley

Lastly the first Express Annual was edited by a Reginald Taylor so could it be our Taylor too?

Interested in seeing more about Eagle Annuals? - see Ian and Sharon's fascinating Eagle Annual website

Sunday 13 July 2014

Frank Bellamy and Countdown comic

I am not scared sometimes to include oblique references to Frank Bellamy if I think it does some good. For example Steve Holland had published his latest UK comic index: Countdown to TV Action.

Bear Alley books' Countdown to TV Action

As usual his scholarly precision leaves me feeling inadequate but what enjoyable material. My memory of the Countdown comic was that it was great to see the Anderson strips after the slow and painful death of TV21 in 1971. I'd abandoned the title way before that as the merger with Valiant was of no interest to me, at that time.

And here was a shiny new comic printed on very shiny paper (and tatty edges!). The artwork by Jon Davis and John Cooper (who I always get confused) never appealed to me and browsing through the comic I can't see why I kept ordering it until very late in its run, but I did. Don Harley's art was perfect to my eyes and that John Burns art with its heavy colour shadows made no sense - sorry John! Now I can appreciate Gerry Haylock, John Burns and others.  I do remember really appreciating the space news. It was the time of Apollo and Skylab which I found thrilling and as a teenager I was not averse to the flying saucer material either - after all I did watch UFO, didn't I?

I sold all my original copies to David Nightingale for £100 in the 1980s and was glad for the money. But enough of my life story.

Countdown #24 (Saturn V art by Roy Cross)
Read the story of how this art was used in Countdown Steve's book
The Frank Bellamy strips reprinted from his 'Thunderbird' run in TV21 appeared in Countdown #24 - 30 (each 3 page instalment reduced to 2 black and white pages - see example below). The 'cutting up' of Bellamy's art was produced in such as a way that unless you knew it had been done, it was hard to spot. 

Countdown #24

Countdown #24

TV21 #59 pp.10-11

TV21 #59 p.12

Secondly TV Action & Countdown #71 - 77 reprinted in colour this time and in the centre pages as they originally appeared, the 'Thunderbirds' story from TV21 issues 52-58, the first Thunderbirds story in TV21. As Steve explains in his book, these reprints saved costs in the production of the comic but new art was still being commissioned e.g. Gerry Haylock's 'Doctor Who' cover for issue 71 shown here

TV Action & Countdown #71

TV Action & Countdown #71

TV Action & Countdown #71
'Thunderbirds' also appeared in other Polystyle productions (the publishers of Countdown) such as the Thunderbirds 48 page Holiday Special (1971). I no longer have this one so rely on Shaqui's excellent website for more details. 

Thunderbirds Holiday Special 1971
But in reading Steve's Countdown to TV Action book I discovered he'd missed a Holiday Special.

Thunderbirds Holiday Special (1984) (Unknown artist)
If you're curious as to what the contents are, then allow me to help you.

To give the publishers credit they did reprint these stories as they were published - as a centrespread...but lost some of the captions in the gutter! The Holiday Special contains the stories from TV21 #66 through to #82 and #99-104 but with awkward additions.

Shaqui sums this up well "The mastheads from the original Thunderbirds strips are redrawn by an unidentified artist to make the stories complete compilations".

He is kinder than me and actually whoever was given the job of filling the headers that Bellamy drew, summed it up him/herself in this scan, where I think they mean to intimate "Danger" but it comes out as "Anger"!

You can see here how awful the black and white version of Bellamy's gorgeous colour is and also how the 'header' or masthead is filled in.

TV21 #75

None of this diminishes the work that Steve has done. The history of the company and the set up of Countdown under Dennis Hooper is worth the price of admission! But you also get lots of Brian lewis, Gerry Haylock, John Burns, Peter Ford artwork. To see more go to his page dedicated to the book which has pricing postage and far more details than covered here

Cover wraparound

Frank Bellamy still sells Thunderbirds products

I am so excited! Like a child in a sweet toyshop! "In shops now...!" I could say.

Messenger bag with Frank Bellamy's Thunderbirds art (RRP: £24.99)

I remember in the Sixties wishing so hard that I could get the comic stickers, notebooks etc etc that was advertised in Marvel and DC comics and wishing we had the equivalent range of comic toys, bags, alarm clocks for UK comics! Imagine when I found out that these are coming our way in the UK and with FRANK BELLAMY ARTWORK!!

Perhaps I should calm down and tell you more without using exclamation marks.

Thunderbirds flask with Frank Bellamy's Artwork

Firstly it was thanks to John Freeman over on that I found all this out.  I then went hunting and found that the 50th anniversary of Thunderbirds (how old does that make me?) has a raft of merchandising opportunities with it and that "during the last significant licensing programme in 2001, the brand was worth over £150m at retail" (see the full article on

Thunderbirds was on our screens for the first time in 1965 and the new Thunderbirds series - being produced in New Zealand (read more than you need to know here on the Fanderson website) will only increase excitement for little children like me.

Travel set with Frank Bellamy's Thunderbirds art
Trudy Hayward says elsewhere: "The new series looks stunning and we have every confidence that it will be a massive global hit. There is a huge affection for this much-loved brand in the UK where it is a national treasure and there are also many exciting themes and characters that will chime with global audiences tuning in for the first time. The series will be supported by one of our biggest ever marketing and retail campaigns 

Thunderbirds gadget case with Frank Bellamy's artwork (RRP:£24.99)

Housewares product designer, developer and distributor Bunkerbound are the company behind these products which should appear in shops this month. I have listed the Recommended Retail Price against each image with a link to further details under each image.  Bunkerbound's sales department kindly sent me the larger images and you can see the range and their fuller descriptions here

Thunderbirds alarm clock with Frank Bellamy's artwork (RRP: £22.99)
If like me you spotted that they all appear to use the same collage of images from Frank Bellamy ('Thunderbirds') , Eric Eden ('Lady Penelope')  and also, I think, John Cooper ('Thunderbirds'). Please let me know if you know who the other artists are if I'm wrong!

TemptationGifts will be retailing these later this year. Their site is full of merchandised characters

Friday 13 June 2014

Frank Bellamy and Lilliput

Phil Rushton (who has a blog, to which he rarely contributes and I suspect that's because he is too busy sharing gems on ComicsUK Forum) kindly shared the following picture and asked my opinion

While we're on the subject of 1950s illustrators I wonder what Norman's opinion of this tiny, unsigned 1956 illustration from Lilliput no.229 is?
Lilliput July 1956, p.61

Personally I'm in two minds, but there are enough similarities to Frank Bellamy's style (particularly the nearside boot and leg) to make me think that he could have drawn it. Beyond that I can't think of any other Lilliput contributors who'd be more likely candidates.

(For those who don't know Norman maintains a couple of superb websites dedicated to Frank Bellamy and Raymond Sheppard, and is a leading authority on the work of those two fine artists).

- Phil Rushton

"Leading authority" may be a strong but I do like to share these two artists' work. Well I never need telling twice. I checked my notes of my many trips to the British Library and saw no notes on this image. But I then remembered buying this copy of Lilliput for the superb Raymond Sheppard images - and discovering the above for the first time. Why didn't I add it to the checklist at the time? Who knows!  Thanks Phil.

By the way when I say 'he shares stuff', have a quick look at this crudely assembled link to get a blast from the UK comics past mostly contributed by Phil...oh and the photo is not to my knowledge Phil (it's Phillipe Rushton, a psychologist!).

Sunday 1 June 2014

Frank Bellamy and Eagle Annual 1965

Updated 18 June 2014 see below
Eagle Annual 1965

Dan Dare's Space Annual 1963
Both the above UK annual covers have been cited as being drawn by Frank Bellamy...but are they?

In a recent Facebook discussion (which started round a completely different piece of art) mention was made of the two pieces of art above. If you really want to read the conversation you need to ask David Roach to befriend you on Facebook, but allow me to summarise:

"Steven Austin" And Walt Howarth did paint some earlier Dan Dare Annual covers in the 60's, not sure about the 74 edition though.
"David Roach" Did Walt do the 65 Eagle annual then?
"Techno Delic" Steven, may I ask what the source of your information regarding Walt Howarth doing those two Eagle covers is please?
"Steven Austin" Hi TD, sure, I used to be a big fan of the 'new' Eagle as a kid and collected several of the 'old' annuals and the 65 annual was one that stuck in my mind because it was a fav cover as several of the others had horrible photographic covers - they've long since gone but I did seem to remember it was painted by Walt Holwarth.[sic] I wanted to double check and find the cover for here and so googled Walt Holwarth [sic] Eagle covers and found this blog
"Techno Delic" Thank you Steven. I have to confess I would not have put either of those down to Walt Howarth - the 1965 one looks like someone trying to emulate Frank Bellamy's style, and the 1963 one, possibly a cross between Frank Hampson and Don Harley. It is also odd that the 1963 annual credits all the internal illustrators but omits any mention of Howarth?
"Techno Delic" Still being unsure about the identification of Walt Howarth as artist for those Eagle/Dan Dare covers, I contacted Gary Watton, who was close to Walt Howarth and acted as an agent for commissioned pieces. Gary says: 'Walter never painted the original Dan Dare covers, but he did repaint them as private commissions. Derek Wilson didn't get all his facts right for this article.' I wonder if it was the repainted commissions which caused the confusion? I recall some people being confused by a Rifleman Annual mockup that Walt Howarth did, leading some to believe the annual was a real item, when in fact it never existed.
"Steve Holland" With regards the Eagle and Dan Dare covers: I wonder if they could have been painted by someone like Barrie R. Linklater?
"David Roach" Techno- OK, That all seems clear enough that they weren't Howarth. It would have been weird him moonlighting over at Odhams. Do we know for certain that the 65 isn't Bellamy? The painting style is very like his. That said, the Dare book is painted in a very similar style as well, though the drawing underneath is nothing like Bellamy . The 65 is a big favourite of mine- I think it's a stunning cover.
"Techno Delic" David: The man to ask about Frank Bellamy is Norman Boyd. I looked at his website: - and it doesn't list that Eagle Annual cover as being Bellamy's work. It's close but to me it does look more like someone copying a Bellamy Dare
"David Roach" It's not absolutely typical of his sort of pose, but the painting style is very like him. I'm sure we'll come up with the definitive answer soon though.
"Techno Delic" That's what I mean - an original Frank Bellamy is very distinctive in terms of figure dynamics, and he also had a very distinctive way of drawing 'space'. That has neither of those qualities.
"David Roach" Very true.

Now to save myself further embarrassment I joined in and Techno Delic had to repeat himself as I missed the pertinent point the first time! But this is what I said:

Norman Boyd BLOW! I see what you're saying. I have no other evidence to support either case unfortunately. My records that could have helped start about Sept 1964 and as this is likely to be painted before Sept 1964 (due to publication dates for annuals), I'm stuck! Sorry!

I reproduced this from Steve Penny's site Purenostalgia, in his Limited Edition prints section

Reproduction by Walt Howorth
You'll notice Howarth has extended the drawing somewhat which in itself is interesting. I also wrote to Steve Penny to ask if he knew anything more but have not to date received a reply and am awaiting a reply from Barrie Linklater.

I decided to ask a few Bellamy fans for their thoughts and was staggered to find several had never seen this cover before. But all but one came down on the side of it not being by Bellamy - although a very close imitation.

Interesting info you keep turning up! There are a couple, or three, reasons why I didn't include the EAGLE ANNUAL 1965 and DAN DARE'S SPACE ANNUAL 1963 covers in the Checklist: Firstly I'd never before set eyes on them; Secondly, nobody else included them in any of their lists; Thirdly they don't look like Frank Bellamy in even basic elements of materials / technique which you would expect to see (being just not there); someone already mentioned his "very distinctive way of drawing 'space'" for instance.  And no signature.

The stars are not FB stars. Frank's stars are distinctive and unique and are (I reason) a pragmatic and brilliant design solution to the 'problem' (as I think Frank would have seen it) that the most efficient way of creating stars in pen and ink is to lay-in areas of black and speckle with blobs of process white - which technically, Frank wouldn't want to do. Hence his starfield design (necessitating a thought-through understanding of its micro-component elements) which obviated any requirement for process white.
Also note that FB's 1969 real life moon landing work for the Daily Mirror had, also uniquely, no stars in it whatsoever - though drawn before it was established by the actual landing that no stars could be seen from the daylight surface of the moon, despite the 'ink black' daylight sky there. I can recall media prior-speculation as to whether or not stars would in fact be seen .. And FB's moon landing astronauts stylistically look far better than they did in real life.
The EAGLE ANNUAL 1965, not only has no such star clusters but also - at least in the web reproduction, and even photographic film reproduction can be very misleading - the black sky isn't wholly black either; and, as is established, Frank would created really black areas of black in his original art even it meant going over it half a dozen times.
The metallic cable to the Dan Dare figure is FB-like, though the spacecraft is not - and 'scrubbed' or 'drybrush' in the application of colour. Again, although the face is reminiscent of FB this could, like any FB-ish elements, similarly be a result of the artist using FB published art as inspiration. The boots, on the other hand [heh], are as you say, very unlike FB in every aspect. The most telling aspect against it being FB is in the non-FB DD spacehelmet and suit and the rendering of it - which lacks FB's solid-geometry which was a distinguishing characteristic of his ability and work.
The same could more or less be said for Dan Dare's Space Annual 1963 except for less apparent Bellamy influence.

It has to be readily conceded, this Dan Dare illustration is especially difficult to attribute. While I’d take a great deal of convincing that it’s Frank himself – you’re one of the few people who will understand? – the actual treatment of the space-suited figure shares the, unaccountable, awkwardness also present in the Look and Learn illustration of Captain James Cook’s coming ashore. Forgive me for assuming nobody else has asked the obvious question: although, unfortunately, I’ve never seen a copy of the book itself, is it possible this “unknown” artist is amongst those who contributed to Dan Dare’s Annual 1963.

For what it's worth my current opinion is that it doesn't quite reflect FB's style from circa 1964/65 era - it's not quite dramatic enough IMHO and the suit doesn't look as sleek and "Bellamy-style-futuristic" as it should - too clunky around the hips , knees and boots - and the pose is just not ...well not like the way I'd imagine FB would have done it.

Also the starscape looks a bit sparse - Frank tended to add in lots of extra details in his colour starscapes instead of just plain white dots - especially on large pieces like covers.

On closer inspection it also looks like it's been painted in gouache, not FB's beloved coloured inks and the Eagle Masthead is actually quite "rough" when you look at it close-up - you can see the brushstrokes in the lettering which is highly unlike Frank - of course it could have been an overlay by someone else but to me it does kinda look like it's painted over the space background ie part of the actual art - it would be handy to inspect the original but no doubt it's long gone..
These guys (and Paul Holder) inspired me to work a bit harder (and the previous embarrassment mentioned above!) and I trawled through my Eagle comics to see where this unusual spaceship was used...and guess what?

Eagle 12 Oct 1963 Vol. 14:41 Art by Keith Watson
The above illustration shows the spaceship, the fins on the trousers and the connecting line to the ship that are all featured on the 1965 Annual cover. I'm not suggesting the Annual art is by Watson but his art is obviously the inspiration for the cover whoever drew it! And it's gorgeous too!

And just in case anyone says but where's the Bellamy art on this blog, here's a page from 1959 - Frank Bellamy's version of Dan Dare (including his version of a glove David J.!).

Eagle 12 September 1959 Vol. 10:30

As an aside David Jackson mentioned the following incident:

I remember David Bellamy saying that, before FB had worked for EAGLE, they had been looking together at a copy of EAGLE and Frank had commented favourably on the drawing of a glove; at least one possible [quite Bellamy-ish!] candidate for this may well be that of the 1954 Vol,5 No.26 inside page - as compared to and in contrast with, say, the rendering on the reprise of the same scene on the cover of the following issue. [Artwork in both by Frank Hampson and team)

Eagle Vol 5:26

Eagle Vol 5:27

In his usual thorough way David goes on to say:
I happened on the example above by complete chance, so it leaves room for the possibility there may be other, possibly more likely, candidates for this but to find such I'd have to look through all the Dan Dare pages published before Frank joined EAGLE.

So do you have any knowledge or thoughts on this topic - get in contact!

UPDATE 19 June 2014

Having read this article David Slinn got back to me and mentioned he wondered whether the comment regarding "gloves" were in fact about these images by Frank Hampson and team:

EAGLE Vol.6 No.21 27 May 1955
EAGLE Vol.6 No.21 27 May 1955

EAGLE Vol.6 No.20 20 May 1955 [i]
EAGLE Vol.6 No.20 20 May 1955

David also sent me the endpapers of the 1963 annual mentioned which featured art by Barrie Linklater

Friday 23 May 2014

Original Art: Thunderbirds from TV21#178

This blog is turning into an advertising space for sellers! But don't worry I'm working on an article which is to do with Bellamy and a cover that might be attributed to him ...or not. Watch this space!

TV21 #178
Anyway, Comic Book Auctions Limited has an original piece by Frank Bellamy for sale (lot # 118) which comes from TV21 #178. The description reads:

Thunderbirds original artwork (1968) by Frank Bellamy from TV 21 No 178
Scott has a daring plan to rescue Virgil and the marathon runners from the tunnel of fire …
Bright Pelikan inks on board. 18 x 15 ins £800-1000

It looks to be well preserved with the blues still vibrant. The story (The 2068 Olympics) ran in TV21 issues 173 - 178 (11 May 2068 - 15 June 2068) and for those who want to read the story, here are the two pages from that issue for your enjoyment. 

TV21#178 p.10

TV21#178 p.11
If you want to read the whole story you can buy it in the recent collection or even in e-format... details here