Wednesday 24 December 2014

Frank Bellamy and Place of the Gods

IT'S CHRISTMAS! so my dear friend Martin Baines, here's a treat for you. You asked what this looked like and I've gone to town for you for Christmas!

Launched on 25 May 1940, Reveille was originally the official newspaper of the Ex-Services' Allied Association. It was bought by the Mirror Group in 1947, after which it was printed and published by IPC Newspapers Ltd. It was relaunched in the mid-1970s as New Reveille, but  Tit-Bits, its better known 'cousin', absorbed it circa 1980.

This tabloid style newspaper (magazine?) was a weekly and in 1964 Frank Bellamy found some work with them. Before we jump in let's a have a look at the content of this strange paper

It was well illustrated with line drawings by various artists I have not tripped over in all my explorations.  But that's not that unusual as groups of artists tended to stick to the area they knew.

 Reveille often had sensational quirky stories and advice columns jazzed up to make them readable

 The adverts from that time say a lot about the audience. Especially when the festive season is close. So I thought I'd copy the Currys advert below for you so you can reminice and compare prices from 1964 to 2014

 A nice play on the Disney film title!

Now you have the context you might wonder what on Earth Bellamy illustrated....

Stephen Vincent Benét, Yale College Class of 1919, pictured in the college yearbook.
Retouched by MarmadukePercy
Stephen Vincent Benét’s story “Place of the Gods” was first published in the Saturday Evening Post of 31 July 1937 and later became known as "By the Waters of Babylon". It's a very short tale of what soon becomes obvious is a post-apocalyptic society which mingles a fear of the old ways and the religion taught by the elders in this new world. The narrator is the son of one of the priests and he himself has a vision in which he see the 'Gods' walking in the old places. This tale of his coming of age progresses to his visit and feelings of those who used to inhabit the city.

To think Benét wrote this in 1937 two years before the Second World War - aware of the rise of European fascism - and 8 years before the 1945 Hiroshima bombing, seems prescient of him, but this sort of literature was prevalent during the pulp magazine era and even has a Wikipedia entry under Post-Apocalyptic fiction.  It's one of my favourite genres in which a lot of modern burdens are forgotten and man strips his world back to surviving and then outlining how social structures cope in the new worlds. My personal favourite is Earth Abides by George Stewart. Henry Wells' (1) contemporaneous obituary described Benét thus:

"[A]s a man of letters Benét has been more than a historian or editor; he has for nearly ten years been a propagandist and a prophet. As befits a poet who is also a historian, he looks with vision not only to the past but to the future, fulfilling one of the oldest and most revered functions of the poet, that of prophecy. His devotion to American history led him to belief in political ideals which he early found menaced by the rise of fascism. Considerably before such fears were widely felt in this country, he recognized the military tyrannies of Eu- rope and Asia as perils to our life and national integrity"

Benét is likely to be best remembered now for "John Brown's Body" considered by many to be a lasting contribution, despite its failings, to epic poetry and literature. He also wrote the short story "The Devil and Daniel Webster", a short story in the Saturday Evening Post, a New Hampshire take on the Faustian myth. And I was astounded to learn he wrote the words "Bury my heart at Wounded Knee" which I assumed were uttered by a Native American as the book of that title published in the 1970s really moved me when I read it!

Reveille 1964 November 19-25, pp30-31

If you want to read the full text (and it isn't long at 5,642 words) go over to Tom's Place or enlarge the picture above. If you'd like to see a video of the story head over to YouTube

Bellamy has two illustrations for this short story. The first shows a 'cro-magnon' type man carrying a bow and wearing a quiver, struggling through ruins. The figures' head is very similar to other man-type creatures Bellamy drew  - see below

Place of the Gods - drawn by Frank Bellamy
Eagle Vol 13:51, 22 December 1962 - Heros the Spartan

TV21 #201 - Thunderbirds

The second picture shows the man firing his arrow at a crouching leopard. The incident is not in the story but wild cats are mentioned.

Place of the Gods - drawn by Frank Bellamy

There are lots of study notes on this short story (tribute in itself!) and the one I liked best is here

Finally for those perfectionists out there, I have moved the Reveille entry on the website from 'Magazines' to 'Newspapers' and uploaded these pictures there too. How's that for perfectionism!

So there you go a new Bellamy released into the world! Have a very Happy Christmas and a great New Year,

Wells, Henry W. (1943) Stephen Vincent Benét, College English, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Oct., 1943), pp. 8-13  

Sunday 14 December 2014

Frank Bellamy and Winston Churchill's copy of "The Happy Warrior"

Frank Bellamy's art for "The Happy Warrior"
David Slinn let me know that Churchill's own copy of the leather bound "Happy Warrior" strip is up for sale in the latest Sotheby's auction : Daughter of History: Mary Soames and the Legacy of Churchill 17 December 2014 | 2:00 PM GMT | London

Sotheby’s is proud to offer items from the collection of the late Mary Soames, Winston Churchill’s last surviving child. The sale will include many of the personal possessions that surrounded Lady Soames in her delightful and very personal home in Holland Park. Together, they chart Mary Soames’ fascinating life – from her childhood in Chartwell to her service in the army during World World II and her later public life. The collection chronicles the remarkable relationship Mary enjoyed with her father, allowing for a unique and very moving insight into the private side of Britain’s greatest war-time leader. At the same time, Churchill’s exceptional ability as a painter, extraordinary for an amateur, will be celebrated in the sale through a group of 15 paintings which together represent the most important and personal group of paintings by him ever to come to the market.

Lot #109 states

with a description:

FIRST EDITION, 4to, 48 pages of coloured picture-strip illustrations by Frank Bellamy on thick paper, plain photographic illustrations of Churchill, red leather gilt binding, silk endpapers, gilt edges

The estimate is listed at £500 - £900. This is such a unique item I have no idea how much it could go for. Bellamy himself said in the Skinn/Gibbons interview that three leather-bound copies of “The Happy Warrior” were presented to Sir Winston Churchill, to Clifford Makins, the author and the third to Frank himself.I have never seen any of them and believe Nancy sold her copy at Sothebys circa 1997.

Episode 11 of "The Happy Warrior"
It's a coincidence as I visited Churchill College, Cambridge recently (who have a Churchill Archive) and enquired regarding this item in Churchill's collection.

Dear Norman, 
I'm afraid I have also been unable to find anything relating to this matter in our archives. I have run searches similar to the ones you made, including for 'Happy Warrior' and have looked through the relevant Gifts files. 

I have looked in the relevant section of Martin Gilbert's biography of Churchill but couldn't find any reference to the comic or the leather-bound copy. 

Churchill did not keep a personal diary. 

I would recommend you contact the team at Chartwell, [email protected], to see if it is in Churchill's surviving library there. 

I'm sorry I could not be of any more help on this occasion, but if you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Kind regards, 

Gemma Cook, Archives Assistant, Churchill Archives Centre Churchill College Cambridge CB3 0DS 

Episode #31 of "The Happy Warrior"

I wrote to Chartwell but received no reply and assumed it was another dead end.  But here we now have a copy for sale! Does anyone know what happened to Clifford Makin's copy or indeed the Bellamy copy?

UPDATE: I have been told that the whereabouts of another copy - presumed to be Bellamy's is known


  • WHERE?: Sotheby - Daughter of History: Mary Soames and the Legacy of Churchill
  • SELLER:  [Lot # 109]
  • STARTING BID:£500-£900
  • ENDING PRICE: £3,750  (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
  • END DATE: DECEMBER 17th 2014
  • No of bids:Unknown

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Frank Bellamy in the Eagle Times


Alan Vince, who I first came across when he interviewed Frank Hampson (Dan Dare's talented creator) in Doug Gifford's fondly remembered Thing fanzine, has written another article for the Eagle Society magazine the Eagle Times. And Howard Corn, the Editor, and team have pushed the boat out and focussed on Frank Bellamy in this Autumn 2014 issue.

Howard and Alan are happy for me to reproduce the article IN FULL! So let's jump in!

Alan, who met many of the great British comic artists, never met Bellamy and mentions that he wrote to him but received no reply. I know that Bellamy did reply to many fans (imagine how many letters that was - no emails back then!) and am not surprised to hear he might have missed Alan's letters. The title of the article is "Frank Bellamy - trademarks and techniques" and Alan gives us a 8 page overview of a lot of Bellamy's career, naturally focussing on his Swift and Eagle work. I'm guessing that he doesn't mention all Bellamy's Swift work as space was limited, for example the "Paul English" strip is omitted.

I have studied Bellamy's artwork for years and have read all the published information on him, the man. I have seen videos of him appearing on television and still have yet to produce a portrait of Bellamy the man in my head. He was self-deprecating and shy, talented as everyone knows, self- taught, loved outgoing hobbies - such as flamenco dancing and bullfighting, but as he admitted in many letters preferred drawing by himself rather than speaking at public events. So Alan and I agree, "nothing beats a face to face with someone". People who did meet him and have been asked, use the words 'nice', 'shy'  and 'nattily dressed'.

The Eagle Times front cover shows one of the set of three photos that Nancy Bellamy donated to the Society and I'm pleased they have chosen to share them with us.

Frank Bellamy on the Eagle Times cover
In the background we can see an unpublished piece (to my knowledge) by Bellamy of "Fraser of Africa". He drew the strip from 6 August 1960 through to 12 August 1961, producing three stories in all. The image behind Bellamy shows Fraser's head placed in a map of Africa. Were these part of a photoshoot for Eagle? We know that happened because a piece was published in Eagle Vol. 11:48 (26 Nov 1960) but what Bellamy is wearing is different. Anyone know?

Eagle 26 Nov 1960

I concur with Alan that the man could also be a contradiction - did he look forward to drawing Dan Dare or not? - but who isn't a contradiction? Alan repeats a story picked up from a comment Bellamy made to Dez Skinn and Dave Gibbons regarding the lack of holidays, which until I met Nancy, his widow, I too inferred from that interview. But from family photos I have seen, they certainly got around Europe a lot considering the package holiday was just starting in this country in the 1950s, making it as far as Morocco at one point.

This issue also has three photos of Bellamy at his drawing board and also a one page review of the Heros the Spartan reprint.

The back cover is in the form of a Fraser of Africa strip with photos inserted into panels. I had it drawn to my attention that "Kettering does not lie on the Northern Line". When I re-read all the articles I hadn't a clue what my friend was telling me until he explained that the first panel on the last page states Bellamy, in these photos, is working in his Kettering studio. He was in fact at this time (1960-1961) in Morden, Surrey and only returned to Kettering in 1975, a year before his death.

Frank Bellamy in Morden
If you'd like to buy an individual copy of the Eagle Times (which is normally available by subscription - see the Eagle Times blog for details)

By the way does anyone know what happened to Doug Gifford mentioned above? Note: not Denis Gifford who passed away in 2000.

Thursday 13 November 2014

Frank Bellamy and Egmont Thunderbirds reprints

Collage from Volume 5

I have finally got copies of the books which Egmont list as being published in September and Egmont themselves haven't caught up yet by adding them to their Classic Comics website. I've grabbed the covers and details from the publicity available in their main catalogue. However note that the cover for Volume 2 changed on publication - which often happens. The correct cover appears below.

Interestingly Amazon has some strange ways of cataloguing this data (Thunderbirds Comic: Volume V has a Roman numeral and not a Latin numeral). Volume 1 has the sub-title of Garen Ewing's excellent Rainbow Orchid comic (see Footnote) Volume 2 has the correct published cover which is a cropped image of the comic cover - for obvious reasons they want to highlight only TB2!
Art by Graham Bleathman

I have listed all these in the reprint list on the website.Graham Bleathman drew 4 out of 5 of these covers back in the early 1990s for the Thunderbirds comic edited by Alan Fennell
  • Volume 1 came from Thunderbirds the comic #13
  • Volume 2 came from Thunderbirds the comic #2
  • Volume 3 came from Thunderbirds the comic #8
  • Volume 4 came from Thunderbirds the comic #11
  • Volume 5 came from Thunderbirds the comic #22 (Cover by Steve Kyte)
Interestingly, and it seems appropriate to mention it here, Graham's excellent cutaway drawings are published now as well. The book (shown below) Inside the World of Gerry Anderson retails at £17.99 and Graham has written a foreword - and being a fan of TV21 and a collector himself he notes the differences between the cutaways published here and those that haven't been, the history of how got into this work and how Alan Fennel hired him. A nice little history and a lovely hardback and when I asked Graham about it earlier in the year, he said "There is no direct Bellamy connection, except for the fact that a couple of cutaways are of ships or locations that Bellamy designed (notably ‘The President’ liner)."
Thanks Graham!

Graham Bleathman's "Inside the worlds of Gerry Anderson"
Anyway back to Frank Bellamy, who is yet to appear in this article! All 5 volumes contain the materials mentioned in the previous article on "Thunderbirds the comic collection but with some differences in packaging

Firstly the back covers with nice silhouettes of the craft - and matching colours....

Then each title page has a piece of art and a silhouette.....

 And then each contents page has artwork selections......

Volume One

Volume Two

Volume Three

Volume Four
Volume Five

Although Egmont credit John Cooper (on the story pages) correctly with having done two out of the three stories in Volume 5, they make the same mistake on the contents page as they did on the hardback Collection. So the stories "The Big Bang" and "The Mini Moon" are not illustrated by Bellamy.

Lastly I should say the presentations are really nice and the feel of the covers (matt) is very pleasant. Also to make up the page count someone used some imagination and created a collage of Bellamy and Cooper art - nice touch - see picture at top of this article!

So stop ignoring your Christmas shopping and get these books for friends who have never heard of Frank Bellamy. A nice series.

FOOTNOTE: Trust me! The Complete Rainbow Orchid (The Rainbow Orchid) by Garen Ewing is great fun to read and is better than Herge's Tin-Tin, in my opinion! Egmont will love me for mentioning this!

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Frank Bellamy's MANHUNT reprinted

Tuesday 4 November 2014 © Daily Mirror
Martin Baines is a great guy as I'm sure I've been telling you since 2011, when the Daily Mirror newspaper first reprinted Frank Bellamy's run of 'Garth' stories and asked Martin to colour them. I've been waiting to see whether the only two stories drawn by Bellamy not yet reprinted in colour in the Daily Mirror  - 'Freak Out to Fear' and 'Manhunt' - would appear, and here's the first of the two...The Manhunt.

K239 Original art
I wonder why they've chosen to colour over the ladies' cleavage in this story (compare the colour to the black and white strips above) and not the previous stories, which have shown plenty of cleavage. Fans of Bellamy will want to see unadulterated artwork - some don't even like them being coloured - but why reprint a story and change the artwork? The reason I think, is that it shows how much society has changed since the Seventies - forty years ago!

The Daily Mirror has done this before when they reprinted a group of Bellamy's 'Garth' in annual form in 1975. This, I think was understandable, as in the 1970s only children bought annuals that had comic strips in them - the old argument, "comics are only children's ephemera". However, very strangely the Daily Mirror, at that time, issued a second annual (1976) , but left it uncensored in terms of naked ladies - see my previous thinking on this!
The story was previously reprinted in Mirror Classic Cartoon Collection, edited by Mike Higgs, London: Hawk 1998

Here's an example of Martin Asbury's art - having taken over from Bellamy due to his death in 1976, in which we see an example of what's on show. It will be interesting to see where this goes and whether a story on drugs ('Freak Out to Fear') appears which I for one think it should. This is a really great story that is very similar in tone to the Garth story 'The Chiller Connection' that was run in the Mirror recently last year. Come on Daily Mirror let us have the last story to be reprinted by Frank Bellamy....PLEASE!.

K268-K269 Art: Martin Asbury

Anyway getting off my soap box and back to Bellamy's art, he drew 15 episodes for the story before his early death. Martin Asbury took over, doing a great job of emulating Bellamy's style for a while, before signing his own artwork and starting to lose some of the restrictions of following another artist.

Bellamy's last signed strip is K254 (25 October 1976), however the credit above the strip as printed in the paper is Martin Asbury. Bill Storie asked Martin about this and wrote (in the Gopherville Argus #1 June 1992 in his John Allard interview),

"Martin has since confirmed to me that Frank left no pencils or unfinished artwork and Martin took over 'from scratch', although he admits to drawing the first few strips in the Bellamy style"

It will be interesting to follow this story and see how fans react!

Once again MANY thanks for Martin's generosity in sharing this work with us

Saturday 25 October 2014

Frank Bellamy and the Cartoon Museum and Supermarionation

TV21 #214 Page 10

TV21 #214 Page 11

Richard Sheaf kindly alerted me to this news item that might have passed you by

The original art from TV21 #213 (1st of the two pages appearing in that issue of the comic) was up for sale at the Comic Postal Auctions website - as previously mentioned (and I'll enter the result when and if that's published) but I infer from a press release that it has been bought as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund "Collecting Cultures" initiative. I haven't had an answer to my email enquiry so if someone knows the answer please get in contact. Are you listening Anita? [And she was, and replied, "No you are correct we have not bought the Thunderbirds piece or any of the other images used. They are purely to show the kind of things we are considering. We had to provide some images of the type of material we are considering for the HLF publicity. I'm sorry if this has caused confusion"].

The banner used in the cartoon Museum's announcement

The Cartoon Museum was set up in 2006 - you can learn more about it on their webpages and you might remember I helped put a few people in contact with them regarding their Doctor Who in Comics exhibition. They have an article on the Lottery's initiative on their website in which they state:

The Cartoon Museum is delighted to announce that it has been awarded £164,300 for its Comic Creators project by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The project is part of HLF’s £5m funding package to a range of museums, libraries and archives across the UK.  Under HLF’s Collecting Cultures programme, 23 organisations, from Glasgow down to Brighton, will be able to enhance the scope of their collections and the Cartoon Museum is one of them.


Amongst the characters the museum is hoping to collect are Dennis the Menace, The Bash Street Kids, Desperate Dan, Ally Sloper, Belle of the Ballet, Dan Dare, Judge Dredd, Watchmen, The Four Marys, Lord Snooty, Roy of the Rovers, Captain Hurricane, The Fat Slags, Slaine, Gemma Bovery, Modesty Blaise, Doctor Who, Thunderbirds, Rupert, Marvelman, V for Vendetta and Tank Girl. [Emboldening mine]

So to me this isn't clear if the represented piece has been bought or not! [See update above]

On the 7th October, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced "23 museums, libraries and archives – large and small – benefit from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) £5million investment." Their site states "Collecting Cultures supports museums, libraries and archives to develop their collections through strategic acquisition projects. The first programme was in 2007 and the second in 2014"

So I'm hoping they have bought this piece but shall wait and seek confirmation

The Supermarionation boxed set

The other bit of news that I haven't said anything about, and to be honest there is no Bellamy in it, that I've found yet, is that Network DVD's release of the Supermarionation boxed set has now been shipped to those who pre-ordered - and that's me!. The whole box job is not cheap but I absolutely loved unpacking the contents - especially the book by Stephen La Riviere and of course the latest (and one off) TV21 comic (reviewed by Downthetubes and Lew Stringer)! Great fun and congratulations to all involved on a great product. My wife is sympathetic and admits to still loving Thunderbirds - we have not yet bought the Thunderbirds boxed set - so we are enjoying watching these miscellaneous episodes!

And just in case I forget to include any Frank Bellamy artwork I've placed the next two episodes of the story "Zoo Ship" mentioned in the previous article