Friday 25 September 2015

Ghost Town reprinted .....again!

Thanks to Ant Jones (of the Garth-Comic Strip Facebook page), I am now aware that Frank Bellamy's art is back in the Daily Mirror newspaper available nationally as of today.

I haven't bought the paper since the last reprint of Bellamy's work, which was "The Manhunt" story completed by Martin Asbury back in the 70s when Bellamy died and reprinted in the Daily Mirror last year. If it's reprinted on the usual Monday to Saturday routine, "Ghost Town" should end around Monday 9th November, (mirroring - sorry! - its original reprinting in the paper between 24 September 2011 and 8 November 2011).

It's interesting that the Mirror has decided to reprint a story so soon - especially as we haven't yet seen "Freak out to fear" reprinted at all in the Daily Mirror

I have scanned the whole page of strips below (hoping the Mirror won't sue me) as I was very impressed with the look of them now. They appeared to me to be nicely coloured and well reproduced (and I'm not saying this to avoid a lawsuit!). However.....

Daily Mirror 2015 September 25 p.38
However, I looked at the credits for the strip and realised that someone has, er, um, got something wrong. I don't know if I should be so rude to point it out as it's great the author of the tale is getting a credit as well as Bellamy and Martin Baines, the colourist. If Jim Edgar were still with us, I don't know if he'd laugh or get angry, but I thought it sad no-one checked his forename and his surname.

In the previous reprint of this story only Martin and Frank got credits, so well done Daily Mirror. The fact that John Allard doesn't get credited is not surprising as even Bellamy was confused what his role on the strip was at this time!

I recently found a 24 May 1961 copy of the Daily Mirror under some underlay. Take a look

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

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Frank Bellamy is still being published!

Look closely!

Over on my newly renamed Frank Bellamy Artwork Facebook page I often throw links to Bellamy I've found,  or recent news stories I don't think worth adding an article here about. But today I'm inspired to draw several threads (bad pun) together.

A young Paul Merton lookalike?

John Freeman and Jonathan Wyke alerted me to the fact that Bellamy jumpers (and scarves gentlemen!) are now available. But watch your bank account before hitting that Pay button! I'd love to know why Lou Dalton printed them in black and white and not colour.


For some great images (and an appreciation of Thunderbirds) see Nick Carvell, the Fashion Editor of page. I'm still amazed that people who produce Bellamy materials don't send me free copies to promote their products but maybe it's because I do it anyway! I won't be buying the jumpers or the scarves, as they cost quite a bit, the jumpers, £250 and the scarves, £120.They are available to buy exclusively online at Lou Dalton for obsessive fans!

Both products are in three colours: bottle green, dirty pink (!) and white and they suggest you could wear them with their neoprene funnel neck blouson (see image at top of this article). Personally that image doesn't work for me with the Parthal's plane shooting downwards.But my family will tell you I know nothing about fashion! My eldest daughter tells me off if she thinks I should buy a new 'going-out' shirt! Anyway I apologise for not crediting the photographer as I couldn't find his/her name. As Jonathan points out they didn't credit Frank Bellamy either!

Thunderbirds duvet with Bellamy artwork

Moving swiftly on there's also a duvet cover using Bellamy's artwork which is a lot cheaper at £29 (and I hesitate to ask my wife to sew two singles together!). For those who need to know, the Thunderbirds Single Duvet Set includes one duvet cover and one pillow case made of polycotton and is machine washable and is available easily online from Isme and sister site Very.This reminded me that I saw something by Bellamy previously used as a duvet cover and after asking on Facebook, Shaqui came back with one of his 'Easter eggs' from his wonderful site:

If anyone has a copy - or a photo - Shaqui and I would love to see it. It was being sold by Undercover of Deer Park, Gnosall, Staffordshire in 1992.

This of course brings us back to the clothing line above which uses Bellamy's designs from the story that appeared in TV Century 21 #141 - 146 (30 September 2067 - 4 November 2067), "The Earthquake Maker" written, we believe by Scott Goodall. The story is about a man called Parthal who creates eathquakes!

As you've stayed this long you deserve to see the printed story from which some of the above artwork originates.

TV21 #146 Art by Frank Bellamy

TV21 #146 Art by Frank Bellamy

And finally back to books. Lew Stringer spotted that a second volume of Thunderbirds the classic comic collection is due in November. Amazon has some details Thunderbirds The Comic Collection Volume 2.  The cover looks to be by Graham Bleathman and the details are somewhat thin, (witnessed by the following, "Warning: Not suitable for children under 3 years. For use under adult supervision") so I'll add more when they become a bit clearer, but the blurb sounds promising:
 Fifty years after Thunderbirds first blasted off onto British TV, discover the comic strips that captured the thrill and excitement of the cult TV series in spectacular style. This dazzling collection features the first twelve comic strips illustrated by the legendary Frank Bellamy originally published in the 1960’s.
Due in November 2015

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Egmont (5 Nov. 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405279214
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405279215
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 2.4 x 28 cm

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Frank Bellamy, Frank Norman and Insideout

In two previous posts we looked at some of Frank Bellamy's Sunday Times Colour Magazine work on horse racing and the nuclear bomb. Today I want to look at the issue dated 16th November 1969. The title of the double page spread is "Playwright's Progress" by Frank Norman. The contents page titles it "Playwright's Progress: three frustrating years in the life of a play and the man trying to get it produced". Bellamy referred to it as his "Royal Court" piece in the Dez Skinn/ Dave Gibbon interview.

The issue's cover features Carol Lynley, actress, posing for the feature "Playground of the stars: Malibu Beach", the colour magazine using its colour features well!

Cover showing Carol Lynley
We want to concentrate on Frank Norman's article which begins with the two page spread by Frank Bellamy. I thought the contracts must have been photographed and inserted into blank spaces left by the artist, but the original art - I've seen a scan of it - has all the letters and contracts on it! This piece features portraits of various theatre creative people such as Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Peter Hall, Lindsay Anderson, William Gaskill, John Boulton and Joan Littlewood. Can you spot any others such as the woman with Anderson or Tynan's dinner guests? And are we supposed to see Anderson directing Norman to "build up the part of the assistant governor"? This is odd as Ken Campbell directed the play and portraits of him online don't match in my opinion and it looks more like Anderson (whose credits do not include Insideout) but who was at the Royal Court at that time.

Sunday Times 16 November 1969 pp54-55
John Frank Norman - to give him his full name - had a biography on the now expired website The Goldonian which included his Dr. Barnardo's record, which I have edited down here:

JOHN FRANK NORMAN. (Illegitimate) Admitted 24.3.I937.
BORN: 9.6.I930 at I55 Whiteladies Road, Bristol.
BAPTIZED: C.of E. No particulars. Mother C.of E.
LAST SIX MONTHS ADDRESS: c/o Mrs A. Prittlewell, Southend-on-Sea.
LAST SCHOOL ATTENDED: Barnes Private School, Church Road, Barnes.


When our officer called, the conditions in applicants home were not at all good, and it was reported that John should not be allowed to remain there a day longer than necessary. John is a weak-looking child, and mentally backward, but he has never had a chance, being pushed about from pillar to post. At school he was said to be quite docile and friendly. The putative father should be persuaded to contribute regularly towards John's maintenance.

Sunday Times 16 November 1969 p.54
The biography on the defunct site has been adapted in the Wikipedia page. In 1957 aged 27 Frank Norman had started writing what was to become one of his best known books Bang to Rights. Within a year of his release from prison (the topic of his autobiographical work), he was published in Encounter magazine  - a 10,000 word extract from his prison memoir. Championed at first by the editor of the magazine Stephen Spender, and subsequently by Raymond Chandler who wrote the foreword to Bang to Rights, The book took two years to write and be published. Frank Norman is perhaps more famous for his work with Lionel Bart creating the musical "Fings Ain't wot they used t'be". Peter Roberts, writing about the musical for "Plays and Players" magazine (March 1960) states:

There is no glossary of terms used by Mr. Norman's low-life characters, which I would have thought indispensable to all except those who have either recently returned from one of Her Majesty's prisons or who have just read an account of the life lead therein in one of Mr. Norman's two books advertised in the same programme

Insideout which is the play written about in this Sunday Times article, is a prison play about Tommie White on his first term in prison and how prison does little to change his ways when he is later released. Norman felt strongly about the topic of prison, writing a letter to the Times about overcrowding (Frank Norman. "Overcrowded Prisons." Times [London, England] 9 Dec. 1969). On Saturday 20 December 1969 the last advert appears stating the play, Insideout directed by Ken Campbell is running for its last week.

Sunday Times 16 November 1969 p.54 - Contract

Sunday Times 16 November 1969 p.55
The original Sloane Square playhouse the "Royal Court Theatre" stood on the opposite side of the square to the current one. The original was flattened in a road widening scheme. The new theatre staged ten of George Bernard Shaw's plays between 1904 and 1907 and became a cinema in 1932 and remained derelict after the bombings of the Second World War until 1952. Under the artistic director George Devine, the company produced controversial new plays from John Osborne ("Look back in anger" is behind Bill Gaskill in Bellamy's illustration on page 55!), and Arnold Wesker.

Sunday Times 16 November 1969 p.55 - Peter Hall rejection letter
Frank Norman states at the end of his piece, "Insideout opens on November 26 and runs for four weeks" and as an interesting addition, Bellamy was obviously not shown the poster that would be used as he invents his own form of lettering as the poster in the last panel. If you want to read the complete text of the play, it apparently appears in full in "Plays and Players" magazine February 1970. I wonder if Bellamy got to see the play? He was paid £175 for his work so could easily afford a ticket! And I also wonder whether anyone sued - although I did search I couldn't find any evidence!

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Frank Bellamy and Monty Carstairs

UPDATED 5 Aug 2015- see below
I suspect a lot of people have never seen much of the "Monty Carstairs" strip in the Mickey Mouse Weekly  and I love the 'controlled' nature of Bellamy's early work. As listed on the website Bellamy drew "Monty Carstairs" from 25 July 1953 till 26 June 1954. he drew four stories, outlined below. From the first episode he had the full page but from 12 December 1953 to the end of his run Bellamy loses a sixth of the page to a comic strip cartoon. All his art is linework in black and white ink. The other strips in the comic in black and white are interesting to compare to as even here, Bellamy's earliest regular comic strip job, he tries to break the panel boundaries in his artwork.

Before we get to Bellamy's work I thought you might like to see some of the rest of the comic to give you a bit of context.

Mickey Mouse Weekly 13 Feb 1954 - Cover

The cover of this randomly selected issue (of the few I own) is taken up with the popular and iconic "Mickey Mouse" which makes sense.

Mickey Mouse Weekly 13 Feb 1954 pp2-3
We then have "Donald Duck"; "The Misadventures of Goofy" and on the opposite page "Billy Brave and his friends" (the latter drawn by Tony Weare)
Mickey Mouse Weekly 13 Feb 1954 p4
Frank Bellamy's artwork for "Monty Carstairs in the 'Mystery of the Black Pearls'" takes up most of the page with Smith's "Prinny" in the bottom sixth of the page. In this example Bellamy sticks to the common layout within Mickey Mouse Weekly (MMW) but still manages to differentiate nicely the day from night and leaves us with a visual cliff-hanger

Mickey Mouse Weekly 13 Feb 1954 p5
One of Malcolm Saville's Lone Pine novels is serialised here "Seven White Gates" with illustration by F. Stocks May and the feature "Mickey Mouse Jungle Club" appears below
Mickey Mouse Weekly 13 Feb 1954 pp6-7
The double page spread on pages 6-7 has "Walrus and the Carpenter" (from the 1951 film "Alice in Wonderland"), "Walt Disney's True Life Adventures: Olympic Elk", "Jaq and Gus" (from Cinderella), "Mad Hatter and the March Hare" and finally "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". You can read my previous article on the True Life Adventures here
Mickey Mouse Weekly 13 Feb 1954 p8
Page 8 gives us "Marney's Circus in 'South Seas Island Adventure'" and "Popsy" by Davis.

Mickey Mouse Weekly 13 Feb 1954 p9
"Whitey and the Killer Whales" featuring 'Willie the operatic whale' from the 1946 cartoon The Whale Who Wanted To Sing At the Met, is next famous from the film Make Mine Music.

Page 10 featured "Robin Alone" (which I have seen credited to Tony Weare, Bill Lacey and 'Unknown' - I'll vote for the latter for this particular episode and Lacey for many others I've seen! - however David Slinn has identified this as Bill Lacey - see below and he credits my 'unknown' artist as Edward Osmond) and Donald Duck's nephews "Huey, Dewey, and Louie"appear at the bottom of the page
Mickey Mouse Weekly 13 Feb 1954 p10
Page 11 stars "Peter Pan in 'The Secret of Joshua Slogg'" and "Jimmy and the little old engine" drawn by the well-known (in UK comics) Neville Main and I see that he is credited when some of these strips were published in 1954 by Brockhampton Press.

Mickey Mouse Weekly 13 Feb 1954 p11

Page 12, the back cover, has a strip adaptation of Disney's film "Rob Roy" which premièred  26 October 1953 in the UK drawn by Patrick Williams (thanks David Slinn for the identification).

Mickey Mouse Weekly 13 Feb 1954 p12

Now let's get to Bellamy's art in "Monty Carstairs". The artwork is lovely and clear (if not in my photos, forgive me!) and it doesn't take long for Bellamy to experiment - strictly in the constraints of 5 or 6 row strip


As far as I can see Monty Carstairs started some time just before April 1951 and was drawn by Cecil Orr, I think. (Issues I've seen in 1949 and up to December 1950 do not have Monty Carstairs). The excellent Inducks database says 25 August 1951 (unless I have misinterpreted and they mean the start of that particular story "The Green Dolphin"?). eBay searches show it's likely this might be the case as I have found "Red for Danger!", a Monty Carstairs Special agent cartoon serial story" mentioned for the issue dated 7 (and 24) April 1951. According the same eBay seller 7 July 1951 has the story "The Prisoner of the Chateau". Details are so sketchy for this series, if you can help I don't mind changing this.

The monocled Carstairs appears to be a common fictional device in the mould of Lord Peter Wimsey, who also wore a monocle and was the detective character created in 1923 by Dorothy L. Sayers.

1) The Secret of the Sands story has "the famous detective", "the prince of private investigators", "the gentleman adventurer" Monty Carstairs visiting Sandypoint Cove, Cornwall, where Tony and Mary Peers discover a German u-boat and some men who are up to no good!  We learn that Carstairs' bowler-hatted "Siamese servant" is called Mr. San, which could be translated from the Japanese as "Mr. Mr." - but kids were not so sophisticated back then and are likely not to have noticed this slight discrepancy!

 In the third row (above) we see Bellamy beginning to stretch himself and show something different.

I'm not suprised this is the page often reproduced as the villain looms large in intimidating the boy, especially with those thick lenses in his spectacles.

The second row here shows a telephone conversation - the pictures angled to add emphasising the device

2) The Mystery of the Musical Box has Sally Rogers and her twin cousins David & John visiting their Aunt Sophie's eponymous antique shop in Waterberry. But the story also involves an actual musical box too as the group solve the mystery of a missing painting

In this interesting page we see Bellamy's competent handling of architecture, internal and external. I wouldn't be surprised if the two buildings shown are somewhere around Kettering, his home town, - ask me sometime about the pub in Bellamy's Garth strip. I love the angles in this page too.

The middle panel here showing the car driving through a town, may not be perfect perspective but the houses look so interesting with a castle behind

I've blown up the panel that I love, with the description "beneath the starry sky that night..." we see the light of the moon shining in by virtue of the stark shadows and again detailing that makes the image so impressive.
3) The Mystery of the Black Pearls is the first story where Bellamy condenses the title to one panel (not the whole row as previously) in order to make room for the cartoon strip "Prinny" below. Joe is the orphaned nephew of Mr & Mrs Muggins (!) who own "The Shifted Anchor" pub. Joe, and a friend he makes, called Ann, help Carstairs solve the mystery.

Notice the third row and second panel above, where Bellamy, not uniquely, abandons the formal frame.In the example below he extends the last two panels across the usually 3 or 4 framed rows

Mickey Mouse Weekly 1954 February 13, p4

4) The Men from the East is unusual as it has a very grown-up theme, a missing British offical in Tibet and no children take part! I found the art to be rushed and not very exciting as it's set in Tibet there are lots of mountainous rocky outcrops which Bellamy was so adept at drawing but don't make for a great story. I think his mind was elsewhere at this point.

Strangely on 10 September 1954 the final story illustrated by Bellamy began its appearance in The Sydney Morning Herald and one part is available from the Sunday 26 December 1954 edition thanks to the excellent TROVE website. Can any of my Antipodean friends tell me more?

UPDATE from David Slinn (August 2015):
The most recent piece, covering the 1954 Mickey Mouse Weekly and your particularly detailed look at ‘Monty Carstairs’, was especially enlightening. Noting with interest, the resulting comments about how far ahead of “the field” he was, it does seem slightly puzzling this was Frank’s first major venture with a weekly strip. My theory, no more than that, is the post-war page-rates for adventure strips being pretty dire at the Amalgamated Press, and even more abysmal in Dundee, Odhams Press actually had – by comparison – a very generous scale of fees. Only when the Hulton Press entered the children’s market, was there anywhere else he could have earned, relative to magazine and advertising illustration, what he (or International Artists?) would consider – for the standards of artwork Frank strove to attain – a satisfactory living.

I’ve always regretted [despite, parental pressures on tidying-up, actually being responsible?] no longer having the issues of Mickey Mouse Weekly, sparsely purchased out of limited pocket-money, along with very early copies of Eagle.

I’ve a clear recollection of the first ‘Billy Brave’ story, starting in October 1950, when the Odhams’ title was enlarged and extensively revamped, to compete with Hulton’s phenomenal success. Billy’s hero was Stanley Matthews and the original story, drawn by Tony Weare, revolved around the frail youngster’s soccer ambitions, which were still apparently being pursued in February 1954. Briefly here: I’d say the ‘Robin Alone’ episode (though, it goes out of focus if enlarged) is Bill Lacey; as you mention, Tony Weare did draw some of the earlier series, while I’m fairly certain your probable “unknown”, was Edward Osmond – even, if it seems unlikely. The ‘Marney’s Circus’ adventure, has the look of being Tony Weare’s artwork, and therefore a reprint – which, over the years, particularly with ‘Robin Alone’, Odhams weren’t averse to utilising. ‘Popsy’ is the Roy Davis, of later prolific cartoon output and, while it obviously puzzled you, the ‘Rob Roy’ adaptation is none other than, Patrick Williams.