Monday 30 September 2019

Frank Bellamy and Al Williamson Part Two

Eagle 9 March 1963 Vol.14:10
My friend David Jackson is today's guest blogger and we have both looked extensively at the subject of Al Williamson 'recycling' Frank Bellamy's work. Before I hand over to him I have to say we both love Williamson's work, his fine line and his figure work are sublime. And as we'll see every artist has to use reference taken from somewhere, so please don't think this is critical of Williamson.

Norman has written here previously about Barry Smith, Al Williamson and Wally Wood on occasion borrowing some of their references from the published work of Frank Bellamy - (from "Heros the Spartan", "Montgomery" and "Dan Dare", respectively).

Now Norman has turned up online a fanzine discussion of the issue in Alter Ego #155 (November 2018), which focussed on the artistic borrowings of Dan Adkins, but also by chance had identified the same found references from "Heros the Spartan" used by Al Williamson which also separately came to light again recently.

Early professional comic art studio experiences, directed towards meeting deadlines and just 'getting the job done', served to lend themselves to a cavalier attitude towards such adaptations as, and when, needs must and also produced the quickest best results. Artists had learned 'This was how it was done!'.
Al Williamson drawing Flash Gordon in the mid-60s for
Flash Gordon #5 "Terror of the Blue Death" story
Thanks to Doug Pratt for the image

Wally Wood once set out a famous and often quoted credo:
"Never draw what you can copy; never copy what you can trace; and never trace what you can cut out and paste in!" 

Wally Wood's own work was itself used by Frank Frazetta as a Buck Rogers interior rocketship background for Famous Funnies #213, as Frazetta freely related in a 1995 interview and quoted by Heritage Auctions.

According to Frazetta, in a later Doc Dave interview "Frazetta and Photography and Life":
Wally (Wood), Al (Williamson) and Roy (Krenkel) had filing cabinets with swipe files of everything. Krenkel always quoted Picasso to Frazetta: “Picasso said to steal from the best if you want to get better.”
Such genius talents, whether up against a deadline or not, have sufficient abilities themselves never to need to take a lend of other artist's work. That they have sometimes done so obviously is likely to be an in-joke reference to those in the know, as from any realistic supposed necessity.

The question of influences was raised in the Fantasy Advertiser Frank Bellamy interview.
FB: "I've often been asked if people have influenced me. I find it difficult to sort out the difference between people who influence me or impress me with their work. One person who did impress me was Fortunino Matania, an artist who specialized in highly detailed work on Greece, Ancient Egypt and World War One. I have a great admiration for him."
The first Garth story, "Sundance", makes use of a design idea of figures which stand in front of, as distinct from within, a panoramic landscape frame background, in a 'tip-of-the-hat' (whilst still being original to FB - not in that sense copied from) to a motif of classic illustrator Fortunino Matania.

Garth: Sundance #E190 - see middle panel

"Ridicule, the Great Castigator" (1933) by Fortunino Matania
Alter Ego #155 credits both Frank Bellamy and Fortunino Matania among the then more obscure - as seen from American viewpoint - reference sources used in comic book art and illustration.

Sometimes it is simply a case of seeing a certain image or stylistic technique which so appeals to a particular artist that they feel they have to create their own version, possibly to somehow 'exorcise' it.

There is an understandable conflict for developing artists who have for so many years found their overriding inspiration in one particular artist. Neal Adams has acknowledged a number of influences, such as Stan Drake, and joked of his own stylistic influence on others, saying: "I don't know what I did to that guy."

There are variations on the theme discussed on the web, and 'found reference', copying, plagiarism, rip-off, or swiping is still a lively subject of back and forth debate.

Below is a further example in the Warren publishing black and white magazine Creepy #6  with a six page comic strip, set in an Ancient Rome arena, "Thumbs Down!" drawn by Al Williamson, with several identifiable similarities to episodes of "Heros the Spartan" in Eagle.

However - as disclosed in the previous post reference a story for Blazing Combat - despite Al Williamson's self-acknowledged indebtedness to Frank Bellamy in that instance, in the above case with "Heros the Spartan", it is also the rendering of that character by Luis Bermejo which provided references...

Let's take each Creepy page in turn and see if we can find the details borrowed by Al Williamson. Anne T. Murphy wrote the script for Williamson to draw and the issue of Creepy went on sale on 17 September 1965 in the States.


Creepy #6 p.13 (All page numbers are from the original Creepy magazine
- these scans are from the Dark Horse e-reprint)
Let's start with the helmet which is used as a title/introduction area decoration on page 13 of the Creepy story. This is an instance of Bermejo's art being used. It appears in Eagle (24th October 1964 Vol.15 No.43)

Eagle 24 Oct 1964 Vol.15:43 Art by Luis Bermejo
Is the Caesar's head on the right
(2nd frame from bottom of double spread)
the inspiration for Caesar in Creepy p. 13?

Now if we look at the second episode of Heros (in the story "Eagle of the Fifth"), drawn by Frank Bellamy  (Eagle 16 March 1963 Vol.14:11) we see the last panel contains a familiar head shot.

Eagle 16 March 1963 Vol.14:11

Moving on to page 14 of the Creepy story we find some more Bellamy artwork. But before that you might spot that the cityscape in the top tier of Bermejo's Heros frames at left (Eagle 24 Oct 1964 Vol.15:43) are re-used in Creepy p14 below.
Creepy #6 p.14
The muscular figure at bottom left looks very like a Gray Morrow figure

Eagle 30 March 1963 Vol.14:13
The top tier of Heros shows a very close likeness to the guy in the middle of Creepy page 14 (as seen below)

Cassius' portrait from Creepy p.14 above (in the middle tier, right hand side) comes from a later episode in the Heros story (Eagle 5 October 1963 Vol.14:40)

Berbrix from Eagle 5 October 1963 Vol.14:40

The 30 March 1963 issue of Eagle certainly helped Williamson a lot as we'll see.


Creepy #6 p.15
The background stonework arches in second tier, used in Creepy p.15 appear in the first Bermejo strip above (Eagle 24 Oct 1964 Vol.15:43) and the scene showing the prison bars are very similar to Frank Bellamy's in Eagle 9 March 1963 Vol.14:10 (at the top of this article). The most glaring example of a swipe is the head at the bottom of this page - taken from Eagle shown above (Eagle 16 March 1963 Vol.14:11)

Eagle 16 March 1963 Vol.14:11
Bracchus' head facing right, in the middle tier, looks as if it could be adapted from many Bellamy drawings, but we can't exactly match it, but imagine the head in the second panel in Eagle 30 March 1963 Vol.14:13 (- shown above) mirrored or flipped as below

Unlikely match as Williamson seems to have not mirrored anything...but see below


Creepy #6 p.16
Eagle 23 March 1963 Vol.14:12
In Eagle Vol.14:12 the figure at the top right is reversed for Creepy p.16 top left frame. And the most noticeable head is of Bracchus in the bottom right of Creepy p.16 which is also from the above Eagle.  But interestingly the head is adapted successively by both Luis Bermejo (for a later Heros story) and Al Williamson for the last frames of Eagle Vol.14:46 (see image below) and Creepy p.16.

Eagle 16 November 1963 Vol.14:46 Art by Luis Bermejo

Creepy #6 p.17

See below for Eagle 30 March 1963 Vol.14:13 for the two heads at the bottom of Creepy p.17.

Eagle 30 March 1963 Vol.14:13
We couldn't match any of this to Bellamy

Creepy #6 p.18

Frank Bellamy, by contrast, interestingly and invariably, produced finished art which only superficially derived from his source references, even those which could have been supplied for the purpose by clients commissioning the work. Providing the client with an original work seems to have been a boundary FB set for himself.

David Bellamy says in his Commentary for Timeview, (the engaging book of collected "Doctor Who" illustrations for Radio Times), that the photographic references sent to his father were not then traced but rather the essential elements of a photograph were envisioned in the resulting illustration. "Bridge On The River Kwai" for Radio Times is similarly an example of this.

Radio Times (21/12/1974 - 03/01/1975) Bridge on the River Kwai p.46

Even the uncompleted first version of The Sunday Times Magazine inside horse racing spread, originally titled "Devious Ways to Win", was not reused by Frank Bellamy when for some reason it became necessary, part way through, to re-draw it. It might be expected that any artist would trace-off and re-use his own work but FB did not do so. Instead, surprisingly and seemingly as easily, the work was started again from scratch and entirely re-envisioned and redrawn..!

Many thanks David.

The inspiration for this article was Twomorrows' excellent magazine Alter Ego : -
Alter Ego (2018) #155 “Dan Adkins And The Incredible Tracing Machine!” Revisited (Part 3) by Michael T. Gilbert. November 2018, pp 63-69.

Dan Adkins himself (quoted from a "circa 1969-70 letter to Modern Collectors Review’s editor, John McLaughlin") states:

I don’t have any Eagles, [..] a great British comic. [...] Al Williamson’s gladiator story in Creepy #6 was taken almost entirely from Frank Bellamy’s art from Eagle

That’s what I mean by the whole thing being silly. I know that some of the best artists around swipe. I see it. They tell me! But you don’t have the old stuff or the British stuff to catch them and I don’t have it to play the games. Not that I could play as well as Al anyway. I could play the same, but he’s a better artist.
I remember when I was a kid, Rich Buckler coming under similar fire, but as he recently said in a Comic Book Creator article his work at Marvel was seen as cloning Kirby and at DC cloning Neal Adams!
The interesting thing for me has been looking more closely for 'borrowed' images and wondering where did Bellamy get such confidence in his portraits? I look at a lot of images all over the Internet and hardly ever see anything similar to Williamson's borrowing when it comes to Bellamy and as David has said above with Alec Guinness' image (and previously regarding Olivia de Havilland) he uses photos but adjusts them.

I hope this is the last review of Williamson and Bellamy I do, but does anyone want to join in and identify any of Bellamy's work in others' work?

Thursday 22 August 2019

ORIGINAL ART: Thunderbirds from TV21 #213 (Page 1)

Art for "Thunderbirds" in TV21 #213 by Frank Bellamy

What an interesting surprise! Excalibur is an auction house specializing in toys and movie merchandise and comics. Their auctions are online at The Saleroom As they say "Our next auction will be held on 6th / 7th September." and it's called "Model Railways; Movie, Music, and TV Memorabilia, Posters, Autographs, Comic Book Original Art and Comic Books" - so just about everything!

"Thunderbirds" header - compare to printed box below

"Thunderbirds" as printed in TV21 #213

The above original artwork is the first page of the story that appeared in TV21 #213 and you can see another fine example of how storing Bellamy's artwork brings dividends in terms of preserved colour. There appears to be no fading here. I remember when the TV21 comic came out at this period and the colour reproduction was nowhere near as good as when Bellamy first appeared in it in issue #52. And indeed if we compare the artwork to the comic reproduction we can see this - a sort of 'dulling' of colour with a hint that there was something lovely. Mind you the reproduction towards the end of TV21's run was worse still!

The auctioneers have shown close-ups of the artwork so I have grabbed there here for posterity.


The Hood

Excalibur describe the piece:
THUNDERBIRDS (1969) - ORIGINAL ARTWORK from TV21 Comic- FRANK BELLAMY (Artist) - TV21: Issue # 213 - Part 5 Page 1 (of story) - "Leaving Scott (Tracy) for dead in the cavern Professor Beresford peels the face mask away to reveal the Tracys' arch enemy, The Hood ..!" Also features Brains, Thunderbird 4 & Thunderbird 2 'pod' - Bright Pelikan inks on board with hand written annotations to title area - (18" x 15" - 45.75 x 38 cm) 15.5" (26.5 x 39.5 cm) Flat/Unfolded - Very Fine (Full Colour) In addition the buyer will receive a copy of the original TV21 Comic issue number 213 February 15th 2069 (1969)
The lot (#1192) auction is on Saturday 7 September 2019 at 11:00 BST (includes Lots: 1001-1655) - the day before (6 September 2019 at 14:00 BST,  Lots: 1-333 are up for auction. It previously sold for £821 ironically on 7 September 2014

Gordon and Thunderbird 4
I'll update the spreadsheet and the details below after the auction

WHERE?: Excalibur c/o TheSaleroom
STARTING BID:£900 (Auctioneer's estimate: £1,500-£2,000)
END DATE: Saturday 7 September 2019

Thursday 15 August 2019

ORIGINAL ART: Garth, Heros and Fraser of Africa and more!

Original artwork by Frank Bellamy
Comic Book Auctions have their latest catalogue available which includes a few exciting Bellamy items. As usual bidding is also available on The Saleroom where pictures can be seen of all lots -  which I have borrowed here in the case of Bellamy.


The first piece of original art up for auction is "Heros the Spartan" episode 21 (17 July 1965) of the last full length Heros story Bellamy illustrated in Eagle. It's the penultimate episode of the story "The Slave Army" which ran in Vol. 16:9 - 16:30 (27 February 1965 - 24 July 1965) and certainly showed off Bellamy's colour work beautifully. These art boards are so rare that we might see a record broken for the highest priced Heros artwork by Bellamy. The last one I saw was in 2017 and sold for £1,559.43. Comic Book Auctions describe this particular one:
Heros The Spartan double-page original artwork (1965) painted and signed by Frank Bellamy from The Eagle Vol. 16 No 29, 1965. From the Bob Monkhouse Archive. Heros and his renegade slave army counter a ferocious attack from the Berbers and Abdullah the Cruel until the Berber Chieftain, El Raschid, challenges Heros to a deadly duel... Pelikan inks on board. 27 x 18 ins
Here's the published version for your (not at all perfect) comparison but you can see that the blues have held well on the original:

Eagle 17 July 1965 Vol.16 No29


Next we have another rarity. "Fraser of Africa" (written by George Beardmore) which must have been one of Bellamy's favourite strips. The subject of Africa was his favourite and his artwork - drawn the same size as published - showed a wonderful muted colour palette to mimic the arid African heat. This example has a lovely portrait of a lion.  This is from the first story, "Lost Safari" which ran in Eagle Vol. 11:32-12:4 (6 August 1960 - 28 January 1961) and was reprinted in the Hawk Book Fraser of Africa (Eagle classics series) in 1990. If I wanted one thing reprinted from original art it would be these three stories of "Fraser". Notice that three captions are missing from the artwork - most likely fallen off at some point, but do show where Bellamy did and didn't do the lettering. 

Eagle Vol. 11 No 36 (3 September 1960)
The auction is described:

Fraser of Africa/Eagle original artwork (1960) drawn, painted and signed by Frank Bellamy from The Eagle Vol. 11: No 36. From the Bob Monkhouse Archive. As part of his research, Bellamy had corresponded with a farmer in Kenya who had advised him on the wildlife he depicted and, ever the perfectionist, he used a limited palette of yellows and browns to capture the parched East African landscape. This page is Episode 5 of Bellamy's first Fraser of Africa story. Pelican inks on board. 14 x 12 ins

GARTH (Lot 112)

3 episodes of  "Garth: Sundance" Drawn by Frank Bellamy
This amazing lot has three Garth episodes (E206, E212 and E223) of the first story that Bellamy illustrated called Sundance. It was a strange situation which Bellamy himself admitted, with John Allard, the previous artist, still contributing to the strip - note the lines to indicate clouds on the first two. You can read what Bellamy said here.   To see strips from this story is extremely rare so expect high amounts of money to be exchanged.

This lot is described:
Garth: 3 original artworks (1971) by Frank Bellamy from the Daily Mirror 1st/8th/25th September 1971. From the Bob Monkhouse Archive. Garth and General Custer lead the 7th Cavalry charge against Sitting Bull. Indian ink on board. 20 x 18 ins (x3)
And finally....

I don't usually highlight other comics in which Bellamy's work appears, when they're in the same auction (where would it end?!) But because we recently discovered The Mighty Comic Annual which has a cover by Frank Bellamy and was published by Gerald Swan before 1950, here it is. Peter Hansen (watch an interview with him by John Freeman) shared the cover on Facebook and said that there is no artwork by Bellamy inside  - just the cover.

The Mighty Comic Annual (Lot 42)

Malcolm Phillips describes this item, which is from the Hansen Archive:

Mighty Comic Annual (1948 G.G. Swan) with Frank Bellamy cover art containing Archie, Betty and Veronica and Katy Keene US reprints - interior stories by Henry Banger and Ron Embleton
Geoff Harrison mentioned on Facebook that he has two copies of The Mighty Comic Annual in which the contents are different but the cover the same - so see the listing above!

The annuals sold for £80 plus fees


WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions Linited
STARTING BID: [Opening bid £740 - Auctioneer's estimate £800-£1,000]
ENDING PRICE:£5,800 (plus fees)
END DATE: Sunday 1 September 2019

GARTH: E206, E212 and E223
WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions Linited
STARTING BID: [Opening bid £640 - Auctioneer's estimate: £700-£900]
ENDING PRICE:£1,140 plus fees
END DATE: Sunday 1 September 2019

WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions Linited
STARTING BID: [Opening bid £1,360 - Auctioneer's estimate £1,500-£2,000]
ENDING PRICE:£7,300 plus fees

END DATE: Sunday 1 September 2019

Thursday 11 July 2019

Frank Bellamy Apollo 11 anniversary

Daily Mirror 11 July 1969
Note the added numbering in each panel

JULY 1969 A.D.
(The plaque left on the Moon after Apollo 11 departed)

That was 50 years ago today and I first wrote about Bellamy's brilliant double-page spread (plus single illustration) of the Moon Landing 10 years ago here!  The original was published Friday 11 July 1969 - yes 10 days before the most historic moment - the first landing on the Moon! It showed the stages of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's stay over 21 hours, 36 minutes on the moon's surface plus their lift-off from the Moon

Frank Bellamy artwork from 11 July 1969 Daily Mirror 
 Thanks to Alan Davis for the clean artwork
But I thought to celebrate this momentous day I'd share some of Alan Davis' brilliant archiving of Bellamy's work and add to the story.

Firstly we have this lovely - unfinished - drawing where we can see a sketch of the height of an astronaut worked out (on the right) plus a pencil sketch of an astronaut climbing the steps. All artists use reference material for things like this and whether Bellamy was supplied with photos etc., we don't know. However we do know he owned a model just like the one I had as a child.Did he get it fully assembled? Did he build it himself? We don't yet know.

Lunar Module by Frank Bellamy - thanks to Alan Davis
Note the difference from the LM above
Photo rescued by Alan Davis

Photo rescued by Alan Davis
Compare the top left of the double page spread

Vintage Airfix states the Airfix Lunar Module kit first appeared in 1969:

Complete with astronauts, lunar surface experiments and the American flag, this intricately detailed kit builds into an exact replica of the Lunar Module on its moon base.    - From 8th Edition (1970) Airfix catalogue
3 March 1969 was the date of Apollo 9's flight with an LM in low orbit around Earth so the design was fairly fixed by then so I'd guess Airfix had designs from NASA to produce the model. The "Britmodeller", Ventora3300, shows the stages of his build of the kit here which is far better than the one I did!

Taken from Mike Cavin's Flickr

Taken from Mike Cavin's Flickr
Anyway back to Frank Bellamy. In two interviews we know of Bellamy mentioning the Moon landing piece, of which he was rightly proud. The first is from Fantasy Advertiser:

FA:  "You also did some work for the Daily Mirror, before you started Garth, I believe?"
FB:  Yes.  The first job I did for them was a centrespread at the time of, and about, the first moon landing."
David Jackson wrote to me about this and said
The salvaged studio photos of a model lunar lander, in themselves, have none of the dynamic and nuanced special qualities of the finished drawings, and, whatever visual references of NASA astronauts were provided for this task, again by some inspired means FB brilliantly envisioned and realized what was not there in the reference pictures, and rendered the spacesuits in action on the moon infinitely better than they ever actually looked in real life!

When Anglia TV's Chris Young interviewed him, Frank said:

FB:  "This one is pre the first moon landing.  I must tell you it's the first strip I've ever done minus balloons.  It would have been lovely to say 'We made it' but it is the first time drawing a strip minus balloons, and in this case for real, because after drawing for years science fiction, seemed funny to draw it actually happening."
CY:  "But that was done before the moon landing?"
FB:  "Before the actual moon landing."
CY:  "And were you fairly accurate?"
FB:  "All the way through, I understand."
CY:  "It all came true...ha ha!"
David Jackson commented to me:
His Apollo 11 moon landing work for the Daily Mirror had, 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 -  I can recall the media prior-speculation as to whether or not stars would in fact be seen - despite the 'ink black' daylight sky there. Frank would create really black areas of black in all his original art even it meant going over it half a dozen times.

Below is the poster that newsagents will have had at the time and many papers and magazines used the opportunity to run special features on this momentous event. The image is taken from Bellamy's centrespread but notice how effective that one panel is even when blown up to this size

Newsagents poster
David Jackson has noted (in Eagle Times 1995, Vol 8: 1 pp.39-44) when writing about Bellamy and his understanding of science and mechanics:

It is not an unreasonable view that "Bellamy . . . had no real interest in science fiction", but to argue from that, [...] that he "had no understanding of science and mechanics", is unreasonable.  Consider FB's graphics for the Daily Mirror 18 [sic] July 1969, published prior to the launch of  Apollo 11. Bellamy correctly anticipated visual reality before it actually occurred or was proved, eg:
  1. No stars visible from the daylight surface of the moon
  2. Blast-off of the LM ascent stage - which was not actually seen until a later mission left a camera transmitting from the lunar buggy.
It is something of an oversimplification to say FB "drew everything out of his head", but he had the capability of remembering and internalising - comprehending - and the ability to visualise, rotate and articulate geometric solids in three-dimensional space. Quote: Dennis Hopper, art editor TV21 (STRIPS '78/COMICS 103 booklet): "Heros [the Spartan]" must rate highly . . . but this strip ignored two of Frank's greatest gifts. His conception of geometric form and his vision of the future."


On the 1 August 1969 Bellamy paid a cheque for £145 into his bank account which he labelled "Daily Mirror: Apollo 11" and in October a cheque for £75 was paid in labelled, mysteriously, "Daily Mirror Moon Map". I've looked through an awful lot Daily Mirrors from that time and not found this map, but here's what I did find in case anyone else can help.

The amount he was paid for this "moon map" is the same as for a later large black and white image in the Daily Mirror.

A large (two separate double pages) moon map was published in the Daily Mirror Friday 18 July 1969 - a  "Mirrorscope Moon Special". I have a copy and the credits are on the map:
"Moon Map copyright Hallwag, Berne, Switzerland.  Additional graphics by Roy Foster and Roy Wright.".  The map used was created by Hans Schwarzenbach and published by Hallwag, known for cartographic tourist materials, in 1969.

David Jackson also has a copy and adds:
The named lunar places are typeset; plus additions of lettering in "UNO" pen stencil looking style indicating various moon landing sites, with map 'key' text.
Tellingly you might think (I know I do!) the lunar 'seas' on this lunar map consist of stipple and scribble shading...
So David can't see anyone else doing the stippling on the maps below but Bellamy.

 I felt maybe this couldn't be the case - no credit and the price he was paid. But David thinks this a red herring as:
The way the industry and Mirror could have been looking at it, might have been that it was two double-page spreads, and in newsprint terms (purely as square feet+inches) would be a way to quantify things  - or that would be natural when it came to selling advertising space for example...
If Bellamy did the stippling and adaptation of the shading to newsprint he might not care about being credited. But being tenacious I looked further.

In the Daily Mirror 4 October 1969 there is mention on page 7 of "The great moon game"
Daily Mirror 4 October 1969, p.7

"BLAST-OFF! Get into orbit today with the Mirror's Great Moon Game competition" [...] "Hundreds of consolation prizes await successful entrants in our Moon Game You could win a superb forty-eight page Moon Flight Atlas, a huge full colour Moon Map. or a fascinating Moon Globe"  -Emphasis mine
Results were to be published in the Daily Mirror for Monday November 3 but I haven't seen that and don't expect to see the moon map there. I imagine as they used the Hallwag map, they bought/were given some copies to distribute. A full colour piece in the Daily Mirror fetched a larger income than the suggested amount of £75so I suspect that David might be right.

What do you think?

Frank Bellamy artwork from 11 July 1969 Daily Mirror


When I was a kid in 1969 on the cusp of becoming a teenager, the only experience of the Apollo mission was via television or in books, magazines, model kits and slides. Now we can hear the whole mission spoken by the people who took part and watch video on The First Men on the Moon: The Apollo 11 Lunar Landing.
This project is an online interactive featuring the Eagle lunar landing. The presentation includes original Apollo 11 spaceflight video footage, communication audio, mission control room conversations, text transcripts, and telemetry data, all synchronized into an integrated audio-visual experience.
Turn your PC speakers on, click GO and sit back! And remember Bellamy got there a manner of speaking

The Map House has an exhibition which ends on August 21 2019 - read more here - and see the Hallwag map

Don't forget Alan Davis' site of Bellamy's work

If you want to know more about those experiments that appear in the Airfix kit and Bellamy's illustration, - EASEPs (Early Apollo Surface Experiments Package) and ALSEPs (Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package) see Brian J. O'Brien's site

Tuesday 21 May 2019

ORIGINAL ART: Bob Monkhouse Estate: Thunderbirds, Garth and Dan Dare

Original art from the Bob Monkhouse collection
Thunderbirds from TV21 #105
UPDATED PRICES BELOW - Frank Bellamy record price for Thunderbirds!

I apologise for the quiet that has descended on this blog. Various life events occurred, the latest of which was my stupidity in lifting railway sleepers (used as raised beds in our garden) by myself and thus damaging my back! I'm recovering and doing my gentle exercises, but can I remind you all, be careful of your back... seriously!

Anyway better things. It's Frank Bellamy's birthday. The more I look at his artwork, the more I am amazed at how this self-taught man moved from a provincial advertising studio in Kettering to another in London before going on to a long career in comics and illustration week in, week out. His use of space in constricted newspaper strips was incredible - even to look at today and his full colour double page spreads still leave me wanting more!

In the latest (May/June 2019) Comic Book Auctions Limited  we have again some artwork released from the estate of the late Bob Monkhouse. By the way, watch him on YouTube in his final performance and remind yourselves what a great comic he was!)

Let's start chronologically with Dan Dare

Eagle 9 April 1960 (Vol.11 No 15)
The printed version
I wrote about how Wally Wood used some of this page (in an article on Al Williamson) and here it is up for auction! Monkhouse looks to have stored his stuff very well and this very unique piece is likely to have started fading before he got it, in my opinion. The printed version above is too saturated in blue and therefore is not a great comparison but I thought might be of interest!

This piece is described as:
Dan Dare original artwork painted and signed by Frank Bellamy for The Eagle Vol. 11, No 15 page 2 (9 April 1960)
Dan and Pierre blast off in Nimbus Two in search of the wreck of her sister ship
From the Bob Monkhouse archive
Pelikan inks on board. 17 x 13 ins
It appeared in the third, and last Dan Dare story Bellamy part illustrated in Eagle, "Project Nimbus" - appearing in Vol. 11:12 - 11:28 (19 March 1960 - 9 July 1960) and it's amazing to see this piece become available.   

The second item up for auction in chronological order was produced by Bellamy in  1967 (see the top of this article)

Comic Book Auctions Limited describes this:
Thunderbirds original double page artwork (1967) drawn, painted and signed by Frank Bellamy for TV Century 21 No 105, 1967
From the Bob Monkhouse archive
Carrying a priceless shipment, Deathprobe 1's controls are jammed and the pilot is refused permission to abort ... Thunderbirds 2 and 3 are go ...
Bright Pelikan inks on board. 28 x 20 ins
In the photos Nancy Bellamy shared with us, there was a photo of the cover of a magazine called Photography (May 1966). The same image was used on the Hotspur Annual of 1967 (dated 1968). Did Bellamy use it for reference for this Thunderbirds strip?
The Hotspur Annual 1968
Lastly we have also got three Garth strips from the story "The Mask of Atacama"  which ran originally in the Daily Mirror from 13 July 1973 - 25 October 1973 (#G165-G254). These are beautiful and show exactly what I meant by his use of such restricted space. Why Malcolm photographed them in the wrong order I don't know, but three consecutive numbers are up for grabs!

Garth #G238, G239, G240

Garth: 3 original consecutive artworks (1973) drawn and signed by Frank Bellamy from the Daily Mirror 6-9 October 1973
From the Bob Monkhouse archive
High priestess, Tiahuaca, sets a fiery trap for Garth and Atacama …
Indian ink on board. 20 x 18 ins (3)
I suspect these will go further than the estimate (as will the ones above!), and I'll update the spreadsheet with the sale prices as soon as they are published - thank you Malcolm!

And because we are celebrating Frank Bellamy's birthday here's an added bonus from the brilliant Menomonee Falls Gazette (#181), some episodes before the ones above and including them too!


Dan Dare
WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions Ltd.
ENDING PRICE: £2050.00 hammer price

END DATE: Sunday 2 June 2019 14:54 BST

Thunderbirds - TV21 #105
WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions Ltd
ENDING PRICE: £8300.00 hammer price
END DATE: Sunday 2 June 2019 15:26 BST

Garth: The Mask of Atacama
WHERE?: Comic Book Auctions Ltd.
ENDING PRICE: £1120.00 hammer price
END DATE: Sunday 2 June 2019 15:27 BST