Thursday, 29 January 2015

Frank Bellamy original art on Heritage: Garth: People of the Abyss and Thunderbirds

I recently mentioned Heritage Auctions in America are selling 3 pieces of Bellamy Thunderbird artwork and wanted to let you know that they now also have a Garth strip for auction as well as another Thunderbirds strip. Heritage are so generous in giving us access to top quality photos/scans of the pieces. You can spend days looking at the beautiful archives on that site!

The Garth strip comes from the story 'The People of the Abyss' which was originally published in the Daily Mirror between 7 September 1972 - 23 December 1972 (#F211-F303). It's number F227. Apparently it contains an inscription from David Bellamy, Frank's son, which he most likely added when selling the artwork for the first time:
"This Garth original by my father, Frank Bellamy is dedicated to my good friend Jack Promo, who is the No. 1 Frank Bellamy fan of America. With all good wishes, from David Bellamy. 19 Sep 1977."

Frank Bellamy's art for Garth #F227
The Thunderbirds piece comes from the story "Visitor from space"  (or "The Jovian Eye" - one day I'll explain why we have multiple names for the Thunderbirds stories!) The story ran in TV21 #147 - 154 (11 November 2067 - 30 December 2067). It's been reprinted many times

Original artwork from TV21 #147 (Page 2)

I'll update the template below with the winning bids when the auction ends, but I thought you might like to see the two pages from the above story as printed (and scanned) in TV21 #147. Notice that this Bellamy colour piece is faded in the same way any of them do as a result of having them on display and the sun bleaching the colours! Still a great piece!


Garth strip:

Thunderbirds artwork:

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Frank Bellamy and a T-Shirt Rocket Design


Rocket design

In the 1970s, after a constant weekly deadline, Bellamy left regular comics work and took up illustrating 'Garth', in the Daily Mirror on a daily basis! To supplement his income he did illustrations for the Sunday Times Colour Magazine and the Radio Times. But he had always wanted to be seen as a 'serious' or fine artist rather than a comic strip artist and was proud of his work in these latter magazines.

In the early 1960s technology made it possible for Paul Hamlyn (who 30 years earlier had had success with "Books for Pleasure" - a cheap 'coffee table book' imprint) to found "Prints for Pleasure" - a cheap process meant low cost art for the masses. Even my Mum bought one as they were art at a very low price on a mock canvas! Bellamy sent in some of his work but there is no evidence to show any of these were accepted! One might see why when one looks at the sort of thing that was produced (Weeping children, heavily coloured sunsets, search Google for Zinkeisen Childhood as one certain example).

What does this have to do with the piece that is currently on sale on eBay, illustrated above?

You'll notice whoever framed this original artwork left the 8" (eight inches) visible at the bottom. This appears to be an art director's instruction as to the size this should be reproduced.And that's what reminded me I had seen somewhere that Bellamy had received payment for a design (or designs in the plural) from a printing and design company in 1970.

Equity Designers and Equity Printers Limited of 15-21 Ganton Street London W1 appears to have been run by D.K.Humby (Managing Director) and J. B. Blight (Company Secretary). Their publicity stated they were "Graphic designers, Lithographic and silkscreen printers". They asked Bellamy to produce three designs:
  1. Small rocket motif £15
  2. Large rocket motif £25
  3. Take-off rocket motif £25
He was also to receive (in the pre-Decimal currency days) sixpence (2.5 pence) as a royalty for every shirt printed (with the company retaining copyright). Whether Bellamy ever did three designs I don't know. I never expected to see the designs at all! But I'm as certain, as anyone can be, that this is one of them. The 8 inches reproduction size makes sense for a T-Shirt design.

Bellamy loved sports cars and owned a Datsun 260Z himself and it doesn't seem far fetched to think he might have used the Daimler signifier SP250 on this rocket ship!

When I first saw this design I was reminded of something from a 'Thunderbirds' strip that Bellamy illustrated. TV21 #82, the last episode of the 'Atlantic Tunnel' story has the Hood trying to escape International Rescue. The fins on the aircraft are in my opinion similar.

The Hood's aircraft form TV21 #82

The seller let me know he purchased it at a fine art auction so the provenance is sound


I will update the sale details, as usual below, when the auction ends


  • WHERE?: eBay
  • SELLER:  Dorseteleven
  • STARTING BID: £129.99
  • ENDING PRICE: £262.01
  • END DATE: 12 January 2015
  • No of bids: 2

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Frank Bellamy and Gerry Anderson

Christmas gave me a chance to catch up on some reading - can I recommend a book to you?

Nice endpapers!
In a previous blog article I reviewed the Egmont reprints. This time I want to say a bit about the hardback called Gerry Anderson The Comic Collection  (click on this Amazon link to see a lot of the interior including the contents page)

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Egmont (2014)
ISBN-13: 978-1405272667
Retail Price £25.00

Lew Stringer reviewed the book here, John Freeman here and I'm not sure I can add a lot except to say it was such fun to re-read some of these stories for the first time in nearly 50 years! The artwork provided is some of the best of my childhood and reads like a Top Ten of British comic art: Mike Noble, Ron Embleton, and Eric Eden and of course Frank Bellamy. I even enjoyed the Angels and Marina stories which appeared in Lady Penelope comic!

It hit me whilst reading, that the title to the book is a bit odd - Gerry Anderson didn't have a lot to do with the comics side of his work but in the anniversary year of Thunderbirds, his most popular show, it made sense to include his name. If after reading the book you want to know more about Gerry Anderson's comics seek out Shaqui and friend's site (use the index on the left hand side to navigate)

Bellamy's contribution are the following stories:

  1. "Revolt on Jupiter" from TV21 #179 - 183 (22/06/68 - 20/07/68)- the story the previous collection seemed to have missed - perhaps they heard me!
  2. "Jungle adventure" from TV21 #235 - 238 (19/07/69 - 16/08/69)
  3. "Danger in deep" from TV21 #239 - 242 (23/08/69 - 06/09/69) - is there a word missing?
  4. "Seeking disaster" from the second series of the combined TV 21 & Joe 90 #1-4 (27/09/69 - 18/10/69)- only ever reprinted in the 1991 Thunderbirds comic
The latter story was a disaster (excuse the pun) for Bellamy as he seemed to have been really cut down. For this short story he produced one colour page; two colour pages; two black and white pages and finally two black and white pages! A real mess in publishing terms but actually the black and whites are lovely. In this reprint volume they are understandably coloured (copied from the colouring of the 1991 Thunderbirds comic)

I think that GF Willmetts' criticism in his review regarding Bellamy's artwork is somewhat justified in that seeing Noble next to the Bellamy artwork certainly shows a lesser Bellamy. However I don't know exactly why, but suspect the reproduction in the latter TV21s back in the day were poorer. And thus this reprint of a reprint doesn't help. But that logic would apply to Noble's work too! Oh well, this is still a great buy

I ought to mention Sam Denham's one page article on Bellamy,  but understandably it doesn't add anything to our knowledge but is nevertheless worth inserting here for younger people than me who might not know Bellamy!

Bellamy's last shot at Thunderbirds in TV21 & Joe90

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Original Art on Heritage - Thunderbirds x 3

John Freeman on the Downthetubes and David Roach on Facebook alerted me to the fact there are three pieces of Bellamy 'Thunderbirds' original artwork going to auction in the new year.

The bidding at Heritage Auctions Comics and Comic Art Signature Auction - New York #7104 starts approximately January 30, 2015 with the auction dates of February 19th through February 21st with live bidding on 19 February. No suggested range of values or bid numbers have yet been assigned. Now assigned. Heritage should be given a medal for the help they give researchers in scanning/photographing high resolution images. More and more magazines on comics are using their images - some being exceedingly rare.

With issue 141 Thunderbirds no longer occupied the centre pages. In his interview with Skinn/Gibbon, Bellamy mentions he was told  [at some point]  that foreign re-printers were having trouble with a double page spread. It seems also likely this issue was a changeover due to the gearing up of publicity for the start of Captain Scarlet, who now occupied the centre pages, although Bellamy may be correct at the same time.

David Jackson and I discussed what was written in the sand by the dying man - FOCPT - Brains says Focal Point in #142, perhaps Scott Goodall had never heard of Epicentre

Rather than talk a load of nonsense I've decided to show the pages as scanned from the comics and as usual I will update this page with the results when known.
TV21 #141 p18 -Thunderbirds

TV21 #141 p18 -Thunderbirds

TV21 #141 p19 -Thunderbirds

TV21 #141 p19 -Thunderbirds

TV21 #142 p18 -Thunderbirds

TV21 #142 p18 -Thunderbirds


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,, 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) send a cheque for £5 to:

Eagle Times
24 Stanfield Road
Email: if you need further details

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