Monday, 12 October 2015

Frank Bellamy - Sight Unseen

As any blogger will tell you it's great to get guests to write something, and I've been very fortunate in having my good friend David Jackson write the following.....
DAILY MIRROR (3 Jul 1972)  "The Gospel according to St. George" pp4-5
Nixon and McGovern

Some of Frank Bellamy's unseen work was created for publication but, for one reason or another, as has been listed and discussed on this site and elsewhere, never saw the light of day in its original form.

Referring to the early days of Frank's career, Nancy Bellamy said in Speakeasy #100:
"...Mind you, if they didn't like it, they would sling it back at him and he would sometimes do a piece one, two or three times over again until it suited them.  Of course, his name wasn't known then."

Editorial edicts were part of the job.

The Fantasy Advertiser Vol.3 No.50 interview included a question about the editorial directive to revamp 'Dan Dare' partway into Bellamy's year on the feature. Frank said: "I didn't like doing that. But it was a directive from upstairs - that's what they wanted, and you can only give the client what he wants, so that was it."

Previously, in 1959, Frank's first Dan Dare page (Vol.10 No.28) had resulted in Don Harley, unenviably, being called-in editorially to re-work FB's first drawing of Dan into something more like the Hampson studio style.

Eagle Vol 10:28 29 August 1959

Alistair Crompton, in his book 'The Man Who Drew Tomorrow' (p123), refers to FB's first Dare page:

"When Bellamy left the meeting, his work was passed quickly to Don Harley who was asked to re-draw the frame to make the space colonel himself again."

In a long after the fact off-the-cuff remembrance Don Harley in a published interview recalled that he had been "ordered to re-draw all of FB's Dan Dare faces", but the printed page in question apparently shows the first Dan Dare face only - note, not even the rest of Dare's head - as stylistically anything other than by Frank Bellamy.

Close examination of the printed EAGLE page gives indications of what may likely have been done to the FB original in the way of a Don Harley paste-over.

Close-up of the famed first panel

In the first / main frame, the 'right-hand half, as you look at it, of Dare's head from the ink-black, in artists' terms, 'shadow accent' (which runs fairly centrally up the cheek line) - ie the area containing Dan's ear, side to the back of his head, and shadowed purple with yellow reflected upwards from the fittings of the spacesuit - all appear to be Bellamy's as he originally presented it.

To the left, as you look at it, of the vertical of the shadow accent is Don Harley's Dan Dare face - ie Dare's features, chin etc, up to the boundary where the shadow accent changes from the slightly less black (muted by the over-paint of flesh colour of the face), cut or painted or pasted up to what is left as the abrupt edge of absolute black as FB inked it. (The sharp division seems apparent even in print on close inspection).

Despite this being discussed on occasion over the decades, the eventual fate of the original board remains an unanswered question. And reason enough to raise it again here now. The original has not, as so far ascertained, ever resurfaced since - let alone restored to be seen once again in the original state which FB had intended.

Bellamy's subsequent feelings can only be imagined. In that alone, the miracle is that he was not then entirely de-motivated and that his Dan Dare was then as good as it is.

Nixon and McGovern - as published in the Daily Mirror 3 July 1972

Another Bellamy piece which was never in print in its original form, although an amended version was published, was the political cartoon drawn for THE DAILY MIRROR (3rd July 1972) at the time of the Nixon - McGovern US election.

There are certain similarities in the 'oriental style' dragon form with FB's 'Lord of The Dragons' one-off vignette. This appeared in the book 'Once Upon A Time'. [see below]

The double-page drawing depicts Richard Nixon as the 'dragon' at the point of 'St' George McGovern's lance. In the published version, a fairly restrained cartoon portrait of Nixon topped a decidedly reptilian dragon body.

As Frank's son David subsequently disclosed, the MIRROR felt the drawing in its original form - simply from its inspired realisation as commissioned, rather than out of any intentional political point of view - made Richard Nixon in dragon form look so bad in comparison to McGovern that it could be seen as less than even-handed. Hence the re-drawing of Nixon's head as a human portrait to mitigate this perceived imbalance. Political impartiality's gain was the Frank Bellamy fan's loss..!

Again the condition and whereabouts of the original work is uncertain. It is possible that the whole piece was completely redrawn but it may be more probable, as the original would be delivered to meet a newspaper deadline, that the replacement head was a paste-over. The saving grace in this instance being that it was at least re-drawn by Frank himself.

Nevertheless, having first given the job his best shot, he must have felt some degree of disappointment that the readers would never get to appreciate it. Added to which there is also the sense that anyone seeing only the printed version would assume that this was the artist's definitive rendering of the subject - that this was his 'best shot'.

It was again the printed version rather than the unseen original version which is reproduced with the definitive FB interview in Fantasy Advertiser Vol.3 No.50.

So what might the original unseen version have actually looked like?

The printed version does hold some clues...

Even without the information which surfaced years later that this was an amended re-work, the 'balance' and the 'use of space' of the published piece appeared not to have been used to maximum advantage, which was decidedly, and at the time seemingly inexplicably, un-Bellamy.

The head of Nixon and the un-utilised space to the right of it, never came across quite as a balanced total design as would have been expected in a Bellamy.

The explanation for that came when it became known that Nixon's caricature had been originally envisioned in the form of a dragon's head in keeping with and unified with the dragon body.

The depiction of the horse is telling. It is a very particular gesture movement from the animal - St George's charger is not just charging forward - it is reacting by rearing away to one side.

The lighting of the horse's neck to the left of the shadow accent is depicted with FB's characteristic 'scribble tonal' intentionally indicating reflected light.

This reflected light, together with the horse's reaction of rearing away from the vacant space between itself and the dragon, would tend to indicate that the Nixon dragon may have been originally looking back towards St George and spouting flames... Whatever the case, a reappearance of either work, as envisioned above or otherwise, would be a long-awaited welcome return to the fold..!

"Lord of the Dragons" from
Once Upon a Time
Contributed by David Jackson, artist on 'The Mummy' in Dez Skinn's Halls of Horror, House of Hammer; and Warrior where he illustrated among others 'Shandor, Demon Stalker' and a couple of painted covers. Other comics include early pop-biographies (Prince, 5 Star, Bob Geldof) for Look-In; and James Bond: Shattered Helix for Dark Horse. Science fiction paperback covers include James White's The Aliens Among Us, Ian Watson's God's World, Harlan Ellison's The Time of the Eye and illustrating Arthur C Clarke for Omni magazine.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Frank Bellamy and GQ Magazine and Turnbull & Asser

Taken from Turnbull & Asser website

I recently mentioned that some expensive clothes were showing Bellamy artwork and here's another article, care of GQ Magazine. To quote GQ:

For the anniversary, the 130-year-old British brand is releasing a series of pocket squares and ties all featuring the vehicles of the famous disaster-preventing family. Each of the silk squares not only features the outline of each of the vehicle's repeated in a kaleidoscopic pattern, but is colour co-ordinated to its paint job (for example, Thunderbird 2 is green, Thunderbird 3 is red and Lady Penelope's Rolls-Royce is pink).

More important to me is that one of the 12 designs has Frank Bellamy artwork

Turnbull & Asser Pocket Squares

Turnbull & Asser Pocket Squares

Turnbull & Asser Pocket Squares

 The ties on the other hand feature an homage to the programme's resident neckwear master, Brains, with a pattern featuring his trademark bow tie and glasses (as well as a lining printed with a comic strip from the cartoon drawn to accompany the series back in the 1960s).
Superfans can get their hands on them right now online, or even better, via a visit to Turbull & Asser's impressive new outpost in London's Mayfair.

Turnbull & Asser Tie
Apparently Turnbull & Asser have the Royal Warrant as "shirtmaker to the world's most eminent gentlemen since 1885." The square's full specifications are:
  • 100% pure silk
  • 16 1/2" x 16 1/2" (42cm x 42cm)
  • Hand Printed
  • Hand Rolled Hem
  • Made in England
and the thing you need to know is they cost £80! There appear to be 12 pocket square designs and 4 ties. The ties (£125) have a lining using the same Frank Bellamy artwork as the squares which comes from TV21 #155 from the story "Heart of the iceberg".

Click for full range
The full episode is reproduced below for your pleasure and if anyone at Turnbull & Asser wish to donate any to me for this free publicity, I'm more than happy to receive them (I'm such a tart, as my eldest brother tells me!)

TV21 #155

TV21 #155

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Original Art - Thunderbirds

I noticed that Illustration Art Gallery have added a Bellamy to their original art which is for sale.

It looks to be in very good condition

Thunderbirds from TV21 #206

It's selling for Price: £1,750.00 / $2,625.00 / €2.275,00 to quote them

Just for your enjoyment here are the two pages published back in December 1968. Interestingly the original shows a different colour in the second panel. I don't have access to my copy of the comic to check this isn't just an aberration in scanning the page, but must confess I prefer the original. I see that in 2010 the second page sold for £2420 (including buyer's premium) so this looks like a bargain!

Note the pink!

Monday, 5 October 2015

Original Art sold - Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan

PLEASE someone tell me how eBay searches work! I'm a librarian who believes he knows how to search for information. Damn it! I've taught the subject, but eBay, you drive me so mad, I'm giving up!

I was talking to a work colleague and used "Frank Bellamy" as an example search on eBay and what do I see? A Garth has recently sold that did not come up in any alerts that I receive daily!!

Sorry! I am fed up with eBay. Anyway in order to keep a record of what I do find....

The Daily Mirror published the Garth story "Bride of Jenghiz Khan" between 28 September 1974 - 14 January 1975 (#H228-J11) and the piece that came up for auction was strip #J1

Garth: "Bride of Jenghiz Khan" J1

The seller added this description:

An original Frank Bellamy Garth strip from a non smoking household. The front is dated in pencil "Wed-Thurs 2-1-75" which would have been the publication date. The reverse is stamped with the Daily Mirror copyright and the date 197 XII 12 16:14 It is on CS10 Line Board. The first cell has the letters "J.1" corrected as paper overlay (presumably January 1st as underneath the lettering is indistinct but ends "07" The first speech bubble has been corrected with paper overlay "MUST FIND SOME WEAPONS" The third speech bubble has been corrected with paper overlay "CRYSTAL SKY -" The overall dimensions are approximately 21 3/8ths inch by 6 7/8 inches 54.3cms x 17.3cms

WHERE?: eBay
SELLER: yelmalio123
END DATE: 3 October 2015
No of bids: 10
No of bidders: 4

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