Sunday, 1 March 2015

Frank Bellamy and Home Notes magazine

I don't think you'll enjoy this post on Frank Bellamy. Remember I warned you!

Home Notes 27 July 1951

 Home Notes, which was first published in 1894 by C. Arthur Pearson, Ltd., on every Friday  contained, as the Writers and Artists Year Book 1949 stated:

“Love stories from 2000 to 4000 words in length. Well written serials from 40,000 to 60,000 words. Dramatic but not sensational. Articles of topical, love, and domestic interest, 500 to 1000 words. Original designs in knitting or crochet.[…] Illustration: Three-colour cover and centrespread. Story and article illustrations in colour, line or wash”.  

Artists that appeared around the same time as Frank Bellamy were Fred Laurent, Ray Bailey, Peter Kay, Philip Townsend, and Leslie Caswell (with whom Mike Noble worked – who also worked on TV21 with Bellamy in the sixties).

Home Notes (23rd Feb 1951)
"Don't envy Louise", by Nancy Pearce p.15
"Louise pushed at him with her hands. 'Don't spoil our evening like this, Terry!'"

In total I have found Bellamy produced 5 pieces in black and white washes illustrating romance stories for Home Notes in 1951 with titles such as "Don't envy Louise", "Nicholas comes to dinner", and "Impatient heart". Little wonder then that “he hated those sort of girlie illustrations, static things which he hated drawing. It wasn’t his cup of tea at all, but he did them for the money. He wanted to draw something with a bit of guts to it.” (Nancy Bellamy from the interview with Alan Woollcombe, Speakeasy #100, 16 page insert, 1989 to accompany "The Unseen Frank Bellamy" exhibition).

Home Notes (30th March 1951)"Nicholas comes to dinner" by Norah Smaridge, p.6
"Sylvia wanted him for what he could give her, but Patty, shyly and secretly, loved him with all her heart."

During this period he also is known to have entered some of his own (non-commercial) work in his local Merton and Morden Art and Crafts Exhibition (18th to 23rd June 1951) perhaps to get out of the rut he had gotten himself into. The good news was that he was soon to go freelance and by the end of that year International Artists, Ltd. (founded in 1933), wrote to Bellamy to confirm they would act as his agent.

Home Notes (16th March 1951), p.7. "Something to remember" by Margaret Bathe
"'It's not my fault', he said angrily, 'if you wanted luxury, you should have married some other man'."

I only own two of these magazines so have scanned photocopies to fill the gaps for your pleasure and delight!

Home Notes (30th Nov 1951) "It happened on Sunday" by Constance Howard pp.12-13
"'I can't go on any longer,' she said, 'it's too much to bear

Home Notes (27th July 1951), "Impatient heart" by Judith Blaney, p.15
"'Oh darling!', she whispered, ' I thought you would never come home'".

Now finally, I want to ask for your help...Those of you who do this sort of research, wading through tons of paper and trying to identify an artist's work with no more than a guess, will know what I mean.

This piece appears in Home Notes 6 July 1951 issue and as I was wading through the Home Notes magazines for this period (I would have looked both sides of 1951) I spotted this little advert in a page of adverts. The style of the banner and the cartoon style remind me so much of Bellamy's Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph work on the 1940s but how can we know if it is his work? I suppose we have to identify it and say....maybe! What do you think?
Home Notes 1951 6 July p.36

Is this Bellamy?
Well, that's his romance illustrations, except I should mention here too the piece that Tim Barnes kindly shared with me. I think it was once owned by Mike Lake but we have no idea where and if it ever appeared. The style and look is so like the Home Notes work I have always thought it was done for that publication. Why is it in red? Maybe a filter would be placed over it before publication? Anyone out there go any idea?

"Romance illustration" supplied by Tim Barnes
I personally really enjoy these era of Bellamy's work, he continued using various techniques in Boy's Own Paper before his Mickey Mouse work in line and black and white only. Such a versatile artist. So did you enjoy this or not?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Frank Bellamy and Clifford Makin's copy of "The Happy Warrior"

Recently we saw one of three unique copies of the reprint "The Happy Warrior" come up at auction at Sotheby. It had an estimate of of £500-£900 but the price bid for it ended up as £3,750 (hammer price with Buyer's Premium)

Well, if you missed the Sotheby copy, get your money ready and run along to eBay where Alfred Wallace's daughter is selling the copy Clifford Makins was given. On the eBay page she explains:

In 1958 Hulton Press published in hardback format "The Happy Warrior", a pictorial biography of Sir Winston Churchill. The biography had previously been published as a weekly serial in the Eagle magazine for boys. The book was considered an important publishing event and to that end the printers, Eric Bemrose, produced a limited edition of just three copies printed on high quality paper and bound in gold leaf embossed leather. The three copies were presented to Frank Bellamy (the artist), Clifford Makins (the script writer) and Sir Winston Churchill himself. The copy listed here was the one presented to Clifford Makins and remained on the shelf in his office after his position was taken over by my father in 1962. This book is in very good condition and the pages are clean and crisp. There is some yellowing and the leather on the spine is slightly rubbed due to dusting over the years.

I've emboldened the interesting piece. I asked the seller, knowing I didn't want to get this wrong, who her father is and she promptly replied "Alfred Wallace". I was stunned, as children of my age (be quiet!) still hold great affection for "Alf and Cos" who worked their magic and informal style in the 'Power comics' of the 1960s. Their editorial and letter pages were great fun and so different from, what appeared to me to be, the aloof non- communicative D.C.Thomson (and other publishers!).

Lew Stringer (whose blogs are always worth following) had fewer references to 'Alf and Cos' than I thought, but there is at least one

'Alf' is 91 years of age and I've asked Melanie, his daughter, to pass on my message to let him know he is still held in affection by many comic fans.
The Happy Warrior - drawn by Frank Bellamy
Melanie has scanned the piece from Fantasy Advertiser (Vol. 3:50 November 1973) in which Bellamy told Dez Skinn and Dave Gibbons about the three leatherbound copies  - so your provenance for this book is excellent.

And just as a treat here's another page from the story

Episode 21 of "The Happy Warrior"

Now I wonder when Frank Bellamy's copy will come out of the bookcase? As usual I'll update the template below with information when the auction ends


  • WHERE?: eBay
  • SELLER:  mellymelsells
  • ENDING PRICE: To follow
  • END DATE: February 8 2015
  • No of bids: To follow

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