Sunday, 17 May 2015

Frank Bellamy and Menomonee Falls Gazette

Menomonee Falls Gazette 1972 September 04 No38

Menomonee Falls Gazette was published by Street Enterprises (who also published the cartoon strip equivalent Menomonee Falls Guardian) from 13 December 1971 - 3 March 1978. As a fan publication it changed size, number of pages, quality throughout its run but was always interesting. It had concurrent runs of approximately six daily strips for each title so you could read several days' worth of newspaper strips at once. The Wikipedia article lists some of those comic strip titles. There were also factual columns which had some interesting facts as well as interviews - when space allowed, I suspect.

They not only included American adventure and soap opera strips (and some Australian) but also British ones too. They were James Bond with art by McLusky, Sydney Jordan's excellent Jeff Hawke, O'Donnell and Holdaway's Modesty Blaise, Paul Temple (by Durbridge and Phil Mendoza), Scarth A.D. 2195, John Burns (and Les Lilley) The Seekers, Peter O'Donnell and Alfred Sindall's Tug Transom.
Menomonee Falls Gazette 1973 January 29 No59

Mike Tiefenbacher and Jerome Sinkovec (MFG's editors) wrote to Bellamy in the early 1970s asking for clarification regarding John Allard's part in producing Garth, which they began reprinting in their Gazette (#40, 18 September 1972). Bellamy in his usual generous way replied and the two creators of MFG included it in the Gazette:
Letter to Menomonee Falls Gazette
Published in no.81, July 2nd, 1973

A few weeks ago, the London MIRROR Syndicate told us that Frank Bellamy, illustrator of GARTH, would like to see a copy of the GAZETTE. We dashed off a letter to him and this was his reply:
First, I do hope that you will accept my apologies for the delay in writing to you. I have had, and still have, so many deadlines to meet that I have found it very hard to get away from the drawing board. I am sure that you will understand and I do hope that I am forgiven.

Secondly, very many thanks for writing to me and for sending a copy of the GAZETTE.

I can tell you that I was more than pleased to see a copy at last. I must congratulate you both on an excellent production. It's great. May I say here and now that I feel most honored to be included in the GAZETTE with such illustrious company.

Thank you for the complimentary remarks about my work. You are very kind. It means a lot to me to find acceptance in the United States. I was very interested to read about Al Williamson. As I am a great admirer of his work it gives me great pleasure to know that he is familiar with at least some of my work.

You ask about the functions of Jim Edgar and John Allard. Well Jim Edgar is the scriptwriter. John Allard was on the strip for a number of years before I was called upon to draw it. He sometimes letters the balloons. However, I now do all the drawing, but the credits remain. Sounds confusing... it is!

I will do my best to see if it is possible to let you have an original GARTH. The fate of the originals remains with the newspaper. In any case I would be pleased to draw a cover for you, when I can get the time to fit one in!

It's a pity that most of my strip work from the 50s until two years ago was in full colour gravure. It would probably have interested you. That 50s bit alone makes me sound very old! I guess that I am! When I was in the army during the war I was at one time next to a U.S. Unit. My home was surrounded by the U.S. 8th Air Force. Yes, I have a soft spot and affection for the United States, hence my thanks to you for looking at my work.

I would love to receive the GAZETTE and would like to thank you for your most generous offer.
May I think you both again for your kindness and consideration and trust that one day we will meet.
Take care and with many good wishes to you.
Yours sincerely,
Frank Bellamy

Interesting that Bellamy mentions the fate of the originals as his family eventually had these returned and thus they are scattered to the four winds in collectors' hands now. Anyway continuing the MFG letters.....

Menomonee Falls Gazette 1973 August 13 No87
Thank you, Frank, for doing such an incredible job on GARTH. Many of us remember your color work on such strips as THUNDERBIRDS and STAR TREK for the English weeklies also. We hope you continue GARTH for a long time.

In this article I've linked all the covers that featured Garth (different characters featured on the cover spot starting in issue #17) and a page of strips. The benefit of these reprints at the time was the clarity of reproduction which was on better paper than the Daily Mirror in the Seventies.

The reason for writing this article was that I saw a copy of MFG #158 (December 16 1974) and noted that the last two episodes of Bellamy's favourite of his Garth work, the story  "Ghost Town" were included with the first four of "The Mask of Atacama" story. When I looked at #159, I noticed that the Garth strips were missing! I then checked #160 and it reappeared and then #161 had none again! Strange goings-on indeed! Steve Rubin pointed out to me a while ago that "Freak out to fear" also had a strange publishing schedule in MFG. Jerry, Mike, do you want to add anything? To see my list of what was reprinted when, take a look at my reprint list.

If you want to see full copies the Friardale website has copies in 'cbz' form - most contributed kindly by 'Pete The PIPster' and if you just want to see the covers - ComicVine has them including the wrongly numbered last issue #232 which appears printed as #234

And here are the final covers featuring Garth

Menomonee Falls Gazette 1974 July 01 No133

Menomonee Falls Gazette 1974 July 01 No133 page 16
Menomonee Falls Gazette 1975 March 24 No171
Menomonee Falls Gazette 1975 November 17 No205

Monday, 13 April 2015

Frank Bellamy and Pictorial History Book (Part Two)

David Jackson has done a ton of work (and obviously has better eyesight than me!) in identifying signatures on pages of artwork in the previously mentioned Pictorial History Book in which Bellamy is credited with having done some artwork

Click here to see which works we have identified (scroll right down) - thus eliminating Bellamy from certain parts of this book. Unfortunately we are still not certain, but I have reproduced the two pages David, Jeff Haythorpe and I think are the Bellamy work so there's at least some artwork on this blog!

Page 178

Page 179

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Frank Bellamy and Monty Python

Cover by Lolly Honeysett

Bert Fegg's Nasty Book for Boys and Girls was published in 1974 during the period in which I would recount the previous evening's Monty Python TV programme on the way to school. I always found some sketches hilarious and completely mad but others flew right over my head. But when I heard them re-told by friends at school I began to see the wit!

I wasn't aware, at the time, that Terry Jones and Michael Palin had written this book (I knew about the records and also the other books like Eric Idle's The Brand New "Monty Python" Papperbok) but don't know how I missed this. Perhaps it was a confusing title for booksellers as they wouldn't know 1) it was Monty Python authors and 2) whether it was for children. After all it had illustrations, cartoons, a cutaway (like the Eagle comic had) and even a comic strip.

The majority of drawings - especially of Bert Fegg, are by Martin Honeysett, who does a revolting job of presenting the demented doctor! A list of some of the contents appears in the Wikipedia article on this 62 page book. Some are too difficult to explain as I'm sure any reader will realise. 

Frank Bellamy was asked to illustrate a story about a cowboy called 'Kid' Masterson (a resonant name based on Bat Masterson, a friend of Wyatt Earp) and his horse Valiant. This appears on pages 30-31. Valiant has a problem, he suffers from bronchitis and has to visit the clinic, (where we see a nurse coming to the Doctor with a bucket and shovel!). Jones and Palin have fun with Germanic, East European names for the clinic and doctors; the names of the canyon, and hills and the sun sinking, the latter being the usual tropes of those brilliant spaghetti westerns, which Bellamy loved. The closing panel promises another episode "Next Week" which of course is impossible but emulates weekly comics in the UK at that time (or maybe TV serials). Valiant is obviously a loved but troublesome mount!

Frank Bellamy was paid £200 in May 1974 for the two pages. An invitation was sent to him by Geoffrey Strachan (Managing Director of Eyre Methuen Limited) on 8 October 1974 to attend the book launch on the 24 October. He states that Terry Jones and Michael Palin would be there together with John Pringle (a Director of Eyre Methuen). Whether Bellamy attended or not, or what he thought of the work, we don't have a record.But David Bellamy stated in his book how his father's sense of humour appeared in tune with Monty Python.

A total, almost, revision was created under the title Dr. Fegg's Encyclopeadia [sic] of all World Knowledge (formerly The nasty book). It appeared in 1984 and has an alphabetical arrangement. Some of the previous work is used but rearranged and one significant addition is a double page spread on videos, the technology not being widely available in the time of the previous book.  Bellamy's work is reprinted on pages 94-95 in this edition

Between these two UK editions, there appeared in the USA another edition (1976) Dr. Fegg's Nasty Book of Knowledge by Terry Jones and Michael Palin. As it states on a site on the Net:

American version of "Bert Fegg's Nasty Book for Boys and Girls;" contains most of the same material as the original British edition but includes expanded content, 32-pages of additional material, and lots more color illustrations than the original; reverse cover has humorous bios of Terry Jones and Michael Palin in an attempt to mention Monty Python twenty times) Berkeley Medallion 1976 (U.S.) SBN 425-03084-395 (paperback)

I don't own a copy so don't know if Bellamy's piece appeared here too. Can anyone tell me please?

Monday, 6 April 2015

Frank Bellamy for German-speaking fans

Hans Kiesl (based in Nuremberg) wrote to me recently and shared two pieces of information I thought worth sharing further.

Mill's Gazette
Apparently Hans says that the Garth strips included in the above magazine are by Steve Dowling and that Bellamy's only work is this cover, a reprint of The Daily Mirror Book of Garth 1975.

He also attached a PDF of a three page article on Garth strip published in Austria.

I have included a link to this on my webpage of International reprints of Bellamy's work. As usual I'm grateful to Hans for what he calls 'minor' information, but which I still love to know about.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Frank Bellamy and "How the West was won"

Updated -see bottom of page
Radio Times 22  Dec 1973- 4 Jan 1974 p.27
I can't tell you how many westerns I've watched in my lifetime, but my dad, who loved western novels, and films died in 1982 and we watched loads together. But what's an 'oater'?
The thing that really caught my attention in the 1970s was Frank Bellamy's artwork in the Radio Times. I'd seen his "Heros the Spartan" and "Thunderbirds" comic strips, his "Captain Scarlet" and "Joe 90" covers, his Sunday Times work and of course his "Garth" strip in the Daily Mirror. But it was the design element of his work I loved.

One of my favourites appeared in the Radio Times, the UK's leading magazine at the time, published then by the BBC itself with only BBC programmes listed, dated 22 December 1973 - 4 January 1974. At that time Philip Jenkinson was reviewing the upcoming films for the Christmas period. This is what he said about "How the West was won":

Star-packed oater about three generations of Western pioneers. The best 'episode' is George Marshall's railroad sequence, but everywhere the giant screen visuals are too gimmicky for their own good. Terrific musical score

Did you see the word? Apparently, 'oater' refers to the feed bags that horses had and therefore were very common in westerns. Did you ever see one in a movie? I might have seen one, but 'common'? I don't think so, so where did that word come from?  The Oxford English Dictionary says it's a colloquialism for "horse opera also a radio programme or book of this nature" Its first usage recorded by them is "1946 Time 29 Apr. 94/2 The first successful storytelling movie made in the U.S...was what the trade calls an oater—a Western."

Oh well, let's get on. Why am I so obsessed with the word 'oater', it's because it appears beneath Bellamy's splendid drawing.

Radio Times cover 22  Dec 1973- 4 Jan 1974
Bellamy uses the episodic nature of the film itself and shows scenes representative of the Wild West.he shows buffalo, U.S. cavalry, an 'iron horse' a raft in a river, and some Indians (as they were called back then - my dad wouldn't have known the phrase 'native Americans')

The way that Bellamy has shown the wide angles of the three projectors process "Cinerama" is brilliant in my opinion. The title wraps from left to right and crosses the last word which fades from right to left. The curves continue to the right to show an apparent complete screen but it actually isn't equal in terms of the full screen curves and the edge of the filmstrip with its sprockets emphasises this incompleteness as we wouldn't see this in the cinema. The loaded scenery in the bottom right balances the left side of the image where, if we follow the receding word 'WEST' (notice it's in that stocky Playbill font!), we see a wagon travelling away from us, but also those famous Bellamy 'swirls' are emphasising the forced perspective in the word 'West'. Beautiful design! The experience in designing cinema cut-outs in the 1930s back in his home town of Kettering must have inspired his love of film and brought out this imaginative scene.

But interestingly the figure in the bottom right caught my attention as I immediately realised that it matches one of Alan Davis' polaroids that he rescued from the Bellamy house rubbish sacks

Cowboy shooting gun
Alan Davis polaroid
Thanks go to Alan for permission to use the photograph. He's a star!

As is Bill Storie for reminding me he's seen this somewhere else:

I knew I'd seen that cowboy before !! Wonder if the Hombre strip was intended to be a spin-off from the movie?? Was also a bit surprised to see the Radio Times pic again after so many years - haven't seen it since first published in the magazine - but in my mind's eye the version I thought I'd seen then had a steam train racing towards what looked like a wall of logs or a barrier of some sort and about to impact it rather violently. Weird - dunno if I'm thinking of another Radio Times illo by another artist - the old neurons are a bit fuzzy these days but even when younger I recall seeing that image somewhere and always attributing it to Frank. 

Blow-up from the famous photo of Frank in his studio

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