Frank Bellamy (1917-1976) was a British comic book artist mostly known for his many contributions to Swift, Eagle,TV Century 21, and the Daily Mirror. Before illustrating comics, Bellamy worked for the Kettering Evening Telegraph as an illustrator. He also did some illustrations for the British army while he was enlisted in the Royal Artillery during World War II. After the war, he created comics for various products including Gibb’s Dentifrice Toothpaste. In 1953, Bellamy did freelance work at Mickey Mouse Weekly, and contributed art to “Monty Carstairs” and “The Living Desert.” The next year, he was approached by Hulton Press to work at Swift. During his time there, he worked on “Robin Hood,” “King Arthur,” and “Swiss Family Robinson.”

In 1957 Bellamy began working at Eagle where he was assigned to a variety of different projects including: “The Happy Warrior,” “The Shepherd King,” and “The Travels of Marco Polo.”
He received much more attention when he became the second artist to take over Eagle’s successful “Dan Dare: the Pilot of the Future” after Frank Hampson’s departure. Bellamy chose to take the comic in a much different stylistic direction, and as a result, his work on “Dan Dare” received mixed reviews. When he first began working on the title, he worked collaboratively with artists Don Harley and Keith Watson on many “Dan Dare” issues. The contrasting styles clashed, as Frank Bellamy preferred to work alone. After he departed “Dan Dare,” the changes he had made were reverted back to Hampson’s original designs.

Gerry and Sylvia Anderson of Century 21 Productions approached Bellamy in 1965 to illustrate a weekly comic for their television show “Thunderbirds,” which would be published in the TV Century 21 comic. Bellamy agreed, but disliked drawing puppets, so he made the characters more human-like.During his time working on “Thunderbirds,” Bellamy took a break in 1966 to assist with the television show “The Avengers.” He assisted in the creation of a character known as the Winged Avenger, and designed the character’s costume, artwork, and studio. His designs were later incorporated into the live-action show.

Bellamy would continue drawing the “Thunderbirds” comic until 1969, when the publisher was merged with Joe 90 Top Secret.  After that, Bellamy was approached by the Daily Mirror to illustrate “Garth,” a long-running action comic about a time-traveler who battled evil forces. Bellamy died of a heart attack while working on “Garth,” but his extensive work and particular style has inspired many artists.

— Michael Baker

Further Reading

  • Khoury, George, David Roach, Jon B. Cooke, and Eric N. Weathingon. True Brit: Celebrating the Comic Book Artists of England. Raleigh: TwoMorrows Publishing, 2004.
  • Tatarsky, Daniel, ed. Eagle Annual: The Best of the 1960s Comic. London: Orion, 2009.