Swift vol.8 no.50 (16 December 1961)



Is this Bellamy? (written 2008) 

That great guy Steve Holland sent me a scan recently that staggered me. 

It is the front cover of the Swift comic from 16 December 1961 featuring "Amundsen-the first man to reach the South Pole"

So what's the mystery? 

Steve writes: 

"I can't find the attached illustration on your site and maybe you're not aware of it. It's the cover of Swift vol.8 no.50 (16 December 1961), part of a series of covers celebrating various anniversaries ranging from the Battle of Hastings to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth I. ... The cover is reproduced (about 2" wide) on page 4 of the same issue in b/w along with a brief article: The Story of our Front Cover This Week's Anniversary Amundsen First man to reach the South Pole" 

When I saw the cover, I really wasn't sure who did it, but it appeared to me to be a Bellamy lookalike. However, the only name I could think of was Eric Kincaid. 

I wrote back to Steve and he replied: "Why do I think that Amunden pic is Bellamy? Because it looks like him. I sent a copy over to David Roach and he agrees... and I quote:
"Well it looks like a definite Bellamy to me too. The inks are a little rougher than he often did but then I've seen the odd job in this style - on a few Heros' for instance so it's not completely unknown." David's probably the best artist-spotter around so if he thinks it's Bellamy you can be 99.9% certain it is."  

And there I might choose to rest my case as these two cannot be beaten in their knowledge of British comics (amongst other things!). 

However, I can be stubborn - if you don't believe me look at the website! 

Below is Bellamy's drawing (FB signature bottom right) of a similar snow scene and heroic man- Sir Edmund Hillary from EAGLE Vol. 12:46 (18th November 1961). If you look at the Swift piece, it appears very similar to Bellamy's work, but certain pieces make me wonder. 

In the Everest piece he blends the colour of a boot into the snow without drawing an ink line to show the boot appearing through the snow. In the Everest piece, his snow colouring is distinctively sharp. There is evidence of a wind (as you'd expect up Everest) as there is in the Swift piece, but in the latter the snow looks fairly 'smudged'. The lines around the main figures and the clothing appear different. I think the artist for the Swift piece is the same person who drew some of the Arms through the Ages series in the 16th volume of Eagle. 


Swift Vol 8: 50 (16 December 1961)

By ???

EAGLE Vol. 12:46 (18th November 1961)

By Frank Bellamy

Swift Vol 8: 50 (16 December 1961) EAGLE Vol. 12:46 (18th November 1961)

Take a look at the 2 pictures from that series below and closely examine the face in the shot of the airplane - definitely not a Bellamy. However, Bellamy did do Arms Through the Ages: No. 5: The crossbow and No. 6: The floating mine 

When you spend a lot of time trawling through a sequence of comics in chronological order, you often see traits of artists. This looks to me to be a tribute to Bellamy's work, similar colours, explosions, action etc. but not Bellamy's work. Unfortunately Cliff Wanford exhaustive list "Eagle Collectors Handbook" does nothing to help as it states "Artists: Frank Bellamy and Frank Humphris" for the 48 published "Arms through the ages"

EAGLE Vol. 16:31 (31st July 1965)

By ???

EAGLE Vol. 16:32 (7th August 1965)

By ???

So all said and done, I have decided that where experts differ, fools can have an opinion and this is mine....Close but not Bellamy. Any challengers?


It is Bellamy! (written 2009) 

GUEST: Steve Holland:


Frank Hampson had finished working on "The Road of Courage" in Eagle in early 1961. It takes a few weeks to get the finished comic through the printing process so there's usually a lead-in period. The last episode of "Road" appeared in the issue dated 8 April 1961 but was probably completed by Hampson in February at the latest. This was shortly before the Fleetway took over the Odhams/Hulton group of comics. The deal was officially brokered on 22 March 1961.

To quote "Living with Eagles", "In May Leonard Matthews wrote that he would be 'taking up residence' at Longacre the following week." So you can see that various changes would have occurred during the summer of '61.

Hampson, meanwhile, was still drawing a regular paycheque from what was now Fleetway Publications. New editors and sub-editors began to arrive and the various titles began to reflect these changes. In September 1961, a new style of covers began to appear on Swift, each cover based around an event (the first Sputnik, the Battle of Hastings, the Gunpowder Plot, etc.). Some were new, some were reprints of old Thriller Picture Library covers.

Again, lead time for printing dates the decision to change the covers to around June/July 1961. Someone, possibly Alf Wallace or (more likely) Val Holding, who had been installed at Odhams by Matthews, realised that Hampson was still on their books and commissioned three covers from him.

The first (General Custer) was delivered and published in December 1961 (it would have been painted by Frank in September or October). Frank then fell ill and could not complete the second commission. This was passed on to Frank Bellamy who painted the cover featuring Amundsen reaching the South Pole which appeared the week after Hampson's General Custer cover on 16 December 1961. Hampson recovered and was able to complete the third cover (the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth I) which appeared in January 1962 and was probably painted in November 1961. This has been confirmed by David Slinn who was working for Eagle and Swift at the time, although the rough dating of events is mine.

Click on "The Lost Characters of Frank Hampson" by Alistair Crompton & Wakefield Carter to see the Hampson covers mentioned above


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