Monday, January 31, 2011

Hampson, Bellamy and Eagle

Growing up in Canada was the best of all possible worlds because we not only had access to all the American comic strips and comic books but the newsstands were also full of British periodicals and comics. When I was five my English born granny bought Beano and Dandy, and once she had collected foot high piles she would deliver them to the house. My Hungarian born granny did likewise with the American comic sections. My old man saved all of his childhood reading so I spent many happy hours with the Magnet, the Rover, and the Hotspur story papers as well as the British annuals of all kinds. Dad also bought the Daily Mirror and the Daily Express with Garth, Jane, Belinda Blue-Eyes, Calamity Gulch,Wes Slade, and the Gambols.

Round 1961 I began a newsstand subscription to the Eagle, a magnificent painted comic tabloid which opened up to about two by three feet of spectacular graphics. It cost about 15 cents a week. Dan Dare was captured by the futuristic Mekon, a supreme Venusian villain with a huge green head and a useless body. He got around on a little anti-gravity silver chair. The centre two-page comic was Heros the Spartan and I arrived just in time to read the last few pages of a lovely Frank Bellamy drawn adventure with Romans and maniacal Druids. Luis Bermejo took over Heros, and I much preferred his wet brush work to Bellamy’s chiseled artwork. I did love Bellamy's sense of design which took in the whole page, the panel borders were often as electric as the content, with textured figures and faces enclosed in zig-zags and circles.

There were also PC 49, Frank Humphris’ Blackbow the Cheyenne and Jose Ortiz’ UFO Agents and Smokeman. I recall a robot character as well although his name is long gone from my memory. My mouth was set to watering by an ad for a similar comic, Boy’s World, which featured a swashbuckling adventure called Wrath of the Gods, which I think was written by Michael Moorcock. I tried getting a subscription but unfortunately all I ever saw of Wrath of the Gods was a few panels from the advertisement. Below are two Times obituaries for Frank Hampson (July 10 1985) and Frank Bellamy (July 10 1976). The Letter to the Editor was from Nov 7 1985. Illustrations are courtesy Steve Holland, Deskartes Mil and Ebay.

Those were the days my friend,

We thought they'd never end...









2 comments:

  1. > Growing up in Canada was the best of all possible worlds...

    Similar to Australia. Among the British products, we also had the "Eagle" but my favourites were "Film Fun" and "Radio Fun".

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  2. I can't recall seeing those two titles on the newsstands, Lyn, but distribution of British periodicals was always spotty in B.C. Actually American titles were as well -- it was hard to collect a complete run of any title.

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