The lavish new hardcover collection 'Frank Bellamy's Heros of Spartan' features not only mouth-watering scans of Bellamy originals, many of which have never seen print, but also includes the first ever reprint of Dez Skinn’s interview with Bellamy from 1973. With permission of the publisher and with thanks to Dez Skinn, a few short passages from that interview have been excerpted below. The text is © Dez Skinn ~ Leif
FB: Actually, I prefer never to have to draw a strip more than quarter up.
DS: ... which is only fractionally bigger than the printed size. Why do you prefer this size?
FB: I don’t, actually. I prefer most of all to draw same size.
DS: But I would have thought you could get sharper lines and a tighter effect if the originals were drawn for reduction?
FB: No. I don’t want it to appear more detailed in print, just because it has been reduced a lot from the original size. I’d rather present a finely drawn original in the first place, and therefore, once again, give the editor a piece of finished work ready for press, that he can look at almost exactly as it will appear in print.
DS: Could you tell us more about how you started on a “Heros” instalment, right from receiving the script?
FB: My usual method would be that I’d read the script through, imagining the words in pictures and noting down “l”, “m” and “s” – large, medium and small – by the writer’s frame descriptions. That is, as I’ve said, I would ignore the writer’s remarks about close-ups and long shots.
Then I can see which are the important frames and which are the fill-ins. There would always be one very large frame that would sum up the whole spread, so I’d put a large cross by that one. Then I’d work out a thumbnail layout. Generally, I’d set it out in banks of three or four frames across.
From there it would soon build up around the one or two main frames.
Then I’d go straight on to the board, never making roughs. The “Dan Dare” team used to make roughs, but I always thought that if you make a highly detailed rough, you can’t draw the same thing a second time, on your board, and capture as much atmosphere. There’s always something lacking. There is no spontaneity or imagination in copying a rough on to board.
DS: It seems that British comics had a swords and sorcery boom long before the current American trend. Not only your “Heros the Spartan”, but John Burns’ “Wrath of the Gods”, Ron Embleton’s “Wulf the Briton”, Don Lawrence’s “Karl the Viking”, “Clac the Gladiator” and so on……
FB: Yes, I suppose they were sword and sorcery heroes, really. I definitely found "Heros" to be something entirely different from anything I’d ever draw. I was able to create giant warrior tribes, sea monsters and eerie creatures.
I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed drawing “Heros”, and if I got the chance, I’d drop everything and start drawing “Heros” tomorrow.
* Thanks to Dez Skinn for allowing this short excerpt from his 1973 interview with Frank Bellamy. The text is © Dez Skinn. Thanks also to Alan Davis, Paul Holder, Norman Boyd, Paul Stephenson and David Ashford who provided us with the images that appear in this post.
Illustrators editor Peter Richardson has edited and designed a beautiful book entitled Frank Bellamy’s Heros the Spartan. Available in two luxurious editions measuring a gigantic
11 x 14 inches, the deluxe limited edition of only 600 copies with 272 pages features a beautifully designed blue hard cover with embossed and varnished detailing. The leather bound and numbered edition, restricted to 120 copies, features a beautiful gold embossed red cover and slipcase, plus a tipped in numbered plate, and an additional 24 pages of some of the most stunning Heros originals, which have previously remained hidden in private collections.
* Frank Bellamy's Heros the Spartan, from which all of today's art and text is excerpted, is now available from Book Palace Books