Mystery art has Frank Hampson fans a-flutter – but the actual artist remains a mystery

This mystery art got some fans of Frank Hampson excited - but it isn't his, says his son
This mystery art got some fans of Frank Hampson excited – but it isn’t his, says his son

Browsing the Book Palace website last night, downthetubes contributor Richard Sheaf came across this painting, attributed to Dan Dare creator Frank Hampson.

“… This is gorgeous painting, probably used for a magazine illustration or advertisement in the late 1950s,” notes the site,”depicting a scene at a British port as travellers disembark from their cruise and have to face the close examination of British Customs control.

“It has been attributed to Frank Hampson as it very closely resembles his technique and style”.

The art had Hampson fans immediately a-flutter – after all, his original art is pretty collectable – but checking base with his son, Peter Hampson, has quickly quashed excitement, noting, as has Richard, that if this art a finished piece, it’s far from the high quality you’d expect to see from Frank’s work.

“While the five figures in the foreground of the picture look complete, the rest of the picture is just not quite finished to Hampson’s usual high standard,” says Richard. “The cranes in the background look particularly sketchy.”

“I don’t think it is by my father,” Peter tells us. “In particular, he would have taken much more care with the background detail of the ship (Queen Elizabeth?) and the cranes etc. It looks to me like late 1950’s, viz the hat and coat worn by the woman in the left foreground.”

By comparison, you only have to look at examples of Frank’s early “rough” work, including this early line art, drawn after World War Two, to see that even this was incredibly “finished.”

A pub scene drawn by Frank Hampson - an example piece of a particular style of illustration from a portfolio the Dan Dare creator may have put together post war when looking for freelance work, his son Peter suggests.
A pub scene drawn by Frank Hampson – an example piece of a particular style of illustration from a portfolio the Dan Dare creator may have put together post war when looking for freelance work, his son Peter suggests.

So, who is the mystery artist? And what was the art for? We’d suggest it’s either a magazine illustration or advertisement, presumably for the brand of booze that Gramps has been caught trying to smuggle through Customs – but Courvoisier or Stolichnaya vodka?

Yours, currently, for £1250!

Check out the official Frank Hampson web site here

The artwork is offered for sale here on Book Palace

Richard posted about this art on his own Boys Adventure Comics Blog

With thanks to Richard Sheaf and Peter Hampson

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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