"The Happy Warrior" by Clifford Makins and Frank Bellamy

Commemorating D-Day: A Look Back at Eagle’s “The Happy Warrior”

Marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we feature some pages from Clifford Makins and Frank Bellamy‘s classic 1957 Eagle biography of Sir Winston Churchill, “The Happy Warrior“, which revolutionised the presentation of historical documentary in strip form for British comics.

"The Happy Warrior" by Clifford Makins and Frank Bellamy

"The Happy Warrior" by Clifford Makins and Frank Bellamy

"The Happy Warrior" by Clifford Makins and Frank Bellamy“The Happy Warrior”, the life story of Winston Churchill, written by Clifford Makins, first appeared in Eagle in 1957/58. The strip ran on the back page of Eagle, a spot previously reserved for heroes of the past. The Frank Bellamy Checklist site notes that creating the full colour strip worried Bellamy, but it has been acknowledged as one of his best over the years.

A page from "The Happy Warrior" by Clifford Makins, drawn by Frank Bellamy, as it appeared in Eagle
A page from “The Happy Warrior” by Clifford Makins, drawn by Frank Bellamy, as it appeared in Eagle
The Happy Warrior: the Hulton Press edition, published in 1958
The Happy Warrior: the Hulton Press edition, published in 1958

Such was its initial success that Eagle‘s publisher, Hulton Press, quickly re-packaged and published the first collection of the story back in 1958, accompanied by ten pages of photographs. The spreads here are taken from that collection.

Unicorn Press, who have been publishing high quality cultural history and art books since 1985, released a new collection of The Happy Warrior in 2014. The company has published a number of Winston Churchill books, including Sir Winston Churchill: His Life and His Paintings.

The strip was also re-published in the United States in 2008, by Levenger Press and in the UK by Dragon’s Dream in 1981, as High Command: the Stories of Sir Winston Churchill and General Montgomery.

The Levenger Press edition was praised by Churchill’s great grandson, Jack, one of the team working on winstonchurchillshop.com.

The Happy Warrior is history,” says Jack Churchill of the book, “but hopefully reading about the adventures that Winston Churchill got up to in his 90 years will inspire others to experience their own exciting stories and write about them.”

The Happy Warrior told Churchill’s life story when the wartime Prime Minister was still alive and is regarded by many as the strip which established Bellamy’s name as an artist of note. “His thorough research of actual military ephemera and the beginnings of his attempts to improve the dynamic composition of the page layouts are clearly in evidence throughout the story,” notes Bellamy fan Chris Bishop.

The Levenger Press edition of The Happy Warrior, published in 2008
The Levenger Press edition of The Happy Warrior, published in 2008

“Frank Bellamy’s dynamic artwork and inventive layouts made quite an impact on comic readers of the 1950s to 1970s,” feels artist Lew Stringer, praising the artist back in 2014. “Sadly the artist passed away far too young at the age of 59 in 1976 – but he left us with an incredibly high standard of work that still impresses readers old and new.

Other books featuring Frank Bellamy’s art include his work on for Thunderbirds and Garth, as well as Robin Hood: The Complete Adventures for Swift and the stunning Book Palace collection of Heros the Spartan.

WEB LINKS

The Happy Warrior: Unicorn Press editionThe Unicorn Press edition of The Happy Warrior: The Life Story of Sir Winston Churchill is available here on Amazon (Affiliate Link, using this helps support downthetubes, thank you)

Frank Bellamy “Happy Warrior” Checklist information

• If you are interested in reading new comic stories surrounding D-Day, don’t forget that as part of the D-Day 75 remembrance, DC Thomson Media have released a commemorative set of D-Day themed Commando comics, on sale now in all good newsagents and via various digital platforms. Issues 5231 – 5234 offer stories of the sappers at dawn break to Commandos on the beachhead

D-DAY 75 OFFICIAL COMMEMORATIONS

D-Day 75 - Official Logo• D-Day 75 events in the UK and France

To signify the importance of Portsmouth’s role in the Normandy Landings as a major embarkation point for the Allied forces, there will be a series of events commencing on the 5th June. For more details head to Visit Portsmouth

In partnership with The Royal British Legion and the National Memorial Arboretum will hold a service of Remembrance for D-Day in Staffordshire from 10.30 am on 6th June. Coverage from the events in France will be relayed on a large screen afterwards. For more details, visit the National Memorial Arboretum website.

In the UK, screens at Southsea Common and Portsmouth Guildhall Square will relay The Royal British Legion’s commemorative events in Bayeux, France. For more details, visit The Royal British Legion website

The Normandy Memorial Trust was created in 2016 to bring to fruition the desire to have a British Normandy Memorial, honouring all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Normandy

• British Legion D-Day 75 Page

• For an unofficial but useful guide to D-Day 75 events worldwide, including in the US and Canada, visit www.dday.center |You can also download D-Day Center’s free PDF version of the D-Day 75th Anniversary events listing to make it easier to print, share or view offline.

COMMANDO COMICS LINKS

• Official Commando Comics Site: www.commandocomics.com

• Don’t forget The Art of Ian Kennedy is available to order here on Amazon (Using this Affiliate Link helps support downthetubes, thank you)

With thanks to Philip Rushton for the scans and, of course, Frank Bellamy and Clifford Makins – and all who served to save Europe from tyranny

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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