Book Palace Books release their limited edition collection of Heros the Spartan, the work of the late Tom Tully and Frank Bellamy, on 10th August – and we’re delighted to offer you this sneek peek of some of the features and spreads from it, courtesy of editor Peter Richardson. (Click on the images for larger size views).
Tom Tully – whose credits include The Leopard of Lime Street, Janus Stark, Adam Eterno and Johnny Red – provides a cracking yarn, the stories spanning the Roman Empire as Heros tackles a formidable range of foes.
Frank Bellamy was asked to draw Heros the Spartan, a Roman epic strip for the Eagle in 1962. Bellamy had previously honed his artistic skills on Robin Hood and King Arthur in Swift (both also available from Book Palace Books) and on strips such as The Happy Warrior, the Story of Winston Churchill and Fraser of Africa for Eagle.
This new strip – the comic’s cntre page spread – gave Bellamy an incredible opportunity to deliver the stunning storytelling he would later bring to TV Century 21 in his Thunderbirds strip, and it was a chance he did not miss.
“This has been a tremendous undertaking and we have had a lot of help from dedicated Bellamy collectors from around the globe,” says Peter. “The introductory chapters, which feature Dez Skinn and Dave Gibbons’ interviews with the great man (many thanks to both Dez and Dave), also include mouthwatering reproductions of key examples of Bellamy artwork, which are largely sourced from high resolution scans and add an extra zing to the whole production.
“The location of Bellamy Heros originals was as problematic as can be anticipated with artwork of this vintage,” Peter also notes. The search was ongoing throughout the 18 months that this project occupied us and we did manage to unearth a lot of Heros artwork that had remained unseen for decades.
“One of the spreads high on our list was, of course, the famous massacre of the fifth legion, which was one of the strip’s many high spots in terms of artistry. We did locate the spread in question, but the collector had the artwork framed and was extremely reluctant to let us near it, let alone prize it out of its frame. After a lot of pleading, he did provide us with a photo which captures the main action of the scene and which was good enough to run in the book. We would have loved a razor sharp scan of the entire spread, but we were really pleased to be able to reproduce at least a sizeable chunk of the artwork and at the same time we managed to locate another three spreads which again have added a lot of extra lustre to what is already a very desirable book.”
“This is without doubt, the most ambitious project that Book Palace Books has invested in, and the production costs reflect this,” Peter refekcts. “It is, therefore doubly, heartening to see such a healthy demand from people who are determined to ensure that they don’t miss out on what is a very limited print run (600 copies of the regular edition and 120 copies of the numbered leather edition), to the extent that the sheer volume of pre-publication orders we have received have just about cleared our production costs.”
Widely regarded as one of the most ground-breaking British comic strips of the 1960s, influencing the work of many future creators, Heros is well deserving of this specialist treatment from Book Palace and if you can afford a copy, splash out.
• Book Palace Books: http://bookpalacebooks.com
• Buy the Hardcover Limited Edition (600 copies only)
ISBN 978-1907081194 – 272pp, £95.00
• Buy the leatherbound Limited Edition (120 copies only)
ISBN 978-1907081200 – 296pp, £265.00
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.