Rare “Misty” art by Shirley Bellwood discovered

For those of you saddened by the lack of surviving comic art by lead Misty comic artist Shirley Bellwood, downthetubes has kindly been given permission to share this newly-discovered watercolour by its current owner.

Misty Summer Special 1980 Cover art by Shirley Bellwood
Misty Summer Special 1980 Cover art by Shirley Bellwood

The art was originally used on the cover of the 1980 Misty Summer Special, an offshoot of one of Britain’s many now long extinct weekly girls comics, and inside as a poster. It miraculously somehow survived the destruction of most Misty comic art in 1984 – and was sold at auction by Southend-based Chalkwell Auctions last year. The auction house could not be drawn on the identity of the previous owner at the time of the estate sale.

A carefully restored version of the printed poster was used as the cover of 2000AD publisher Rebellion’s first Misty collection, released in 2016 – sadly, the same year the much-loved artist passed away, aged 84. She had been ill for some time.

The original art is far more subtle than the as it was published in 1980.

  • Misty Summer Special 1980 - Cover by Shirley Bellwood
  • The poster featured in the Misty Summer Special 1980. Art by Shirley Bellwood
  • 2000AD/Rebellion's upcoming collection of two Misty stories utilises art by Shirley Bellwood originally used for the cover of the 1980 Misty Holiday Special

“I recognised the Misty cover is because of seemingly similar work on some portraits and still lives I picked up on a whim last year,” the collector tells us. “They were also by an artist called Shirley Bellwood – who turned out to be a different lady to the comics illustrator and, disappointed in their quality, I disposed of them. 

“Of course that meant I went off on a tangent looking at the Misty work etc – and so couldn’t believe it when this painting turned up. An odd coincidence indeed!”

Shirley Bellwood. Photo courtesy author Max Harris
Shirley Bellwood. Photo courtesy author Max Harris

A highly-accomplished illustrator and painter, Shirley Bellwood’s work on girls’ comics began in the 1950s, initially, it is believed, on on C Arthur Pearson’s Glamour Library; going on to work on titles such as ValentineRomeoMirabelle and Roxy.

Later, she would work on SallyJinty and, of course, Misty, making the character’s fictional editor her own – indeed, the character was based on her own likeness – on both covers and in internal illustrations, some used as posters.

Despite the quality of her work, particularly on Misty, very little has survived down the years, her art going the way of other greats such as Frank Hampson and lost in company clear outs, office moves – or to deliberate destruction. Until now, the only well-known surviving piece of work was believed to be an introductory illustration for Misty comic, since restored artist David Roach.

The only known surviving 'Misty' interior art by Shirley Bellwood, restored by artist David Roach. It was discovered being used as a cutting board.
The only known surviving ‘Misty’ interior art by Shirley Bellwood, restored by artist David Roach. It was discovered being used as a cutting board

As well as her memorable comics work, Shirley illustrated for many publishers, including the Folio Society, including He Knew He Was Right in 1989 and Ralph the Heir and La Vendee, all written by Anthony Trollope in the 1990s. She was also one of the illustrators who worked on a series of Dennis Wheatley story collections published by Heron Books between 1972 and 1977, providing art for Three Inquisitive People in 1973.

We’ve made Misty copyright owners Rebellion aware of the find and they are now in contact with the owner. Our thanks to the collector for permission to share this art.

Read our tribute to Shirley Bellwood here on downthetubes

Misty: Moon Child & The Four Faces of Eve: Volume 1 is available from all good book shops (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)

FURTHER READING

• GreatNewsForAllReaders: Misty covers by Shirley Bellwood – A Gallery (and a look back at Misty with a free downloadable story index here)

• A Resource on JintyShirley Bellwood posts

• The Official Misty web site: www.mistycomic.co.uk

• The Bronze Age of Blogs looks back on Misty here

• UK Comics Wikia: Shirley Bellwood

• Books illustrated by Shirley Bellwood on amazon.co.uk

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.



Categories: Art and Illustration, British Comics, Comic Art, Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Other Worlds

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