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Phillip Belbin Phillip Belbin i(A110886 works by)
Born: Established: 9 Aug 1925 Beecroft, Epping - Pennant Hills area, Northwest Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, ; Died: Ceased: 1993
Gender: Male
(Cover Artist) assertion
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Phil Belbin displayed an early childhood passion for art, collecting books featuring work by his favourite illustrators (such as Arthur Rackham) and drawing his own comics, which were greatly influenced by the work of Alex Raymond, creator of the American science-fiction comic strip 'Flash Gordon' (published as 'Speed Gordon' in Australian newspapers).

Belbin's talent was evident as a student at East Sydney Technical College, where his work reportedly impressed the painter William Dobell (q.v.), who served as a part-time tutor at the school throughout 1939-1941. Belbin joined the art department of the Sydney Sun newspaper in 1942, but left to enlist with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in September 1943. Belbin was stationed in the Pacific Islands and was discharged with the rank of Leading Aircraftman in March 1946.

Returning to Sydney after the war, Belbin was introduced to the publisher Frank Johnson (q.v.) by fellow illustrator Peter Chapman (q.v.). Johnson commissioned Belbin to develop an adventure serial for his new publication, Gem Comics. Belbin's debut series 'The Raven', featuring a costumed aviator, quickly became the lead feature in Gem Comics. Johnson also put Belbin to work as a cover artist on his various pulp novel series, including Sure-Fire Westerns. (See Waggon-Train Outcast.)

In 1948, Belbin commenced his decades-long association with the K.G. Murray Publishing Company (q.v.), creating the science-fiction story 'Peril on Venus' for Climax Color Comic No.9 (K.G. Murray Publishing Company, Sydney NSW, ca.1948). Belbin quickly graduated from comic-book features to painting full-colour covers and interior illustrations for Murray's range of men's magazines, including Man, Pocket Man, Cavalcade, and Adam. Belbin also drew episodes of the various 'adult' comic-strip serials appearing in Murray's men's magazines, including 'Kath King', 'Flash Cain,' and 'Jimmy Smart'. (The latter two features were collected into comic magazine compilations during the 1950s).

Belbin was in great demand as a freelance illustrator throughout the 1950s and 1960s, painting numerous covers for such companies as Calvert Publishing (q.v., see Hostess in Love), Horwitz Publications (q.v., see High Tide Temptress), and the Original Novels Foundation (q.v., publishers of the 'Phantom Book' paperback crime novels).

One of Belbin's earliest 'high-profile' assignments was illustrating Tasmanian Adventure (Adventure Productions, Hobart, Tasmania, 1953), which was used by the Tasmanian State Government to promote tourism and business investment within that state. Belbin's list of commercial art clients grew to include local and international engineering, aerospace, and transportation companies.

Belbin's enthusiasm for steam railways found expression in numerous railway calendars and promotional artworks, in addition to illustrations for historical books on the topic, including David Burke's (q.v.) Changing Trains (Methuen Australia, North Ryde, NSW, 1982) and James Bentley's Black Smoke, Blue Mountains (Robert Brown & Associates, Bathurst, NSW, 1988). Bentley operated a miniature railway at his home in St. Ives, Sydney, for many years.

In 1969, Belbin developed a concept for a newspaper comic strip, 'The Earlybirds', featuring a team of female pilot-adventurers. The strip remained unpublished, but much of the artwork was later used in a sequence of John Dixon's (q.v.) Air Hawk newspaper strip.

During the 1970s, Belbin became the first Australian illustrator commissioned to provide artwork for the Reader's Digest Condensed Books series. In 1974, Belbin worked as an Art Director for Gredown Pty. Ltd. (Sydney, NSW), painting cover illustrations for the company's range of horror, science-fiction, and fantasy comics. He received a Citation of Merit from the Society of Illustrators (New York) in 1974.

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Last amended 12 Nov 2010 15:27:18
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