Sunday, September 14, 2008

James Bond hardboiled vintage comics

The lead-up to the release of Quantum of Solace is a perfect excuse to revisit an important piece of James Bond fiction. In the decades between the first two Sean Connery films and Daniel Craig's Casino Royale, James Bond pictures, although hugely popular, were highly sanitized, campy and devoid of any compelling plots, sex and violence for mature audiences. Unbeknown to the general public, the only place where fans could turn for a dose of adult James Bond material, aside from the Ian Flemming novels, was the comic strips published by various British newspapers between 1958 and 1983. There, gifted writers like Jim Lawrence and great artists like Yaroslav Horak (my absolute favorite), delivered faithful adaptations of the books and created new original material, true to the source. The comics were certainly not for children and, even under the scrutiny of newspaper editors and censors, they still managed to deliver a wallop of edgy adult spy adventures, far more graphic in their violent and sexual content than any of the films. Thankfully, Titan Books has reprinted most of the Daily Express strips, dating back to the 50s. Fans of Cold War nostalgia can head to specialized comic book stores or visit the Titan web site for a complete list of the books, covers and synopsis. Get into the rugged art of Horak with James Bond: Shark Bait and other selected titles.

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