Monday, October 27, 2008

Modesty Blaise was anything but

The delightfully grrrroovy comic strip Modesty Blaise was created way back in 1963 by writer Peter O'Donnell and artists Jim Holdaway, and debuted in the London Evening Star. It ran until 2001 and spun off novels and three movies. Far from modest, the lead character is the quintessential bad girl, a reformed criminal mastermind who uses his skills and underworld contacts to pull off capers for the British secret services or to help complete strangers. Modesty's sexy adventures are loaded with elaborate conspiracies, exotic locations, abundant scenes of hand-to-hand combat and unusual weapons, not to mention fabulous outfits. In the US, the strip had erratic distribution due to its... guess... sexual content! Aside from the occasional nudity, Modesty would sometimes use a technique she called the "nailer", whereby she would appear topless in front of an enemy to cause a much needed distraction and allow for her partner or herself to dismantle the threat. As it is the case for most American fiction, one panel of partial nudity would drive censors up the wall and make them forget the hard-hitting writing and fantastic art of one of the best works of adventure fiction of the sixties and the inspiration of many female heroes to follow. In these times of political correctness and rampant puritanism, it is a sheer pleasure to dive into an old-school irreverent adventure trip. Thanks to Titan Books, the reprints are now available. Check out the collection here.

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