James Bond is returning to comics. US publisher Dynamite Entertainment, has announced their partnership with Ian Fleming Publications Ltd., the company that owns and administers the literary copyright of Ian Fleming’s published works, including his fourteen James Bond books.
Under their agreement, negotiated by Jonny Geller of Curtis Brown, Dynamite has been granted worldwide rights to publish comic books, digital comics, and graphic novels starring 007, Fleming’s iconic secret agent will re-live the exploits that have thrilled and captivated fans for over half a century in fresh visual adaptations of the classic Bond stories.
The new books are being edited by Mike Lake, co-founder of the Forbidden Planet chain (and, later, Forbidden Planet International, also know as Forbidden Planet (Scotland) Limited, the separate FP company that runs many northern FP shops) and Titan Distributors.
Mike has been working on a James Bond comic strip line for some time and while Dynamite has yet to announce any of the creative team involved, we’re aware the British artists he has on board include some of the best in the business, so we hope this new line is the success it deserves to be.
James Bond has a long history in comics, beginning with the James Bond newspaper strips, first published in the Daily Express from 1958 onwards, starting with an adaptation of “Casino Royale”. As noted over on the James Bond MI6 web site, Bond’s UK newspaper incarnation concluded in the Daily Star with “Polestar”. In all, 45 adventures were syndicated in British newspapers, with an additional seven adventures published abroad: some 6,500 plus strips over a 25 year period. Titan Books most recently collected these in six omnibus editions and retain the license to do so.
Created by Ian Fleming, James Bond has a long history as a comics character, both in official adaptations and parodies of the British superspy. While the newspaper strip is probably his best-known comic incarnation, Classics Illustrated adapted the film version of Dr No in 1962, a strip drawn by Norman J. Nodel, re-published in DC Comics Showcase #43 in 1963.
US publishers Marvel, Eclipse and Dark Horse have all published James Bond comic books in the past (the latter featuring art by numerous British creators, including Simon Jowett, John M. Burns and David Lloyd, with Topps publishing an aborted adaptation of Goldeneye in 1995, of which only one issue was published. (MI6 has a detailed list here)
Beyond the English-speaking world, Japanese artist Takao Saito, creator of Golgo 13, produced four very loose but official adaptations of the Fleming novels Thunderball, The Man With The Golden Gun, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Live And Let Die from 1964 onwards before the project was curtailed in 1967. The stories were serialized in a monthly comic book, and then later collected. Chilean publisher Zig Zag published original James Bond adventures in comic book format from 1968 onwards, all written by Germán Gabler (who has told me still holds the rights to the scripts).
Perhaps the best known foreign language adaptation of James bond are those by Scandinavian publisher Semic Press, who initially reprinted the Daily Express strips in James Bond but began originating stories in 1981, with titles such as “Operation: UFO”, “Experiment Z”, and “Kill Bond!” The comic ran until 1996.
James Bond has also been unofficially parodied in comics such as MAD down the years.
Emulating the ‘Young Bond’ novel series penned by Charlie Higson, Dynamite’s new Bond stories will explore the early history of the character, creating a series of brand new adventures unveiling the defining – and largely undocumented – early years of Bond’s career. These new stories will draw inspiration from the Fleming canon to explore Bond’s ‘origins’: his raw early years before he gambled with his life in the first novel, Casino Royale, published in 1953.
Some other familiar faces from the expansive 007 mythos will also make appearances in this series – criminal masterminds, hired henchmen, glamorous Bond Girls, and secret service allies – alongside all-new characters.
“It’s over 60 years since the publication of Casino Royale, and now more than ever it’s an exciting time to be a Bond fan,” says Corinne Turner, Managing Director of Ian Fleming Publications. “We’re thrilled that 007 will be revisiting the world of comics, as Fleming’s novels have a long and successful history in this medium, ever since they began to be published as newspaper comic strips in the late fifties.
“Dynamite are the perfect partners to take on the challenge of continuing this legacy, and we are very much looking forward to working with them.”
“In the journey of discovering new readers for Ian Fleming’s classic Bond stories, we are delighted to be partnering with Dynamite in exploring different ways to broaden the audience. Visually and literally, James Bond will have a new face,” says Jonny Geller, Joint CEO of Curtis Brown.
“Ian Fleming’s James Bond is one the best-known characters in the world, yet we know very little of his background and beginnings,” says Editor Mike Lake. “The Bond villains are some of the most memorable figures in popular culture. Where did they come from… and in some cases, where did they go?”
“James Bond is one of the greatest cultural icons in the world. His author and creator, Ian Fleming, was not only in touch with popular culture in his time, but also saw ahead of his time, and his written work will outlive us all,” says Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. “The character, the structure, and the source material is so strong.
“The original prose storytelling serves as the basis for one of the most successful film franchises ever, a franchise that reinvents itself to be in tune with each generation,” he adds.”By doing so, it allows the character to be an ever-progressive pop culture phenomenon, one that energizes existing fans and engages new fans, thus helping to ensure that Bond’s relevance and importance will live on forever.
“The high-octane action, the charm, the unquestionable allure of this man of action – it all stems from Ian Fleming. We’re excited to build upon the author’s source material with new canonical stories, and honored at Dynamite to be a small part of his legacy, to be able to bring new stories to fans around the world.”
Ian Fleming’s World War II service as assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence in London granted him a wealth of experience in the world of espionage, on which he drew when writing his novels. Fleming published fourteen James Bond titles and lived to witness their enormous success in print and on film. His cultural legacy has thrived for over fifty years, as millions of readers worldwide continue to discover and enjoy his work.
Dynamite plans to launch its first James Bond comic books in 2015, soliciting periodical issues in Diamond Comic Distributors’ Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market. Digital editions will be available simultaneously through such platforms as Comixology, Dynamite Digital, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital. Original graphic novels and collections will be released through the comic book specialty market, digital platforms, and numerous book market channels including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and more.
By way of a footnote, Steve Cole’s first Young Bond novel, Shoot To Kill is released on 6th November in the UK, marking the first new Young Bond adventure since Charlie Higson’s 2009 By Royal Command. The Young Bond series are young adult novels which chronicle the adventures of a young James Bond in the 1930s, true to Ian Fleming’s original timeline and extremely popular with Bond fans both young and old.
• Dynamite Entertainment: www.dynamite.com
• The Official Ian Fleming web site: www.ianfleming.com
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.