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James Bond

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Art by John McLusky

Starting in 1958 and continuing to 1983, James Bond ஜேம்ஸ் பாண்ட் 007, the fictional character created by author Ian Fleming appeared in 52 comic strips that were syndicated in British newspapers, 7 of which were initially published abroad.

In 1957 the Daily Express, a newspaper owned by Lord Beaverbrook, approached Ian Fleming to adapt his stories into comic strips. Ian Fleming at the time was reluctant to allow this because he felt the strips would lack the quality of his writing and could potentially hurt his series while he was still authoring them. Ian Fleming wrote:

"The Express are desperately anxious to turn James Bond into a strip cartoon. I have grave doubts about the desirability of this... Unless the standard of these books is maintained they will lose their point and I think there I am in grave danger that inflation will spoil not only the readership but also become something of a death-watch beetle inside the author. A tendency to write still further down might result. The author would see this happening, and disgust with the operation might creep in."

Regardless, Fleming later agreed and the first strip Casino Royale was published in 1958. The story was adapted by Anthony Hern who had previously serialised Diamonds Are Forever and From Russia with Love for the Daily Express. The illustrations of the strip were done by John McLusky who would later go on to illustrate 12 more James Bond comic strips with partner Henry Gammidge until 1966.

The opening panel to Casino Royale. Illustration by John McLusky
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The opening panel to Casino Royale. Illustration by John McLusky

To aid the Daily Express in illustrating James Bond, Ian Fleming commissioned an artist to create a sketch of what he believed James Bond to look like. John McLusky, however, felt that Fleming's 007 looked too "outdated" and "pre-war" and thus changed Bond to give him a more masculine look.

The majority of the early strips were adapted by Henry Gammidge, however, the adaptation of Dr. No was handled by Peter O'Donnell, a couple of years before he launched his legendary strip, Modesty Blaise.

In 1962 the Daily Express abruptly cancelled their agreement with Ian Fleming when a dispute between Lord Beaverbrook and Fleming erupted over the rights to the short story "The Living Daylights." Fleming had sold the rights to the Sunday Times, a rival newspaper -- which upset Beaverbrook to the point of terminating his relationship with Fleming. The dispute caused the comic strip adaptation of Thunderball to come to an abrupt end. Thunderball was actually never finished; however, a few additional panels were later added for syndication in other newspapers to expand and conclude the story. Lord Beaverbrook and Ian Fleming would later work out their differences and the comic strip serial would continue in 1964 with On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

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Art by Yaroslav Horak

In 1966 Yaroslav Horak replaced John McLusky as the artist for the Daily Express comic strip series and adapted six more Ian Fleming James Bond novels and short stories as well as Kingsley Amis' Colonel Sun with partner Jim Lawrence. The Living Daylights was also republished in the Daily Express after first appearing in the first edition of the Sunday Times magazine on February 4, 1962 and in the American magazine Argosy in June of the same year under the title "Berlin Escape."

With the success of The Man with the Golden Gun Horak and Lawrence subsequently went on to write and illustrate twenty original James Bond comic strips for the Daily Express after being granted permission by Ian Fleming's Trust.