||British Classics Illustrated (UK)
DC Comics 'Showcase' (USA)
Dell Publishing 'Detective Stories'
||Norman J. Nodel (UK)
Bob Brown (USA cover)
Around the time of the release of the first James Bond
film Dr. No in 1962, a comic book adaptation of the screenplay
was published in British Classics Illustrated as number
It was also reprinted in Europe under
the Detective Stories label of Dell Publishing (Denmark,
Norway and Sweden) using the British cover artwork.
US issue hit the news stands in January 1963, way ahead
of the films US release (Dr No opened Stateside
in May 1963, some seven months after it debuted in the
UK), and sales were disappointing.
Above: Cover artwork of the original
The comic was drawn by Norman J. Nodel in a style that would
have fit well into the Classics Illustrated (CI) anthology
series printed in the United States by Independent News corporation.
However, Independent News marketed their CI series as educational
in nature and felt that it would be a poor fit, as they concentrated
on classrooms and libraries rather than comic book stores and
news stands. Independent News passed on the original offer
from Danjaq, saying they were unwilling to publish a one-off,
purchase the rights and release the title under their DC Comics
imprint. Dr No was ultimately published in the USA as issue
#43 of the Showcase anthology series by DC comics.
Above: A panel from "Dr
No" by artist Norman J. Nodel, who used production
stills from the movie.
The cover artwork for the DC release was completed
by Bob Brown, but the inferior interior art was very different
in quality and
style from anything previously published by DC Comics, and like
nothing since. It is widely believed that Nodel only had access
to the screenplay and some stills at the time he drew,
as the film was still in production, and was simply
told to make
look like Connery and the other major players. Some of the
panels are almost straight-duplications of production stills.
The comic was brief, running for only 32 pages and used an average
of 5 cells per
page. For publication in the USA, the British original had its
language censored and racial skin tones removed, meaning everyone
in the Caribbean was now white.
It also had trouble finding
an audience since James Bond was still relatively unknown
at the time. So much so, the cover reference Ian Fleming's
novel ahead of it being a movie adaptation ("Based
on the novel and now a United Artists Film Thriller").
But this was further subterfuge, as the comic closely followed
the movie adaptation rather than the novel.
deviations from the film were made to suit the younger
audience: Dent has a round left in his weapon after his
attempt on 007, leaving both parties firing simultaneously
when the Professor is killed, and Dr No is electrocuted
on a control panel rather than being drowned in the reactor.
DC had an option in the contract to continue
a James Bond series for a modest royalty fee if Dr No
sold well, but this option was included at the behest of
Danjaq rather than DC, who were understood to be somewhat
indifferent to Bond as their focus was their own properties
like Batman and Superman.
Left: US cover artwork by Bob Brown.
A few months later when "Dr No" hit
the silver screen in the States, the comic was already long off-sale,
at DC had already forgotten about Showcase #43. Thoughts only
turned back to Bond in 1972 when someone at DC noticed their
was about to expire. Bond was now big business. Carmine Infantino,
chief publisher at the time, was surprised to learn about the
option and immediately started discussions to launch a 007 comic
book series. Jack Kirby and Alex Toth were two of the artists
approached to draw it, but with Sean Connery announcing that "Diamonds
Are Forever" was to be his last appearance as 007, DC decided
to let the option expire rather than launch a series without
a new James Bond actor in the public conscious. DC has not
published another James Bond comic since.
Years later, George Kashdan, the editor at DC
when Dr No was released, said he could not understand why DC
went with the anomalous
one-off, other than that it must have been cheap and the artwork
was already completed. Showcase #43 is now a rare collectors
Dr. No - Movie Coverage