MI6 reviews Titan Books' newly reissued graphic novel
"James Bond 007: Goldfinger" by Ian Fleming,
Henry Gammidge and John McLusky.
"James Bond 007: Goldfinger" Review
30th January 2005
In the early 60's James Bond gripped the World. He was everywhere,
including national newspapers. Titan Books have republished the
original classic Express strips and the latest reissue is "Goldfinger".
Bringing the daily Bond back to the public in this timeless form
meant the strips saw Bond fighting his foes in three panels and
on the odd occasion two. Due to the unique structure of the comic
strip, each had to be carefully crafted to clearly communicate
location, plot and character development to the reader.
November saw the launch of the reissued Henry Gammidge and John
McLusky original set of graphic novels based on Ian Fleming's
7th Bond novel first published in 1959. This reissue is the largest
so far and boasts new cover art (a reworked cell from "Goldfinger").
“Thunderball” and Fleming’s adapted short story
strips “Risico”, “For Your Eyes Only”,
and “From A View To A Kill” accompany the title story.
Golden Girl - Introduction
Shirley Eaton - the golden girl from Goldfinger, introduces number
four in Titan’s revised Bond series. Eaton talks about her
love of Bond and how Goldfinger set the Bond formula, and how
it has become the principle for 007 today. She concludes noting
how she has become part of the 'golden girl' legacy and how the
film came together.
"It's now forty years since the release
of Goldfinger, and I can say without any hesitation it is the
classic Bond film." - Shirley Eaton 2004
Bond In Books
Bond in Books (Part 4) - From “Thunderball” to “The
Man With The Golden Gun”:
Simpson continues his brief biography on Fleming focusing on the
last titles before his death. Part four begins with the reaction
to Thunderball and how Fleming was looking for non-Bond projects,
of which none were ever as successful. Simpson looks then at “The
Spy Who Loved Me” and Fleming’s order surrounding
its paperback issue. During 1961 Thunderball was embroiled in
legal controversy before becoming available to the public.
Briefly touching on Fleming’s poor health and children’s
book, Simpson pushes on looking at Bond’s preparation for
the silver screen and Fleming’s involvement. An interesting
point is raised which has bearing on one of the featured strips
and its premature ending in the Express newspaper. Concluding
with the final two books and Fleming’s failing health, Simpson
has crammed a large amount of information into this short space,
which makes for an interesting read.
One of the most faithful adaptations of a Fleming novel,
there are very few differences to the original. The only
real changes of note are a result of the violence being
toned down - the death of Tilly Masterson as revenge for
Bond’s interference, and the fight between Bond and
Oddjob. Titan makes a point that the quality of the cells
varies due to the poor quality of the source material. This
is a shame as some of the cells truly suffer from the poor
transfer. McLusky’s Bond has hints of Connery throughout
this series and has crafted Bond in the truest light.
The first of the three featured short stories in this re-issue,
Risico is one of Fleming’s short stories which was
used for source material for Roger Moore’s 1981 Bond
outing “For Your Eyes Only”. The opening paragraph
of the story has a glaring spelling error, and the handful
of opening panels are of poor quality. The quality of the
panels throughout Risico varies, as some are as clear as
the day they were printed, whereas others have suffered
from the transfer. McLusky’s Bond is well defined
and clearly recognisable. The nighttime cells appear to
have suffered the most in quality due to lost detail.
Above: Front cover
From A View To A Kill
In 1985 Roger Moore made his last appearances in a similarly title
Bond film - and that’s where the similarities end. This
second short story focuses on espionage and conflict between intelligence
agencies after WW2. The 65-panel story visits a handful of locations.
Scenes in the woods suffer as the quality of the cells has degraded.
The plot stays close to Fleming’s short story and makes
for a nice and concise, low-key, strip adventure.
For Your Eyes Only
The third short story, which lent its title to the 1981 Moore
outing, ran 77 panels from September till December 1961. Fleming’s
plot of Bond being sent on a mission to assassinate the killers
of friend’s of M – only for 007 to bump into the daughter
of the Havelock’s who ultimately completes the job –
transfers well to the strip format.
This short version of Thunderball ended prematurely due to a falling
out between then Express Newspaper owner Lord Beaverbrook and
Ian Fleming. This curtailed Bond adventure, despite being cut
short, has faired well and the quality of the strip is better
than others in this collection. However some cells have been restored
from the Newspaper source material, so the quality is patchy in
places. With the final two thirds of the story missing, Gammidge
had to condense the story into a few panels, which was done successfully
considering the situation. Titan has included six of the missing
panels that were issued by syndicated newspapers in the rest of
This two-page bonus is a nice retrospective looking at alternative
and omitted panels from Goldfinger and Thunderball. Goldfinger
has two alternative panels highlighting the knife fight between
Bond and Oddjob that was never released in the UK. Six Norwegian
panels of the fuller Thunderball ending are also available. These
panels were never published in the UK due to Lord Beaverbrook’s
cancellation of the strip.
Behind Enemy Lines - The Russian Perspective
This refreshing article by Vlad Pavlov reflects on Bond’s
exploits behind the iron curtain. It details how over the years,
censorship has been freed up allowing western culture and film
to make it into Russia. Of all the articles within this re-issue
this is the most interesting to fans on all levels.
The Complete James Bond Syndicated Newspaper
Rounding off this first reissue is a checklist of every Bond newspaper
strip including dates of print and reference numbers in a table
James Bond will return in 2005 in Casino
"Goldfinger" is the fourth revised and re-issued
series of classic Ian Fleming Bond adventures. With five
full strips, and extra care being put into the re-issue,
Titan has improved upon the past three outings.
However, the feature on the authors could have been expanded,
with further discussion on how their concept of Fleming's
Bond was brought to life by the artwork. The tale of the
curtailment of Thunderball is treated with a short briefing
before the strip, and could have expanded further on this
interesting moment in Bond comic history.
The quality of the artwork varies due to the varying nature
of source material (some of which was taken from the original
newspapers), but for the most part is robust. Considering
the rarity of some of the material contained in this volume,
Titan has done well to compile the English language strips
in a state good enough for re-publishing.
Images courtesy Titan Books and Amazon Associates.