MI6 asked writer Tony Bedard to put his pen down
for a while this month to talk about Sir Charles
Basildon and his first outing in the hit comic "Kiss
Kiss Bang Bang"...
Tony Bedard "KKBB" Writer Interview
30th January 2004
MI6 asked writer Tony Bedard to put his pen down for a while
this month to talk about Sir Charles Basildon and his first
the hit comic "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"...
Pen To Paper...
KKBB is a period piece, set in the '60s. Will that time-setting
be crucial to the plot, or is it mostly aesthetic?
Setting KKBB in the '60s mostly comes down to what was happening
culturally at the time. The Sexual Revolution was getting under
way, and behavior that would seem downright misogynistic nowadays
was dismissed as merely playful back then. It was an age before
sexual harassment was even a concept -- when you could comment
on your secretary's clothes and maybe even give her a good-natured
slap on the rump before pouring yourself a stiff drink from the
bar built into your office. Hell, in those days, there
was something wrong with you if you didn't have a two-martini
lunch! The mind boggles! In the midst of this politically incorrect
era we have a battle of the sexes between the ultimate cad and
a thoroughly modern spy-chick. Anyhow, the gleeful misogyny of
the early Bond films always knocks me for a loop, and that's
I wanted to explore in this comic series.
'We need a big
opening, almost like a title sequence from a Bond film...'
How is the story of KKBB structured? Are there multi-issue
missions? Are there overlapping plot-lines that span the
entire series? Will each issue end with an enthralling cliff-hanger?
Each issue should end with a cliffhanger anyway! These
are periodicals we publish, serials in which we have to
the audience to come back for the next installment. The
missions will generally be multi-issue, with the initial
pitting Basildon and Shelley against the evil Lazarus Bale
taking up six issues. The developing and ever more convoluted
relationship between Basildon and Shelley will evolve with
each new issue.
Left: "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" writer
Influences And Beginnings
What influences, aside from the James Bond literary
and movie series, shaped KKBB?
To some extent, the Derek Flint and Matt Helm movies inform KKBB. I suppose even
Austin Powers. Mostly, from my end, there's my fascination with male/female relations
and what is acceptable in any given era. You watch John Wayne's The Quiet Man,
and he's dragging Maureen Ohara across the village, practically slapping her
around -- and yet you know he loves her! They couldn't make that same movie these
days, and yet I wouldn't change a thing about it! So, sex in general is the biggest
influence in KKBB. Also, I have to mention the Alias TV show, and the old Avengers
show, with Mr. Steed and Mrs. Peel.
People who are not regular comic book readers may
be forgiven for thinking that they all involve cape-wearing
super heroes. How do the characters of KKBB stay "human"?
Could you tell us about their different strengths and
weaknesses, and how this affects the relationships/plot
Well, Basildon's barely human at all. I always figured the early Bond from the
movies was really a sociopath. How else could you sleep with women you knew worked
for the enemy. It was almost as though the challenge was to get in their pants
before inevitably having to kill them. So, rather than pretend the guy has a
heart, I'm going full-tilt on the sexual predator-adrenaline junkie approach
with Basildon. Agent Shelley, on the other hand, is the voice of reason in the
series. She reacts sensibly and intelligently. She shows true courage, where
Basildon is merely reckless. Basically, she embodies the reader's point of view.
Right: Charles Basildon
'He's a sexaholic
It's often said of the Bond movies that they are only as
strong as their villains. What kind of evil-doing takes place
in KKBB? Can you give us a taste of the kind of plots Basildon
and co. will be up against?
In the first story arc, the villain is Lazarus Bale, an albino mystery man whose
origins involve a pretty strong fantasy element. His inhuman genius leads him
to surround himself with clones of the 20th Century's greatest villains -- Hitler,
Stalin, Mussolini and Tojo. They're younger, stronger versions, though, sort
of the "boy-band" version. We call them the Young Dictators. But the
true villain of the book is its supposed hero, Charles Basildon. Each issue,
he does his damndest to get Agent Shelley killed or otherwise screwed over.
Above: The cover art for issue #1
Kiss Bang Bang"
Heroes And Villains
What impact does the fact that the
next agent in training is female on the character relationships
and the plot? Is there any sexual tension between the
out-going Charles and the new recruit Stephanie?
The sexual tension between Basildon and Shelley is what this book is all about.
But it's not a good tension! In the first issue, Basildon tricks his way into
Shelley's bed, and he will never let her forget it. No matter how often she's
right and he's wrong, he will always have that unintended tryst to lord over
her and torment her with. It's even worse because the more she gets to know him,
the more this handsome monster makes her skin
Could you tell us a little about the
traits of Sir Charles Basildon, how does he operate?
Is he the A-typical 1960's, cold-blooded, womanizing
Yeah, Basildon's completely amoral, and he is not in
this business to defend the U. K. and do his duty for
Queen and Country. No, Basildon's just in it for
kicks. As long as he gets to bed exotic women, kill exotic criminals, and blow
up exotic places, he's a happy camper. Perhaps because of his psychotic fearlessness,
he is very effective, so they keep him in action. He's a sexaholic thrill-aholic.
did so much to define the spy genre that it's all but
impossible to get away from that connection...'
would you describe the relationship between the two main characters Basildon
Is she "Catwoman" to his "Batman"?
How does the apprenticeship develop over the series?
Will we see Basildon fading out of the plots as Shelly
becomes more experienced?
As the series progresses, Shelley will see more and more evidence that Basildon
is dangerously unstable and loyal only to himself. However, she can't get anything
solid enough to have him fired. So they'll go on sniping at each other, with
Shelley having to save herself or both of them from Basildon's excesses.
will be based in London, usually out of a secret headquarters
beneath Carnaby Street.'
As the espionage genre is a well trodden one
in literature, film and television, it must be
very difficult to create new and original ideas
for plotlines. Could you explain briefly the typical
process you go through when writing a KKBB adventure?
Mike came up with a lot of the first story arc, so that gave me a head-start
when I came aboard the project. The main thing so far in plotting the book is
to start with the "conventions" of the spy genre. We need a big opening,
almost like a title sequence from a Bond film. Then I try to come up with new
ways for Basildon to bedevil Agent Shelley as they chase after their enemies.
That's the fun part -- making this guy a complete weasel and having her show
how great she is just by surviving his crap.
Bringing an American woman into
the role of a British MI6 agent is a great twist. Will we be
seeing the main action emanate from Britain, or
will Shelly have some adventures in the USA?
Agent Shelley is British-born, but raised in
the States. I had a similar experience, being
born in Puerto Rico and then growing up in places
the world. You end up with a strong sense of your parent culture, and
yet forever separated from it. So Agent Shelley has the basic credentials
to be in MI6, and yet she often feels like or is treated as an outsider.
She especially runs afoul of the very British agent Pippa Westlake,
who resents this "Yank" coming in out of nowhere to occupy such
a prime spot in the espionage hierarchy. Shelley and Basildon will be
based in London, usually out of a secret headquarters beneath Carnaby
Street. Their adventures will take them all over the world.
In Issue #1 there is a brief appearance in a
party scene by a character that looks strikingly
like a James Bond that MI6 readers will find very
familiar. What other nods are there to other classic
spy series in KKBB?
Bond did so much to define the spy genre that it's all but impossible
to get away from that connection. In a way, the Bond spirit permeates
everything in this, or most any other super-spy stories. Then, there's
the fashion nod to The Avengers, with the dapper Basildon and the slinky
Shelley. There's the title-sequence adventures and the obligatory gimmick
henchmen, too. I don't think we'll get into too many overly outlandish
gadgets for our spies, but you never know...
KKBB has a great blend of action, adventure,
suspense and... humour. Bond created the one-liner,
and Basildon looks like he enjoys them too. Are
there any great one-liners in KKBB that you are
particularly proud of?
The best one is when Basildon reveals who he is only after he's slept with Shelley.
You'll have to read issue #1 to fully appreciate it, though.
barely human at all...'
Due to the spate of comic-book movie conversions
lately, we can't help but ask, who would you cast
for the main characters from KKBB if it were a
movie? (question also to Mike Perkins)?
Jeremy Northam as Basildon, and Kate Beckinsale as Shelley.
How many books have you written prior to KKBB?
Did you ever imagine at the start of your career
that you would be penning a 60'd spy thriller?
What is your favourite fiction genre?
I've written more comics than I can count by now, though I honestly didn't expect
to be writing a spy book. Most of my stuff's been science-fiction, which I really
enjoy. Of course, horror is fun, too! Just getting paid to write anything is
the best part of it all. I still can't believe I get to do this for a living!
Aside from KKBB, if you could suggest one other
title for people new to the world of comic books
to read, what would you recommend?
I would recommend: Y: THE LAST MAN, or LOVE AND ROCKETS
Many thanks to Tony Bedard.
a thumbnail to view a high-resolution image)
Title: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Released: Issue #1 January 14th, #2
Writer: Tony Bedard
Penciler: Mike Perkins
Colorist: Laura Villari
Inker: Andrew Hennessy
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