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 outing in 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 what 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 compel the audience to come back for the next installment. The missions will generally be multi-issue, with the initial storyline 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 Tony Bedard

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 lines?
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 thrill-aholic.'

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 of "Kiss 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 secret agent?
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.

'Bond did so much to define the spy genre that it's all but impossible to get away from that connection...'


How would you describe the relationship between the two main characters Basildon and Shelly? 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.

'...Basildon 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 around 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.

Subtle Spoofs

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.

'...Basildon's 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.


Preview (click a thumbnail to view a high-resolution image)


MI6 Briefing

Title: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Publisher: CrossGen
Released: Issue #1 January 14th, #2 February 18th
Price: $2.95
Writer: Tony Bedard
Penciler: Mike Perkins
Colorist: Laura Villari
Andrew Hennessy

Related Stories
"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" Preview
"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" Announced