MI6 caught up with artist and writer Mike Grell to
talk about his James Bond comic series "Permission
Mike Grell Interview (2)
6th March 2005
Above: James Bond by Mike Grell.
from part 1...
How long did the "Permission To Die" mini
Almost a year start to finish, although the final issue
didn't appear for nearly a year after it was completed,
due to financial problems the American publisher was having
at the time.
Can you talk us through the process you went through?
Everything starts with the story. The plot was finalised
and approved, followed by the finished script. My scripts
read much like a film script with scenes and shots and all
the dialogue down on paper before a line is drawn. Next
come the layouts and finished pencil art, from which the
lettering is done while the inking process is done. From
there it goes to colour and finally to separation and printing.
You based some your characters on famous celebrities.
How did you come to arrive at these choices; Hoagy Carmichael,
Hoagy Carmichael was Ian Fleming's idea, not mine.
It just happens that Carmicheal is, indeed, the ideal model
for James Bond. I simply added the scar on his cheek and
a "comma" of hair over his right eye.
"Casting" Terrence Stamp was a matter of playing movie
director. I wanted a charismatic face with a certain intensity.
He had to be handsome behind the mask so the reader would be shocked
to discover that all his scars were emotional. And if I were casting
a movie, I can't think of a better actor for the role. What can
I say? I'm a fan.
Would you ever consider a return to the Bond comics if offered
the opportunity to resurrect them?
Some of the imagery seems to be influenced
by the films (M, Moneypenny, DB5's licence plate, etc).
Would it be fair to say the visuals are based on the Connery
era of movies?
Absolutely. The Connery films established James Bond
to the world and were the greatest visual/stylistic influence
on this story.
You have many references to the earlier Bond films
and books. How did you go about researching and fitting
these into the plot?
I wanted to let everyone know that I was paying tribute
to a series of books and films that had been a great source
of entertainment for me. If Bond gets into a car, it damned
well should be an Aston Martin, not a Volvo! As for research,
I only had to go as far as my bookshelf or my personal video
library for all the reference I needed on the character.
Did you decide to favour anything from Gardner's literary
canon over the movies? Or did you try to keep the comic
between both lineages?
The only consolation I made to Gardner's books was
to give bond the ASP pistol. Again it was a gadget that
worked at the time and I'm something of a gun nut, anyway.
Note the he had the Walther PPK in the opening sequence.
Beyond that, I went for the Fleming novels and the films
as background source.
Above: James Bond by Mike Grell.
Absolutely. I'd love another chance at either illustrated stories
or, perhaps, a novel.
Above: Cover art for "Permission
To Die" issue #2
How were you involved with the "Licence
To Kill" comic book adaptation?
I produced the adaptation as a studio project. The
storytelling portion was my personal contribution. I worked
from the shooting script and stills from the as-yet uncut
film. Adapting the script was a matter of condensing the
action of a two-hour film into a single book. I did the
layouts from the stills on-hand, incorporating as many of
them as possible, but we had to fill in a lot of gaps on
scenes that were still in post-production. From there, the
layouts were tightened into finished pencils and inked by
a team of talented artists.
You have a merged as both writer and artist within
the comic book world, which is most personally rewarding
I've always considered myself to be a storyteller,
first and foremost. As time goes by, I find myself enjoying
the writing process more, because it's less time consuming
and it's fun to work out the twists and turns of the plot.
Still, I enjoy drawing so much that, given the choice between
the two, I’d be forced to stand in the middle and
Any new forthcoming projects?
As I write this, I'm currently at work on the return of my
best comic character - "Jon Sable, Freelance." The new
miniseries begins in March/April from IDW and coincides with the
publishing of the first of a series of reprints of the original
sable stories in album form. You can visit my website www.mikegrell.com
for details and pictures.
Mike Grell Interview (1)
"Permission To Die" Coverage
To Die" #1 Review
To Die" #2 Review
To Die" #3 Review
Many thanks to Mike Grell. Images courtesy Eclipse Comics,
and Rimis London.