Casino Royale

Publisher: Daily Express
Released: 7th July 1958 to
13th December 1958
Serial: #0001 to #0138
Artist: John McLusky
Writer: Ian Fleming, Anthony Hern

Data Stream
Villains: Le Chiffre, Muntz, Heinz
Bond Girls: Vesper Lynd (Agent 3030)
Allies: Felix Leiter, Mathis, Head of S, Nurse Gibson, M
Locations: London, UK; Royale-Les-Eaux, France, Leningrad, Russia

Above: James Bond receives his assignment.

Capsule Synopsis
This is the story that introduced us to James Bond. He's charming, sophisticated and handsome but also chillingly ruthless and very deadly. In his first mission, James must neutralize a Russian operative by ruining him at the Baccarat table and forcing his 'retirement'. Lady luck appears to be taken with Bond as his target hits a losing streak, but Bond's attraction to a beautiful female agent leads him to disaster...

Above: The opening panel of "Casino Royale"

Source To Strip
After some debate, Ian Fleming sold rights for his James Bond novels to the Daily Express, for a "Rolls Royce" of a comic strip adaptation. Anthony Hern, who had serialised a couple of Fleming's novels for the newspaper, was given the task of adapting "Casino Royale" for the daily strip format. Meanwhile, artist John McLusky had been given the vote of approval from Fleming after he delivered concept art of Bond and Red Grant's fight in "From Russia With Love".

The Daily express ran billboard posters in the run up to the first strip being published on 7th July 1958. The story opened with a single panel featuring the portraits of the three main characters (Bond, Lynd and Le Chiffre) and a casino scene. The concept of a title strip would continue with subsequent adventures.

Above: Bond is captured by Le Chiffre after beating him at the casino.

John McLusky's vision for James Bond was the first mainstream graphical depiction of the hero, and although the character's appearance evolved slowly as the years of adapting Fleming's novels passed by (and when Sean Connery became synonymous with 007), the look of McLusky's work stayed at the same level of high quality.

The overall appearance of the story is quite dark, and the level of violence during the torture sequence was strong for the era in which it was originally published. Like Fleming's novel, the story included the rules of Baccarat so that readers could follow the play, and McLusky also used cards from the game as motifs throughout the strips, often filling them with text (acting as boxouts) to keep the story moving.

Writer Anthony Hern compressed Fleming's novel succinctly in to the 138 strips, and despite losing a lot of prose, the characterisations and plot remain faithful to the original story. The most obvious change though, is that of the final line from the novel: "The bitch is dead". For newspaper consumption, this was altered to "Yes. She's dead", and extra panels were added at the end of the adventure depicting the clean up operation from Agent 3030's duplicitous actions, and a teaser for the next story, "Live And Let Die".

Above: The torture sequence is especially brutal for a 1950's publication

Best Line
Bond: "I've never worked with a woman before: I don't know whether to be sorry - or glad"

All strips are missing the familiar "JAMES BOND" heading in the top left corner which was used on all subsequent adventures.

MI6 Rating


Available Now!

Publisher: Titan Books
Released: 25th February 2005
Titles Included: "Casino Royale", "Moonraker", "Live And Let Die"

"Casino Royale" by Titan Books

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