Publisher: Daily Express
Released: 11th December 1961 to
10th February 1962
Serial: #1066 to #1128*
Artist: John McLusky
Writer: Ian Fleming, Henry Gammidge
*Series ended prematurely

Data Stream

Villains: Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Emilio Largo, Giuseppe Petacchi, Count Lippe
Bond Girls: N/A
Allies: M, Miss Moneypenny, Dr. Joshua Wain, Felix Leiter
Locations: London, UK; Sussex, UK; Paris, France; Nassau, Bahamas

Above: James Bond exacts his revenge on Count Lippe

Capsule Synopsis
Originally intended to follow Ian Fleming's novel closely, this ill-fated comic strip was abruptly curtailed. James Bond is sent to the Shrublands health farm under orders from M following a medical report slamming 007's lifestyle. Upon noticing a tattoo on a suspiciously acting guest at Shrublands, Bond investigates Count Lippe. After overhearing Bond's telephone call to headquarters, Lippe attempts to put an and to his meddling by throwing Bond's traction machine controls to maximum. Bond is rescued off-page and sets about his revenge on Lippe, by trapping him in a steamer. Meanwhile in Paris, Blofeld is masterminding the latest SPECTRE plot (Plan Omega) to hijack RAF bombers equipped with nuclear bombs, through the traitorous Italian Air Colonel Giuseppe Petacchi, with the ultimate aim of blackmailing the British and American governments for £100 million. Petacchi kills everyone on board his bomber with cyanide gas and ditches the plane in the Bahamas. The syndicated version saw Bond briefly searching for the ditched bomber, following the Disco Volante in a US submarine, battling with Emilio Largo's men underwater, and recovering in hospital.

Above: The opening panel of "Thunderball"

Above: The search for the missing atomic bombs is compressed in the final panels.

Source To Strip
As "Quantum of Solace" and "The Hildebrand Rarity" were not seen as worthy material of a strip adaptation, McLusky and Gammidge skipped to Fleming's next full length novel - "Thunderball" (Yaroslav Horak and Jim Lawrence later adapted "The Hildebrand Rarity").

The strip starts off at quite a leisurely pace, with Bond investigating Count Lippe at Shrublands and Blofeld explaining his plot to his SPECTRE colleagues at great length.

Just as the pace was picking up, with Petacchi hijacking the RAF bomber and about to ditch the plane into the waters around Nassau, the story came to an abrupt and unexplained end.

During the time of "Thunderball"s strip publication in the Daily Express, Ian Fleming sold syndication rights of his new short story "The Living Daylights" to the Sunday Times, who published it in their debut issue of the Sunday Colour Supplement on 4th February 1962. This angered the owner of the Daily Express (who held the comic strip rights), Lord Beaverbrook, who ordered the immediate end to the current run of Bond strips. Artist John McLusky had already completed panels up to and including #1122, but due to Beaverbrook's orders, a hasty end to the adventure was told in a specially constructed single panel #1117 in the Daily Express on 10th February 1962.

Above: The original Daily Express ending of "Thunderball"

"Giuseppe flies the stolen atom bomber to the Bahamas and the bombs are hidden in the sea. SPECTRE's ultimatum is sent to the British and U.S. governments - '£100,000,000 in gold or we explode the bombs in your countries.' Every agent, including Bond, searches for the bombs. Bond finds them and the world is safe. THE END"

McLusky's six unpublished panels would be later used in the syndicated version of the strip, and an additional six panels were created (#1123 to #1128) to draw a conclusion to the story to replace the abrupt "THE END" panel #1117 published in the Express. Although the additional six panels do tie up the loose ends in the story, with plot being butchered into such a small space, only the core essentials feature. Dramatic sequences such as the underwater battle are condensed into only two panels, and due to the curtailment of the story, Domino Vitali completely disappears from the adventure.

Above: The syndicated ending of "Thunderball".

Beaverbrook's cancellation of "Thunderball" brought series one of the comic strip adventures to an end. Kevin McClory, a thorn in the side of many future Bond productions, also began his first legal action against Fleming for rights on "Thunderball", which he co-wrote.

Eventually a settlement was bashed out between Fleming and McClory, and shortly afterwards, Fleming and Beaverbrook eventually patched up their differences. Series two was launched on 29th June 1964 with "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". The Daily Express ran advertisements celebrating the return of James Bond to their newspaper (seen right).

Best Line
James Bond: "Half an hour's real heat'll do you a world of good. If you catch fire, you can sue me..."

"Thunderball" featured an extra panel in Scotland during a Bank Holiday Monday. The additional panel #1081a showed headquarters informing Bond that Lippe's tattoo was a mark of the Chinese Tong.


MI6 Rating
*Based on material published before the story's curtailment


Available Now!

Publisher: Titan Books
Released: 25th February 2005
Titles Included: "Goldfinger", "Risico", "From A View To A Kill", "For Your Eyes Only", "Thunderball"

"Goldfinger" by Titan Books

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