There has been some interest expressed in a discussion of the James Bond comic strips. To that end, I have set up this index, which I will update as we go along. Right now I am committed to go from “Casino Royale” through “You Only Live Twice.” After that, we’ll see.

IAN FLEMING / HENRY GAMMIDGE / JOHN McCLUSKY*
Casino Royale - p1
Live and Let Die
Moonraker
Diamonds Are Forever
From Russia with Love
Dr. No
Goldfinger
Risico
From a View to a Kill
For Your Eyes Only
Thunderball
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
You Only Live Twice

IAN FLEMING / JIM LAWRENCE / YAROSLAV HORAK
The Man with the Golden Gun
The Living Daylights
Octopussy
The Hildebrand Rarity
The Spy Who Loved Me

JIM LAWRENCE / YAROSLAV HORAK*
The Harpies
River of Death
Colonel Sun
The Golden Ghost
Fear Face
Double Jeopardy
Starfire
Trouble Spot
Isle of Condors
The League of Vampires
Die With My Boots On
The Girl Machine
Beware of Butterflies
The Nevsky Nude
The Phoenix Project
The Black Ruby Caper
Till Death Do Us Part
The Torch-Time Affair
Hot-Shot
Nightbird
Ape of Diamonds
When the Wizard Awakes
Sea Dragon
Death Wing
The Xanadu Connection
Shark Bait
Doomcrack
The Paradise Plot
Deathmask
Flittermouse,
Polestar
The Scent of Danger
Snake Goddess
Double Eagle

*(except as noted)

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CASINO ROYALE

THE VILLAIN: Le Chiffe

THE GIRL: Vesper Lynde

THE PLOT: Winning at baccarat to recoup misappropriated SMERSH funds

ALLIES: Felix Leiter, Rene Mathis

COMMENTARY:

I have to start with an exception to the creators listed in the index right off the bat. Anthony Hern had been condensing condensations of Fleming’s Bond novels in the Daily Express, and this adaptation of the first novel was assigned to him. The infamous torture scene is reduced to a single panel, and the novel’s famous closing line (“The bitch is dead”) has been cut. Other than that, the adaptation follows the novel quite closely, and the main characters look exactly as described by Fleming.

Some believe that Sean Connery was cast as Bond because of his resemblance to McClusky's rendition of 007 in the newspaper strip.

As I recall, the writers did a very good job of adapting the novels to strip form. They never strayed as far afield as the film writers that is for sure.

LIVE & LET DIE

THE VILLAIN: Mr. Big

THE GIRL: Solitaire

THE PLOT: Financing SMERSH with pirate treasure

ALLIES: Felix Leiter, Quarrel

COMMENTARY:

Henry Gammidge begins his tenure on the strip with the second story. He made an odd choice having Bond narrate in first person, which is awkward when the narration must become omniscient (which happens in the very first strip). The movie based on this book wasn’t as good as it could have been. Heroin was substituted for the pirate treasure in the movie, and the book’s two most famous sequences (dragging Bond and Solitaire behind a boat over a coral reef and Felix Leiter being mauled by a shark) were left out entirely. Those scenes showed up in later Bond movies (For Your Eyes Only and License to Kill, respectively), but they remain intact here.

MOONRAKER

THE VILLAIN: Hugo Drax

THE GIRL: Gala Brand

THE PLOT: Destroying London with a nuclear rocket

COMMENTARY:

The first James Bond movie I ever saw (on TV) was Goldfinger.

The first James Bond movie I saw at the theater was The Spy Who Loved Me.

The first James Bond book I read was Moonraker… by Christopher Bond.

The movie Moonraker was the biggest and most successful of the Roger Moore films. It was not supposed to have been his fourth movie. The end of The Spy Who Loved Me promised “James Bond will return in For Your Eyes Only, but the box office success of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the third Kind with Star Trek: the Motion Picture on the way made Moonraker a shoo-in for Moore Bond #4.

I read the novelization (as I did in those days) and I read Wood’s adaptation of The Spy Who Loved Me, too, but I think I read Moonraker first. After that, I went back to the beginning, starting with Casino Royale, and I had soon read Ian Fleming’s original Moonraker. The Spy Who Loved Me (movie and novelization) intoduced the Richard Kiel’s “Jaws,” and Moonraker featured him as well. Also, the movie Moonraker was upgraded to a space shuttle whereas in the novel it was a mere rocket.

By the time I had read all of Fleming’s original James Bond novels, I decided I didn’t need the novelizations any longer and got rid of them. This is a good example of why I never get rid of any books if I can help it. I never know when I might be in the mood to read them again. [Keep an eye peeled for a The Spy Who Loved Me/Moonraker novelization and movie project later in 2019.] I had to “re-buy” both of them. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the one with the image from the movie poster as the cover to Spy, but, oh, well…

The summer I first read Moonraker (Fleming’s), I coincidentally also read Shakespeare’s King Lear and Dickens’ David Copperfield (and years later Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant), all of which had scenes on England’s white cliffs of Dover. (Yes, my reading material used to consist of more than just comic books).

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

THE VILLAIN: Jack & Seraffino Spang, Wint & Kidd, Shady Tree

THE GIRL: Tiffany Case

THE PLOT: Running a diamond-smuggling pipeline out of Africa into the USA

ALLIES: Felix Leiter, Ernie Cureo

COMMENTARY: Reading these strips is like reading “Cliff’s Notes” versions of the original novels. I am reminded of a scene which wasn’t included in the movie version, nor did it turn up later in any other movie. Specifically, Seraffino Spang had built a replica of old west town and ran a steam train out to it. The chase (Bond and Tiffany were on a hand car) was quite tense. Incidentally, Spang named his town “Spectreville.” (This was before Fleming introduced the terrorist organization; it is not related in any way.)


I rented the audio book of Moonraker to listen to in the car while my wife and I drove to Northern Michigan for vacation this past summer. So much of the beginning involves Bond's card game with Drax at Blades, with the typical Fleming focus on details, we soon became bored listening and never finished. I've read the novel twice as well as the comic strip adaption and consider it one of the better early novels, but listening to someone read it aloud just didn't work.


Jeff of Earth-J said:

MOONRAKER

THE VILLAIN: Hugo Drax

THE GIRL: Gala Brand

THE PLOT: Destroying London with a nuclear rocket

Several years ago I found five of the first six James Bond novels (read by Rufusa Sewell) on clearance at Half Price Books. At the price, I couldn't pass them up. The one missing is Moonraker. I recently tried to locate it on Amazon. I couldn't find it, but I did find a copy read by a different voice actor. I didn't buy it because I have come to associate the Bond audios with Rufus Sewell. I'm deep into Doctor Who audios now, but when I listen again, I'll either have to skip that one or read it on my own.

...Jumping ahead to TBE SPY WHO LOVED ME - Briefly, does the strip offer us a full version of the adventure that Bond has that is what brings him back to North America that is only set up as background in the novel? I saw a repro from it that suggested that it did. I see that that is the very last canon Bond that the strip did!
They didn't do " James Bond In New York " - ! A vingette from Fleming"s travel book THRILLING CITIES.

It just so happens that I recently read The Spy Who Loved Me (which is what prompted me to start this discussion), otherwise I might not have been able to answer your question. As you may recall, the novel is written first person from the POV of the female protagonist, Vivienne Michel, and is divided into three parts: “Me,” “Them” and “Him.” “Me” tells the narrator’s own backstory, “Them” tells the story of the gangsters as they enter the story, and “Him” adds James Bond into the mix.

The “Me” portion was left out of the comic strip adaptation entirely. In the book, “Him” tells the story of how/why James Bond came to be in North America in the first place, and is told as flashback from him to her. And yes, as you surmised, the strip adaptation starts with Bond’s (somewhat mundane) mission to Canada, then follows the story from his POV into upper New York state.

I read Moonraker about 35 years ago and was amazed at how interesting and tense the card game was.  It was a card game for Heaven’s sake.  Well written.  

doc photo said:


I rented the audio book of Moonraker to listen to in the car while my wife and I drove to Northern Michigan for vacation this past summer. So much of the beginning involves Bond's card game with Drax at Blades, with the typical Fleming focus on details, we soon became bored listening and never finished. I've read the novel twice as well as the comic strip adaption and consider it one of the better early novels, but listening to someone read it aloud just didn't work.


Jeff of Earth-J said:

MOONRAKER

THE VILLAIN: Hugo Drax

THE GIRL: Gala Brand

THE PLOT: Destroying London with a nuclear rocket

Fleming knew cards.


I'll tell you another sequence from the novels that's more exciting than one might expect: the golf game from Goldfinger. It is (rightly) reduced to three hole in the movie, but the novel describes all 18 holes. Tense!

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

THE VILLAIN: Rosa Klebb, Red Grant

THE GIRL: Tatiana Romanova

THE PLOT: Assassinating Bond

ALLIES: Kerim Bey

COMMENTARY: The book was written in two not-quite-equal sections. Part one was “The Plan” and part two was “The Execution.” Part one did not feature James Bond at all. The comic strip tried to emulate this structure, but the first person narration was awkward for the first three weeks of the story. (This is the last story that would use first person narration.) As Arthur Conan Doyle once tried to do with Sherlock Holmes, Ian Fleming tried to kill off his main character at the end of the novel. He brought him back at the beginning of Dr. No, but the transition was a little cleaner in the comic strip adaptation.

Last week I compared these comic strips to Cliffs’ Notes. The last time I read them, I thought they were good substitutes for the books, especially if I were in a hurry. That may be so in terms of plot, but this time through I’m finding the adaptations to be deadly dull, at least in comparison to Fleming’s prose.

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