Bond’s recent resurgence of popularity has left people more interested than ever in the character’s many incarnations – and that includes the daily comic strip adventures, originally published in newspapers during the 50s and 60s. This new omnibus collection, recently released by Titan, collects several full adaptations of Fleming’s novels – Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, Diamonds are Forever, From Russia with Love, Dr. No, Goldfinger, From a View to a Kill, For Your Eyes Only and Thunderball – all at a pleasingly affordable price.
While, like most people, I’m more than familiar with James Bond on the screen (and to a lesser extent, in the novels), I have to admit being unaware of the comic strip version before now. These adventures are adapted from the books rather than the films, so they not only have a look all their own, but also the ability to surprise those who feel like they’ve seen the stories before. The artwork is charmingly old-fashioned and the nostalgic feel of a newspaper comic strip that ISN’T all about laughs is surprisingly disarming and, in truth, refreshing.
Although it works as both a historical document of 50s adventure strips and as a nostalgia artifact for those that remember if the first time around, I was surprised at how well the stories also hold up to modern reading. Obviously, there are moments of political incorrectness that wouldn’t be acceptable in a modern strip, but that aside, the stories are enjoyable and engaging, and offer the kind of espionage-based thriller that would barely make it into modern comic shops.
Indeed, my main concern with the collection was that bringing together so many strips alongside one another would be at odds with the original format – after all, they weren’t designed to be read in one sitting, and this can occasionally cause the individual daily chapters to feel stilted and hard to absorb. In this collection, though, almost the opposite is true – each instalment flows into the next as if they were intended to be read in one sitting. I can’t imagine how it worked in the papers, but set together as complete stories, it feels like any other graphic novel.
Due to the age of the work involved, it’s somewhat forgivable that the reproduced artwork is occasionally a little faded or blurred. If there’s any downside, it’s that the book looks chunkier than it is, and the low-quality paper stock it’s printed on gives it a slightly-too lightweight feel. However – it is priced accordingly. At £14.99 for 300 pages, there’s no doubting that this is a good value collection and despite the production values, you won’t feel ripped off. If you’re a fan of Marvel and DC’s phonebook-style collections, you’ll be more than pleased with this.