I like factoids. And, there were a couple that I read while at the Wikipedia entry for “James Bond” as I was drafting my Call for Papers a few weeks ago. As I was reviewing the various ways that culture has been impacted by the franchise, I noticed an astounding tidbit – that it was estimated that a quarter of the world’s population has seen at least one James Bond movie – wow! That information was reported by Klaus Dodds in a 2005 issue of Geopolitics, which makes me wonder, if with the release last November of Skyfall, if that figure has been pushed up a bit more now. It helps that there are 23 films spread out over five decades, but still, it goes to show that a tightly woven marriage exists between Bond and popular culture. One cannot delve into a single media form and not find at least one effort inspired by Bond – I kid you not, even poetry (look for Kimmy Beach’s The Last Temptation of Bond, published by University of Alberta Press and available at Amazon). All this leads to how James Bond has inspired our world for sixty years if starting the clock with Ian Fleming’s release of Casino Royale in 1953.
One venue I was feeling on shaking ground with regards to finding Bond’s presence was in the world of comics. However, after attending Wondercon 2013 in Anaheim, California two weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised that Bond’s spirit was alive and well. For example, IDW’s oversized, multi-volume treatment of X-9 Corrigan spans several decades, writers and artists and is probably the longest running spy oriented series. Another blast from the past was Boom! Studios series Steed and Mrs. Peel, written by Grant Morrison (New X-Men, Final Crisis) and Anne Caulfield. The comic art style and colour palette, rendered expertly by Ian Gibson (2000 A.D.’s Judge Dredd), give homage to the original 1960s British television show. The television series had espionage and spyfy elements, so I’m anticipating the comic book series will as well.
The Secret Service, penned by Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Civil War, Wanted ) and illustrated by Dave Gibbons (Watchmen, Green Lantern) in which a late teens hoodlum gets plucked by his secret agent uncle to attend spy school is a contemporary story that just ended this week with issue six. Apparently, there is a movie adaptation expected for release next year. And, Danger Girl kept popping up at various vendor booths at the con, with some issues being crossovers with some familiar characters: Batman, G.I. Joe and yes, Army of Darkness (I have got to read this one!). The covers reminded me of Pussy Galore and her lethal group of female pilots, proving women can hold their own in the spy world.
Matt Kindt’s Super Spy (2007) published by Top Shelf stood out from the others (see photo), Partly because of the smaller press format, but also the art rendering style. However, after attending a Wondercon panel in which Kindt was interviewed by author/educator Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology), Kindt revealed that he had completed an extensive reading list of all Ian Fleming books (he professes to be a Fleming purist), contemporary spy books and World War II materials. He systematically eliminated what had been written, which resulted in Super Spy as a collection of spy stories comprised of spy stories that had not been told before.
I’m sure there are many others that I have yet to discover, but in the meantime, I’ll be spotlighting the offerings mentioned above, starting with The Secret Service since that series just finished up and was a rather quick read. After going through the comics mentioned above, I’m thinking of heading onto anime. I’ve been watching Najica Blitz Tactics (I cannot believe how many underwear shots there are in this one!) and Darker Than Black. I haven’t picked up Gunslinger Girl or Master Keaton yet, and I still have to research further for more examples in order to determine just how far reaching Bond really is in anime.