Sunday, June 30, 2013

Nods to Bond Where You Least Expect, Part I

Content Advisory: There is full frontal nudity (comic book art) below for the purpose of illustrating one of Bond’s influences.

Whether it’s a movie, magazine, television, or some other pop culture outlet, nods to James Bond seem to appear in some of the unlikeliest of places, but welcomed albeit with an eye roll at times (depending on how Bond was incorporated). Periodically, I’ll post those that I find. Here are a few that I have come across recently (and yes, I either play or watch my fair share of videogames!):

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011, Xbox 360 Videogame)
I remember the earlier Deus Ex PC game with its slick blue palette that made up agent JC Denton world, globetrotting around the world to fight a terrorist movement in the year 2052. In that game, there were several popular culture references, so it really should not come as any surprise that this recently released prequel set in 2025 would continue that same practice. The game follows security director Adam Jensen through the various corporate offices, clubs and such. Computer hacking is part of the encouraged game play, so often emails could provide details that fleshed the overarching story. Sometimes, the emails were just fillers, which always provides for some entertainment, especially if the writers are creative and/or funny. Given that espionage is one of the driving themes of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, it was appropriate that James Bond make an appearance at some point in the game, which brings me to the Bond reference:

No, there was not a maniacal villain with a white cat in the game, but seriously how cool would that have been? And, perhaps it’s a promising prediction that James Bond will still be as popular as he is now.  Could you imagine – Bond at 100?!

Tropico 3 (2010, Xbox 360 Videogame)
I just started playing this micromanaging, political simulation game. There are two game modes: a campaign comprising of main objectives for several Caribbean islands, or sandbox of an open island just waiting for a dictator to come along and build up the economy in any industry and political motivation. You can pick a famous person – Che Guevara, Augusto Pinochet, Evita Peron and many others – to lead the island, or you can customize your in-game avatar. One of the options was “secret agent” and this is where this gem was found:

Should we be surprised? Bond and Fleming spent time in the Caribbean, so why not? And, ouch! Elvis impersonator?! Was that a knock to Never Say Never Again or later 80s Roger Moore Bond films? Undeserving on both accounts, I would have to say. 

James Pond: Underwater Agent (1990, Videogame)
I seriously could not believe when I heard about this game. Originally a videogame developed in 1990 by Vectordean Ltd and Millennium Interactive. From the cover, it is quite easy to see who inspired the golden mudskipper. Similarities do not stop there: there’s a villain named Dr. Maybe who threatens our precious ocean ecosystem with toxic waste. Mr. Pond is hired by the British secret service to save the day, all while seducing beautiful mermaids (some are double agents of course!). And not surprising, the levels spoof James Bond movie titles with “A View to a Spill” and “Leak and Let Die” among others.

The single player platform game spawned almost as many sequels as there were Bloefelds in the filmic versions, which included James Pond 2: Codename Robocod (1991 where secret agent meets Robocop) and James Pond 3: Operation Starfish (1993, where secret agent meets Flash Gordon). More recently, in mid 2011, Mr. Pond returned in James Pond in the Deathly Shallows (nodding to the Harry Potter series) for the iPhone and iPad after an 18-year hiatus. Unfortunately, our aquatic spy did not fare well with the critics –’s gaming critic Jim Sterling placed the game as the second worst games of 2012!

Cavewoman Gangster Issue #3, Variant Cover (2013, Artist: Budd Root, Comic Book)

Bam! Just out of nowhere comes this special “Bond” edition nude cover by artist and Cavewoman creator, Budd Root, according to the Certificate of Authenticity. The story was written by Rob Durham and in this issue, the adventure picks up with Cavewoman working with the police to save her kidnapped boyfriend. Other than a jittery policeman, who is spying for the local gang, there’s no conceivable connection with the Bond cover. There is an alternate Root cover in which the Cavewoman’s coat is open only enough to show off her ample cleavage.

Note: While I did briefly consider whether I should censor the nudity, I decided a content advisory at the beginning of the post was sufficient. This is art and as such, I figured we could all act with maturity.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Anthology, Upcoming Conference and Blog Updates

It has been a busy few weeks reviewing abstracts and drafting a preliminary layout for my anthology sections. I am initially organizing the book by medium – film, television, videogames, etc. – that I think will work well. It’s not an original or ingenious method, but I think it is effective and efficient. Of course this can, in all likelihood, change once I have the essays in hand this November. In all though, I have chosen twenty abstracts that represent a broad range of mediums influenced by Bond the past six decades.

While the essayists are busily researching and composing, it is that time of year for me to prepare my area’s call for proposals for the Southwest Popular/American Culture Associations (SWPACA) 35th annual conference being held in Albuquerque next February 19 - 22. I should have that CFP posted in the next couple of weeks here at my blog as well as at the organization’s website for your perusal and consideration. Deadlines have been pushed forward a bit earlier this year to early November, rather than mid December.

And, after having a successful screening and discussion of OSS 117 Cairo Nest of Spies (2006) at last year’s conference, I am waiting for acceptance of my proposed screening and roundtable discussion of The Quiller Memorandum (1966) at this upcoming conference. For those who do submit a proposal for the conference, let me know if you would be interested in being a participant at the roundtable, since I’ll be looking for a few individuals that have expertise in the spy/espionage genre.

If you have not attended an academic conference before, this conference is still small enough to provide an encouraging environment for those who may be hesitant about speaking publicly or sharing one’s academic research.  And, of course, it’s an excellent opportunity to network with like minded individuals.

At the moment, I’m completing research for a few upcoming posts:

Octopussy and The Living Daylights (1966, UK, Literature)
The two short stories plus Property of a Lady and 007 In New York make up current editions of Fleming’s fourteenth and final novel, published posthumously in 1966. This past Sunday (the 23rd) marked the 47th anniversary of the release from UK publisher Jonathan Cape.

Najica Blitz Tactics (2001, Japan, Anime)
Studio Fantasia brought A LOT of fanservice to this spy oriented anime. Once getting past all of the knickers and crotch shots, this anime explores the overarching concept of humanity. The two main characters are strong female types – Najica Hiiragi and Lila – as well as an abundance of supporting female characters (all in miniskirts and white undies.

She Spies (2002-04, US, Television)
This spy (term loosely applied) adventure series premiered on NBC and ran a surprising two seasons. It has several similarities to another more popular series, Charlie’s Angels, but is decidedly more comedic in its approach. Season one was available on DVD, culminating in 20 episodes.

In addition, I’m formulating a series of posts on mature spies (think: Red 1 and 2, Crackerjack 3, Agent 88) and spotting Bond’s influence in some unusual places. So, bookmark and visit often. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bumper Month to Celebrate Bond!

Last weekend, I found an application for my iPad called “Remind mii” that allows me to input significant dates and it, in turn, will display timely reminders of birthdays, anniversaries, and other events. I’ve had to tweak the categories but since downloading the app, I have been adding Bond franchise related dates partly for personal interest, but also to identify milestones that warrant a word or two from yours truly.

Already, June is a rather busy month for commemorating movie premieres, various book releases, and even birthdays of a couple of directors!  Last week was the 30th anniversary of Roger Moore and Maud Adams’ Octopussy (1983). Today marks the UK release of You Only Live Twice (1967) and 1985’s A View to a Kill. Tomorrow Licence to Kill (1989) will celebrate its release, 24 years ago.

While I unfortunately do not have any autographs of any stars from You Only Live Twice (not yet anyway!), I do have a few photographs from the other three films to commemorate the occasion.

Octopussy (1983) Maud Adams

In honor of its 30th anniversary, my boyfriend and I rewatched the 1983 Octopussy last week. It had been several years since I had watched what would be Roger Moore’s second to last outing as James Bond. While there were a few witty lines, more often the one-liners were cheesy and over the top. The Tarzan yell sound effect when Moore swings through the forest via a hanging vine made me groan out loud – didn’t they learn anything about leaving out silly sound effects with Thunderball? The nod to Fleming’s short story “The Property of a Lady” was a nice touch. And honestly, it was an entertaining movie to revisit.

A View to a Kill (1985) Roger Moore and Tanya Roberts

My boyfriend and I had the pleasure of meeting Tanya Roberts (Stacy Sutton) a couple of times over the past few years, both occasions were at the Hollywood Collector’s Shows, in the summer of 2009 and again this past January.

Diana Lee Hsu (Loti) was at the collector’s show in January. You will remember her role of Loti who met her demise late in the movie. However, did you know that she is also the dancer in the opening Bond song?

Licence to Kill (1989) Diana Lee Hsu

And, also at the January show was Robert Davi (Franz Sanchez). He was an incredibly jovial person and very engaging with all those who stopped at his table. Since I have the uncommon spelling to my name, occasionally celebrities will misspell my name after I’ve spelled it out. It happens and it’s interesting to see how different stars go about fixing the error:

Licence to Kill (1989) Timothy Dalton and Robert Davi

One of the things I noticed is that a lot of the celebrities at the collector's show were congratulating Mr. Davi on his singing by comparing him most favorably with Frank Sinatra. Well, come to find out, he had an album out titled “Davi Sings Sinatra – On the Road to Romance.” And you know what? He can really croon like Ol’ Blue Eyes himself. If you like the Brat Pack music of the 50s/60s, pick up Mr. Davi’s CD or catch one of his performances.

Robert Davi and Bond fans

Editor's Note: All photographs except the last photo are pages from The James Bond Archives edited by Paul Duncan (Taschen, 2012).

Monday, June 3, 2013

Deadline Extended for Abstracts for Anthology

I’ve received several quality abstracts for the Call for Papers I advertised, however I would to expand the pool of abstracts for the following areas (with some examples):
·         Anime – Najica Blitz Tactics, Gunslinger Girl, Master Keaton, Darker Than Black, Golgo 13
·         Cartoons – James Bond Jr., Totally Spies!
·         Comics – X-9 Corrigan, James Bond Jr., Danger Girl, The Secret Service
·         Literature – OSS 117, The Moneypenny Diaries, Young Bond, and any of the non Fleming Bond from John Gardner, Raymond Benson, Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver
·         Music – “License to Kill” (SPECTRA*Paris), “When Nobody Loves You” (Kerli), “I’ll Take It All” (Joss Stone), “Miss Moneypenny” (Placebo)
The deadline is extended to June 15, 2013. Please sent an abstract of 300 – 500 words, a one-page CV (or brief bio), and draft bibliography. Notification of acceptance/rejection will be sent out by June 20th. Papers will be due November 1st, 2013, with expected length of 5,000 – 8,000 words, along with contributor release, and short biography.
Please direct your correspondence to Michele Brittany at:
The complete CFP can be reviewed here.