IFP announces new licensing deal for 007 comics

Cover for Marvel's 1981 comic adaptation of For Your Eyes Only

Cover for Marvel’s 1981 comic adaptation of For Your Eyes Only

Ian Fleming Publications said Oct. 7 it reached a licensing deal with Dynamite Entertainment for a new series of James Bond comics.

Here’s an excerpt from the IFP statement:

We are very proud to announce our new partnership with Dynamite Entertainment, a leading publisher of English language comic books and graphic novels, who have worldwide rights to produce comic books, digital comics and graphic novels starring James Bond. 007 will re-live the exploits that have thrilled and captivated fans for over half a century in fresh visual adaptations of Fleming’s classic Bond stories, the first of which will be launched in 2015. Moreover, Dynamite plans to create a series of brand new adventures unveiling the defining – and largely undocumented – early years of Bond’s career. These new stories will draw inspiration from the Fleming canon to explore Bond’s ‘origins’: his raw early years before he gambled with his life in the first novel, Casino Royale.

Bond has an uneven history of comic book adaptations.

DC Comics, now owned by Time Warner’s Warner Bros. unit, did an adaptation of Dr. No, the first 007 film, in 1963. Years later, Marvel Comics (now owned by Walt Disney Co.) adapted 1981’s For Your Eyes Only and 1983’s Octopussy. Before the DC and Marvel efforts, there were U.K. comic strip adaptations of Ian Fleming novels and short stories. Those comic strips have been reprinted previously.

Based on the IFP statement, the newest deal doesn’t involve Eon Productions, which has produced the 23-film James Bond movie series. For Bond fans, 2015 shapes up as the time for a new movie (the yet-untitled Bond 23), a new a new James Bond continuation novel and the new comic books/graphic novels.

Carmine Infantino, notable comic book artist, dies

Carmine Infantino's cover to Flash No. 123, "The Flash of Two Worlds."

Carmine Infantino’s cover to Flash No. 123, “The Flash of Two Worlds.”

Carmine Infantino, one of DC Comics’ main artists during the Silver Age, died the other day at the age of 87. He helped popularize a concept that the makers of James Bond movies would use when rebooting the franchise in 2006.

Infantino, as noted in AN OBITUARY IN THE NEW YORK TIMES, was assigned to work in a revamp of the Flash in 1956. Instead of bringing back the original Flash character, DC started over with a different character in a new costume.

Infantino, according to various accounts, would draw potential covers and show them to editor Julius Schwartz (1915-2004) — in effect daring the editor to devise a story line to match the drawing. In 1961, five years after the new Flash debuted, Infantino showed Schwartz a drawing of the new and old Flashes racing to save the same person.

That became the basis of a story embracing the concept of alternate universes. Flash No. 123 wasn’t the origin of the idea but it helped popularize it and DC would soon use the notion to bring back old versions of other characters. As we’ve written before,, Eon Productions adapted the idea when it decided to start the series over with 2006’s Casino Royale while retaining the services of popular actress Judi Dench as M. Dame Judi simply played a different M than the one she portrayed before.

Carmine Infantino's cover to Detective Comics No. 327 in 1964, which introduced the "New Look" Batman

Carmine Infantino’s cover to Detective Comics No. 327 in 1964, which introduced the “New Look” Batman


Also, as noted in the New York Times obituary, Infantino was assigned to draw Batman in 1964 when DC, facing falling sales, decided to revamp the character. Infantino’s Batman was more realistic at least compared with versions published up until that time.

Here’s how it was described in the Times’ obituary:

In 1964, Mr. Infantino and the writer John Broome were asked to work similar magic on Batman. In Mr. Infantino’s hands, Batman took on an urbane, Bondian aspect. This “new look” Batman, as he was known to the trade, inspired the ABC television series starring Adam West and originally broadcast from 1966 to 1968. (emphasis added)

Infantino later became a DC Comics executive before leaving the company while continuing to draw for other publishers.

The M of two worlds

Judi Dench as M -- or one of them.

Judi Dench as M — or one of them.

For the past seven years, there’s been a recurring debate: If the 007 film series started all over with Casino Royale, how can Judi Dench’s M still be around?

One possible answer is this: The Bond movies starting with Casino comprise a separate fictional universe from the other 007 films. The Judi Dench M of 1995-2002 (the Pierce Brosnan films) is different than the Judi Dench M of 2006-2012 (Daniel Craig’s first three films). They just look remarkably alike and are obviously played by the same actress.

Recently, the ComingSoon.net Web site had AN ARTICLE ABOUT SKYFALL’S PROPS. There was this excerpt:

As we looked at the porcelain bulldog M bequeaths Bond, the archive assistant read the inscription on the box it is presented to him in – “Olivia Mansfield bequeaths James Bond.” We’ve searched around, and as far as we can see this is the first and only time anyone’s ever revealed M’s ‘real name.’ It may not have been spoken, but if you were watching on a big enough screen it could have been visible, so we’d argue it’s now canon.

Earlier, during the Brosnan era, the Dench M was incorporated into Raymond Benson’s 007 continuation novels. One of them name gave her the name Barbara Mawdsley. That’s certainly not canon for the film series (which avoids Bond continuation novels like the plague). But it has been adopted by some fans.

What’s more, as many fans have noted, the two Ms seem to have different backgrounds. The Brosnan era M had been promoted from the analysis section and, in GoldenEye, said Bond was a relic of the Cold War. The Craig era M yearns for a return to the simplicity of the Cold War. Also, she’s rather adept at helping Bond prepare booby traps at Skyfall Lodge, skill sets she learned somewhere besides the analysis section. Not conclusive by any means, but all of that can be cited in making the case the characters are different.

The concept of different universes is hardly new and predates the Bond film series. It was a staple of science fiction and comic books.

DC Comics embraced the idea in 1961 with “The Flash of Two Worlds.”

The cover to Flash No. 123, "The Flash of Two Worlds."

The cover to Flash No. 123, “The Flash of Two Worlds.”


Five years earlier, DC had come out with a new version of the Flash, a hero who could move at super-speed. Instead of simply reviving the original Flash, DC came out with a different character with a different costume. The new Flash became popular and DC proceeded to produce new version of other Golden Age characters such as Green Lantern, the Atom and Hawkman.

The 1961 story has the two Flashes meeting when the new Flash manages to cross into the universe of the original character. (CLICK HERE to read more details.) This, too, was a hit with readers and DC further expanded on the alternate universe concept.

Now some fans say this is ridiculous, science fiction concepts have no place in the Bond films. To each their own. You could also argue the 2006 reboot would have been cleaner had M simply been recast at that time. But Judi Dench was popular and, with a new Bond, Eon opted to keep her even as characters such as Miss Moneypenny and Q were absent from Casino.

It was certainly understandable from a marketing perspective, if nothing else. So perhaps it really is, “The M of Two Worlds.”

Adapt or die: what 007 and Batman have in common

When following debates among James Bond fans — whether on Internet bulletin boards, Facebook or in person — people sometimes say “try reading Fleming” (or a variation thereof) as if it were a trump card that shows they’re right and the other person is wrong.

Read Fleming. That shows Bond is supposed to be a “blunt instrument.” Therefore, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace are really true to Fleming.

"Read Fleming!" = "I'm right, you're wrong!"


Read Fleming. That shows Bond is a romantic hero, not a neurotic antihero, therefore, (INSERT BOND ACTOR HERE) was true to Fleming. Meanwhile, (INSERT BOND ACTOR HERE) meant the 007 film series had reached a nadir.

In reality, over a half-century, the Bond films have passed through multiple eras. To some, Connery can never be surpassed and Moore was a joke. Except, the Connery films have more humor than Fleming employed (on the “banned” Criterion laser disc commentaries, Terence Young chortles about how Fleming asking why the films had more humor than his novels). The Moore films, for all their humor, do have serious moments (Bond admitting to Anya he killed her KGB lover in The Spy Who Loved Me or Bond being hurt but not wanting to admit it after getting out of the centrifuge in Moonraker). Other comments heard frequently: Brosnan tried to split the difference between Connery and Moore, Craig plays the role seriously, the way it should be, etc., etc.

Lots of different opinions, all concerning the same character, dealing with different eras and the contributions of multiple directors and screenwriters. Which reminded of us another character, who’s been around even longer than the film 007: Batman, who made his debut in Detective Comics No. 27 in 1939.

Early Batman stories: definitely dark. “There is a sickening snap as the cossack’s neck breaks under the mighty pressure of the Batman’s foot,” reads a caption in Detective Comics No. 30.

Then, things lightened up after Batman picked up Robin as a sidekick. Eventually, there was Science Fiction Batman in the 1950s (during a period when superhero comics almost disappeared), followed by “New Look” Batman in 1964 (which could also be called Return of the Detective), followed by Campy Batman in 1966 (because of popularity of the Batman television show), followed by Classic Batman is Back, circa 1969 or ’70, etc., etc. All different interpretations of the same character.

In the 1990s, there was a Batman cartoon that captured all this. A group of kids are talking. Two claim to have seen Batman. The first provides a description and we see a sequence resembling Dick Sprang-drawn comics of the 1940s, with Gary Owens providing the voice of Batman. The second describes something much different, and the sequence is drawn to resemble Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns comic of the 1980s, with Michael Ironside voicing Batman.

Eventually, the group of kids gets into trouble and we see the 1990s cartoon Batman, voiced by Kevin Conroy, in a sequence that evokes elements of both visions.

With the Bond film series, something similar has occurred. In various media, you’ll see fans on different sides of an argument claiming Fleming as supporting their view. Search hard enough, and you can find bits of Fleming or Fleming-inspired elements in almost any Bond film. The thing is, the different eras aren’t the result of long-term planning. They’re based on choices, the best guess among filmmakers of what is popular at a given time, what makes a good Bond story, etc.

In effect, both the film 007 and the comic book Batman have had to adapt or die. Fans today can’t imagine a world without either character. But each has had crisis moments. For Bond, the Broccoli-Saltzman separation of the mid-1970s and the 1989-95 hiatus in Bond films raised major questions about 007’s future. Batman, meanwhile, faced the prospect of cancellation by DC Comics (one reason for the 1964 revamp that ended the science fiction era) but managed to avoid it.

None of this, of course, will stop the arguments. Truth be told, things might become dull if the debates ceased. Still things might go over better if participants looked at them as an opportunity. An opposing viewpoint that’s well argued keeps you sharp and might cause you to consider ideas you overlooked.

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