007 heirs putting on airs

William Boyd

William Boyd

The heirs to the literary 007, at times, seem to be putting on airs.

This week, Ian Fleming Publications unveiled the U.K. COVER and U.S. COVER. for its new James Bond novel, Solo.

“We are delighted to finally unveil the stunning UK cover,” the one announcement read, adding it was inspired by the late graphic and movie title designer Saul Bass. The U.S. cover has “a bold and eye-catching design, perfect for the iconic character of James Bond,” that separate announcement said.

This came about three months after author William Boyd PROCLAIMED that “the simple beauty of Solo as the title of the next James Bond novel is that this short four-letter word is particularly and strikingly apt for the novel I have written.”

So, we have IFP suggesting one of its cover designs is akin to the work of one of the greatest title designers in movie history and its hired author discussing how perfect Solo is as a title.

First, with the covers, comparing oneself, even indirectly, to Saul Bass means you have a lot to live up to. Bass designed the titles for films such as It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Spartacus and Vertigo. He also did corporate design work, including revamping the AT&T logo in the late 1960s. Purchasers of the Solo novel will have to decide whether the covers are really up to that standard.

Also, as noted here before, Solo isn’t unique at all to James Bond-related matters. Ian Fleming used Solo as a character name in Goldfinger. The author also was involved in a television show which originally titled Solo, but ultimately titled The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

If IFP, operated by the heirs of Ian Fleming, approved Solo as a book title in jest, they’re doing a good job of hiding it. Anyone who had done the least bit of research about Ian Fleming would know about the Solo history. But don’t expect IFP to acknowledge it.

As for that other Solo chap that IFP is ignoring, the Fleming heirs would have stood to make money off a planned U.N.C.L.E. movie — had Ian Fleming not signed away his rights in June 1963. The author did so under pressure from Bond movie producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to exit the Solo TV project.


2 Responses

  1. Well, in fairness, they only said the cover was “inspired by” Bass, not that it was equal to his work. How many fan-made artworks, stories and (ahem) websites were “inspired by” 007, for instance? And yet few would suggest those works are better than what originally inspired them. I choose to take the remark as an admission that the design of this cover is more homage than innovation.

    Indeed, what we have here is a book based on somebody else’s character, wrapped in a cover based on somebody else’s art style. So in essence the entire appeal of this project hinges on efforts to somehow recreate the magic of things past, which is a tacit admission right out of the gate that it’s inferior to the originals.

  2. Perhaps they should have called the book, “My Brave Face”.

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