Gene Colan: The Bourne Precursor

Gene Colan self portrait, circa 1970

Gene Colan self portrait, circa 1970

The big movie this weekend is Jason Bourne. Like previous entries in the film series, it features a “shaky cam” technique intended to make the audience feel as if it’s in the middle of the action.

However, some of that concept was pioneered by the work of comic book artist Gene Colan (1926-2011).

Colan worked for both Marvel and DC, including a six-year run (1966-1973) on Daredevil as well as brief runs on the title later in the 1970s as well as the 1990s.

In a documentary for the home video release of the 2003 Daredevil movie, Colan described his approach to the many action scenes he drew.

“If there was a fight scene, I would try to do it in such a way to confuse the reader,” Colan said. “Because in real life, very often you don’t see the details. You’d just see action.”

Colan said you would see “arms and legs and people sailing over tables. But you don’t see the details. And very often it’s done in a dark room where you can see even less. But it’s exciting. It’s more dramatic that way…I wanted the story to be mystifying and sinister.”

As a result, Colan-illustrated stories emphasize movement in their action sequences. Colan drawings simulate the blur of a punch or a kick or other mayhem.

With 2008’s Quantum of Solace, Eon Productions embraced the approach of the Bourne film series. Eon hired Dan Bradley as Quantum’s second unit director, where he’d be in charge of the movie’s action scenes. Bradley was a Bourne film veteran.

Here’s how Bradley described his approach, according to a 2008 post on the Commander Bond website:

“One of the things I really believe is that we shouldn’t try and make everything feel perfectly staged. I’m always saying to my crew, I want to feel like we were lucky to catch a glimpse of some crazy piece of action. I don’t want it to feel like a movie, where everything is perfectly presented to the audience.”

Of course, comics and film are different. Colan drew mostly 20-page stories where action scenes took up only part of the story. Jason Bourne employs “shaky cam” for much of its running time, even when actions scenes aren’t occurring.

Still, the notion of disorienting the audience remains a strong one, given the box office reception, so far, for Jason Bourne. It’s just worth remembering others, including Gene Colan, took a similar path before.

Colan, of course, drew more than just Daredevil. CLICK HERE and HERE and HERE to see his take on Dr. Strange, the mystic character created by Steve Ditko. The good doctor will be the subject of a Marvel Studios movie in November.

Sony shows a 4-minute Skyfall preview; rumors confirmed?

Sony Corp. this week showed a four-minute preview of Skyfall during an event in Spain aimed at executives of movie theater chains, according to a story in the Hollywood Reporter. Berenice Marlohe, one of the Bond women in the film, was part of the proceedings.

Daniel Craig in a Skyfall publicity still


Could the showing be at least a partial confirmation of Internet rumors? A poster on the Commander Bond Web site referenced a friend who saw a four-minute extended trailer but had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Around the same time, an IMDB.com user claimed to have seen a four-minute trailer without providing details.

On the one hand, it seems quite a coincidence that all three mention a four-minute preview and/or trailer. Perhaps it’s not much of a stretch that Sony would also seek audience reaction while pressing those in attendance to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

On the other hand, could most people remember virtually every shot, as IMDB.com user tom-sudddd suggests he was able to do so? Also, that account includes this:

M SHOOTING A GUN! I think it was the P99!

M? Judi Dench? Judi Dench shooting a Walther P 99?

Well, there was a publicity still of Ralph Fiennes as Mallory (who may or may not take over as M) shooting a sizeable handgun.

We’ll stick with our caveat emptor of a previous post for now. But the timing of the Internet tidbits about a four-minute extended trailer/preview is interesting.

Rumors surface about extended Skyfall teaser

Caveat emptor: IMDB.com user tom-sudddd claims to have seen an extended Skyfall trailer that’s about four minutes long.

You can read the full post BY CLICKING HERE. A sampling (spoiler alert, if true):

The title bit is amazing! Bond turns and shoots at the screen, wearing a suit. A gunbarrel forms around him and spins. Bond walks slowly toward us, with his gun at his side, through the gunbarrel (like the teaser poster)

The dialogue, i can’t remember much of, it all went over me. There’s bits and pieces of it. Bond introduces himself though! “Bond James Bond.” I think he’s saying it to Bardem. The music is about 3 minutes worth of that electronic Bond theme from the teaser, new mix then it turns into a fully orchestral Bond theme. It sounded very nice.

There’s also a long list of shots, where the poster says he saw Ben Whishaw as Q, Javier Bardem as villain Silva and a gimmicked up Aston Martin DB5, plus more shots of stars Daniel Craig and Judi Dench.

No details about where, or how, tom-sudddd managed to see this extended trailer. A day before, a poster on the Commander Bond Web site says a friend in Berlin saw an extended trailer but had to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Meanwhile, bear in mind, that another IMDB.com user, calling herself Liz, earlier this year posted a description that, in retrospect, didn’t sound that close to the teaser trailer that emerged in May. Also, final movie trailers tend to run about 2:30, not four minutes.

So we go back to how this post began: caveat emptor.

Commander Bond Web site debuts a revamped look

The Commander Bond Web site, which has been around since 2000, this month debuted a new-look home page.

Commander Bond’s Twitter avatar


Commander Bond is one of the most-visited of the 007 fan sites. It never went away — its message board is one of the most visited in Bond fandom — but for a period scaled back. That’s not a criticism; maintaining a fan site over the long haul can be hard.

In any event, Commander Bond has revamped its home page and is again producing articles in addition to its message board.

Among the offerings: a a breakdown of the Skyfall teaser trailer; a translation of a German newspaper story abut Skyfall filming; and an analysis of the role M play play in Skyfall.

James Bond Bedside Companion returns in 2012

The James Bond Bedside Companion is returning the “first or second week of January” in e-reader form, author Raymond Benson announced on his Facebook page. An audiobook and print edition will be out “in the coming weeks,” Benson said, without providing specifics. Presumably, the book is becomng available again because of next year’s 50th anniversary of 007 film series.

The book was originally published in 1984 and updated in 1988, years before Benson was hired to write James Bond continuation novels by Glidrose, now Ian Fleming Publications. The book examined the Bond films up until that time, plus Ian Fleming’s original stories and the continuation novels written by Kingsley Amis and John Gardner.

CLICK HERE to see a post on The Book Bond Web site that includes an image of the new cover.

UPDATE: If you CLICK HERE, you can view a 2004 interview on the Commander Bond Web site that John Cox, now webmaster of The Book Bond Web site, did with Benson. The subject of Bedside Companion comes up, including how Benson’s views toward Gardner’s work evolved after the original 1984 publication of the 007 reference book.