Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bond Babes Invade Berlin

Seven long years ago, I wrote in The Rap Sheet about British artist Michael Gillette’s outstanding illustrations for Penguin UK’s re-releases of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. In 2012, I followed that up with this post in my other blog, Killer Covers, showcasing all of those Gillette fronts. I’ve since purchased several of the books in that line, but thought my writing about them was over.

However, The Book Bond--John Cox’s fine Agent 007-obsessed blog--today alerted me to the existence of still more work Gillette has accomplished for James Bond novels, this time for German editions of John Gardner’s 14 original Bond continuation tales. You may recall that Gardner’s Bond works began with License Renewed (1981) and concluded with COLD (1996, published in the States as Cold Fall). Thus far, Gillette has created original artwork for five of those, all being published by Cross Cult: Icebreaker (Eisbrecher in German), License Renewed (Kernschmelze), For Special Services (Der Kunstsammler), Role of Honor (Ein Frage der Ehre), and Nobody Lives for Ever (Nieman Lebt Ewig). I’m embedding the façades here, for your delight.

Additionally, Gillette produced a new front for Cross Cult’s 2014 release of Colonel Sun, the very first James Bond continuation novel, published in 1968 and written by English fictionist-critic Kingsley Amis (the father of modern author Martin Amis) under a pseudonym, Robert Markham. For that same publisher, he redesigned his own cover for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which I considered beautiful to begin with, but which the artist ultimately thought depicted a woman, the Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo, who seemed “a little too demure to be the one to take [Bond’s] heart all the way to the altar.” The reimagined version--displayed on the right, below--“has more allure.” (Note that this is the second shot Gillette took at this revision; a previous version showed Tracy as a brunette, rather than a blonde. He must have been imagining the character as played by Diana Rigg in the 1969 big-screen version of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.)

Count on me to keep my eyes open for what could be nine more tantalizing Gillette covers of Gardner’s Bond books in the future. I only wish these were all available in the States, in English.

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