Sunday, 10 July 2016

Trouble Spot by Lawrence and Horak

In my last post about the James Bond comic strips I said I was going to go looking for all the ones drawn by Yaroslav Horak, and this represents the first fruits of that search. The title story of the volume is Trouble Spot, but Isle of Condors is my favourite in the collection.

As with The Spy Who Loved Me, which I discussed last time, all these adventures are written by Jim Lawrence and his scripts are excellent — sexy, arresting, exotic, colourful and featuring excellent use of locations with real place names and scraps of foreign dialogue, all of which lend a sense of reality to the crazy fantasies

The research that underpins these stories, and the breezy thrills they project, remind me of Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise comics — in other words, the absolute cream of British (or even international) newspaper strip writing.

(Interestingly, the useful checklist at the back of the book reveals the fact that O'Donnell himself briefly worked on the Bond strip he did the Dr No adaptation.)

Another intriguing feature of these stories is the growing racial diversity of the cast. With the appearance of British private eye Crystal Kelly we see Horak getting the hang of using shading to depict a black (indeed, blacksploitation) character. 

The blacksploitation continues in Die With My Boots On which features the wincingly named Smoky Turpin. 

Luckily Turpin is better than his name, though. A resourceful and highly proficient secondary good guy, he is former Royal Navy and correctly refers to 007 as "Commander Bond."

There are other interesting characters, mostly villains, of course, like the Greek tycoon, Xerxes Xenophanos — known as "Double Cross" because his initials are XX. Unfortunately, Bond's battle on his yacht sees some of Lawrence's least successful writing.

There's no way 007 would be allow to triumph today by draining the yacht's fuel tanks and creating a huge oil slick on the ocean — what an eco bastard. We move from lack of political correctness to lack of plausibility when Bond expects to set the slick on fire by throwing a Molotov cocktail into it — unlikely and for this fire to then set off a nuclear warhead on the ship impossible.

Never mind. Besides being beautifully drawn and generally well written, these newspaper strip asre agreeably prurient and kinky in the best Bond tradition

And the checklist in the back of the book suggests a couple other volumes to search out with pleasurable anticipation — Peter O'Donnell's adaptation of Doctor No and Jim Lawrence's take on the Kingsley Amis Bond pastiche Colonel Sun.
(Image credits: "Unhampered by clothing" and "Olga you may proceed" are from Adventures in Poor Taste. All the other images are from Popoptiq, which features an interesting article on the series.)

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