Thursday, May 29, 2008

Once More Unto The Breech, James.

This week saw the release of a new James Bond novel, Devil May Care, by Sebastian Faulks, to commermorate what would have been Bond creater Ian Fleming's one hundreth birthday. It's a period piece intended to be a direct continuation of the Fleming books, which has caused some confusion. A lot of folks in the media apparently aren't familiar with the literary Bond, as several reports on the new book state it is the first Bond novel since the '60s. They even ignore Colonel Sun, the first post Fleming Bond novel written by Kingsley Amis under the penname Robert Markham and released in 1968. Veteran British spy novel writer John Gardner took up the Bond franchise in 1981 and would actually write more Bond novels than Fleming did during his 15 year run. American writer Raymond Benson replaced Gardner, writing 6 original Bond novels.

This really isn't that much of a surprise. As successful as Fleming's original novels were it's really the film franchise that made Bond such an iconic character. The films were wildly successful in the '60s, with adjusted for inflation box offices that make those of many of today's blockbusters look puny. The success of the franchise sparked the '60s spy fad that produced TV series both serious (Mission: Impossible) and silly(Get Smart!), movies such as the Matt Helm films and Our Man Flint, and Marvel Comics' Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD stories. Even a several year break between films after the relative failure of the second Timothy Dalton film, License to Kill, wasn't enough to stop Bond. He seems to have joined such characters as Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes as evergreens. It wouldn't be at all surprising if some take on the character is still popular when the hundreth anniversary of the character rolls around in 2052.

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