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JAMES BOND
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THE JAMES BOND COMIC STRIP
Daily Express Series 3 (1966-1977) Drawn by Yaroslav Horak
WRITTEN & COMPILED BY GRAHAM RYE & KEVIN HARPER

In 1966, with the old guard departed it was thought that a fresh new look was needed for the James Bond comic strip. There were now only five original Ian Fleming stories remaining for adaptation: THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, OCTOPUSSY, THE HILDEBRAND RARITY and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. At the suggestion of Modesty Blaise creator Peter O'Donnell, the Daily Express hired Yaroslav Horak (1927-2020) [pictured below centre] a Russo-Czech born in Manchuria, but a naturalised Australian. When he first arrived in the UK in 1963, Horak had a studio in Fleet Street in the same building as Peter O'Donnell.

Writer James D. Lawrence, artist Yaroslav Horak/YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE final panel

With the new artist came a new younger looking Bond, modern, harder - and with the emphasis on action! The new style strips also boasted a new scriptwriter. James ‘Jim’ Duncan Lawrence (1918-1994) [pictured above left] had begun his writing career as a scriptwriter of technical training films for the US armed Forces during World War II. He broke into fiction with a short story sold to the Chicago Daily News, and for three years wrote the story continuity for the well-known American strip Joe Palooka, also working on Captain Easy and Buck Rogers. His adaptation of the last two Fleming novels and three short stories are quite ingenious, and make highly entertaining reading. Not surprisingly, the first part of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME was considered completely unusable by Kennedy Aitken, the Daily Express strip cartoon editor, so Lawrence cleverly fleshed-out Bond's entrapment of the SPECTRE assassin Uhlmann in the first part of the strip, which was only briefly mentioned in the novel. In order to bridge the transition between the two artists, several strips towards the end of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE drawn by John McLusky include panels featuring James Bond drawn by Yaroslav Horak. The final strip of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE appeared in the Daily Express on Saturday January 8, 1966 and was completely drawn by Horak, including a teaser panel for THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN which would begin the following Monday.

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE strip #472 including panels drawn by Horak

Jim Lawrence was later given permission by the Ian Fleming estate to originate his own stories. A prolific writer, he continued for a further 34 new adventures, involving Bond in many weird and way out situations. Unfortunately, as in many of the films, when Bond totally parts company with Fleming's writing, the character undoubtedly suffers. In most part the new stories (credited on most title strips to J.D. Lawrence) lacked substance and ‘Bondian’ atmosphere, and placed 007 in supernatural or science fiction scenarios, which seemed awkward and unnatural for the character. The only story to distinguish itself was COLONEL SUN, based on the book by Kingsley Amis (written under the pseudonym of Robert Markham), which remains the only Bond novel written by another author that successfully captures the essence of Ian Fleming's 007.

THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN by Ian Fleming adapted by James Lawrence

THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN by Ian Fleming adapted by James Lawrence
Monday January 10 to Saturday September 10, 1966 - Strip #1-#209 (35-weeks)

THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS short story by Ian Fleming adapted by James Lawrence

THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS short story by Ian Fleming adapted by James Lawrence
Monday September 12 to Saturday November 12, 1966 - Strip #210-#263 (9-weeks)

OCTOPUSSY short story by Ian Fleming adapted by James Lawrence

OCTOPUSSY short story by Ian Fleming adapted by James Lawrence
Monday November 14, 1966 to Saturday May 27, 1967 - Strip #264-#428 (28-weeks)*

OCTOPUSSY #299a drawn by Yaroslav Horak

*OCTOPUSSY included two ‘A strips’ that only appeared in the Scottish edition of the Daily Express. Strip #299a (pictured above) was printed on Tuesday December 27, 1966. England and Wales had two additional public holidays due to Christmas falling on weekend that year. Scotland also recognised the two substitute days but newspapers were printed on Tuesday December 27th. The additional strip adds nothing new to the narrative and is simply a conversation between Bond and the head of records, as 007 investigates Major Dexyer Smythe and the murder of Franz Oberhauser. These two ‘A strips’ did not form part of the narrative of the syndicated version of OCTOPUSSY, but did make their way into many collected versions of the story.

OCTOPUSSY #373a drawn by Yaroslav Horak

Strip #373a (pictured above) was only printed in the Scottish edition of the Daily Express on Good Friday March 24, 1967. This strip offers additional dialogue between Bond (in the guise of Mark Hazard) as he confronts Major Dexter Smythe about his gold smuggling operation.

THE HILDEBRAND RARITY short story by Ian Fleming adapted by James Lawrence

THE HILDEBRAND RARITY short story by Ian Fleming adapted by James Lawrence
Monday May 29 to Saturday December 16, 1967 - Strip #429-#602 (29-weeks)

THE SPY WHO LOVED ME by Ian Fleming adapted by James Lawrence

THE SPY WHO LOVED ME by Ian Fleming adapted by James Lawrence
Monday December 18, 1967 to Thursday October 3, 1968 - Strip #603-#815 (36-weeks)*

*A unique strip #608a was printed in the Scottish edition of the Daily Express only on December 26, 1967. As Boxing Day was not an official public holiday in Scotland until 1974, newspapers were printed and the story still needed to stay in synch with the English version when publication resumed on Wednesday December 27th. Strip #608a adds no new story information and simply recaps the opening narrative from a different angle.

THE SPY WHO LOVED ME strip #608a Scottish Daily Express only

THE SPY WHO LOVED ME was interrupted by a five-week break from Monday August 5, 1968 when no comic strips were printed in the Daily Express due to industrial strike action. When the strip returned on Wednesday September 11, 1967 a new composite strip #796a (pictured below) was printed in the Daily Express to recap the story. Although this strip was unique to the Daily Express it was included when THE SPY WHO LOVED ME published in the USA in 1973/74 in The Menomonee Falls Gazette - a weekly tabloid newspaper that reprinted a weeks’ worth of six strips from popular US and UK newspapers; including Superman, Dick Tracy, Tarzan, Jeff Hawke and Garth. Many of the UK strips were being seen for the first time in America.

THE SPY WHO LOVED ME recap strip #796a Daily Express only

Although the five-week break was explained on the comic page of the Daily Express on Monday September 11, 1967, without the industrial action THE SPY WHO LOVED ME would have run for 31-weeks. A printing error resulted in strip #728 appearing on Wednesday May 15, 1968 and then again on Thursday 16th. With the five-week break and repeat printing of one strip, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME therefore broke the 10-year tradition of new stories starting on a Monday and ending on a Saturday.

The Harpies original story by J.D. Lawrence

The Harpies original story by J.D. Lawrence
Friday October 4, 1968 to Monday June 23, 1969 - Strip #816-#1037 (37-weeks)

River of Death original story by J.D. Lawrence

River of Death original story by J.D. Lawrence
Tuesday June 24 to Saturday November 29, 1969 - Strip #1038-#1174 (23-weeks)

COLONEL SUN by Robert Markham (Kingsley Amis) adapted by J.D. Lawrence

COLONEL SUN by Robert Markham (Kingsley Amis) adapted by James Lawrence
Monday December 1, 1969 to Thursday August 20, 1970 - Strip #1175-#1393 (37-weeks)*

*There were four days (Wednesday 10 - Saturday 13 June, 1970) when the Daily Express was not printed due to industrial strike action. As the break was so short, no recap strip was created in this instance.

The Golden Ghost original story by J.D. Lawrence

The Golden Ghost original story by J.D. Lawrence
Friday August 21, 1970 to Saturday January 16, 1971 - Strip #1394-#1519 (21-weeks)

Fear Face original story by James D. Lawrence

Fear Face original story by James D. Lawrence
Monday January 18 to Tuesday April 20, 1971 - Strip #1520-#1596 (13-weeks)

Double Jeopardy original story by J.D. Lawrence

Double Jeopardy original story by J.D. Lawrence
Wednesday April 12 to Saturday August 28, 1971 - Strip #1597-#1708 (19-weeks)

Starfire original story by J.D. Lawrence

Starfire original story by J.D. Lawrence
Monday August 30 to Friday December 24, 1971 - Strip #1709-#1809 (34-weeks)*

*Starfire had two strips #1745 & #1746 printed in the Daily Express on Monday October 11, 1971. Different sequential blocks of comic strips for James Bond; Jeff Hawke by Sydney Jordan, and Gun Law by Harry Bishop were printed on pages 14 & 17. The comic strips appeared twice as the Daily Express would not be printed on Tuesday October 12, 1971 due to industrial strike action.

Starfire strip #1808a Scottish Daily Express only

No English edition of the Daily Express was printed on Monday December 27, 1971 as this was a substitute public holiday as a result of Boxing Day falling on a Sunday. An additional strip #1808a (un-numbered on the original artwork) was printed only in the Scottish edition of the Daily Express. This unique strip did not appear in syndicated versions of Starfire. As this coincided with the end of the story, the unique strip #1808a shows Alan Quantrill asking about his brother Luke; whereas the final strip of the English version concluded with Bond informing Alan and his house guests that Luke Quantrill was dead.

Trouble Spot original story by J.D. Lawrence

Trouble Spot original story by J.D. Lawrence
Tuesday December 28, 1971 to Saturday June 10, 1972 - Strip #1810-#1951 (24-weeks)

Isle of Condors original story by J.D. Lawrence

Isle of Condors original story by J.D. Lawrence
Monday June 12 to Tuesday October 24, 1972 - Strip #1952-#2065 (19-weeks)*

*There were four days (Monday 24 - Thursday 27 July, 1972) when the Daily Express was not printed due to industrial strike action. As the break was so short, no recap strip was created in this instance and the story resumed with strip #1988 on Friday July 28, 1972.

Isle of Condors strips #2007 & #2009 omitted from the Daily Express in error

Strips #2007 & #2009 (pictured above) were also omitted from the original Daily Express narrative due to a printing error, but do appeared in syndicated and collected versions of the story.

The League of Vampires original story by J.D. Lawrence

The League of Vampires original story by J.D. Lawrence
Wednesday October 25, 1972 to Wednesday February 28, 1973 - Strip #2066-#2172 (18-weeks)

Die With My Boots On original story by J.D. Lawrence

Die With My Boots On original story by J.D. Lawrence
Thursday March 1 to Friday June 8, 1973 - Strip #2173-#2256 (14-weeks)

The Girl Machine original story by J.D. Lawrence

The Girl Machine original story by J.D. Lawrence
Saturday June 9 to Monday December 3, 1973 - Strip #2257-#2407 (34-weeks)*

*The Daily Express did not print any strip cartoons on Monday November 5, 1973 due to industrial strike action in Fleet Street. The story resumed on Tuesday November 6, 1973 with strip #2384.

Beware of Butterflies original story by J.D. Lawrence

Beware of Butterflies original story by J.D. Lawrence
Tuesday December 4, 1973 to Saturday May 11, 1974 - Strip #2408-#2541 (22-weeks)*

Beware of Butterflies strip #2537 omitted from original  Daily Express version

*Strip #2537 (pictured above) was omitted from the Daily Express in error, but does appear in syndicated and collected versions of Beware of Butterflies.

The Nevsky Nude original story by J.D. Lawrence

The Nevsky Nude original story by J.D. Lawrence
Monday May 13 to Saturday September 21, 1974 - Strip #2542-#2655 (19-weeks)

The Phoenix Project original story by J.D. Lawrence

The Phoenix Project original story by J.D. Lawrence
Monday September 23, 1974 to Tuesday February 18, 1975 - Strip #2656-#2780 (21-weeks)

The Black Ruby Caper original story by J.D. Lawrence

The Black Ruby Caper original story by J.D. Lawrence
Wednesday February 19 to Saturday July 5, 1975 - Strip #2781-#2897 (20-weeks)

Till Death Do Us Part original story by J.D. Lawrence

Till Death Do Us Part original story by J.D. Lawrence
Monday July 7 to Tuesday October 14, 1975 - Strip #2898-#2983 (14-weeks)

The Torch-Time Affair original story by J.D. Lawrence

The Torch-Time Affair original story by J.D. Lawrence
Wednesday October 15, 1975 to Thursday January 15, 1976 - Strip #2984-#3060 (13-weeks)

Hot Shot original story by J.D. Lawrence

Hot Shot original story by J.D. Lawrence
Friday January 16 to Tuesday June 1, 1976 - Strip #3061-#3178 (20-weeks)

Nightbird original story by J.D. Lawrence

Nightbird original story by J.D. Lawrence
Wednesday June 2 to Thursday November 4, 1976 - Strip #3179-#3312 (22-weeks)

Ape of Diamonds original story by J.D. Lawrence

Ape of Diamonds original story by J.D. Lawrence
Friday November 5, 1976 to Saturday January 22, 1977 - Strip #3313-#3377 (21-weeks)*

[#3313-#3377 drawn by Yaroslav Horak appeared in the Daily Express; #3377 (with revised text) & #3378-#3383 drawn by Horak, and #3384-#3437 drawn by Neville Colvin appeared in the syndicated/collected version of Ape of Diamonds].

*Ape of Diamonds was the final James Bond comic strip to be printed in the Daily Express before moving to the Sunday Express in a three-strip format for 18-weeks from January 30, 1977. As the Sunday Express was still a broadsheet publication, its larger size therefore showcased Horak's detailed artwork to its best advantage.

Since it's launch in 1900, the Daily Express had been printed as a broadsheet (23.5" X 29.5"), but in 1977 the decision was made to move to a tabloid size in line with many of their rivals. The Daily Mail had changed to the more compact format in 1971. Whilst there is no standard size for a tabloid newspaper, they are generally printed at half the size of a broadsheet. The Daily Express retained its popular humorous comic strips including The Gambols, but by 1977 the narrative style strip was long past its sell-by date. Sydney Jordan's Jeff Hawke which had been running in the Daily Express since February 15, 1954 had ended on April 18, 1974; and Gun Law (based on the US television series Gunsmoke) drawn by Harry Bishop, would end its 19-year run in 1976. When The Wizard Awakes was the only James Bond comic strip published in the Sunday Express in the three-strip format before being discontinued in the newspaper. A further four stories written by Jim Lawrence and drawn by Yaroslav Horak were only syndicated outside the UK.

Ape of Diamonds strip #3377 Daily Express only

Ape of Diamonds - the syndicated version
The final James Bond comic strip to appear in the Daily Express is unique in that the syndicated version is significantly longer than the original weekday newsprint format. Running for 21-weeks Ape of Diamonds came to an end in the final broadsheet edition of the Daily Express on Saturday January 22, 1977, with the announcement on strip #3377 (pictured above) that readers could follow James Bond's adventures in the Sunday Express on January 30th. Yaroslav Horak had actually completed an additional weeks-worth of six strips that were never published in the Daily Express (#3378-#3383), indicating that the story was ended early. For the syndicated version New Zealand born artist Neville Colvin (1918-1991) was brought in to draw a further 54 strips (#3384-#3437) to conclude the narrative. Speech bubbles in strips #3375-#3377, at the point the story originally ended, were changed for the syndicated version (below) in order to continue the narrative, including giving the final line of dialogue in the concluding panel of the Daily Express version (#3377 pictured above) to Cleo Fahmi instead of James Bond. The complete syndicated version of Ape of Diamonds is available in the Titan Books Nightbird anthology and The James Bond Omnibus Collection Volume 5.

Neville Colvin (1918-1991)

Neville Colvin (1918-1991)

Ape of Diamonds strip #3377 syndicated version

The title ‘stat’ [the term given to the credit block pasted onto the top left-hand corner each full-sized piece of artwork] was amended on the additional strips #3384-#3437 to remove Horak's name, although Neville Colvin would not formally be credited for the artwork he supplied for Ape of Diamonds until 2009. Neville Colvin tried to copy Yaroslav Horak's style with varying degrees of success, but the facial features of his James Bond do not resemble the Horak version, whose own artwork looks particularly rushed in this story due to the constraints of also working on the strips needed for When the Wizard Awakes. Neville Colvin later took over the illustration of Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise comic strip in the Evening Standard from 1980-1986.

Ape of Diamonds strip #3384 Syndicated version drawn by Neville Colvin
 

Part 3 - THE JAMES BOND COMIC STRIP 1977-1984


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