Tuesday 29 November 2016

Come join me in London on December 10

In a few days I will fly from Stockholm to London to celebrate my fortieth birthday.  Plans are being made to meet some other Fleming / Bond fans but also to enjoy a few days without the kids with my wife. I will also be allowed to join a friend on a trip in his two different Tesla motor cars which has been a dream for a few years now. A concert at the O2 arena in London is also scheduled.

The trip has in other words every possibility of being great and I look forward to it a lot.

Therefore I wish to announce that I would love for you, the reader of this blog, to come join me on Saturday, December 10 when I together with Maxus Ltd arrange a Ian Fleming post war London walk. 

I hope this event can be some sort of replica of the great event arranged by Literary007.com and Maxus Ltd that was arranged earlier this year on May 28, Ian Fleming's birthday.

So if you are an Ian Fleming fan or maybe just an James Bond fan wishing to learn more about the creator of the worlds most famous spy or if you just wish to meet other James Bond fans and hang out in London then join me. The more the merrier. The locations that we will visit are those connected to Ian Flemings life after the second world war when Fleming begun writing the James Bond novels.

We are allowed to be up to 30 people and after the walk, Jon at Maxus Ltd will take us to a bar close by were we can buy drinks and chat as long as we wish.

The price to take part in this walk is £10 each if you pay in advance or £15 if you wish to join us in the last minute.

If you wish to participate (and I hope you do) then contact me Stephan Backman on Facebook and I will give you the payment details. Also contact me if you may have questions about this event and I will be glad to assist. 

Let's Bond in London on December 10th.

Stephan Bäckman
James Bond - The Secret Agent Blog

Sunday 27 November 2016

How much is actually the Domino letter worth?

If you are reading this the chance is quite big that, even if you are a James Bond fan, you have never heard about the rare Domino letter. So let me break down quickly for you what the Domino letter is.

Back in 1965 when the forth James Bond film staring Sean Connery was released, Pan Books re-released the novel THUNDERBALL for the fourteenth time in a movie tie-in version (cover below).

In that edition (and only that edition) there was a printed promotional notepaper added. It was made to look like a handwritten letter from Domino to James Bond. In the letter she is asking Bond to read pages 152-155 within the book the letter came with. On these pages in THUNDERBALL the Players Cigarettes are mentioned and they were also the company that used the THUNDERBALL novel for advertising. A lot like modern day product placement.

I am sure that Ian Fleming himself never got paid for this while writing his book and therefore the idea came up after his passing in 1964.

Most readers certainly threw this peace of paper away but some owners kept it. Some books might never have gotten read and therefore the letter is still there.

People who own this advertisement claim it to be worth quite a bit. A seller on Ebay says he wants $350 for it but excepts offer. There are also fake versions of the letter on the market and these sell for as little as £2. 

I myself do not have this letter in my collection but I was bidding on one today. The funny thing is that I was one of only two people who placed bids during the last hour. When I decided to bid it was at £62 and I bided up to £99 and stopped and lost the bidding to someone else who paid £101.

It is funny how we value our collections. One would think that such a rare piece of early marketing material would be as valuable as the sellers says but it is not often a bidding war on stuff like this happen. Most of the James Bond collectors would rather have other James Bond collectables in their collection. We are not many who wish to pay a lot of money for these kind of things and the market tell us what the current value is. I would say that the value for a Domino letter on the market is currently £101. Do you think I am right or wrong? Would you have paid £101 for the below peace of paper? Happy to read your comments below.   

If you wish to learn more about the Domino letter I suggest you head over to this site.

The Domino letter

The 14th printing of Thunderball from Pan Books UK

Wednesday 23 November 2016

The problems with FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

In 1962, Ian Flemings first short stories titled FOR YOUR EYES ONLY was released in Sweden.

The release, by publisher Bonniers, led to some problems when the last Roger Moore film was released in 1985. Let me explain why.

When FOR YOUR EYES ONLY was released the different short stories where not titled. They were only chapters.
Also the story QUANTUM OF SOLACE was missing in the Swedish version.

But the biggest difference was that the book was not called FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. It was called FROM A VIEW TO A KILL. The same title as the first short story within the book.

So in 1981 when the Swedish distributor United International Pictures (UIP) where to release Roger Moore's fifth film FOR YOUR EYES ONLY the Swedish film title was FROM A VIEW TO A KILL.

No big problem so far but I guess you can figure out where this is going.

In 1985 the final Roger Moore film were to be released and it was at first called FROM A VIEW TO A KILL and sometime before the release they removed the FROM and only called it A VIEW TO A KILL. Since that title had already been used in Sweden two Bond films earlier UIP was now having a problem.

So they decided to change the title completely in Sweden and came up with the title LIVING TARGET for A VIEW TO A KILL.

Since I have started re-reading the Fleming novels I must confess that since QUANTUM OF SOLACE has never been released in Swedish, I have actually never read that story. It is nice to know that I still have some unread Fleming material to look forward to.

Has any other country had the same problem with titles already used or being changed for some reason. It is one thing to make up an entire new title for a film. That happens a lot even today. But to have used a title for a franchise four years to early must be quite rare.

Below you can see the first edition for the Swedish version of FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. If you truly know your books you will notice that the eye on the Swedish version is not the same eye as on the UK first edition. I prefer the Swedish eye much more. It has a far better paintjob.


Monday 21 November 2016

The paperback that was NOT to be released

When Ian Fleming released his tenth book about his secret agent James Bond back in 1962 he was not prepared for the reviews that followed.

Ian Fleming was somewhat sick and tired of writing the Bond novels and had previously changed his formula by writing short stories in his FOR YOUR EYES ONLY collection released in 1961.
This time he did something completely different. He did not write the book from James Bond perspective but instead from the female mind and he decided to only let James Bond apear in the second part of the book half way into the story.

When the novel was released on April 16 in 1961 the reviewers were not happy about the drastic change Fleming had done to the formula.

Sadly I do not own any of the reviews in print in my collection but the below review quotes can be found on Wikipedia.

The Daily Telegraph, wrote "Oh Dear Oh Dear Oh Dear! And to think of the books Mr Fleming once wrote!" while The Glasgow Herald thought Fleming finished: "His ability to invent a plot has deserted him almost entirely and he has had to substitute for a fast-moving story the sorry misadventures of an upper-class tramp, told in dreary detail." Writing in The Observer, Maurice Richardson described the tale as "a new and regrettable if not altogether unreadable variation",[going on to hope that "this doesn't spell the total eclipse of Bond in a blaze of cornography".Richardson ended his piece by berating Fleming, asking: "why can't this cunning author write up a bit instead of down?" The critic for The Times was not dismissive of Bond, who they describe as "less a person than a cult" who is "ruthlessly, fashionably efficient in both love and war". Rather the critic dismisses the experiment, writing that "the novel lacks Mr. Fleming's usual careful construction and must be written off as a disappointment." John Fletcher thought that it was "as if Mickey Spillane had tried to gatecrash his way into the Romantic Novelists' Association".
Philip Stead, writing in The Times Literary Supplement considered the novel to be "a morbid version of that of Beauty and the Beast".The review noted that once Bond arrives on the scene to find Michel threatened by the two thugs, he "solves [the problem] in his usual way. A great quantity of ammunition is expended, the zip-fastener is kept busy and the customary sexual consummation is associated with the kill." Stead also considered that with the words of the police captain "Mr. Fleming seems to have summarized in this character's remarks some of the recent strictures on James Bond's activities." Vernon Scannell, as critic for The Listener, considered The Spy Who Loved Me to be "as silly as it is unpleasant". What aggrieved him most, however, was that "the worst thing about it is that it really is so unremittingly, so grindingly boring."
The critic for Time lamented the fact that "unaccountably lacking in The Spy Who Loved Me are the High-Stake Gambling Scene, the Meal-Ordering Scene, the Torture Scene, the battleship-grey Bentley, and Blades Club." The critic also bemoaned the fact that "among the shocks and disappointments 1962 still has in store ... is the discovery that the cruel, handsome, scarred face of James Bond does not turn up until more than halfway through Ian Fleming's latest book. Anthony Boucher meanwhile wrote that the "author has reached an unprecedented low".

So As you can see above Fleming took a hammering when reading the reviews for his latest novel.

Ian took this hard. Actually so hard that he tried to stop the book from being published again. He forbid the book to be published as a paperback, there were to be no comic strip adaptation and when he sold the rights to make films of his books to Albert R Broccoli and Harry Saltzman he only sold them the title for the book and not the story itself. He did not wish to ever have it released again.

So how come there is a Pan Books release of the book and why has the book been sold in many different versions after 1962?
Well Fleming passed away as we all know on August 14 in 1964 and the rights to his books went to his relatives. They waited three years until the books was released in paperback. In 1967-68 the book was also the last original Ian Fleming story to be converted into a comic strip.

In 1977 the film with the title THE SPY WHO LOVED ME was released by Eon Productions. The title as as we all know the only connection that film has to Fleming. The story was all new.

 Below is the 1967 paperback released by Pan Books.

Thursday 17 November 2016

The complete set of EIDOLON covers are here!

The last episode of the James Bond series EIDOLON will go on sale on December 21 but here and now we can reveal the arwork for the final episode and also show you the complete set of artworks for this six episode series.

It all started with the first series VARGR penned by Warren Ellis and drawn by Jason Masters (who have also done the header for this blog). That series was really good and even if I have not read comics for a very long time I enjoyed it a lot. You can read more amount that series here and see all the different covers.

Just as with VARGR I decided to wait to read EIDOLON until the complete set was in my hands. And it soon will be.

I wonder if anybody else feel it to be a bit strange that the publishers Dynamite Entertainment decided to make EIDOLON as part 7-12 instead part 1-6 since it was a hole new mission. 

Below you can see all the different covers for the EIDOLON series and they are all made by the same artist named Don Reardom.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Title sequence for FLEMING - The man behind Bond

Back in 2013 it was announced that Sky Atlantic would air a TV-Series based on Ian Flemings life.

The series was co-produced by Sky Atlantic, BBC America and Ecosse Films.

Later in the production the producers turned to British animation and graphics company Broken Antler to come up with ideas for the title design. The demand was that the title design should be distinctive and at the same time not a reproduction of a James Bond title sequence.

When Broken Antler started working on ideas for the treatment they proposed using shadows in the title theme. They had thoughts of using different objects that Fleming would have used during his time. And that idea sounds a lot like "still life series" of the Ian Fleming books that Pan Books released in 1976.

But that idea was scrapped due to the budget and the length of the title sequence being visible.
Since the title was to be visible for such a short period in each episode they decided that it should be more focused and delivered quickly.

They saw the script for the four episode series to be written as if Ian Fleming would have written his own autobiography and therefore it was therefore decided to go with a paper background and text written in old typewriter style as if Fleming himself was writing it.

Below you can see the different suggestions that Broken Antler had until they decided to go with the typewriter. They are all quite amazing. On top of this blog post you can see the actual title treatment that they went with.

Below is the Pan Books "still life" series from 1976.
(These are very hard to scan with good quality)

You can order the FLEMING TV-series below for below £6 nowadays.


Sunday 13 November 2016

James Bond The authorised biography first edition

Added to my collection is the UK first edition of JAMES BOND - THE AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY by John Pearson.

The book was published in 1973 and cost £2,75 new at the time.

John Pearson had a few years earlier written THE LIFE OF IAN FLEMING. A lovely book about the author of the James Bond series.
According to Wikipedia, JAMES BOND - THE AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY, was never a commissioned novel by Ian Fleming Publications (Glidrose Publications at the time).

The book was therefore the first James Bond book not to be published by Jonathan Cape but instead Sidgwick & Jackson. Even if the story was not commissioned  by Glidrose Publications, John Pearson still needed their approval for the novel to be published. The copyright is therefore owned by both Ian Fleming Publications and John Pearson for this story and this might be the reason that we never see it included with the rest of the books nowadays.

This might also be the reason the book has such a poor layout on the first edition. Maybe they were not allowed to draw James Bond on the dust jacket. As they are not allowed now.

If you have not read this book I highly recommend that you do. I truly enjoyed this novel and have very fond memories of reading it. It was the first James Bond novel I read in English and when I had finished reading it I decided to start reading all the other books in English for the first time.

If anybody knows more about how this book came about please feel free to comment below. I would love to hear it.

If you wish to read this highly enjoyable book you can buy it here on Amazon UK. I myself have a few of the different releases of this book and will soon sell a few of them on my Ebay Page.

Not much to get exited about with this cover design.

Thursday 10 November 2016

James Bond's salary at MI6

The beginning of Ian Fleming's third James Bond novel MOONRAKER is fantastic reading for any James Bond fan. There we are treated with an ordinary day at work for James Bond.

Ian Fleming also tells us the salary that James Bond gets for being a secret agent for the government.
"He earned £1 500 a year, the salary of a Principal Officer in the Civil Service, and he had a thousend a year free of tax of his own. When he was on a job he could spend as much as he liked, so for the other months of the year he could live very well on his £2 000 a year net"
 In other words if you do not follow. Bond has a salary of £1 500 and an extra £1 000 free of tax. There is 30% tax on the first £1 500 and this leaves Bond with £2 000 a year.

The book was published in 1955 so lets see what a salary for James Bond would be if we recalculate this into modern inflation.

I used this calculator and it says that if James Bond had a salary of £2 000 net in 1955 that would equal £49 400 net in today's world. Using this calculator it transforms into $62 000.

Please remember that we are always talking net figures here, after tax.

He is supposedly on one mission a year according to Fleming. On these he gets all expenses paid. He also gets a vacation after every mission to "heal".

I must say that he seems to earn a decent amount of money working at MI6.

Would you sacrifice your life for queen and country and that salary. Feel free to comment below.

Below you can see my Danish first edition of MOONRAKER simply called Agent 007.


Sunday 6 November 2016

Ian Fleming's favourite actor for James Bond

When Ian Fleming wrote about James Bond's looks it was very well drawn. James Bond's hight was little over six feet (183 cm) and his weight was around 167 pounds (76 kg). His body was in other words what you today would call slim. Also, Bond is described as dark, cruel and handsome and that woman find him irresistible.

So in 1961 when Producers Albert Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were searching for there actor to play Bond they almost had a blueprint of what the man should look like.

Both Cubby and Harry agreed to let Ian Fleming attend the meetings were James Bond and who he was was discussed and after one of these meetings Fleming send Cubby a fascinating memorandum on the matter.

James Bond is a blunt instrument wielded by a Government Department. He is quiet, hard, ruthless, sardonic, fatalistic. In his relationships with women he shows the same qualities as he does in his job, but he has a certain gentleness with them and if they get in trouble he is sometimes prepared to sacrifice his life to rescue them. But not always, and certainly not if it interferes with his job. He likes gambling, golf and motorcars. 
 In other words. Ian Flemings blueprint for James Bond was more or less a blueprint of himself.

Cary Grant was the first actor to be asked to play James Bond but he turned it down. There second choice was James Mason but he was no fan of the Bond books.

But Ian Fleming had his first choice for the role of James Bond and his name was strangely enough... Roger Moore.

Roger Moore was 34 years old at the time and had actually not received world wide celebrity playing Simon Templer in The Saint.
Cubby Broccoli did not want Roger Moore at that time. He thought Moore was to much of a gentlemen and not the kind of tough guy that they later found in Sean Connery.

But 12 years later in 1973 Ian Fleming would get his wishes come true when Roger Moore played his first role as agent 007. Sadly he never got to see it since he himself passed away in 1964.

The facts for this blog post can be found in THE JAMES BOND ARCHIVES that you need to order here if you have not already done so.

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Did you or your friends win the TRIGGER MORTIS contest?

A few weeks back the blog had its first sponsored contest were you the reader had the chance to win a copy of the now released US TRIGGER MORTIS paperback.

The 10 winners of the book are as follows:

A big congratulations to the winners. I will now contact the publishers so that you will get the paperback sent to you. 

A big warm thank you also to Harper Paperbacks and Abigail Novak and Mary Sasso for making this contest possible. 

From the archives:

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