Friday, 20 April 2012

Modesty Blaise

Modesty Blaise
A Great work of Peter O'Donnell which i have read in tamil in Rani comics as well as lion comics in my childhood. It was fascinating to see such a comics strip to be translated and published in tamil.

Have got these lines from Peter O'Donnell himself about his creation --

In The Beginning

During the time I was working freelance and doing the other strips, I’d also been writing some stuff for women’s magazines. In a rather vague way, I’d been thinking that it might be interesting to dream up a woman who would do the same kind of things as the heroes I’d been operating for so many years, like Garth and Tug Transom. In 1962, I had a call from Bill Aitken, the Strip Cartoon Editor of the Daily Express, another UK national daily newspaper which, like the Mirror, is still going today. He said he wanted me to write a strip for him. I asked what kind of strip, and he said --- “The kind of strip you want to write.” I said it would be months before I could deliver the first few weeks of script, and he said --- “OK, take your time.” I asked for Jim Holdaway to draw it and he agreed.
So then I began to develop the character who was to become Modesty Blaise. In order to give her the kind of background that made her plausible I had to go back to an incident I’d witnessed twenty years earlier, during the war. It took a long time to get her right and to find the right name for her. Once that was done I knew she had to have a sidekick, and Willie Garvin appeared in about thirty seconds.
The strip was going to appear in the Express, and I was asked to write a five-day text serial to introduce it. Then suddenly the whole thing was cancelled. I heard later that the Chairman had seen the first weeks of the drawn strip and decided that “a woman from the underworld” was unsuitable for Express readers. Bill Aitken then offered Modesty Blaise to the London Evening Standard, which is also still going today. The then Editor, Charles Wintour, snapped it up. It first appeared on Monday 13th May 1963 and ended on my birthday, 11th April 2001. Each story ran for between 18 and 20 weeks.

It would be impossible to write a character profile of Modesty or Willie. Our characters are made up of hundreds of little things which, in themselves, are not significant but, taken together, make us who we are. It’s like an artist who uses hundreds of small brush strokes to create a picture. All of the hundreds of little things which make up Modesty’s and Willie’s characters are spread throughout the books and the strips. The same goes for the things which make their relationship unique, as it would for any of us. I want to leave Modesty and Willie as they are presented in all that I have written of them.
Writing the Strips

I would have a general idea for a story and develop it as I went along. I don’t like preparing a synopsis of a story first and then working to that because I get fresh ideas as I write. I did all the scripting first so that the whole story developed at once. I would then write the synopsis once the whole thing was complete and deliver everything two months before publication.

One copy of the synopsis would go to the Editor of the Evening Standard for approval and, once approved, the synopsis and the complete story were sent to the artist. In the case of Romero, they were sent to a lady who translated everything into Spanish before sending it on to him. The artist would do the artwork without the balloons and send the original artwork to Gerry Lip, the lettering artist at the Evening Standard, who would put in the balloons. I would walk across Fleet Street to the Standard’s office, check the originals and the lettering and it would then be sent to the Features Editor of the Evening Standard. The Legal Department probably checked it too. Once that had happened, it went to production.

It is difficult to describe for your artist the variety of actions which occur in fights. To overcome this problem, we arranged a photo session with Cyd Child, European Judo Champion, and Brian Jacks, Olympic medallist. They went through a series of action shots which were then numbered and put together in a book. They also took the opportunity to throw me around a bit on the basis that I needed to know what it felt like. I kept one copy of the book and the other was sent to the artist. Whenever I wanted a particular action scene, I could simply refer to the number of the photograph.

Writing daily continuity strips is much more difficult than text or graphic novels. You are telling a story with 300 pictures over a period of 18-20 weeks. In telling the story, you have to keep it moving, keep it interesting and, above all, keep reminding the reader of what has gone before. You also have to keep a series of cliff-hangers going, ideally at the end of each week.
I don’t deliberately include any particular ingredients into stories. I have no formula. I just tell the stories as they come into my head, and the characters come with the stories. There may be subconscious reasons for various elements in what I write, but if so I don’t want to know about them. I don’t want to try analysing what I do because I am afraid that would lead me into some kind of formula. I think formulas squeeze the juice out of stories.
Peter O'Donnell got Haxter award for his work Bad suki

The Modesty Blaise comic strip and comic book stories
TitleArtistStrip numbersNumber of stripsDatesReprinted in
 1La MachineJH1-1141141963-05-13 - 1963-09-21T1, OT1, C 189-191, 193, S2
 2The Long LeverJH115-211981963-09-23 - 1964-01-02T1, OT1, C 192-194, S2
 3The Gabriel Set-UpJH212-3541431964-01-03 - 1964-06-18T1, OT1, C 195-197
 4Mister SunJH355-5001461964-06-19 - 1964-12-05T2, OT2, C 198-199
 5The Mind of Mrs. DrakeJH501-612113 (112+1A)1964-12-07 - 1965-04-19T2, OT2, F2, C 201-203
 6Uncle HappyJH613-7431311965-04-20 - 1965-09-18T2, OT8, F2, C 204-207
 7Top TraitorJH744-8731311965-09-20 - 1966-02-19T3, F1, C 208-210
 8The VikingsJH874-9921191966-02-21 - 1966-07-09T3, F1, S1
[1]In the BeginningJH01-Dec121966-07-11 - 1966-07-23T1, OT1, C 188, CM, S1
 9The Head GirlsJH993-11241321966-07-11 - 1966-12-10T3, F4
10The Black PearlJH1125–1235112 (111+1A)1966-12-12 - 1967-04-22T4, F4, S1
11The Magnified ManJH1236–13491141967-04-24 - 1967-09-02T4, F4
12The Jericho CaperJH1350–1461113 (112+1A)1967-09-04 - 1968-01-13T4, F3
13Bad SukiJH1462–15741131968-01-15 - 1968-05-25T5, OT8, F3
14The Galley SlavesJH1575-1629115 (114+1A)1968-05-27 - 1968-08-06T5, OT3, MB24
1630A-16881968-09-11 - 1968-11-16
[2]The Killing GroundJHA1-A36361968-10-07 - 1968-11-16T4, OT2, F3, C 207
15The Red GryphonJH1689–1794107 (106+1A)1968-11-18 - 1969-03-22T5, OT3, C 211-213
16The Hell MakersJH1795–1919126 (125+1A)1969-03-24 - 1969-08-16T6, OT3, C 214-216
17Take-OverJH1920–2043125 (124+1A)1969-08-18 - 1970-01-10T6, OT4, C 217-219
18The War-Lords of PhoenixJH2044-20981191970-01-12 - 1970-03-16T6, OT4, C 220-222
ER2099-21621970-03-17 - 1970-05-30
19Willie the DjinnER2163–22821201970-06-01 - 1970-10-17T7, OT4, C 223-225
20The Green-Eyed MonsterER2283–2388107 (106+1A)1970-10-19 - 1971-02-20T7, OT5, C 226-228
21Death of a JesterER2389–25071191971-02-22 - 1971-07-10T7, OT5, C 229-231
22The Stone Age CaperER2508–26271201971-07-12 - 1971-11-27T8, OT5, C 232-234
23The Puppet MasterER2628–2738112 (111+1A)1971-11-29 - 1972-04-08T8, OT6, C 235-237
24With Love from RufusER2739–28461081972-04-10 - 1972-08-12T8, OT6
25The Bluebeard AffairER2847–2970125 (124+1A)1972-08-14 - 1973-01-06T9, OT6
26The Gallows BirdER2971-30771071973-01-08 - 1973-05-12T9, MB2
27The Wicked GnomesER3078-31971201973-05-14 - 1973-09-29T9, OT7
28The Iron GodER3198-3309111[10]1973-10-01 - 1974-02-09T9, OT7
29"Take Me to Your Leader"ER3310-34281191974-02-11 - 1974-07-01T10, MB3
30Highland WitchER3429-35481201974-07-02 - 1974-11-16T10, MB4
31Cry WolfER3549-3638A106 (90+16A)1974-11-18 - 1975-03-25T10, MB5
32The Reluctant ChaperonER3639-3737120 (99+21A)[11]1975-03-26 - 1975-08-14T11, MB6
33The Greenwood MaidER3738-3829A111 (92+19A)1975-08-15 - 1976-01-02T11, MB7
34Those About to DieER3830-3931A123 (102+21A)1976-01-05 - 1976-05-28T11, MB8
35The Inca TrailER3932-4031A120 (100+20A)1976-06-01 - 1976-10-20T11, MB10
36The Vanishing DollybirdsER4032-4141A132 (110+22A)1976-10-21 - 1977-03-28T12, MB11
37The Junk MenER4142-4241A120 (100+20A)1977-03-29 - 1977-08-19T12, MB9
38Death TrapER4242-4341A120 (100+20A)1977-08-22 - 1978-01-20T12, MB12
39Idaho GeorgeER4342-4447A126 (106+20A)1978-01-23 - 1978-06-16T13, MB13
40The Golden FrogER4448-4542A114 (95+19A)1978-06-19 - 1978-10-31T13, MB14
41Yellowstone BootyJB4543-4647A126 (105+21A)1978-11-01 - 1979-03-30T13, MB16
42Green CobraJB4648-4737A108 (90+18A)1979-04-02 - 1979-08-10T14, MB15
43Eve and AdamJB4738-4767A120 (100+20A)1979-08-13 - 1979-11-24T14, MB17
PW4768-4837A1979-11-25 - 1980-01-04
44Brethren of BlaisePW4838-4932A114 (95+19A)1980-01-07 - 1980-05-23T14, MB18
45Dossier on PlutoNC4933-5032A120 (100+20A)1980-05-27 - 1980-10-14T15, MB19
46The Lady KillersNC5033-5127A114 (95+19A)1980-10-15 - 1981-03-03T15, F5, C 238-240
47Garvin's TravelsNC5128-5229A120 (102+18A)1981-03-04 - 1981-07-27T15, F5, C 241 - 243
48The Scarlet MaidenNC5230-5329A120 (100+20A)1981-07-28 - 1981-12-16T16, F5, C 244 - 246
49The MoonmanNC5330-5424A114 (95+19A)1981-12-17 - 1982-05-07T16, F6, C 247 - 249
50A Few Flowers for the ColonelNC5425-5519A114 (95+19A)1982-05-10 - 1982-09-24T16, F6, C 250 - 252
51The BalloonaticNC5520-5619A120 (100+20A)1982-09-27 - 1983-02-18T17, F6, C 253 - 255
52Death in Slow MotionNC5620-5719A120 (100+20A)1983-02-21 - 1983-07-15T17, F7, C 256 - 258
53The Alternative ManNC5720-5814A114 (95+19A)1983-07-18 - 1983-11-28T17, F7, C 259 - 261
54Sweet CarolineNC5815-5914A120 (100+20A)1983-11-29 - 1984-04-19T18, F7, C 262 - 264
55The Return of the MammothNC5915-6014A120 (100+20A)1984-04-24 - 1984-09-14T18, F8, C 265 - 267
56Plato's RepublicNC6015-6114A120 (100+20A)1984-09-17 - 1985-02-06T18, F8
57The Sword of the BruceNC6115-6214A120 (100+20A)1985-02-07 - 1985-07-02T18, F8
58The Wild BoarNC6215-6314A120 (100+20A)1985-07-03 - 1985-11-20T19, MB20
59Kali's DisciplesNC6315-6414A120 (100+20A)1985-11-21 - 1986-05-16T19, MB21
60The Double AgentNC6415-6519A126 (105+21A)1986-05-17 - 1986-09-15T19, MB22
61Butch Cassidy Rides AgainER6520-6624A126 (105+21A)1986-09-16 - 1987-02-12T20, MB1, MB25
62Million Dollar GameER6625-6724A120 (100+20A)1987-02-13 - 1987-07-08T20, C 26-29
63The Vampire of MalvescuER6725-6829A126 (105+21A)1987-07-09 - 1987-12-03T20, A2, MB23
64Samantha and the CherubER6830-6934A126 (105+21A)1987-12-04 - 1988-05-06T21, C 31-36, LB
65MilordER6935-7034A120 (100+20A)1988-05-09 - 1988-09-27T21, C 40-42, LB
66Live BaitER7035-7134A120 (100+20A)1988-09-28 - 1989-02-17T21, C 44-46, LB
67The Girl from the FutureER7135-7239A126 (105+21A)1989-02-20 - 1989-07-21T22, C 47-49, LD
68The Big MoleER7240-7339A120 (100+20A)1989-07-24 - 1989-12-11T22, C 50-52, LD
69Lady in the DarkER7340-7439A120 (100+20A)1989-12-12 - 1990-05-08T22, C 53-56, LD
70FionaER7440-7544A126 (105+21A)1990-05-09 - 1990-10-09C 57-60
71WalkaboutER7545-7649A126 (105+21A)1990-10-10 - 1991-03-11C 61-63
72The Girl in the Iron MaskER7650-7749A120 (100+20A)1991-03-12 - 1991-08-02C 64-66
73The Young MistressER7750-7854A126 (105+21A)1991-08-05 - 1992-01-06C 67-73
74Ivory DancerER7855-7959A126 (105+21A)1992-01-07 - 1992-06-05C 73-77
75Our Friend MaudeER7960-8064A126 (105+21A)1992-06-08 - 1992-11-02C 78-83
76A Present for the PrincessER8065-8174A132 (110+22A)1992-11-03 - 1993-04-08C 84-88
77Black Queen's PawnER8175-8279A126 (105+21A)1993-04-13 - 1993-09-10C 89-93
78The Grim JokerER8280-8384A126 (105+21A)1993-09-13 - 1994-02-09C 94-99
79Guido the JinxER8385-8484A120 (100+20A)1994-02-10 - 1994-07-05C 100-104
80The Killing DistanceER8485-8589A126 (105+21A)1994-07-06 - 1994-11-30C 105-109
81The AristoER8590-8694A126 (105+21A)1994-12-01 - 1995-05-03C 110-114
[3]Modesty BlaiseDS & DG141 pages1994-12
82Ripper JaxER8695-8799A126 (105+21A)1995-05-04 - 1995-10-02C 115-119
83The Maori ContractER8800-8904A126 (105+21A)1995-10-03 - 1996-03-01C 120-124
84HoneygunER8905-9009A126 (105+21A)1996-03-04 - 1996-08-02C 125-130
85DurangoER9010-9114A126 (105+21A)1996-08-05 - 1997-01-03CS, C 131-133
86The Murder FrameER9115-9219A126 (105+21A)1997-01-06 - 1997-06-06C 134-138
87Fraser's StoryER9220-9324A126 (105+21A)1997-06-09 - 1997-11-03C 139-143
88Tribute of the PharaohER9325-9429A126 (105+21A)1997-11-04 - 1998-05-03C 144-148
89The Special OrdersER9430-9534A126 (105+21A)1998-05-06 - 1998-09-04C 149-152
90The Hanging JudgeER9535-9644A132 (110+22A)1998-09-07 - 1999-02-10C 153-158
91Children of LuciferER9645-9749A126 (105+21A)1999-02-11 - 1999-07-13C 159-163
92Death SymbolER9750-9859A132 (110+22A)1999-07-14 - 1999-12-15C 164-169
93The Last AristocratER9860-9964A126 (105+21A)1999-12-16 - 2000-05-19C 170-175
94The Killing GameER9965-10069A126 (105+21A)2000-05-22 - 2000-10-17C 176-181
95The ZombieER10070-10183135 (114+21A)2000-10-18 - 2001-04-11C 182-187
[4]The Dark AngelsER46 pages2002-06-13 - 2002-07-11C 200, 208 (cover)
The special stories
1. Numbered SP1 or more common 8a. An introduction to the history of Modesty Blaise.
2. Numbered SP2 or more common 14a. Produced to Scottish newspapers after an industrial dispute in England.
3. Numbered SP3 or more common not numbered. A graphic novel from DC Comics based on the first novel with Modesty Blaise.
4. Numbered SP4 or more common 96. A comic book version of the short story in Cobra Trap. Originally published in the Swedish magazine Agent X9 #7-8, 2002

 The Proudest moment of the great legend is when he recieved the following letter from his reader.... as mentioned by him..


  1. I have read Modesty Blaise in it's original english language and found it better than the tamil versions I read during my childhood. There was something very...professional about it. I have only read about 25 stories (in order) a long time ago and I wish to read it all one day.

    1. yes whatever you are telling is true because Rani comics did a lot of Modesty Blaise stories in tamil and their way of translation is not up to the mark and considering the reader knowledge base at that time that is enough for them to provide something which we cant see at that time(Without all these globalisation and internet).

      But still i feel the Modesty blaise stories which came in Muthu and Lion stand apart in the translation style which is awesome..

      Nice I just finished reading the 100 issues of Modesty in English.. This is really a treasure to preserve...

    2. I don't feel that any of the translations do the originals justice. But again, that is my opinion. Good to know you finished so many of the modesty books.