When the Bond series was set to be adapted for the Daily Express, Ian Fleming commissioned a sketch of how he envisioned Bond007 in order to aid the artist of this new series. Famously, Fleming pictured his Bond with features similar to American composer Hoagy Carmichael. John McLusky, the artist tasked with drawing the comic strip, had a different idea in mind and when the James Bond comic strip debuted in 1958, McLusky’s Bond was the face of 007. As has been noted on numerous occasions, McLusky’s realization bears an uncanny resemblance to a then unknown Sean Connery.
As proof that it all comes full circle, writer/artist Mike Grell modeled his Bond after Hoagy Carmichael in the three issue Acme Press/Eclipse Comics series Permission to Die.
In this gallery, you’ll find a copy of the original sketch that Fleming commissioned (sadly the artist is unknown), as well as a sketch by John McLusky of his version of Bond, dated 1965.
Doctor No - Comic Comparisons
Classics Illustrated published the first James Bond comic book, an adaptation by Norman J. Nodel of the film version of Dr. No. A US reprint followed soon after in the DC book Showcase #43. Showcase was a series designed to try out new ideas, characters, and concepts to see if a fan base could exist and inevitably lead to further adventures. Oddly enough, this issue was released before the film debuted for American audiences, leading to poor sales and no further Bond comics from DC, despite them holding the license to create (not to kill) further adventures.
Personally, I consider this one of the great missed opportunities in the history of the medium. If DC had taken advantage of their option once Bondmania was in full swing, they could have made a comic to compete with Jim Steranko’s masterful spy series Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD. Strangely enough, a few months later in Showcase #50 and #51, DC revived an old espionage character of their own, King Faraday, for a new series pitch titled I - Spy! This was of course before the TV series of the same name. Unfortunately aside from new covers, the only original material was a small prologue in issue #50 followed by two reprints of 1950s stories. Issue #51 was entirely reprints with no new material. DC just couldn’t get a handle on a good spy series.
In this gallery you’ll find comparisons between the European and American editions of Nodel’s Doctor No, along with publicity stills that served as art references, and other bits of Dr. No ephemera.
Classics Illustrated #158A
Cover art possibly painted by Norman J. Nodel. This artwork appeared on several European reprints of this adaptation.
Cover art by Bob Brown. Despite the interior artwork depicting Bond as Sean Connery, Brown made no such attempt, even though his Doctor No is a dead ringer for Joseph Wiseman.
DC Comics advert
“As Hot As Tomorrow’s Headlines!” I wonder if Elliot Carver wrote that…
German lobby card
Colorized photo still, used as an artist reference for the comic adaptation.
Panel detail: art by Normal J. Nodel
US lobby card
Colorized photo still from the film, used as an artist reference for the comic adaptation.
Panel detail: art by Norman J. Nodel
Panel detail: Art by Norman J. Nodel
Before Han Solo and Greedo, there was Bond and Professor Dent!
Coloring comparison (fig. 1A)
European editions featured a more naturalistic color palette in places when compared to the US edition. Art by Norman J. Nodel.
Coloring comparison (fig. 1B)
The US edition featured a gaudier color palette and the regrettable decision to turn Quarrel into a Caucasian man. Art by Norman J. Nodel.
Coloring comparison (fig. 2A)
The more naturalistic color palette is once again on display in this page, but Doctor No himself is depicted with unnatural yellow skin, an all too common tactic in the depiction of Asian characters in this era. Art by Norman J. Nodel.
Coloring comparison (fig. 2B)
Despite making Quarrel a white man in their reprint, DC elected to color Doctor No with a more naturalistic skin tone, although this is likely more of an attempt to whitewash the adaptation as a whole. Even if Doctor No doesn’t have yellow skin in this reprint, he clearly enjoys yellow walls! Art by Norman J. Nodel.
Coloring comparison (fig. 3A)
The yellow skinned Doctor No meets his fate via a multi-colored blast of electricity. Art by Norman J. Nodel.
Coloring comparison (fig. 3B)
Doctor No is electrocuted in a yellow flash in the American reprint. Art by Norman J. Nodel.
James Bond Jr. #9
For some reason, the 90s saw the unfortunate return of yellow skin for Doctor No. In defense of the decade, The Simpsons were rather big at the time… Although I should note that in the James Bond Jr. animated series, Doctor No was actually presented with green skin. A similar tactic was used a few years prior in the animated series Defenders of the Earth for the depiction of another Yellow Peril throwback villain, Flash Gordon’s nemesis Ming the Merciless.
James Bond Jr. #12
Doctor No’s yellow skin and Fu Manchu mustache may be a bit dated for the 90s, but that mullet is as timeless as Roger Moore’s bell bottoms.
The iconic Bond villain Jaws first appeared in the film The Spy Who Loved Me. Although it’s been noted that Jaws bears a minor resemblance to Ian Fleming’s thug Horror, I can’t help but look at Charles Biro’s villain Iron Jaw (first appearing in 1942’s Boy Comics #3 from Lev Gleason Productions) and wonder if there was some inspiration there.
While both characters are not above disposing of their prey by means of morbidly metallic mastication, Iron Jaw was a true villain and ideologically aligned with the Nazi party, whereas the last time Jaws tried to hitch a ride with the master race in Moonraker it didn’t work out so well for him (but at least he got the girl).
To paraphrase Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is creative bankruptcy…or maybe an homage.”
To that end, the visual similarity that Jaws from James Bond Jr. shares with Biro’s creation is quite striking. I’m not sure if at any point there was any inspiration from one character to the other, but it’s worth chewing on.
Iron Jaw espouses his political ideology. Art by Charles Biro.
Sol “Horror” Horowitz from Ian Fleming’s The Spy Who Loved Me, whose steel-capped teeth directly inspired the villain Jaws from the film of the same name. Art by Richie Fahey from the 2002-2003 Penguin Books editions.
Actor Richard Kiel as the iconic Bond villain Jaws.