Prior to obtaining one of the Titan Books reprints of Modesty Blaise I had never even heard of the comic strip. This is despite there being several novel and film adaptations, one of which as recently as 2004. I probably never heard of the comic because it’s stories often feature glimpses of nudity, violence, and drug references. All of which were very unpopular with the syndicated strips of the 1960’s and 1970’s here in the United States. So, instead of getting to read a cool comic of a hot, scantly clad, brunette who often fights criminal syndicates around the globe (wearing really short shorts) we here in the states got Beetle Bailey and Family Circus. Fuck you Family Circus. Sorry, but after reading Modesty Blaise I can’t help feel a little bitter for living in a nation that treats their population like a very large group of five year-old children and feel that we missed out on a lot of great stuff because of that.
Okay, so I’ll stop ranting and tell you about the comic. Titan Books has now published several collections of the Modesty Blaise comic strip. The one I read was entitled, The Girl in the Iron Mask. A reference to one of the last stories of the graphic novel. Here’s the synopsis:
Features the classic stories ‘Fiona’, ‘Walkabout’ and ‘The Girl In The Iron Mask’ written by popular British crime writer Peter O’Donnell and beautifully illustrated by Enric Badia Romero! Willie’s admirer Fiona returns, Modesty faces the outback alone and an iron mask could mark her end in this latest gripping volume! With story introductions by Modesty Blaise archivist Lawrence Blackmore, this outstanding collection of never-before-reprinted material is not to be missed.
The strip is definitely much more adult oriented than anything we had here in the states (at that time) and there is a strong early 70’s vibe written into the story. You can almost hear the disco in between page turns. However, I think O’Donnell did an excellent job in creating a strong, independent, heroine in an age when characters like Modesty didn’t exist. Modesty is a fighter and she brawls, hacks, and kicks at the biggest of the bad guys as well as any male counter part of her time ever did. On the art side; Romero’s skill as an illustrator is amazing! His illustrative talents went into making characters like Vampirella, and Axa, and his ability draw sensual (long legged – full lipped) beauties is wonderfully represented on nearly every page of this book. In between each story is a short introduction from Lawrence Blackmore who gives a little insight into the characters and plot devices used in the Modesty Blaise canon. All in all, this is an excellent read and if you love collecting graphic novels then you’ll want to start picking up some Modesty Blaise.
You can get a copy at any bookstore that carries it or at the Titan Books online store. Now, I’m off to go find a modelesque – denim short wearing- beauty with an English accent and jet set across the world fighting crime… It could happen.
Check out a few small samples from the graphic novel below!