To coincide with the latest Bond movie release, Spectre (2015), The Illustration Cupboard is hosting a James Bond Exhibition featuring the artwork of John McLusky.
In 1958 London paper, The Daily Express, approached Ian Fleming to publish a serial strip adaptation based on his popular James Bond books. Fleming was initially reluctant, worrying that it may devalue his creation. The then editor of the Express, Edward Pickering, persuaded Fleming that the comic strips would be a “Rolls Royce” of a series.
Anthony Hearne, staff writer for the Express, was brought onboard to adapted the novels and John McLusky was asked to supply a sample strip. McLusky chose to illustrate a scene from “From Russia With Love” and earned Fleming’s approval. Consequently McLusky had the enduring honour of giving people the first visual portrayal of James Bond. After just a few stories, Fleming agreed that the fast-paced style of the daily strip suited Bond’s adventures perfectly. The three cells strips were an instant success and boosted sales of The Daily Express.
Hearne and McLusky adapted eighteen James Bond novels and short stories, a total of 2,250 comic strips. McLusky ended his run in 1966, passing on the duties were to Henry Gammidge and later, Yaroslav Horak. McLusky moved on to other properties, notably comic strip adaptations of Laurel & Hardy, and the Pink Panther. He also drew a Johnny Nero adventure for No. 13 issue of Fleetway’s Secret Agent Series. McLusky returned to the Bond franchise in 1982. He collaborated with writer Jim Lawrence to illustrate four original James Bond stories. He continued to work, illustrating, teaching and even puppeteering.
The Original James Bond – John McLusky’s art from the ’50s & 60s will be starting tomorrow, 28 October 2015, until the 14 November 2015. You can find all the details on the Illustration Cupboard website.