A view to a thrill
Artist Jason Masters reveals the challenges of reinventing Ian Fleming’s James Bond for a comic book audience in the modern age
Dynamite comics’ James Bond 007: VARGR marks the first Bond comic series to be released in over two decades. Penning the series is writer Warren Ellis, who hand-picked artist Jason Masters to bring the quintessentially English secret agent to life for the modern age.
“The initial joy was quickly followed by the terror of knowing the in-built audience will have a huge set of expectations,” says Jason, “especially those inherited from the movie franchise. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I’d want to read if I were going to buy a Bond comic. I wanted to make a comic that has an old-school feel about it, but with some more modern storytelling sensibilities.”
Warren and Jason have injected new life into the franchise, with a Bond whose vibe isn’t far from Daniel Craig’s interpretation. Yet he harkens back to retro noir styles, with the operative oozing the hard-boiled edginess of Humphrey Bogart and a limited palette heavy on shadows. It’s created entirely digitally: this is no chauvinistic cheesecake work composed of insipid colours and smarmy remarks. Jason looked at elusive, older Bond strips. “I really wanted him to look like his own character. This is the first time the Bond from the original books is appearing in a comic.”
There were strict guidelines from the Ian Fleming Estate, but once he got the Bond look right, he was trusted to draw more (with regular checks from the estate).
Warren wrote very detailed scripts. “It’s fun bringing that sort of nuance to the page,” says Jason. “Making sure he smokes the correct cigarettes, wears the right shoes, has only the top button of his suit done. It’s world building and it hopefully makes the reading experience more immersive.”
Find out more about VARGR by visiting Dynamite Comics at www.dynamite.com.
Gone are Bond’s chauvinistic cheesecake days and
Illustrator Jason Masters searched long and hard for old Bond comics, to inform his work.
The new Bond strips have clear noir sensibilities.
The new Bond has elements of Humphrey Bogart about him.