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

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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

in­sipid colours.

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.

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