Saturday, October 29, 2011

The IAN FLEMING "still life" series

Over the past few weeks I've been taking a look back at the various paperback editions of the original Ian Fleming James Bond novels. Of course, the series that many Bond fans covet is the "still life" series from Pan Books, first released in the UK around 1972.

Certainly these are the most ambitious covers from an art director's perspective, assembling meaningful items from the pages of the books (not movies) in a wonderful montage. The artwork actually wraps around to the back of the books. A bonus is that this set includes the first paperback edition of James Bond The Authorized Biography of 007 by John Pearson. Because Pan published a movie tie-in edition of Live and Let Die in 1973, that title did not receive the "still life" treatment.

Thanks to Brian A. Dixon at the CBn Forums for help pinpointing the release date of this series.


  1. Really? These are the most coveted? That really surprises me! They and that earlier batch of simple (non-painted) Pan covers (the uniform run from the Sixties) are the only sets of vintage Bond paperbacks I've never had the inclination to collect. (I mean, I've got a handful acquired at used bookstores over the years, but never actively sought them out.)

    But you're changing my mind by posting them all together. I've never looked at them like that (or really given them more than a glance, for that matter) and really appreciated what they were. Because they're awfully ugly... but it's neat that they do include such a well thought-out assortment of items. I'm still not a big fan, but maybe I'll try to track down the rest now.

    One of the ones in this batch that I do have is the Pearson book, but you know what's funny? I never connected it to the rest of this still life series! I guess just because it's shot from a different angle from the others, and uses a different title treatment. Still, I can't believe I never made that connection! So thanks for spelling it out for me.

  2. I changed the word from "most" to "many" Bond fans covet. Probably the word should be "some", but that doesn't sound as good. ;)

  3. Yep, the art on Authorized Bio even wraps around like the others.

  4. I'm not really into these myself (I think the idea is better than the execution), but I've always had the impression that they're pretty popular.

    I prefer the earlier Pans (the ones where LALD has a skeleton hand in the sand), but I always like seeing a set where COLONEL SUN or THE AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY are included. Enjoying these posts. :)

  5. Isn't it funny how different ones taste is. I am a Graphic Designer by trade and I have always thought they were wonderful. Ugly? don't see it
    some how.

  6. This kind narrowed focus and this kind of spirited commentary is what makes me really love The Book Bond. Thanks for all you, Mr. Cox!

  7. The James Bond Biography cover is a montage of the other covers, Glass from Goldfinger, Picture of girl from Dr No etc etc

  8. Although I've got a few of these in my collection, they are far from my favourite.

    Like Tanner, I've never seen them all together and they are interesting to see like that. However, they're far too busy to be really attractive as covers.

    And what's with the Turkish delight spearing the girl's photo on FRWL???

  9. Best paperback covers of the lot, IMO. Second only to the original Cape hardback dust covers overall.

  10. PAN also issued 4 of these as a boxed set (Dr No, Goldfinger, Casino Royale, From Russia With Love) again with a wrap around but using elements from all 4 covers.

  11. Oh, wow, I don't think I knew that. Thanks, TiKiT.

  12. I think your original assessment, "most" is true. These required a great deal of thought - not just "photograph a girl on a gun" or "make an abstract background and slap a 007 logo on it."

    Everyone I know in the Bond collector community loves these.

    Artistic. Elegant. Classic.

  13. These are excellent covers. They are somewhat scarce on the second hand front, although I have acquired 11 of them. Interesting (and disappointing) about Live and Let Die not being afforded a publication (even in hindesight) as these titles were still in circulation in the mid '70s. Does that mean you could only buy the movie tie in?

    1. Yes, but the movie tie-in was the Fleming book, not a novelization, so...

  14. These were the covers I prized and loved. When they changed to women draiped over guns I stopped buying Bond books. I love objects.



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