Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bantam's BOND

Well, the last series I featured here, the Jove paperbacks, received a drubbing in the comments, with several of my UK friends complaining (justifiably) that they were far too "American" in their look and design. So to redeem the USA, here is another U.S. series -- which I'd say is just as "American" in look and vibe -- but one that I find pretty darn terrific! In fact, as far as cover paintings go, this might actually be one of the very best paperback series of them all, and it's a shame Bantam only did a handful of the books in this style.

Bantam first entered the Bond game in May 1969 when it published the paperback edition of Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis. The book featured original cover art by the great Frank C. McCarthy, who in conjunction with Robert McGinnis painted the classic Bond movie posters for Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, and On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Then, starting in May 1971, Bantam released more Bond titles with McCarthy artwork, including Casino Royale, From Russia With Love, and Doctor No. The new series featured a bold JAMES BOND down the side and a tag-line touting the books a "All-Time" Bestsellers. Bantam would also reissue Colonel Sun with the new series look (this is a rare one), and finished off the year with a tie-in edition of Diamonds are Forever featuring movie poster art.

Bantam came back in June 1972 with a new edition of Goldfinger featuring McCarthy artwork that offered a rare glimpse of nudity. While they kept the "All-Time" tag, they didn't continue the series look, but instead established a new visual link -- first established on their Diamonds Are Forever tie-in -- of featuring the 007 movie logo on the backs of the books. In March 1973 they released Moonraker with the 007 logo backing and the same font as their DAF tie-in, but with very different "mod" cover art by an uncredited artist (which I still love as representative of its time). Perhaps had they continued the series we would have gotten more mod Bond covers like this?

Bantam concluded their run with a Live and Let Die tie-in released in July 1973. Ironically, this one would not feature the 007 movie logo on the back.

Speaking of movie art, elements of McCarthy's Colonel Sun artwork would later find their way onto the Thai poster for Never Say Never Again (1983).

Bantam's two movie tie-in editions.

Bantam U.S. paperback publication order:

Colonel Sun - May 1969
Casino Royale - May 1971
From Russia With Love - May 1971
Doctor No - July 1971
Colonel Sun (series art reissue) - ?
Diamond Are Forever (movie tie-in) - December 1971
Goldfinger - June 1972
Moonraker - March 1973
Live And Let Die (movie tie-in) - July 1973


  1. I agree these are much better than the Jove books. Though as you said still very American, at least the McCarthy ones hit the zeitgeist in a way the Jove books clearly didn't.

  2. I love this series too. Thank you for confirming, John, that these are the only ones! I'd always had a sneaking fear/hope that there were more lurking out there that I'd just never managed to find. Oh well. The ones there are - especially with the "JAMES BOND" up the side - are great. They're my favorite (well, possibly tied with the very early, pulpy Pans) of the paperback lines that attempted to visualize 007 himself. I actually hate the "Clint Eastwood" Bond on that Moonraker, though - though I like the rest of the montage. I believe I've read somewhere (maybe in Alan Porter's James Bond: The Illustrated History of 007?) that that one's also by a Bond movie poster artist - Bob Peak, who did TSWLM. (I could be mistaken there, though.)

  3. "the last series I featured here, the Jove paperbacks, received a drubbing in the comments"

    Richly deserved, I might add. ;)

    But these are nice. Cool, compact, sexy, dangerous little montages, and like Tanner said amoung the better visualisations of Bond himself.

    Like the movie tie-in ones too.

  4. Did you know about the Colonel Sun, Tanner? That was the one that surprised me when I discovered it long after the others. Also, I don't think that Moonraker is by Peak. That thought occurred to me because it's his style, but there is an artist's signature on the cover. I can't make out what it is, but it's not Peak. His signature would be recognizable.

  5. Yes, I've got both versions of Colonel Sun. I didn't know, however, that the Bond-striped version was rarer! Good to know. I don't remember which one I had first, but I remember finding them both when I was in middle school or high school and deciding to pick up the second version simply because it was different. (And I wasn't even the completist then that I am today; I was merely intrigued.) Glad now that I did! Of course these, like the last batch you highlighted, are not here in California with me, so sadly I can't go get them out as these posts of yours always make me want to do.

  6. Oh, and too bad about Peak. I definitely wanted that to be true - just for the poster connection!

  7. Ironically, of the McCarthy Bantams the only one which looks as it was painted to accommodate the huge vertical 'JAMES BOND' is Goldfinger - and then the layout was changed! Big chunks of the painting are obscured on the others, especially Dr No, and Colonel Sun has had to be flipped.

    Shame McCarthy just did these ones, I always wanted there to be more too!

  8. I am curious about MOONRAKER, it may not be credited, but it looks as though there is a signature to the right of the villain -- and down below the female right cheek, beneath the curve of the artwork. Howard Rogers, perhaps?

  9. MOONRAKER was illustrated by Howard Rogers, that's his signature to the right of Dax and below the females butt

  10. The Bantam covers above were actually illustrated by James Bama, who also more famously illustrated Lester Dent's 'Doc Savage' paperback covers. The 1973 Bantam MOONRAKER edition was illustrated by Howard Rogers.

    Graham Rye
    Art Director/Editor/Publisher
    007 MAGAZINE
    007 MAGAZINE & ARCHIVE Limited


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