Thursday, January 12, 2012

EXCLUSIVE: The inside story of the two DR. NO covers

Recently I was thrilled to get an email from Stewart Larking, the man who designed the UK cover art for the Ian Fleming reprints and John Gardner titles in the 1990s. Larking took over the Bond series from Art Director Ian Hughes after his idea of using the hardcover artwork on the Never Send Flowers paperback was rejected. Stewart was then asked to revamp the entire backlist, so he bought in artists David Scutt and Larry Rostant to work on the new cover designs. I covered the spectacular results of their work HERE -- which is how Stewart discovered this blog.

In our correspondence, Stewart was able to clear up one of the great mysteries of this series; why there are two covers for Ian Fleming's Dr. No. Stewart explains:

"As for the the Dr No cover, this was originally the spider artwork. The idea and the rough had been approved at the cover meeting. The final artwork was supplied by David, and we proofed up the cover. Then the sales director (Amanda, later to be MD of Headline) decided she did not like the spider. This was a last minute thing, and we then had to get another artist to produce the knife illustration as David was busy working on other illustrations. The knife artwork came in and we again proofed up a cover. But! The James bond trust and a few of the sales reps took against it and we then put the spider back on the book. I must admit I prefer the spider myself."

As to the knife art mysteriously appearing on the 9th edition of Dr. No:

"I think that could of been a reprint muck up. The files were proofed and approved, both covers. It was only a last minute save for the spider art after Amanda going 'Yuck! I hate spiders!' The cover film (yes it was back in the good old days) would of been held at a printer. When a reprint was put out to that printer they must of used the wrong film. So really a clerical error caused the one off."

Thank you Stewart Larking for getting in touch and for sharing with us the inside story of the dueling Doctors!


  1. Putting a spider on the cover of anything as the main image of something you're trying to sell to the public is never a good idea - a lot of people think twice before picking it up if they pick it up at all! Naked blondes work best every time, and in the 21st Century for both sexes too!

  2. It's been years since I've read Dr. No but I don't remember a spider being in the book. I thought it was a poisonous centipede they put in Bond's bed.

    1. Yep, it was a centipede. Spider was in the movie.

      At first I wondered if that was the reason for the change.

  3. There are spiders, too, though... in Dr. No's obstacle course.

  4. There have been a lot of good covers on Dr No over the years. These are not two of them.

  5. I like this series of books but wonder whether the Dr NO knife artwork was rejected as too close to the artwork used on the 'Colonel Sun' in the same series

  6. I have typed this twice so apologies if multiple versions turn up!

    I like the dynamic artwork of this series. I do wonder if the alternate Dr NO knife artwork was rejected as it is very similar to the cover of 'Colonel Sun' in the same series.


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