Saturday 2 March 2013

Trying My Hand At Vintage 1st Edition Bond Book Cover Art...With Mixed Results.

 EDIT: My apologies, folks. This is a post from a couple of months ago. I made a slight correction to some spelling and hit the 'update' button instead of 'close', so it's basically been accidentally re-posted. Ah, well...

EDIT- I mentioned above that these were watercolours. Further research tells me that Richard Chopping painted more in the trompe-loeil style, which gave his illustrations an almost 3 dimensional quality.

While the first four Ian Fleming novels ("Casino Royale", "Live And Let Die", "Moonraker" and "Diamonds Are Forever") were released with nice cover designs, it wasn't until 1957's first printing of "From Russia, With Love" that Richard Chopping's artwork was first used. If I ever see one of these in good condition and I have the bucks (unlikely), I will swoop on it.


The copy of "Octopussy & The Living Daylights" is a 1966 First Edition.

Whereas this copy of "Goldfinger" is a 1974 reprint, but the artwork is a reproduction of the original from 1959.

Richard Chopping was commissioned to do the covers for most of the Bond novels.

In the late 1970s, Glidrose Publications (I've also seen it spelled 'Gildrose', and these days, I don't know what the correct spelling is) decide to commission a new series of James Bond adventures and they approached John Gardner, a British thriller writer who was probably best known for his 'Liquidator' series of spy novels from the Sixties. These books were considered the opposite of James Bond's adventures. Delivered in a blackly comic tone, these books featured an inept secret agent named 'Boysie' Oakes who had a fear of flying and abhorred violence. At the other end of the spectrum was John Le Carre, who had written the gritty, down-beat and realistic spy novel, "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold" in 1963. Gardner later wrote a series of more realistic spy stories featuring a man named Herbie Kruger before writing three novels featuring Sherlock Holmes' arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty.
So anyway, Gardner completed his first James Bond continuation novel in 1981. It was titled "Licence Renewed" and featured an older James Bond, transported to the Eighties, smoking less, driving a SAAB(!), and a little more tolerable of feminism.
Glidrose Publications went the extra mile by getting Richard Chopping to provide the cover artwork for this book. And it was as good as anything he'd done for the Fleming novels.
The (almost a) trademark fly was back in evidence. Similar artwork was used for the next four Bond novels that Gardner wrote, but the work was done by another artist in similar style.

"For Special Services", 1982- jacket painting by Bill Botten

                                                                                 "Icebreaker", 1983- jacket painting by Bill Botten 

"Role Of Honour", 1984- jacket painting by Trevor Scobie


                                       "Nobody Lives Forever", 1986- jacket painting by Trevor Scobie

And then, for Gardner's fifth book, the paintings of this style were ditched in favour of this kind of illustration.

          "No Deals Mr. Bond", 1987- jacket painting by Trevor Scobie

Don't ask me why. I much preferred the atmospheric paintings, although I do recall a lot of spy novels and airport thrillers of the time employing similar kinds of artworks for this kind of book. It was probably a cheaper option, no doubt.
Yeah, I'm cynical.
Out of desperation, I took a photo of the top of the dining table;
And for about 42 seconds, I actually thought I could print this out on a sheet of A4 paper and it might just work. But there was something about it that just didn't seem right.
And so the hunt continued.
Not quite the look that I was going for. And it would smudge to the touch.
This clearly wasn't going to last throughout all of 2013.
After much minor adjustment and lining it up as perfectly as I could, I finally pressed down on the adhesive plastic. And here was the final result.
I wanted to put more on the cover besides just the year and the fact that this was a diary. And so, I printed out the only thing I could think of. And it also gave the whole thing that Robert Ludlumesque touch, which was why I called this blog what I did.
And I took my time with this part of it because I wanted to ensure that the title lined up along the spine properly. It could have been a little higher along the spine, but otherwise, it came up alright.
Now, the real test will be to see if I can actually write important appointments, To Do Lists, phone numbers, and other useful stuff in this thing next year. This diary uses 65% recycled paper, which means that it won't be too fountain pen-friendly, but I should be okay if I use a medium nibbed pen as well as a Fisher ballpoint...and maybe some pencils here and there.
Although, I think for 2014's diary, I may have a shot at printing out that photo of the dining table top. What have I got to lose?
And that's my Bond Hardcovers blog post taken care of. When I get my Bond paperbacks out of storage, I think I'll do a write-up on those. And I should do one on my Ludlum thrillers that were printed in the Eighties. Very bold cover art on them.
Thanks for reading!


  1. Thanks for the interesting overview of 007 novel covers - and that diary looks great!

  2. Those are some very nice 007 covers. This is the first time I have seen some of them.

    The diary turned out great.

  3. That's pretty neat, and yours turned out well. Have you seen my 2010 novel cover? There should still be a link on my blog. Not at all the same style though.

  4. Marvelous stuff.

    You might enjoy this:

  5. Hey,

    Would you like to try your skills at turning these into a Chopping cover?

    My idea was for Casino Royal:

    1. You're too kind. Unfortunately, I lack the skills and the time to do it justice. Although, it is a nice arrangement, with the orchid on the map.

  6. Yes, I know a typo :)