Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Modesty Blaise - Good News, Terrible News

I hate having to break this news now, of all times, but the 17th volume of Modesty Blaise reprints - Death in Slow Motion - is now out from Titan Books and I'm thrilled to say I contributed an article and some artwork. The book features three complete stories: The Balloonatic, The Alternative Man, and Death in Slow Motion, which was the first Modesty Blaise story I ever read. For this volume I wrote an article about Modesty Blaise artist Neville Colvin and contributed an inked drawing of Modesty and Willie Garvin. This is a thrill for me because I've been a huge fan of the strip ever since I first read that story over 25 years ago, and in the time since I've managed to read every strip and every novel - all of which were written by the great Peter O'Donnell.

Which brings me to the terrible news - Peter passed away over the weekend at the age of 90. Ellie Graham at Titan Books broke the news today:

Titan Books is hugely saddened to report the passing of writer Peter O’Donnell, who died over the Bank Holiday weekend at the age of 90. “Peter O’Donnell was respected as one of the greatest writers in the comics medium today and had a devout following amongst comics professionals and fans alike”, says Titan’s Managing Director, Nick Landau. “I am honoured to have known him – and published his greatest creations, Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin – for almost 40 years.” Born in South London in 1920, O’Donnell had a long and illustrious career, the highlight of which was his creation of classic crime character ‘Modesty Blaise’. The smart and sassy comic strip ran daily in the Evening Standard newspaper during the 1960s. O’Donnell retired from writing in 2001, but had continued to oversee Titan’s release of more than a dozen Modesty Blaise collections, contributing introductions and commentaries to his classic stories.

O'Donnell wrote Modesty's daily strip adventures from 1963 to 2001, and also penned a series of 13 novels and short story collections beginning in 1965. If you've never read Modesty Blaise, I highly recommend it, particularly the first 7 years or so of the strip which were drawn by the incomparable Jim Holdaway. I place these as my all time favorite adventure strip, even edging out Prince Valiant and Terry and the Pirates. In the words of Chuck Dixon - "O'Donnell is in a very, very small club of writers who were masters of writing clear, concise, compelling action." I believe Titan has 4 volumes scheduled to come out this year (in addition to the 16 already published), and for my money you can't go wrong with any of them.


Dylan said...

I'll look out for that one, looking forward to see your illo.
Got a few of the books I love Holdaway, a friend of mine has a few originals they are stunning. The ones not featuring Modesty aren't too expensive either.
I'm also a big fan of John M Burns and really enjoyed his run on it too. I got a sketch of Modesty by him at a UK con last year.

Steve Epting said...

Holdaway was phenomenal. I've got 2 of his originals as well (neither of which is the one I posted here). I'm also a fan of John Burns. I wish he'd had a longer run on the strip.

Guglie said...

Happy to hear you like the MB strips because I love them too! I still use the Agent Corrigan (Al Williamson) strips as reference for my work (and my joy)and I use Alex Raymond Rip Kirby as bible :-)

Steve Epting said...

I"m a HUGE Al Williamson fan too Guglie. I don't know if you're aware, but IDW is going to be reprinting all of the Corrigan strips starting in July -

Roberto Zaghi said...

Awful news indeed, RIP Peter O'Donnell...

REAU said...

Thats really sad. I actually had a couple volumes of Modesty Blaise open on my desktop while I was reading this post. I had no idea Peter O'Donnell died.

S.H.I.E.L.D boy said...

I have a Modesty Blaze album. Amazing stuff.

Mr. Epting, I am going to order the INVADERS: THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION TPB.
If I am not mistaken, Roger Stern said your pencil artwork was inked by Al Williamson.
Cannot wait!