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Modesty Blaise

Modesty Blaise is a character in a comic strip of the same name created by Peter O'Donnell (writer) and Jim Holdaway[?] (art) in 1962. The strip follows the adventures of Modesty Blaise, an exceptional young woman with many talents and a criminal past, and her trusty sidekick Willie Garvin. It was adapted into a movie in 1966 and a series of novels and short stories beginning also in 1966.

Many critics see the early years of the strip as a classic of adventure comic strips. The novels are regarded by some as being among the classics of adventure fiction.

Table of contents

Past of Modesty Blaise

In 1945 a nameless girl escaped from a prison camp in Karylos[?], Greece. She did not remember anything from her short past. She wandered through post-WW2 Mediterranean and Arabia. During these years she learned to survive the hard way. She befriended another wandering refugee, a Hungarian scholar who gave her an education and a name: Modesty Blaise. Eventually she took control of a criminal gang in Tangier[?] and expanded it to international status as The Network.

During these years she met Willie Garvin. Despite the desperate life he was living, she saw his potential and offered him a job. Inspired by her belief in him, he pulled through and was soon a vital member of The Network and Modesty Blaise's most trusted friend. Their relationship is based on mutual respect with no sexual intentions. He has always called her "the Princess", a form of address that only he is allowed to use.

When she felt she'd made enough money, she retired and moved to England; Willie Garvin followed suit. Bored by their new lives among the idle rich, they accepted a request for assistance from Sir Gerald Tarrant, a high-ranking official of the British secret service - and this is where the story really begins.

Many of her adventures are based on "capers" she and Willie Garvin have done for Tarrant. However, they may also help perfect strangers in their own volition or fight various eccentric villains in exotic locations.

The comic strip

Modesty Blaise debuted in the London Evening Standard on May 13, 1963. The strip was syndicated among a large number of newspapers ranging from the Johannesburg Star[?] to the The Detroit Free Press[?], The Bombay Samachar[?], The Telegraph[?], (Calcutta, India), The West Australian[?] (Perth, Australia) and The Glasgow Evening Citizen[?].

After Jim Holdaway's death in 1970, the art of the strip was provided by the Spanish artist Romero. Eight years later, Romero quit to make time for his own comics projects, and after short attempts by John Burns and Patrick Wright, Neville Colvin drew the strip until 1982. Then Romero returned to the job and continued until the end of the strip.

The final Modesty Blaise strip ran in the Evening Standard on November 11, 2000. Some of the newspapers that carried the series, feeling that it had become a tradition for their readers, began running it again from the beginning.

The movie

After initial popularity, the story was filmed in 1966 as a comedy thriller, directed by Joseph Losey and starring Monica Vitti[?] as Modesty, Terence Stamp as Willie Garvin, and Dirk Bogarde as Gabriel; the movie was not very successful. Peter O'Donnell's screenplay for the movie went through a large number of rewrites by other people, and he later commented that the finished movie contained only one line of what he wrote.

The books

Peter O'Donnell was invited to write a novel to tie in with the film. The novel, called simply Modesty Blaise and based on his original screenplay for the movie, fared considerably better than the movie itself did. During the following decades, he would write a total of eleven Modesty Blaise novels and two collections of short stories.

  • Modesty Blaise (1965)
  • Sabre-Tooth (1966)
  • I, Lucifer (1967)
  • A Taste for Death (1969) (not to be confused with the novel of the same name by P. D. James[?])
  • The Impossible Virgin (1971)
  • Pieces of Modesty (1972) (short stories)
  • The Silver Mistress (1973)
  • Last Days in Limbo (1976)
  • Dragon's Claw (1978)
  • The Xanadu Talisman (1981)
  • The Night of Morningstar (1982)
  • Dead Man's Handle (1985)
  • Cobra Trap (1996) (short stories)

Other adaptations

In 1982, a pilot was made for a proposed Modesty Blaise television series, starring Ann Turkel[?] as Modesty Blaise and Lewis Van Bergen[?] as Willie Garvin. No series eventuated.

In 1994, DC Comics released a graphic novel adaptation of Modesty Blaise (the novel), with art by Dick Giordano[?].

In 2002, the then holders of the Modesty Blaise film rights made a film called My Name is Modesty, with Alexandra Staden[?] as Modesty Blaise, based on the story of Modesty Blaise's life before the beginning of the comic strip. The film, made primarily to retain the film rights, has not achieved theatrical release.

External links


Modesty Blaise is also the name of a 1994 British band: See [1] (http://www.apricot-records.de/modesty/Welcome)



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