June 30, 2012


For Your Shelf Only continues! Spy Vibe recently talked with Jon Gilbert, rare book dealer and author of Ian Fleming: The Bibliography. Our chat began a new series on Spy Vibe, offering fellow collectors and fans of spy novels a chance to share their experiences and some of their prized books. 

Our next guest is fellow C.O.B.R.A.S. agent, Peter Lorenz. Peter is a long time Bond collector specializing in James Bond artwork and books. He works as a Creative Director for a games company and lives in Cambridge, UK with his wife. In his spare time he spends "way too much time and money" on his 007 collection, on painting reproductions of McGinnis and McCarthy artwork, and on his blog Illustrated 007.

Many of us grew up reading and collecting spy fiction. At what age did you start to collect 007?

I started when I was 10 years old. I had just seen The Spy Who Loved Me in the cinema and became fascinated with Bond. I was living in Germany at the time and looked for the original books, which were published by Scherz Publishers in the German language. The books featured mainly photo covers that were not related to the movies, but I still chased after them at flea markets and second hand bookshops. The budget of a 10-year old did not allow me to buy new ones.

What books did you seek out and what was it about them that captivated you?

I've looked for all the Bond books I could get my hands on. The German ones were OK, but I envied the covers of the British paperbacks, especially the painted ones. Back then there was no Internet or eBay, so I saved my money and flew over to London. The second hand bookshops in Charing Cross Road were a great source for used books, and so were the Oxfam Charity shops. I spent days going from one shop to another -all over London- and browsed through the shelves. Slowly my collection grew. The Raymond Hawkey Pan covers were the most common. But sometimes I was lucky and got hold of earlier versions with covers by Sam Peffer or Rex Archer.

Have you travelled to other countries besides England and Germany to find Bond material?

My search for Bond memorabilia and artwork has taken me all over Europe and the US. Before the internet and eBay, the best chance of finding material was through other fans and traveling. I started with the UK, which had a much richer book and movie shop culture back then. Italy was next. The Bond movies were shown consistently in Italy and the posters, especially the insert-style locandia posters, were simply glued to external walls on buildings. I actually spent a whole evening with a spray bottle of water "removing" a reissued Goldfinger poster from a wall in Siena - hiding every time a car came around the corner. Paris was a good source for material as well. I have fond memories of a small movie shop near the Place de la Concorde that sold French and Belgian posters. I only wish that I'd had more money then. Spain, Belgium, Denmark and the US followed, and I always returned with one or more pieces for my collection.

Do you have favorite 007 cover designs?

The early Pan paperback covers are my favourite, as they show interpretations of the Bond characters from different angles. The first edition of Casino Royale shows a blond bond; Live and Let Die is more truthful to the character in the books.

Do you have a book or two in your collection that you prize above all others?

There are two books that I cherish: How 007 Got His Name  -I found this in a small second-hand bookshop in Blackheath, London in 1992. I was so thrilled finding it because I've never seen it before and it was only 12 GBP then.

The other one was a first edition, second impression of Casino Royale by Jonathan Cape. It came up in an auction at Bonham's. My wife and I went to the auction at Bonham's off Regent street in London around 2005. The book was estimated to fetch 250 GBP and I was getting quite nervous when the bidding reached GBP 280 -and still I went up with bidders in the room and on the phone. Luckily, I made it for GBP 300. This purchase also completed my (almost) first edition set on Ian Fleming Bond books.

What are you collecting now? What are the holy grails you still search for?

Fortunately or unfortunately, I've collected most of the published Bond books that I'm aware of - and that I like- so I’m now focusing on James Bond artwork, mostly reproductions. My blog, Illustrated 007, tells the rest. Here are some of my Bond books.

You have been painting some beautiful reproductions of many famous Bond illustrations. When did you get interested in studying Bond artwork so directly through painting?

Thank you for the compliment! I guess there is a point in a collector’s life when one has all the posters one wants and begins looking for more. I have always admired the artwork of the early Bond posters and wanted to study the originals. This was also inspired by my long-time collector friend, Thomas Nixdorf, who has an amazing collection of originals. I realized quickly that most originals were out of my financial league, so I decided to paint copies for myself. Initially I thought this wouldn't be too hard for me as a trained designer who studied art - I just had to copy what was there. I was very wrong. My first piece was the standing Connery from Thunderball and it looked plain awful - but I didn't give up. I must have painted the same piece about 20 times before I got it right(ish). The whole process taught me a lot about how the likes of McGinnis and McCarthy worked: The use of the brush, layering, colour combinations, etc. It's fascinating to study details of an original that are lost in the reproduction.

Have you been able to correspond with any of the Bond illustrators to learn about their approach and career history?

I've had the pleasure of corresponding with several Bond artists such as McGinnis, Obrero and Jung. They are all very friendly and helpful. An especially nice encounter was with Brian Sanders who painted the artwork below. I found an illustration of his in the blog, todaysinspiration.blogspot.co.uk, and contacted Brian. Turned out that he lives 10 miles from me, and we now meet regularly for dinner. It is fascinating to learn from him how the world of illustration worked in the 60's and how it has changed since then.

Tell us more about the art that attracts you. Do you look for specifics re: artist, medium, story, publication, era, or just any production art in general?

I've always been keen on pulp-style art - men with guns, action, beautiful women and exotic locations all rolled into one piece of art. Consequently I focus on illustrated and painted artwork mainly from the 50' and 60'. I simply love the variety of art created for one movie depending on country and artist. I'm also very fond of early newspaper comic strip illustrations, such as the work of John McLusky.  He translated the written Bond into a clean and elegant style that is very much Bond for me.

Do you display the art in your lair?

Some of it. English houses tend to be modest in size so I can't display as much as I like. For my work area I decided to focus on the Thunderball campaign. The paintings in the window [below] are usually in a display folder. 

I think we all picture Bond in our heads when we read Ian Fleming. Have you ever painted your own version of how Bond looks to you? 

Not yet, but it's in the pipeline. I intend to base it on Charles Dance, who portrayed Ian Fleming in the TV biopic Goldeneye. However I'm working on a painted version of Craig for Skyfall right now. Photographic posters are fine but I dearly miss the painted style of the old films. Let's see how this one turns out. It's still a work in progress.

Thanks again to Peter for joining us and sharing his love of collecting and reproducing James Bond art. Scroll down for past editions of our series, For Your Shelf Only, where guests share stories about collecting and show us some of their treasures. Series links: Jon Gilbert, Raymond BensonJeremy Duns, Peter LorenzDavid FosterRob MallowsRoger Langley, Craig Arthur, Fleming Short, Matt Sherman. You can find cold war design books and other spy treasures in Spy Vibe's secure Amazon Store

Stay tuned for another edition of For Your Shelf Only. Check out Spy Vibe's classic 2009 article, Set For Adventure, where we joined forces with Lee Pfeiffer, Jeremy Duns, Stephen Bissette, and others to look at the best set designs from spy entertainment. More about Spy Vibe creator Agent J at Jason Whiton

June 29, 2012


In celebration of the release of his new book, Bond On Bond, Sir Roger Moore (The Saint, The Persuaders, James Bond) will be chatting with Gareth Owen at a number of October dates in England. Don't miss this chance to see one of the greatest Spy Vibe icons in person. Signed copies of Bond On Bond are available for reservation at Bond Stars.

From the official event website: "Sir Roger Moore, the legendary film star who played the iconic role of James Bond, is to play a series of exclusive dates at theatres around the UK, opening at the Malvern Theatre on Sunday 7 October.

On the release of his new book Bond On Bond, Roger will be discussing his astonishing life and career, with inside stories and unheard anecdotes ranging from his internationally-renowned TV series The Saint and The Persuaders, through to Hollywood blockbusters and, of course, the 007 films, in which he starred as James Bond between 1973 and 1985.

Gareth Owen will interview Roger. Gareth is an author of nine books and has worked with Roger Moore on his autobiography My Word Is My Bond and his new book Bond On Bond. Gareth has interviewed Roger previously at the BFI Southbank, the Barbican Centre and at various UNICEF fundraisers throughout Europe. An Evening with Sir Roger Moore will be followed by an audience Q&A."


We have been talking with Spy Vibers about their experiences growing up reading and collecting spy thrillers and other memorabilia. Most of us started in the old days before the Internet, trolling used book shops and flea markets. But where to find the treasures these days? You might not know that the premiere James Bond publication, 007 Magazine, also has an on-line shop with a lot of rare and autographed items. You can find everything from First Edition Bond novels to signatures by the likes of Desmond "Q" Llewelyn and Dame Diana Rigg. They also offer posters of rare movie stills and portraits. Check out the Sales Area on the 007 Magazine website for details. While you are visiting their lair, check out the amazing back issues for sale and on-line subscriptions. They even have an issue that spotlights designer Raymond Hawkey, who has been coming up often in our For Your Shelf Only series.

Spy Vibers with deep pockets will also want to check out the current entertainment auction at Bonhams. A quick search for "James Bond" yielded movie props, posters, and this lovely Golden Gun replica signed by Roger Moore. Auction ends July 3rd.

Scroll down for new editions of our series, For Your Shelf Only, where guests share stories about collecting and show us some of their treasures. More about Spy Vibe creator Agent J at Jason Whiton.

June 28, 2012


The LA Times is running a series of Bond at 50 articles that are worth checking out. While the detailed movie summaries will be familiar to most, they also include excerpts from the original Fleming stories as well as excepts from interviews with 007 actors found in the new James Bond Unmasked book. Here is the Part One introduction and today's post entitled The Sadist Who Loved Me.

Scroll down for new editions of our series, For Your Shelf Only, where guests share stories about collecting and show us some of their treasures. More about Spy Vibe creator Agent J at Jason Whiton.


Agent Kimberly Lindbergs (Cinebeats, Movie Morlocks) has created a series called SPY GAMES, where she is spotlighting various espionage movies. You'll see a review of Matchless, a Eurospy film I recently caught on Netflix and really enjoyed. Anything that involves an invisible secret agent- and an eccentric villain who is waited on by robot servants- has to be good! Today she added a digest of some of the cool events and products rolling out for the 50th anniversary of the James Bond movies. Sneak on over and take a look!

Scroll down for new editions of our series, For Your Shelf Only, where guests share stories about collecting and show us some of their treasures. More about Spy Vibe creator Agent J at Jason Whiton.

June 27, 2012


Your summer fling continues with the lovely Barbarella on the big screen! The Castro Theater will project Vadim's classic tomorrow at 3:05 and 7:00 (double feature with Cherry 2000) in glorious 35mm. Although the film suffers from stagey direction and static pacing, the Paco Rabbane influenced costumes (and Fonda's title sequence) are worth the price of admission. I suggest that Spy Vibers make their own triple feature with Roman Coppola's CQ and the remastered David Holzman's Diary. You'll see the connections. 1968 was also the year of Danger Diabolik, Yellow Submarine, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Bullitt, Planet of the Apes, Night of the Living Dead, The Green Berets, Petulia, Candy, and The Thomas Crown Affair. Think there was something in the water? See Spy Vibe's review of the 1968 Exhibit at the Oakland Museum here. 

From the Castro: "Director Roger Vadim and star Jane Fonda bring the popular French comic strip character to the big screen in this delightfully colorful sci-fi camp classic. The voluptuous 41st-century outer space agent travels to another galaxy in search of a missing inventor named Durand Durand. Moving from one exotic locale to the next, outfitted in an array of stunning outfits, she embarks on a series of interstellar sexcapades. John Phillip Law, Anita Pallenberg, David Hemmings, Ugo Tognazzi and Milo O'Shea co-star. (1968, 98 min, 35mm 'Scope)."

Scroll down for new editions of our series, For Your Shelf Only, where guests share stories about collecting and show us some of their treasures. More about Spy Vibe creator Agent J at Jason Whiton.

June 26, 2012


Looking for a good summer fling? Boy, it's time to re-visit Elio Petri's fantastic The 10th Victim (1965) with Ursula Andress and Marcello Mastroianni. Spy Vibe made the posters/stills gallery feature on the new Blu-ray edition from Blue Underground- now only $17.49 at Amazon (and in our secure Amazon Store). Yes, the ending falls into the common mid-60s trap of madcap farce, but everything before that is pure Pop Art heaven. Where else can you see space-age fashion ala Courreges, assassins, gadgets, futuristic Mod architecture and set design, and Op Art? Just imagine a Steranko cover set to groovy Italian soundtrack music. The image below is from a scene that really benefits from the hi-def treatment- Enjoy!

Scroll down for new editions of our series, For Your Shelf Only, where guests share stories about collecting and show us some of their treasures. More about Spy Vibe creator Agent J at Jason Whiton.


For Your Shelf Only continues! Spy Vibe recently talked with Jon Gilbert, rare book dealer and author of Ian Fleming: The Bibliography. Our chat began a new series on Spy Vibe, offering fellow collectors and fans of spy novels a chance to share their experiences and some of their prized books. 

Our next guest is Jeremy Duns, author of the successful Paul Dark trilogy of spy thrillers. He has also contributed as a journalist to The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, The Guardian,The Independent, Time Out, Mojo and other major publications. Jeremy represents a different kind of collector in this series. Although many of us write fiction and non-fiction inspired by Ian Fleming and other heroes, Jeremy's boyhood love of reading is at the heart of what he seeks as an adult. His passion as a journalist and researcher has sent him on rather collector-like adventures to hunt down rare information and materials. Obscure articles and journalism by Ian Fleming- not first edition books- are his holy grails.

Many of us grew up on spy thrillers by Ian Fleming and other writers. At what age did you start reading spy stories? What books did you seek out and what was it about them that captivated you?

It’s nice of you to ask me questions about this, Jason, because although I have a very large collection of thrillers I’ve never been a book collector in the traditional sense, looking for first editions or that sort of thing. I am fascinated by book design and love a lot of jacket artwork from the Sixties in particular. I like scrolling through collector Nick Jones’ Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s gallery, for example, but most of the thrillers I own are primarily for reading purposes, and are usually just dusty paperbacks I’ve found going cheap trawling second-hand bookshops.

I was a fan of the Bond films as a kid, like most English boys perhaps, and I think I was 14 when I received a copy of a John Gardner Bond novel for my birthday. I came to Ian Fleming’s writing a lot later, having initially bought into all that claptrap about Bond being a psychopathic imperialist misogynist, but several years ago I read the whole series and realized I’d gone into the few I’d read previously with entirely the wrong frame of mind. Fleming’s novels are largely meant to be fun adventure stories, and if you approach them from that angle rather than comparing him to John le CarrĂ© or other writers he has little in common with, they are much more rewarding. That said, I think some of his work does have a different complexion. The Living Daylights is a rather bleak pre-Berlin Wall story, for example. 

I think there’s a lot of snobbery about Fleming, especially in Britain, and it stems largely from the fact that the films have been so successful for so long – nothing that popular, some people think, can be any good. It’s such a prevalent view that it’s easy to get sucked into it. I often find the people who are most vocal about Fleming’s weaknesses have read very little of his work. What captivated me about the books was Fleming’s prose style, which is extremely vivid and often packed with fascinating information. I think the Bond books have also been much more influential than generally considered. They’ve certainly been a major inspiration for my own spy novels. It’s often been commented on that Frederick Forsyth writes thrillers as though they are journalistic investigations, but if you read, for example, the account of S.P.E.C.T.R.E.’s meeting in Thunderball, you’ll see very much the same tone as Forsyth used in The Day of The Jackal, and which has been used in hundreds of thrillers since Fleming.

Do you have favorite 007 cover designs?

Richard Chopping and Raymond Hawkey’s are great, but I also love those ones done for Bantam in the US in the late Sixties and early Seventies. Bond looks very cruel in those, even more than he is in the books, but that set is just stunning. Peter Lorenz’s excellent site Illustrated 007 tells me that Frank McCarthy was the artist. I think the Bond covers have also been extraordinarily influential on the genre, incidentally – I’ve got lots of thrillers that follow the Chopping still-life model, for example, and they immediately signal danger and excitement.

Do you have a book or two in your collection that you prize above all others? 

I don’t think I have any particularly rare Bond books, but I have a few unusual bits and pieces, from the Sixties in particular. So I have copies of film scripts for The Diamond Smugglers and Casino Royale from then, as well as a few draft pages of the lost Bond novel Per Fine Ounce by Geoffrey Jenkins (the originals of all of these are in museums). I have a book on SMERSH I think Fleming used when researching Casino Royale, copies of some of Kingsley Amis’ papers about Fleming, and several books and magazines that have essays either by Fleming or about him, such as The London Magazine, The Twentieth Century and Encounter, Cyril Connolly's journalism, Seven Deadly Sins, The Kemsley Manual for Journalism - that sort of thing.

I also love Fleming's descriptions and details. Do you detect a similar tone of voice in his journalism?

Yes, there's often that mischievous feel to his journalism, like a wicked uncle telling you a story, especially in the Atticus columns and Thrilling Cities. Fleming had an eye for the telling detail, and his novels are packed with factual information he had discovered for articles or via journalistic contacts. His prose was very varied as a result, I think, because there's material about so many topics from so many sources. In researching the attempts to film The Diamond Smugglers, I was fascinated to read the original manuscript of the book by John Collard, who Fleming transformed into John Blaize when he got his hands on it. I'd previously presumed that Fleming had heightened some of Collard's material to make incidents more exciting, but he didn't, really. A surprising amount of the original manuscript made it into the finished book untouched, but it was nevertheless a judicious editing job, with a few relatively simple changes making an enormous difference to readability. He did the very clever thing of reframing some of the book as himself going out to Tangier to find Collard and interview him. This allowed him to break up a lot of the exposition and made the book into more of a quest, a device John Pearson later used for his fictional biography of Bond. But it was a literary device rather than a journalistic one. Almost everything Collard says in the interview segments with Fleming were in Collard's original manuscript, which Fleming had already read back in his office in London. I've no doubt he met and interviewed Collard, but the way it is presented in the book is not a wholly faithful portrait of their meetings but rather a way to enliven the existing material. I think Fleming had long been a would-be novelist working as a journalist, and when he finally turned to writing fiction he used a lot of the techniques he had learned as a journalist to provide a coating of authenticity and authority. But I feel he was much more naturally suited to fiction than journalism.

Is there a Fleming story that you find yourself reading again and again more than others?

I find Octopussy fascinating, and was interested to read Nicholas Rankin's interpretation of it in his recent book Ian Fleming's Commandos, in which he speculated that the story is in part a self-portrait, with each novel representing a bar of looted gold. This is something I've felt for a while, and I find the story deeply resonant - if you read Andrew Lycett or John Pearson's excellent biographies of Fleming and then read that story, I think it's hard not to be moved by it. I also love The Living Daylights, which I think is a terrific piece of writing that brings the Cold War to life. I don't tend to reread the novels very often, but my copies of Casino Royale, From Russia With Love, and On Her Majesty's Secret Service are probably the most dog-eared in my collection. [Volume below available at James Bond First Editions]

What are you collecting now? What are the holy grails you still search for?

Well, it would be wonderful to find the rest of Per Fine Ounce, of course, but I’m not looking for it. I looked about as extensively as I could, I think. I’m interested in a report that Fleming himself wrote a screenplay of Casino Royale, and in fact there’s a lot of material about Casino Royale that hasn’t really been looked at, so perhaps at some point I’ll do that. I’ve written rather a lot about Ben Hecht’s drafts that I haven’t yet published. Fleming also apparently wrote scripts or treatments for Moonraker and The Diamond Smugglers, which have never come to light, and they would obviously be fascinating to read. I would love to have a complete collection of Fleming’s journalism one day. I subscribe to The Times’ archive, which is superb, but The Sunday Times’ archive is only available to institutions, which I think is a great shame: the Atticus columns alone would, I suspect, offer a lot of insight into Fleming’s work, and could significantly change scholarship about it. Perhaps Jon Gilbert’s book, Ian Fleming: The Bibliography, will illuminate some of these issues. I’d quite like to have that Bulgarian 07 novel by Andrei Gulyashki, but copies of that trend to be very expensive. And perhaps I’ll buy that Bantam set, but other than that, I think I’m pretty satisfied!

Thanks again to Jeremy for joining us and sharing his love of Ian Fleming's work. For more information about Jeremy Duns, please visit his blog website. He has written an extensive series called 007 In-Depth. A fun starting point is Bloods Line, which references the The London Magazine above -and you can search the blog for additional entries. You can find Jeremy's books and other spy treasures in Spy Vibe's secure Amazon Store

Stay tuned for another edition of For Your Shelf OnlySeries links: Jon Gilbert, Raymond BensonJeremy Duns, Peter LorenzDavid FosterRob MallowsRoger Langley, Craig Arthur, Fleming Short, Matt Sherman. Check out Spy Vibe's classic 2009 article, Set For Adventure, where we joined forces with Lee Pfeiffer, Jeremy Duns, Stephen Bissette, and others to look at the best set designs from spy entertainment. More about Spy Vibe creator Agent J at Jason Whiton.

June 13, 2012


For Your Shelf Only continues! Spy Vibe recently talked with Jon Gilbert, rare book dealer and author of Ian Fleming: The Bibliography. Our chat began a new series on Spy Vibe, offering fellow collectors and fans of spy novels a chance to share their experiences and some of their prized books. 

Our first guest is Raymond Benson, author of over 25 books, including The Black Stiletto and tie-in stories for Metal Gear Solid and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell. He is also one of the six writers in the world chosen to write official James Bond continuation novels. As a lad, I read his pieces in Bondage Magazine, coveted his James Bond Bedside Companion, and I now enjoy his movie features in Cinema Retro. Raymond, thank you for visiting the Spy Vibe lair!

Many of us grew up collecting Ian Fleming and other spy books, usually used paperbacks found in second hand shops. When did you start reading spy fiction? Did you collect as a kid? And as a Bond author, have you collected rare Ian Fleming editions? I discovered Bond around the time Goldfinger was released (1964), so the readily available books in the U.S. were the classic Signet paperbacks, so I quickly got those (adding to them as the additional titles came out) and still own the same set today. I didn't seriously collect the collectible stuff until the early 1980s, around the time I started researching and writing The James Bond Bedside Companion. By the mid-80s I had a complete set of Fleming UK first editions, but I have since sold them. I was always more interested in the literary collectibles as opposed to the film ephemera. 

Some collectors of rare editions are interested in the investment aspects. Did you collect your Fleming first editions through dealers or hunting for bargains at bookshops? Were you able to sell the collection at a profit? I used a dealer I knew, although I found a handful of them when I was in the UK in 1982 researching the James Bond Bedside Companion and bought them from a shop. I certainly sold them for a profit, and I imagine that if I had hung on to them, they'd be worth even more now.

What are your all-time favorite cover designs? The Richard Chopping designs are my favorites, of course, with From Russia With Love the top one. [Below image: Spy Vibers can find From Russia With Love and other Bond rarities at James Bond First Editions]
I just picked up a signed UK 1st edition of your book, The Man With the Red Tattoo. I was drawn to the story because I lived in Japan for many years. Do you keep rare editions of your own books? Yes, I try to get every edition of my own titles, foreign and otherwise, but it's not easy. Ian Fleming Publications doesn't always get copies of foreign editions, so I have to seek them out elsewhere. I suppose the UK editions of my titles are getting to be somewhat collectible, but the real gems are the UK hardcover of Tomorrow Never Dies and the first printing of Zero Minus Ten[Below image: Spy Vibers can find Zero Minus Ten and other Benson rarities at James Bond First Editions]

How do you track down those rare editions of your own books? It would be interesting to hear about which countries are included in your collection. In many cases, the country/publisher in question would send a few copies to Ian Fleming Publications, and then they would send me a sample copy. But not every publisher did that, so it was a case of someone making me aware of a particular title. I'm confident that I don't have all the various foreign editions of my books!
What do you remember about being at Ian Fleming's own writing desk at Goldeneye? Was that an inspiring journey? When I first sat at the desk I swear I went into some kind of trance. We were there to take my picture for publicity reasons, as it was recently announced I was the new Bond author. I remember the photographer saying, "Raymond! Raymond! Earth to Raymond!"

Could you glean anything about Fleming's personality or writing habits from sitting at his work space? Not really, it had been "cleaned up" and was simply a desk with a lamp and potted plant on it when I was there.

Are there books you still look for? Did you collect pulp novels or magazines in preparation for The Black Stiletto? I don't really collect that stuff anymore. And, no, nothing really contributed to The Black Stiletto other than whatever has been in my head for decades. I do, however, enjoy the pulp novels of the 30s, 40s, 50s, and the lurid paperback covers associated with them are cool. Most of the pulps I read were of the crime novel type-- James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson...

As I said, I sold off the real collectible Fleming items, so all I have now are the commercial editions of the Bond books. If you saw the recent WGN TV interview with me, you will have seen on my wall a collage of signed Bond actor photos... I do have several signed items on my walls from various film directors and musicians. [Spy Vibers can also see Raymond play the James Bond Theme on his piano in the interview!] 

Richard Avedon said that his autograph collecting was a way to express his desire to be part of the professional world of the imagination. When did you start to collect signatures? Probably in the 1970s.

Who is in your collection? Which pieces do you treasure most?

Mostly film and music related. The most treasured one is Stanley Kubrick. Other directors I have are Woody Allen, David Lynch, Ingmar Bergman. In music: John Lennon, Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull, Yes members, Neil Young, Philip Glass, John Barry, Robert Wyatt. Writers: Ian Fleming, Harold Pinter, Ruth Rendell, Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, Stan Lee. [Below: set design for Kubrick's Dr Strangelove by Sir Ken Adam]

Did you get to meet Bergman? He's at the top of my list, along with Woody Allen and Fellini. I missed meeting Bergman by 5 minutes. I was in Sweden and we were by the Royal Theatre in Stockholm, where Bergman often directed plays. I said I wanted to go inside, so I did, and I asked someone facetiously, not expecting anything, "Is Ingmar Bergman here?" and they replied "You missed him by 5 minutes." ! [Raymond's tribute to Bergman at Cinema Retro]

In terms of James Bond signatures, which cast and crew do you have? I've got Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, Mie Hama, Akiko Wakabayashi, Richard Kiel, and John Cleese.

Did you find your various autographs at auctions or shops, or were you able to meet many people in person? Most were in person, although a few (like Kubrick) were got from reputable dealers. 

Are there autographs you still want to find? I want Ennio Morricone, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, The Marx Brothers, and Alfred Hitchcock.

Collectors all have moments when they stretch their budgets to pick up a cool treasure that crosses their path. What are the most valuable items that have ever been on your shelf or wall? Probably John Lennon's signed first edition of In His Own Write, also signed by Brian Epstein. [Cover photo shoot above]

It sounds like you collect less than you did in the past. Was that a process of conserving space, funds, and time? All three!

Thanks again to Raymond for joining us. For more information about Raymond Benson, please visit his websiteYou can find Raymond Benson's books and other spy treasures in Spy Vibe's secure Amazon StoreStay tuned for another edition of For Your Shelf Only. Series links: Jon Gilbert, Raymond BensonJeremy Duns, Peter LorenzDavid FosterRob MallowsRoger Langley, Craig Arthur, Fleming Short, Matt Sherman. 

Check out Spy Vibe's classic 2009 article, Set For Adventure, where we joined forces with Lee Pfeiffer, Jeremy Duns, Stephen Bissette, and others to look at the best set designs from spy entertainment. More about Spy Vibe creator Agent J at Jason Whiton.

June 10, 2012


Spy Vibe celebrates the upcoming release of Ian Fleming: The Bibliography with an exclusive interview with Jon Gilbert, author and rare bookseller at Ian Fleming First Editions

Welcome, Jon. Thank you for this interview with Spy Vibe. I am so thrilled about Ian Fleming: The Bibliography. I have always adored Fleming’s work and the ways designers have presented his stories, so I can imagine this research being a real labor of love.

Many of us Bond fans grew up collecting Ian Fleming’s books, usually used paperbacks found in second hand shops. At what age did you start to collect? What books did you seek out and what was it about them that captivated you?

My family business is rare books so I have always been surrounded by first editions- it was the Fleming titles with the Richard Chopping covers which really caught my attention and I started to buy these for myself from the age of 18-25 (the Cape hardbacks being far more affordable then). Those first edition hardcovers were the copies I read, which is unusual- as you mentioned, many of us read the popular paperbacks first time around. 

When did you begin to collect rare books that required more investment? When did you start to build a library of Fleming editions? Can you recall some of your best finds? 

As a rare book dealer I have sold unusual Fleming material for nearly twenty years. In the last fifteen years all items sold have been catalogued, and most have been photographed- this wealth of information is the basis for my book. When I embarked upon writing the bibliography I simultaneously decided to build a comprehensive collection of Fleming material (not just the Bond books), which, four years later, comprises every [known] issue and impression of the Cape hardcovers, plus about ninety-five per cent of all the Pan paperbacks, a vast selection of US hard and soft covers, as well as proof copies, periodicals, typescripts, letters and promotional/advertising material. I have had several great 'finds' over the years, and I am pleased to have discovered a few previously unknown issues of certain titles- the first edition You Only Live Twice with gilt on the spine and no Japanese characters springs to mind. This was originally 'aired' in Firsts Magazine, November 2008 by my collector friend James Pickard- a proud moment. The Thunderball trial binding with the silver hand is another treasured rarity- it originated from the publisher's salesman and is possibly unique.

Do you have favorite 007 cover designs?

The Chopping covers are all remarkable, but I also greatly admire the British 'X' series paperbacks, starting with the bullet-hole Thunderball cover, designed by Ray Hawkey, who sadly died just recently. I was able to visit the Pan Macmillan archive and gather information on their various paperback releases, which will appear in the bibliography.

From your research of print runs, what are some of the most rare Bond books out there? 

The first three titles in first impression have always been sought after- the print runs are not that small but there are some important issue points to consider and many of these were taken up by the lending libraries; collectable examples really are rare now, with Moonraker likely the hardest in strictly fine condition. Some of the later hardback impressions had surprising small runs, really just enough to replace worn out library stock- very few of these were sold on the high street as the cheaper paperbacks were doing such brisk business. Proof copies are also elusive. The numbers are very small, and the first five or six are virtually unobtainable- for example, there are only 35 copies of Doctor No in uncorrected proof form.

Speaking of rare editions, Queen Anne Press published Talk of the Devil, a collection of rare pieces by Fleming. Will this be available in the future as a stand-alone purchase?

As far as I am aware there are no separate editions of Talk of the Devil due out. That book was conceived as a bonus/incentive to accompany the full set. It's a great volume, but to sell it seperately would undermine the collected edition of the works (which are still available from QAP). I suspect it will eventually come out, but we're talking years rather than months.

You also deal in rare Bond-related editions and ephemera (James Bond First Editions). When did you start that business? Have you seen a great increase in value recently? Are there counterfeit editions to watch out for? 

My father-in-law ran the business from the '70s and I joined in the early 90s. The Bond brand has always been popular, so we have long dealt with the Gardner/Benson and other continuation authors as and when their new titles were released. Raymond Benson kindly held signing sessions at our bookshop whenever he was over from America and we have strong links with Ian Fleming Publications (formerly Glidrose) so it is only natural that we stocked the Young Bond and Moneypenny series as well. There are some rare John Gardner titles and a few Benson oddities- maybe they will appear in a James Bond bibliography one day, rather than a Fleming one. Values for these, like the Fleming books, continue to rise- there are some curious pirate editions from Taiwan that are desirable. The only outright 'fake' I can think of is the odd spurious copy of The Man with the Golden Gun, pretending to be the rare original with the gold gun stamped on the cover- some copies are in circulation with a newly impressed gun to the common plain cover binding but fortunately the cloth is not the same- any experienced dealer or collector will be able to spot a counterfeit.

The sample pages from the Bibliography in the new issue of MI6 Confidential show some image-grids of historic series designs. To what extent will your book include every jacket design from every UK and US series? What about foreign series designs?

We have about 500 images in the colour section and a similar amount in black & white, within the text. Even so, that still is not enough to illustrate every jacket produced. All the important first editions are shown in full (bindings and jackets), plus the entire UK Pan paperback range published from 1955-1978, when Triad took over. Images are also provided for the more recent paperbacks, up to the Vintage range of 2012. The US hardcovers are also shown in full, plus a general representation of the various American paperbacks published from the fifties until now. There are also sections illustrating the periodical, anthology and omnibus appearances of James Bond. No foreign language printings are covered- that would be enough for an entire volume in itself.

I used to shop for used Bond books in Bloomington, Indiana, near my college, but never realized that the Lilly Library had a Fleming archive. Did you work with this collection and what is housed there? 

I live and work in the UK so my research has focused on the various publisher's archives here. Whilst I have not visited the Lilly Library, I have had access to some copies of their records compiled by other Bond historians, and been able to view material online. Brad Frank, the editor of the Bibliography and a Director of the Ian Fleming Foundation, visited the Lilly and has provided some comment. There is also a precious catalogue of the Lilly Library Fleming collection published in-house (1970's) which is a most valuable resource.

Have you made a pilgrimage to Goldeneye? Raymond Benson mentioned his trip there and that Sting wrote Synchronicity at Fleming’s retreat. Are there others you know of who have gone there to create? 

It's on the 'must do' list, but hasn't happened yet. Obviously the place has a rich history- after Fleming, the estate was owned by Bob Marley, who sold it to Island Records chief Chris Blackwell. It is now a beach resort run by Island Outpost- I'm sure much creative talent has passed through over the years. 

Some questions about Ian Fleming: The Bibliography and its binding. To clarify, the standard edition is in red and the limited edition is in white? Will the editions include slipcases? 

The Standard edition is in red-coloured Ratchford's Colorado bookcloth, with contrasting black endpapers. The spine and upper board are tooled in gilt. The Deluxe edition is limited to 250 copies, bound in quarter white vellum over black sides, inspired by the original special edition of On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Cape, 1963). It features scarlet endpapers and gold tooling. Slip-cases or clamshell boxes are not included, but can be made to order.  

For Fleming fans without deep pockets, will there be a trade edition of the Bibliography available in the future? 

This is the only edition scheduled at present. 

In addition to learning about the publication history of Ian Fleming, what do you hope your readers will learn about Fleming’s process and about nuances of the James Bond universe? 

A clear picture has emerged of Fleming's creative process, his writing practices and the general book production routine, which I hope will be conveyed to the reader. The bibliography is crammed full of facts, figures, dates and details, including much previously unpublished information; I'm sure it will please even the most fanatical of James Bond enthusiasts. The editorial team, the Fleming family and other early readers have enjoyed the narrative and background that is provided for each novel; whilst this is a technical volume, it is certainly not a dull reference book. 

Thanks again to Jon for joining us on Spy Vibe. No portion of this interview may be used without written permission of Jason WhitonMore information about Ian Fleming: The Bibliography and rare 007 books at James Bond First Editions. Stay tuned for another edition of For Your Shelf Only. Series links: Jon Gilbert, Raymond BensonJeremy Duns, Peter LorenzDavid FosterRob MallowsRoger Langley, Craig Arthur, Fleming Short, Matt Sherman.

More about Spy Vibe creator Agent J at Jason WhitonCheck out Spy Vibe's classic 2009 article, Set For Adventure, where we joined forces with Lee Pfeiffer, Jeremy Duns, Stephen Bissette, and others to look at the best set designs from spy entertainment.