A favorite discovery last year was issue #35 of The World Around Us by Classics Illustrated from 1961. Published in the same year that the Berlin Wall was built, the comic is steeped in Cold War fascination with Spies. Devoted to the topic of espionage, this 35 page comic includes some really cool segments. It starts with a story called Most Conspicuous Courage, about a British WWII secret service group called Special Operations Executive. The most modern tale in the book, it features some moody art like the panels below. Author Ian Fleming based many of the key elements and characters in his James Bond novels on his experiences with the Special Operations Executive during WWII. The art from this particular story in Spies captures some of the dynamic drama and intrigue that we associate with Fleming. If you are hooked by these panels, I recommend also checking out the excellent graphic novel, Super Spy, by Matt Kindt.
The Spies comic then delves into historical stories about secret agents, including tales from the time of Moses, President Lincoln, the lead-up to WWI, spies and saboteurs during WWI, arial espionage, industrial spies, famous spies, and Classic Illustrated-style stories about Captain Cook, the Battle of Tours, and the Salem witches.
Similar to the end-pages of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. Gold Key comics, The World Around Us: Spies also features some neat spreads dedicated to the tricks of the trade. Some of the topics with illustrations are wire tapping, concealed microphones, cameras, codes, cyphers, stamps, matchbook messages, and microdots.
I love looking at stuff like this! This Spies issue can command some collectible prices, but most copies are well-read and can be found cheaply on eBay. The cover is really cool, assembled in a collage style with iconic images of the trench coat, Mauser, stamps, and matchbook. I had this hanging in my lair for a while. It makes a great display item, as well as a time-capsule from the height of the Cold War. Do any Spy Vibers have this? Can you recommend other comics from this era that we might enjoy?