July 19, 2015


Research for my upcoming book about the Spy Boom and history of the genre continues to provide fun discoveries each day. It's always exciting when titles appear on my radar screen, even if they've been hiding in plain sight within the mainstream culture. I had a chance to meet up with old friend Stephen Bissette (Swamp Thing, Tyrant, Heavy Metal) last week over breakfast in Vermont. As usual, our conversation was a stimulating journey down the rabbit holes of our curiosity and the various threads and connections we've discovered doing media research. I was excited to talk about UK writer/director/producer Ralph Smart, who had worked on The Adventures of Robin Hood and HG Wells' Invisible Man before starting Danger Man with Patrick McGoohan. While I was intrigued by the apparent 1950s choice to make the Invisible Man an agent in the series, Steve pointed out Universal had already made that leap back in 1942 with Invisible Agent. I always loved the Claude Rains original, but had never explored the rest of the series. It figured the studio would channel their properties into the war effort. It was common for movies during the lead-up and early years of WWII to feature spies and saboteurs. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes was brought into the contemporary world and drafted into service in Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942), Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1942), and Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943). Even Tarzan battled the Axis powers in Tarzan Triumphs (1943). With his powers of invisibility, the Invisible Man was indeed a natural choice for espionage work. Apparently the 1942 version went on missions in the buff? He was so under cover, he didn't need covers. It's too bad Ralph Smart chose to give his 1958-1960 protagonist invisible lab clothes to wear under his disguises, otherwise it really would have been a Cold War! Universal's film centered around the grandson of the original scientist, who is prompted by Pearl Harbor to use the family recipe to spy on Nazi Germany, make fools of the enemy, and to woo a double-agent dish. Unfortunately The Invisible Agent is not celebrated as a great classic, but the concept was timely. I think the studio images on their own, featuring the "invisible" hero fighting Nazis, stand as interesting artifacts of this period in spy/thriller history. Enjoy!

Selected Spy Vibe posts: Saint Interview: Ian DickersonSaint DoppelgängerFleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanJim Wilson Corgi InterviewFantomas DesignJeremy Duns on BondJohn Buss interviewDiana Rigg eBookAvengers Season 5 TitlesSaint VolvoMod Tales InterviewAgente Secreto ComicsDanger Man Comics 2Danger Man ComicsJohn Drake ComicsDer Mann Von UNCLEGolden Margaret NolanMan From UNCLE RocksteadyPussy Galore Calypso, Cynthia Lennon R.I.P.Edward Mann FashionLeonard Nimoy TributeShatner at 84Bob Morane seriesNew Saint PublicationsThe Saint Complete box setGerry Anderson Box SetsMusic For SpiesThai Bond DesignBond vs ModernismPopular SkulltureArt of ModestyAvengers Blu-ray updateTokyo Beat 1964Polaroid SpyFeraud Mod FashionGreen Hornet MangaNo 6 FestivalAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.Comics Week: ArchieComics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy Olsen, Shakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies I, Rodney Marshall Avengers Interview, Richard Sala: Super-Enigmatix, Cold War Archie, Playboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese Books, Trina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

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