Dec 2, 2007

New Bond Cover Art Revealed

Well, the news of the net today in the Bond world certainly revolves around Penguin's official press release revealing the cover art for Sebastian Faulks' eagerly awaited new 007 continuation novel, Devil May Care. And it's... Well, I guess it could be worse. Apparently (judging from the image), James Bond will be facing off against some sort of wood sprite in the new book. According to the press release (reprinted in its entirety over at, that's "a blood red flower with the silhouette of a naked woman as its stem." Yeah, I see that, but I think the flower imagery gets a little confused by that blood spatter. And the fact that she's green does make it look like she's just wandered in from a college production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." But those are gripes; it's certainly an acceptable Bond image.

What's not acceptable is that credit! "Sebastian Faulks Writing As Ian Fleming?" What the hell is that??? It's disrespectful, off-putting, presumptuous and confusing. Surely Faulks can't be happy with that? How could Fleming's estate allow it? No other continuation author has ever dared write AS Ian Fleming. It diminishes the name of James Bond's creator and undercuts the critical respectability he's enjoyed in recent years. It makes "Ian Fleming" seem like a brand instead of an author. It's fine for "James Bond" to be a brand, but not for his creator! Ian Fleming was a real person, not a mantle anyone can pick up like "Franklin W. Dixon" or something! There was nothing wrong with the possessive credit found on the American editions of the Gardner novels, "Ian Fleming's Master Spy James Bond In ________ By John Gardner."

I get the idea: this is a pastiche. Faulks is writing in the style of Ian Fleming, following his guidelines for writing a thriller, even following his writing habits. But this credit makes it seem as if the author is embarrassed of his work, and wants all of his "respectable" critics and fans to know up front that this isn't his own style. It's really an appalling decision. The whole thing seems particularly disrespectful since the release is supposed to celebrate the centenary of Fleming's birth. I seriously hope that Penguin reconsiders this wording before publication this May. There's still plenty of time.

CBN asserts that "many of the [international] publishers will use this artwork." Frankly, I hope American publisher Doubleday doesn't. There's a long-standing tradition of different artwork on American and British editions of Bond first editions, which makes the books more fun to collect. Usually the British art is infinitely superior, but this seems like an opportunity for the U.S. publisher to change that pattern!

Don't get me wrong; I'm still avidly looking forward to reading Devil May Care, and I hope that it lives up to its full potential. There's truth in the adage "don't judge a book by its cover," but until the book comes out, that's all we have to judge!

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