Tim Lucas Covers Fantomas
If you're at all interested in Fantomas, that weird masked criminal of French pulp fiction, silent serials and Sixties Eurospy/Costumed Adventurer romps, you should definitely check out Tim Lucas's fascinating overview of the character's literary incarnation at Video WatchBlog. I'm a big fan of the Sixties films (which were directed by OSS 117 auteur André Hunebelle) and the serial, but I have to admit I've never read any of the books. Lucas makes them sound quite cool! Of particular interest to spy fans will be Lucas's coverage of the 1911 novel L'Agent Secret (first published in America in 1917 as A Nest of Spies), which he calls "arguably the smoking gun behind Fritz Lang's Spione (US: Spies, 1928), James Bond, and all the spy entertainment we enjoy to this day." Among other now-familiar conventions of the genre, the novel features a spy gadget that silently shoots a small pin into its victim's heart. Surprisingly, there is an edition of A Nest of Spies currently in print, though I'm not sure which of the different texts Lucas discusses this one includes. It's also available very cheaply for the Kindle in a few different versions.
Fantomas returns to cinemas this year (supposedly) in a big budget film directed by Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf) and starring Vincent Cassel and Jean Reno.