Bound for glory - James Bond

This article is from 2008

The Man with the Golden Gun

Bond Bound: Ian Fleming and the Art of Cover Design

With a new Bond movie on the way in the creator’s centenary year, 007 fever is rising. David Pollock flicks through an exhibition celebrating the cover designs of Ian Fleming’s pulp novels

With Daniel Craig now installed as an updated, reinvigorated James Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale and the forthcoming Quantum of Solace, interest in the character has once again enjoyed a shot in the arm. Yet, with Sebastian Faulks also writing Devil May Care to celebrate this year’s centenary of Ian Fleming’s birth, interest in the Bond books is also at a high with the Bond Bound exhibition celebrating the look of a pulp novel series which has sold millions of copies in dozens of languages around the world.

‘It’s about how the actual jacket artwork has changed over the years,’ says David Patterson, curator of the show for the City Art Centre (it’s running concurrently at the Fleming Gallery in London). ‘The very earliest editions of the books look sedate, even conservative by today’s outlook; many of the foreign-language editions which emerged later are almost pornographic.’ A biographical element is included, with a display of some manuscripts and letters written by Fleming, as well as film posters and the cover designs of Faulks’ new novel. Yet it’s Fleming’s original books - 12 novels and two sets of short stories - which dominate the show, including some original artworks.

‘The very first Casino Royale cover was designed by Fleming himself, but it looks pretty boring,’ says Patterson. ‘So it was a designer called Richard Chopping who was commissioned to do the first run of covers, and they’re in the Agatha Christie mould with clues lying about on floors and tables. They’re very conservative. From what I read, though, Fleming was very restrictive in what he would allow Chopping to do.’ Although Patterson points out that this display isn’t loaded with movie memorabilia, he sums up by saying it capably captures ‘the spirit of the times’. And the character of Bond, in film and print, has certainly weathered more times than most.

Bond Bound: Ian Fleming and the Art of Cover Design, City Art Centre, Market Street, 0131 529 3993, until 14 Sep, £5 (£3.50/£2.50).

Bond Bound: Ian Fleming and the Art of Cover Design

  • 3 stars

Charting the role of artists and designers in defining the look of the world's most popular spy.