18 February 2009

The James Bond Art of Richard Chopping

Inspired by a recent blog entry by a friend of mine, I have again reflected on how brilliant many of the past James Bond novel dust jackets and movie posters were.  This magnificence is exposed especially when put side by side with recent re-issues.  Perhaps the greatest artist to touch James Bond was Richard Chopping, contracted by Ian Fleming to design the hardback dust jackets for the original publications starting with From Russia with Love and continuing until John Gardner's debut Bond novel, 1981's License Renewed.  Here is a gallery of his 007 work:

I especially love that not only does the art for The Man with the Golden Gun sprawl across the front and back, but so too does the title text.  My personal favorite of these covers is Octopussy and The Living Daylights with the aquatic life contextualized menacingly.  It's all but forgotten in the cinematic Bond universe, but Ian Fleming's novels were full of references to nature, especially sea life.  Fleming went snorkeling each day in Jamaica when he wrote these books, and that enthusiasm (like his passion for golf and drink) manifested itself in his literary works.  My second favorite is probably From Russia with Love, because I love the simplicy of the revolver and the rose.  What's astounding is that of all these covers, only Dr. No features a woman at all, and she only in silhouette.  And yet, sex permeates all of these covers somehow.