Nine months ago -- almost to the day -- Dynamite Entertainment announced that it was partnering with Ian Fleming Publications Ltd. to produce comic books starring famed pop culture superspy James Bond. It was big news -- Bond is one of the most beloved and recognizable characters in fiction, with an underserved history in the comics medium and a 24th Eon Productions film on the way -- but light on details, as no creative teams or specific release plans were revealed.
That changes now. As officially announced by Dynamite, its first Bond-related product to be released will be an ongoing series titled "James Bond 007," set to debut in November -- the same month "Spectre," Daniel Craig's latest outing as the suave-but-deadly MI6 agent, is slated for release. And the creative team is a big one: Superstar writer Warren Ellis, of "Planetary," "Transmetropolitan," "Moon Knight" and more fame will write the book, joined by artist Jason Masters, recently seen on Marvel's "Wolverines."
"Ian Fleming's James Bond is an icon, and it's a delight to tell visual narratives with the original, brutal, damaged Bond of the books," Ellis is quoted as saying in the Dynamite press release. The first arc of the Ellis-written "James Bond 007" will be titled "VARGR," and here's the official description: "James Bond returns to London after a mission of vengeance in Helsinki, to take up the workload of a fallen 00 agent... but something evil is moving through the back streets of the city, and sinister plans are being laid for Bond in Berlin."
CBR News has the exclusive first interview about the new bookwith Dynamite Senior Editor Joseph Rybandt, who tells us what Ellis and Masters have planned for "James Bond 007." Rybandt also hints at the company's further Bond plans that remain unrevealed -- which include adaptations of Fleming's original novels, plus the never-before-told pre-"Casino Royale" origin of the character.
CBR News: Joseph, clearly Warren Ellis and James Bond is an exciting pairing. What can you share about how Ellis landed on this series? Did Dynamite have him in mind from the start?
Joseph Rybandt: We knew that we had to start with a British writer, which narrowed the field quite a bit. Now, over the 10 years we'll be doing Bond comics, not all of our writers are going to be British (in fact, the writer adapting "Casino Royale" is not!), but that's where we felt we had to start. I personally didn’t think Warren was going to be an option, but Nick did, and spent a good amount of time making it work. After initial discussions, Warren had some concerns and we actually met with him in London, along with the Ian Fleming Estate, to alleviate those concerns. From there, he started writing.
As anyone who's read "Global Frequency" or "Red" knows, Ellis clearly is skilled in the espionage/action genre. What can you share at this point about what he's got planned for the series? What makes his Bond unique from past interpretations?
What’s different is the legacy and the characters. There’s only one Bond, there's lots of "spy" stories but there's only one Bond. That single word sets your mind going in all sorts of directions before you’re read word one, or seen panel one. It's truly unique in all of fiction and pop culture and to wrap a story around this iconic character sets is apart from everything else.
Now, combine that with Warren's genius storytelling -- and I use that word deliberately, because the man is a genius. He has done things with story – and types of stories -- over his career that make him truly one of the best and most interesting writers out there.
Even though James Bond is such a pop culture icon, the character doesn't have much history in comics. In what way is this series seeking to take advantage of the unique advantages provided by the comics medium -- doing things not possible in film?
I don't know what the final budget will be for this next Bond film, but this series, were it a film, would match it I'm sure. There's no limit to what we can do, though Warren's story is certainly grounded and real and lives and breathes in the world of today, which his work his known for, even when he introduces "fantastic" elements. It’s a different Bond in some ways, pulling from the material of the books and the original tropes of the character, but put very firmly into our world and covering a range of locales and settings.
Ellis' recent work-for-hire projects have typically been limited to one arc. What can you share about how much he's planned for James Bond?
We hope to get a year out of Warren for sure, which is my understanding of our goal here, but, like everyone else, we plan things one arc at a time! I mentioned up top that our deal term with IFPL is 10 years, so there’s going to be a lot of Bond material flowing from us, featuring a variety of writers and artists, but we're starting here, and we couldn’t be happier with how it's progressing. There's only one Bond and there's only one Ellis after all!
What made artist Jason Masters the right pick for the series?
Warren picked him, [and] he's the perfect partner for what [Ellis] has put together. We've all spent the last week talking about our color approach and are nailing that down to finalize the graphic look of Bond’s world.
When first announced that Dynamite had acquired the James Bond license, it was mentioned several projects were planned, including adaptations of Ian Fleming's original novels. Any update on that part?
Yep, we have our writer for the adaptation of "Casino Royale" who just started writing the script. We're also planning on an "origin" series of graphic novels to be set in the period of the original novels. Our adaptations will be set in their original time period as well. Our periodicals, here with Warren Ellis, are set in the now.
Also, is it still planned for Dynamite to tell the character's origin story?
Yep, and the way we have it working, we'll be able to do it twice!
Given that there hasn't been much of a history of James Bond in comics, what's the process been like so far in getting Bond "right" for this medium? Has there been much of a learning curve in terms of making everything feel authentic?
Well, the right creative goes a long way to making those fears go away, but our partners at IFPL, along with our editorial consultant Michael Lake, are well versed in Mr. Bond and his world and they won’t be shy about telling us if we’ve gone too far afield… again, there's only one "Bond" but he has many different sides.
"James Bond 007," by Warren Ellis and Jason Masters, is scheduled to debut from Dynamite Entertainment in November.