Thursday, April 23, 2020


I dunno, but I always thought those English comic strips were nothin' but a buncha hooey! GARTH and the whole batch of 'em! They just seemed way too sterile and well done for a kid like myself who was more in awe of Chester Gould's and Ernie Bushmiller's art and lived for comics as cathartic entertainment without the fine writing and pristine lifelessness getting in the way. Now I wouldn't mind reading those GUNSMOKE comics that were done over there as GUN LAW, especially the ones with alla the swearin' and nudity. Now that's something that would rev up the old adolescent blubberfarm suburban slob in me, but alas no collections that I know of are in circulation so it's NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC hula girl issues for now.

Dunno how I got hold of this particular MODESTY BLAISE book but lo and behold it popped up at a time when I certainly was not looking for it! But given how I've pretty much worn myself out with the likes of BEETLE BAILEY and three measly ARCHIE strip collections I figured that I might as well take a chance on it and well, it sure was better than reading PILGRIM'S PROGRESS and THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF SITZ BATHS combined and that's really sayin' somethin'!

I'm not too keen on the whys and wherefores of MODESTY BLAISE but I can tell ya that the entire "gist" of it resolves around the international spy cartel "The Network" and the same world of flashy sixties espionage that even had Kurt Russell meeting that secret council led by Alfred from BATMAN which was easily reached via Kurt's closet! As with the sixties-bred English spy genre of the past there's a whole lotta funzies to be seen here...flashy cars, grotesque characters, mindless violence and THANK GOODNESS a strong sexuality that got this 'un censored in whatever Amerigan papers would dare run it. Yeah, ya get to see Blaise's bared suckems when the opportunity "nailers" in this particular book mind ya but a nice shower scene complete with bullseyes can be espired for all you spiritual fourteen-year-old boys!

But I'm sure you high-minded comic fans are too "sophisticated" to get off on the mere sight of areola to get yer's the excitement of reading an engrossing strip with lots of action and suspense, right? Yeah, you think that you're too sophisticated to appreciate action and adventure comics but then again, didja ever notice that many times your own folk were sittin' in on your LONE RANGER viewing gettin' even more engrossed in the proceedings than you were??? Get off your pretenses and have some fun for once, willya?

The first tale is a real doozy, with this millionairess capturing a Network operative and his teenbo daughter, chaining them up in the Sahara for some real cruel and unusual punishment since said spy sent her now-deceased better half up the river. The two slowly perish while back home Blaise, using her unusually keen sense of deduction and reasoning for a mere woman, patches a whole lot of pieces together taking speculation and working it through to get to the bottom of what really did happen. Sheesh if it were up to me I woulda let the two of 'em dehydrate!

"The Alternative Man" which, despite the title, ain't about any precocious and self-conscious eighties new wave musician, deals with this he-man type ex-Canadian Air Force guy who goes roughin' it up with Modesty on a small Caribbean island which just happens to be a stopping point for drug smugglers. The Canuck thinks he's gonna be gettin' some hotcha action and you can just feel the testosterone ready to spurt out all over, but things do change quite a bit after some friends from the DEA visit Modesty and suddenly the guy's gonads turn colder than the Bering Straits. Interesting twists in this one with a surprise ending that really will catch you off guard.

Closing out the book's "Sweet Caroline", a real chiller despite the Neil Diamond-copped title where an extortion ring led by a gal with a photographic memory named Caroline pulls a few gruesome murders in order to get the wealthy of England to fork over protection moolah. Modesty herself is witness to one of 'em which consisted of an exploding cricket ball...strange indeed, but if something like that were to have been filmed it would have come off more like an old Monty Python skit!

So eh, it's all fun reading that certainly won't warp your mind any more than it is. If you come across a copy, pick it up for a read. A better way to spend your evenings that watching Anderson Cooper paint and file his nails.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Chris, Modesty Blaise is superb, my favorite comic strip of all time. Deft, sophisticated, nonpareil. I've never been one for "comics as artform." I consider them to be entertainment, like James Bond novels and films. Or as a vehicle for jokes. They're only comic strips, and I like 'em! Cheers! Alvin Bishop