MODESTY BLAISE

Strictly speaking Modesty isn’t one of Hampson’s lost characters, in the sense she was never submitted to Eagle, and she did get published.

What you see here is a row of Hampson’s Modesty, followed by a row of the same strip drawn by Jim Holdaway. Holdaway’s version appeared in the Evening Standard.

What’s Modesty’s story? In 1962 Beaverbrook Newspapers asked Peter O’Donnell to suggest a new strip idea. He thought long and hard and came up with Modesty Blaise. Kennedy Aitken, who was Beaverbrook’s Editor of Strip Cartoons (if there was such a title) suggested they should invite Frank Hampson to interpret O’Donnell’s script.

Frank accepted the offer, but took many weeks to return with his strip, giving (it seems) no reason for the delay. O’Donnell was dismayed, feeling Frank had
‘totally misunderstood the character’, and suggested his
former partner Jim Holdaway be given the job. O’Donnell and Holdaway worked together very
successfully on a previous strip Romeo Brown.

O’Donnell wasn’t specific but I suspect his problem was that Hampson’s Modesty simply wasn’t sexy. Nor did she look tough enough to fight the way the script required. Nor did she look like she would happily shoot to kill.

Eight of Hampson’s samples have survived, five as full strips and three as partial strips. None are fully inked and it may be that they originally existed as pencils only, and were used for inking practice in the following years.

links

Don Markstein's Toonopedia
The Rules of Attraction
Modesty Blaise picture gallery

Many thanks to Terry Doyle for the background story and scan of Frank Hampson's strip 19, Karl-Heinz Herrmann for the additional photos of the Frank Hampson strips and Tommy Trask for photos of Jim Holdaway's original artwork for strips 6, 10 & 19.

Modesty Blaise's adventures have been reprinted by Titan Books. Click on the covers.

     

Modesty Blaise © Peter O'Donnell

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When Jim Holdaway was asked if he'd like to pitch to draw Modesty, he sent two pages of sample art. Tommy Trask sent us this page showing how he'd interpret Modesty.

You can view the Willie Garvin tryout page in Peter Hartung's ComicArtFans Gallery.

Tommy Trask is a true Modesty enthusiast. His excellent site gives a fulsome background to the strip and displays reams of art. Tommy has collected the complete artwork to Holdaway's The Gabriel Set-Up (apart from 7 strips for which he has commissioned reproductions - in his own style - by Romero). He is keen to exhibit the artwork if anyone is interested in hosting such an exhibition.

Find him here: http://londontrask.tripod.com/

This frame captures Modesty's nature and ruthlessness. Compare this with the softer nature of Hampson's heroine.

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