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.
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 and Karl-Heinz Herrmann for the additional photos of the Frank Hampson strips.
Modesty Blaise's adventures have been reprinted by Titan Books. Click on the covers.
Modesty Blaise © Peter O'Donnell