Seventy years ago on 13th April 1953, Ian Fleming published his first James Bond novel – Casino Royale. To note this anniversary, at the beginning of April our fabulous intern Jenni Nicholl who is studying an MA in Curating, used our British Cartoon Archive collections to look at where the James Bond character has featured in our collections. We hope you enjoy this sample of cartoons from Jenni!
Bond, James Bond.
A line synonymous with the Bond franchise, James Bond represents to the world an idealised version of the British upper class through the representation of decorum, humour and seemingly, suave middle-aged men. Due to this, cartoons depicting Bond have been used widely in many circles such as politics and comedy in order to portray the seriousness or lack thereof of many matters concerning society through different time periods which is extremely well encapsulated in the British Cartoon Archive of The University Of Kent.
A brilliant use of the James Bond franchise within the political cartoons seen throughout the 1990s’ is Michael Cummings ‘fishbowl’ view of the fight between democracy and communism. This post-Cold War decade marked the end of the Soviet Union and so the battle of communism vs democracy was largely felt to be won by the side of the democrats with the individuals looking into the screen surmising that the hero always wins in the end of the Bond films, which however whilst actually looking at the screen, doesn’t appear to be true with Bond grasping for the democratic side under bombardment.
Whilst the cartoons may be used for political satire, the Bond Franchise was also used in the comedic arena in order to portray very normal aspects of daily life. Within this cartoon James Bond can be seen delivering his infamous line to his Facebook audience revealing his entire name, despite the nature of his job, with his supervisor urging caution. This may also give reference to the fact that despite building their foundations as the secret backbone of the safety of Britain and the monarchy, the MI6 building is one of the best known and most visited throughout London.
Satire mixed with solemnity gives rise to a brilliant cartoon by Dave Brown depicting the MI6 disaster of the 14th of May 1999 in which a former officer leaked hundreds of names of agents some of whom were on active duty abroad and whose lives were put in serious danger. The cartoon highlights the nonchalant nature of the internet and the ease at which such an integral aspect of society can be broken and represents the fragility of the British security system.
Though the situation may prove to be humorous, Theresa May would have to disagree as Mr. Avila, who was due to be deported back to his country of birth, was allowed to stay in England as he cared for a cat. This hilarious situation caused such a political uproar that it was used as a point in order to stop the abuse of Labour’s Human Rights Act which were occurring during 2011.
Curated and written by Jenni Nicholl, April 2023.