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Modesty Blaise is a British comic strip featuring a fictional character of the same name, created by author Peter O’Donnell and illustrator Jim Holdaway in 1963. The strip follows Modesty Blaise, an exceptional young woman with many talents and a criminal past, and her trusty sidekick Willie Garvin. It was adapted into films in 1966, 1982, and 2003, and from 1965 onwards eleven novels and two short story collections were written.

In 1945, a nameless girl escapes from a displaced person (DP) camp in Kalyros, Greece. She remembers nothing from her short past and wanders through post-World War II Mediterranean, the Middle East, and regions of North Africa, where she learns to survive the hard way. She befriends Lob, another wandering refugee who is a Jewish Hungarian scholar from Budapest. He gives her an education and a first name: Modesty. Sometime later Modesty creates her last name, Blaise, after Merlin’s tutor from the Arthurian legends. When Lob dies is unclear, other than it being prior to her going to Tangier. In ‘The Xanadu Tailisman’ it is mentioned that Modesty has left Lob at a village to recover from a wound; she goes alone to sell a car tyre. In 1953 she takes control of a criminal gang in Tangier from Henri Louche and expands it into an international organization called the Network. modesty02

Having conceived the idea after a chance meeting with a girl during his wartime service in the Middle East, O’Donnell elected to work with Jim Holdaway, with whom he had worked on the strip Romeo Brown, after a trial period of collaboration with Frank Hampson, creator of Dan Dare, left O’Donnell dissatisfied. Modesty Blaise debuted in the London Evening Standard on 13 May 1963. The strip was syndicated among a large number of newspapers ranging from the Johannesburg Star to the Detroit Free Press, the Bombay Samachar, The Telegraph (Calcutta, India), The Star (Malaysia), The West Australian (Perth) and The Evening Citizen (Glasgow, Scotland).

After Jim Holdaway’s death in 1970, the art of the strip was provided by the Spanish artist Enrique Badía Romero. Eight years later, Romero quit to make time for his own comics projects, and after short attempts by John Burns and Patrick Wright, Neville Colvin drew the strip until 1986. Then Romero returned to the job and continued until the end of the strip.

modesty05The strip’s circulation in the United States was erratic, in part because of the occasional nude scenes, which were much less acceptable in the US than elsewhere, resulting in a censored version of the strip being circulated. (Modesty occasionally used a tactic that she called the “Nailer,” in which she would appear topless, distracting the bad guys long enough to give Willie or herself a chance to incapacitate them.) An example of this censorship appears in the introduction to the 2007 Titan Books reprint volume Death Trap, which illustrated two segments of the story arc, “The Junk Men” that were censored by the Detroit Free Press when it published the strip in 1977; in both cases a screen was drawn over scantily-clad images of Willie and Modesty. Reportedly, O’Donnell did not approve of the changes, although they were made by the artist, Romero.

The final Modesty Blaise strip ran in the Evening Standard on 11 April 2001. Some of the newspapers that carried the series, feeling that it had become a tradition for their readers, began running it again from the beginning. O’Donnell, to give Romero some additional work, gave the artist permission to adapt one of his short stories (“The Dark Angels”) as a graphic novel that was published in Scandinavia in 2002, later being reprinted in the US in a special issue of Comics Revue. modesty07

From 1 December 2008, the Evening Standard, which had stopped including comic strips for some time, republished La Machine, using the original artwork. Following a change of ownership of the paper, they did not continue with subsequent stories.

The ordinary strips are consecutive numbered from 1 to 10183. Outside this numbering are the two newspaper stories “In the Beginning” and “The Killing Ground” and the two comic book stories “Modesty Blaise” and “The Dark Angels”.

Outside the ordinary numbering is also an amount of A-strips. An A-strip has the same number as the previous strip but followed by an A. They were used on days when not all the newspapers running Modesty Blaise were published. An A-strip is not vital for the continuity of the story and is often just supplementing the previous strip.
The first A-strip was 194A and was published during Christmas 1963 in Scottish newspapers.

Since December 1974 The Evening Standard has not been published on Saturdays. So, since then, and the story “Cry Wolf”, a sixth of the strips have been A-strips and have not had their premiere in The Evening Standard.

A single strip is numbered with an X suffix, e.g., strip number 3641X, and is similar to the A-strips.

19 stories

00 – In The Beginning
01 – La Machine
02 – The Long Lever
03 – The Gabriel Set-Up
04 – Mister Sun
05 – The Mind of Mrs Drake
06 – Uncle Happy
07 – Top Traitor
08 – The Vikings
09 – The Head Girls
10 – The Black Pearl
11 – The Magnified Man
12 -The Jericho Caper
13 – Bad Suki
14 – The Galley Slaves
14a – The Killing Ground
15 – The Red Gryphon
16 – The Hell-Makers
17 – Take Over

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11 stories

18 – The War Lords of Phoenix
19 – Willie the Djinn
20 – The Green Eyed Monster
21 – Death of a Jester
22 – The Stone Age Caper
23 – The Puppet Master
24 – With Love From Rufus
25 – The Bluebeard Affair
26 – The Gallows Bird
27 – The Wicked Gnomes
28 – The Iron God

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12 stories

29 – Take Me To Your Leader
30 – Highland Witch
31 – Cry Wolf
32 – The Reluctant Chaperon
33 – The Greenwood Maid
34 – Those About to Die
35 – The Inca Trail
36 – The Vanishing Dollybirds
37 – The Junk-Men
38 – Death Trap
39 – Idaho George
40 – The Golden Frog

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7 stories

41 – Yellowstone Booty
42 – Green Cobra
43 – Eve and Adam
44 – Brethren of Blaise
45 – Dossier on Pluto
46 – The Lady Killers
47 – Garvin’s Travels

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5 stories

48 – The Scarlet Maiden
49 – The Moonman
50 – A Few Flowers for the Colonel
51 – The Balloonatic
52 – Death in Slow Motion

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7 stories

53 – The Alternative Man
54 – Sweet Caroline
55 – The Return of the Mammoth
56 – Plato’s Republic
57 – The Sword of the Bruce
58 – The Wild Boar
59 – Kali’s Disciples

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6 stories

60 – The Double Agent
61 – Butch Cassidy Rides Again
62 – Million Dollar Game
63 – The Vampire of Malvescu
64 – Samantha and the Cherub
65 – Milord

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6 stories

66 – Live Bait
67 – The Girl from the Future
68 – The Big Mole
69 – Lady in the Dark
70 – Fiona
71 – Walkabout

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9 stories

72 – The Girl in the Iron Mask
73 – The Young Mistress
74 – Ivory Dancer
75 – Our Friend Maude
76 – A Present for the Princess
77 – Black Queen’s Pawn
78 – The Grim Joker
79 – Guido the Jinx
80 – The Killing Distance

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7 stories

81 – The Aristo
82 – Ripper Jax
83 – The Maori Contract
84 – Honeygun
85 – Durango
86 – The Murder Frame
87 – Fraser’s Story

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4 stories

88 – Tribute of the Pharaoh
89 – The Special Orders
90 – The Hanging Judge
91 – Children of Lucifer

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5 stories

92 – Death Symbol
93 – The Last Aristocrat
94 – The Killing Game
95 – The Zombie
96 – The Dark Angels

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7 responses »

  1. Neil A. Hansen says:

    This set of Modesty Blaise strips is beyond amazing! Many thanks! Hoping for Garth (Frank Bellamy’s stuff) and The Seekers down the road!

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    • boutje777 says:

      You are welcome. I am afraid i don’t have these titles. Will look out for them. I believe there are some Garth stories in indrajal, not sure that is the same Garth. I am planning an Indrajal blog also for the nearby future.

      Like

  2. Ron Sizely says:

    This is a great resource, but some of the files have been compressed too much and the pictures are not clear. For example, the Green Eyed Monster is so bad I even have to strain to read the text, and the detail in the drawings is lost. It’s a real pity.

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  3. jjh says:

    What program can you use to open the files?

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    • boutje777 says:

      Most of the strips are packed with winrar, so you have to unpack the files first. After this you will have cbr files that you can read with any cbr-reader, there are many free to choose from on the internet. Some people prefer to unpack this cbr files also and read the pages one by one with a pictureviewer. All this for a windows based computer. I hope this works for you, don’t hesitate to ask further if you have questions.

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  4. martin fennell says:

    Thanks for uploading these.

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