The jacket to Thunderball, in which Fleming specified a skeletal hand, was trouble-free in comparison with the legal hassles the contents of the book brought about.
Writing to Chopping about ideas for the cover of Thunderball, Fleming said that the covers were “marvelous” and offered to increase Chopping’s fee, perhaps to 100 guineas. Chopping asked for 200, and Fleming agreed “on condition that you do my jackets every year.”
On July 20, 1960, Fleming asked Chopping if he would illustrate his next book, Thunderball:
No one in the history of thrillers has had such a totally brilliant artistic collaborator! The title of the book will be Thunderball. It is immensely long, immensely dull and only your jacket can save it!”
Chopping agreed and Fleming wrote back:
Dear Dickie. Warmest thanks for your charming letter of July 29, and I am delighted that you will have a bash at the new jacket.
I will ask Michael Howard [of Jonathan Cape] to produce an elegant skeleton hand and an elegant Queen of Hearts. As to the dagger, I really have no strong views. I had thought of the ordinary flick knife as used by teenagers on people like you and me, but if you have a nice dagger in mind please let us use it. The title of the book will be Thunderball. It is immensely long, immensely dull and only your jacket can save it!’
Two cards will definitely be better than one, and the second card should be an ace – perhaps the Ace of Spades – if you can bear the additional labour. Secondly, I think, unless you feel otherwise, that the Queen of Diamonds would be better that the Queen of Hearts as money is a keynote of the book.