1. What is your favorite Richard Chopping cover and why?
That’s a tough one. They are all so great. From Russia With Love is the classic. But I find myself drawn to Thunderball. It has a story to it — the remains of some sort of bizarre gambling game which resulted in death. I also like that it has a nice splash of color with the green. It’s a gorgeous image.
2. Do you own any 1st editions?
Yep, I own them all. All the UK and U.S. firsts from Fleming through Deaver in hardcover and paperback. I was lucky to start collecting in the 80s when prices of the UK firsts were still within reason. I was especially lucky to land a first edition of Casino Royale which, I firmly believe, is the best condition Casino in existence. And that’s not just me who thinks that. I still see the dealer I bought it from at book shows and I always ask him if he’s ever seen a better Casino and he always says he hasn’t (and then he always offers to buy it back from me). I even have a signed copy of the infamous “Bond book” by Jim Hatfield, The Killing Zone. It’s one of only two known copies.
3. What is on your literary 007 wish list?
I never landed a copy of The Man With The Golden Gun with the embossed gold gun on the front board, so I don’t feel like my collection is truly complete without that. I also still need the paperback Thunderball with Domino letter. But I’m just not up to paying current prices, so I may never add these to my collection. I need to start thinking about how I can sell some of this stuff off.
4. When did you read your first Bond novel and what was it?
I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember finding my dad’s stash of original Fleming Signet paperbacks in a closet. I pulled them out and added them to my bedroom bookshelf, which at that time was filled with Sherlocks Holmes books. I was pretty young and I read On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but it seemed odd and not at all like the Bond of the films, which is all I knew at the time. But the first Fleming novel that I read that I really connected with was Doctor No. I read that on a camping trip and I just thought it was one of the best books I had ever read in my life! I read it before I saw the movie, in fact, and when I saw the movie I didn’t think it lived up to the book. Still don’t. John Gardner’s first book, License Renewed, also had a big impact on me. I really got into the book Bond via the Gardner novels.
5. What is your favorite Fleming Bond novel?
Probably Casino Royale. Although I really love Moonraker and You Only Live Twice as well.
6. Do you have any favorite Bond dust jackets in paperback?
Oh, so many… I love all the early Pan Fleming paperbacks with the pulpy covers. Those are great. And I love the artwork on the Bantam Fleming paperbacks of the early 70s. There have been a lot of great continuations covers. Of course, I love the early UK Gardner covers in the Chopping style, especially Icebreaker. I really like the artwork used on the UK Young Bond novels. Blood Fever had a great cover image. I also like some of the Benson covers, like the UK High Time to Kill and Doubleshot. Very bold painted covers those. I think IFP has done a great job with the newer continuation covers. The UK art for the new book, Solo, is terrific.
Visit John’s website at The Book Bond