This week, we are so delighted to welcome the artist and illustrator George Almond in from the cold, to talk about his remarkable illustrations that he did to accompany John Griswold‘s James Bond Annotations and Chronologies. He also has provide artwork for various James Bond magazines including Bondage Magazine and 007 Magazine.
1. Was Richard Chopping an influence on your own artwork and Bond artwork?
If you look at the cover concepts I did back in the 1980’s you can see his influence was quite significant indeed. These were my college days, and I was looking for a subject on which to base a portfolio. Coincidentally, I had just discovered the work of not only Richard Chopping, but of Aaron Bohrod, another artist who used the form of Tromp l’oeil still life to suggest a story.
Being a Bond fan I chose to use this form to create my own take on dust jackets for Fleming’s books. It was a time of experimentation for me, and I created these illustrations in mixed media, using Prismacolor pencil on toned Canson paper, together with gouache for lettering, and sometimes black India ink for the base of black objects, such as the scorpion on my cover for Diamonds Are Forever, or the black velvet assassin’s hood for Octopussy.
2. What is your favorite Chopping dust jacket and why?
From Russia, With Love. Simple, elegant and absolutely evocative of the story, as a good dust jacket should be.
Goldfinger is a close second, as I find the image of the skull with gold coins in the eye sockets, evoking the old custom of placing coins on a dead man’s eyes, such a powerful expression of the folly of materialism. It might have been my favorite, but I must admit I am prejudiced somewhat by Fleming’s self-indulgent devotion of 13 chapters in the book to one game of golf.
I don’t know the name of the illustrator, or even if there was more than one, but whoever designed the elegant little vignettes for the Signet paperback series. Simple, but powerful.
After I had been illustrating for the James Bond fan magazines* for awhile, I began receiving requests for custom commissions from fans. I had also sold some of my works to fans I met at various Bond gatherings, such as trivia tournaments and the like.
*Including “How To Write a Thriller” by Ian Fleming from Bondage Magazine #13, 1984 – Illustrated by George Almond.
John and I were connected by a mutual friend who knew he was preparing this book. I am quite pleased with most of them, but in retrospect, wish I could have a second crack at the others.
I am very pleased indeed with the illustrations of Wint and Kidd (poised with the bucket of mud over the helpless Rosie Budd):
Rosa Klebb ( “What do you want, I am busy! ) and Red Grant ( snarling and glistening with cold sweat, half silhouetted my the full moon ).
I should also point out that John himself did the illustrations for For Your Eyes Only, due to scheduling conflicts–I was out of town on another job.
5. What is some of your own favorite Bond artwork?
Please don’t ask me to choose between my children!
Born on Cape Breton Island, Canada, George Almond created his first painting at the age of five, following a school field trip to the local zoo. Having studied under the tutelage of such seasoned artists as Manuel De Leon, the noted anatomist, and Larry Brady, graphic designer to the J. Paul Getty Trust, he built a career as a freelance illustrator.
Today his work focuses mainly on children’s book illustration. Mindful of the influence picture books were to his own childhood development, as a person as well as an artist, he considers his work to be not only a vocation but a deep trust, aiding and enhancing children’s experience of learning.
George has built a proven track record on two principles: quality and efficiency, keeping as his motto: Can you imagine it? I can picture it!
Prints of George Almond’s work can be purchased at – www.007magazine.com