February 6, 2010

Pieces of Modesty - First Printing by Souvenir Press!

Stop the presses!
Actually, don't stop them, because I've been waiting years for this...

Souvenir Press started reprinting the Modesty Blaise novels back in 2000 -- the first time this publisher had printed them in paperback. Souvenir Press was the 'original' publisher of the series, having printed the first U.K. hardcover editions, with one exception... Pieces of Modesty.

I still, after all these years of research, haven't been able to find out why Souvenir Press never published Pieces of Modesty. Mysterious Press published it in both hardcover and paperback in the U.S.A., and Pan printed the novel in paperback in various english-speaking countries (U.S.A., Australia, and the U.K.)

The next mystery arose when Souvenir began reprinting the series in paperback: did this mean they had bought the paperback reprint rights to Pieces of Modesty along with the reprint rights to the others? A few years ago, a placeholder appeared on Amazon U.K., but it began to seem like this must have been a mistake, as no book appeared. (The last one published by Souvenir had been Cobra Trap, in 2006).
The new paperback reprints used the cover art from the original hardcover printings. So the more exciting mystery for me, the collector of Modesty Blaise book covers, was: if Souvenir were to finally print Pieces, what would they use for the cover art? This was the only book without any 'original' cover artwork.

Well, the book has now appeared Amazon UK and Amazon Canada, with a release date March 2010, and a cover that fits well with these editions! The source of the artwork is still a mystery, however; I won't be able to find out who the artist is until I get my hands on the book. It looks very similar to the Holdaway covers for the first two books, so either this is an old Holdaway drawing, or a new one created to match his style.
UK readers, you'll be able to get it as of March 4th; I'll have to wait until March 31st. No word yet on when it will be available on Amazon USA. So whoever gets their hands on the book first... please let everyone know who the cover artist is!

You can see all the english-version Modesty covers collected here; books in other languages can be found via this page.

John Dankworth

U.K. jazz legend Sir John Dankworth, who scored the 1966 Modesty Blaise film, passed away at age 82. You can read the BBC online article and watch the news clip here.

Sir John scored over twenty films; you can read an interview with him from the Journal of British Film and Television here.

You can find a number of versions of John Dankworth's Modesty Blaise theme on YouTube, including the Jonathan and David film version, and also the great Virginia Vee rendition. On iTunes, there is a wonderful version performed by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (I'm not sure if they're playing to an arrangement of Gorillaz's creation, or if Gorillaz sampled this arrangement and then transposed it, but the two sound remakably alike) -- if you've never heard the NYJO one, it's well worth a listen.

The film version:

and the jazz orchestra version:

A discography of John Dankworth's music can be found on Discogs.