As someone who had the occasional meal with the creator of Modesty Blaise, the immensely entertaining (and multi-talented) Peter O’Donnell, I was particularly pleased to be invited recently by the late writer’s relatives to a celebratory dinner at the Reform Club. Although Peter’s many and varied achievements as a writer were lovingly discussed, it was, of course, his criminal-turned-spy-cum-adventuress Modesty Blaise who was at the centre of things – as this tough and intelligent heroine should be. And if you want a demonstration of just how prodigiously gifted a writer Peter O’Donnell was, here is another in Titan Books’ very welcome reprinting of all the Modesty strips right from the beginning — and The Killing Distance is proof positive that O’Donnell’s astonishing skills at plotting and characterisation never deserted him. The artist Romero’s contribution should not be overlooked, although his work — however efficient — never matched that of the strip’s co-creator, the artist Jim Holdaway (or the artist who most approximated the latter’s style, Neville Colvin).
At the dinner for Peter, I was asked to say a few words about my encounters with him(not least regarding Crime Time, in which I was somehow always able to involve him with, despite the lack of remuneration), and similar encomiums at the dinner were provided by the head honcho of Titan Books, Nick Landau, the man ultimately behind this reprint series. We were both brimming with enthusiasm in our encomiums, and if you need reminding why Modesty and O’Donnell still have such a keen following, I’d advise you to pick up The Killing Distance – you’ll quickly see why.
Peter O’Donnell & Enric Badia Romero’s Modesty Blaise: The Killing Distance is published by Titan Books