A strange career
As singular as Modesty Blaise' career is within Peter O`Donnell's narrative, as unique is her development in publication. Born as a comic-strip character she was discovered for the movies and – thought that film was a bit of a disappointment – the film-makers wanted a paperback ready at the time of its release. And so Modesty's successful career around the world got started.
Meanwhile there are thirteen novels (or eleven, if you don't count the two collections of 'novellas') which were translated into many languages, besides three films, some radioplays and the 'romantic' novels of one Madeleine Brent – alias Peter O'Donnell …
"Im sometimes asked: Which do you prefer writing — book or strip?
Answer: It doesn´t matter which medium Im writing in, I always like any of the others best because they´re easier. Thats a kind of smart-ass interview answer, though there´s a lot of truth in it. But come right down to it and I have to say that the book gives more satisfaction. Theres elbow room to give more nuances of feeling and to say whats going on inside your characters. Theres more room for humour; you can pause for a little character-bit that would take four days in a strip, and then wouldn´t work anyway because of the twenty-four hours between each strip. Theres more room for exposition; you can take time out to give a precise description of Willie´s handmade knives, which is technically very interesting - but watch it, because such technical stuff doesn´t interest everybody, and if you get carried away you lose your reader.
But I suppose the main reason a book feels more satisfying is because it´s a solo effort — no actors, no artist, no director, just you and the words and the reader. You can´t blame anyone but yourself."
Peter O´Donnell, The Hell-Makers, Titan Books 1986