This month the new James Bond adventure “Skyfall” opens in cinemas around the world. Our latest mission has been the design of a definitive dossier on the superspy, told through images from all the classic films.
Movie audiences were first introduced to “Bond, James Bond” in “Dr. No” (1962), and in the five decades since the spy has appeared in an astonishing 23 films. Published by LIFE Books, 50 Years of James Bond is a look back at all things Bond, timed to the series’ 50th anniversary as well as the release of the latest film, “Skyfall,” which may be the biggest Bond yet. LIFE and its photographers have followed Bond through the years, documenting many of the films and actors on set, from Sean Connery, the series’ most famous Bond, to its current star, Daniel Craig.
We love Bond and happily accepted the assignment to design a retrospective of one of the world’s most indestructible icons. The book tells the story of the films through hundreds of photographs and images: the different actors who have portrayed Bond, the amazing gadgets, the glamorous Bond Girls, the villains and their lairs (our favorites may be Blofeld and his hollowed-out volcano in “You Only Live Twice”), and the supporting players like Q and M—as well as “impostor” send-ups like Austin Powers, “Get Smart” and Bean. The book also includes a profile of Ian Fleming, the mastermind behind Bond, who wrote the first novel, Casino Royale, in 1953.
James Bond’s most remarkable feat may be aging so well over the past half century. LIFE has endured like Bond, reinvigorating itself by tweaking its format—in magazines, books, and online—while staying true to its brand: brilliant photography. We’ve worked with LIFE Books since 2009, designing titles on a range of subjects, from the Titanic to Princess Diana. The common thread through all the books is telling stories through images, often using photography from the extensive Time & Life Pictures collection. Our design for each book maintains the LIFE brand but establishes a unique setting for the subject that makes the images the focus, bringing the photography to “life.”
Our design for 50 Years of Bond is inspired by the films’ famous iconography, part of the fun and appeal. Design plays a big role in Bond, and the book’s layout is bold and elegant. The typography is influenced by the films’ original period—the sixties—their posters, and their classic title sequences, originally designed by Robert Brownjohn (“From Russia with Love” and “Goldfinger”) and Maurice Binder (“Dr. No,” as well as 13 other Bond films). The cover and chapter openers use the graphic motif of the gun sight that introduces Bond at the beginning of each film. (Sean Connery graces the book’s front cover, while Daniel Craig appears on the back.) The typeface Knockout complements the LIFE logo, and the book uses LIFE’s familiar color palette of red, black and white. Cinematic images stretch across double-page spreads for maximum impact, while sidebars and call-outs offer inside information on the films and their production.
We’re having a sixties moment at Li’l Robin. Our recent work for LIFE has included the design of books on two other legends with roots in the decade. The Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Rock ‘N’ Roll chronicles a half-century of the groundbreaking band, still touring after all these years. Life with the Beatles: Inside Beatlemania is a retrospective of the photographs of Bob Whitaker, the Fab Four’s official photographer from 1964 to 1966, published to mark the 50th anniversary of the band’s first single, “Love Me Do.”