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  • Akosua Biraa

My God! – It’s the Blaise Girl!

Far away in another time

the flung beach-bag unsights Roderic

Modesty dives low

thanks for looking after me, princess

when you can’t move in quietly

you need a good noisy distraction

hope Willie remembers we’re playing for keeps

when a man goes down

he has to stay down

Willie’s surprise attack is devastating

instant body-disposal offered

Tarrant will guess who

but he’ll say nothing

none of us want the police brought in

Right—he’s all yours lady

an unusual lady

Most of us would be dead now

but for you

This piece is composed solely out of phrases taken randomly from “Modesty Blaise: The Killing Game”, a great comic compilation written by Peter O’Donnell and illustrated by Enric Badia Romero.

“Modesty Blaise” is a childhood favorite, along with O’Donnell’s other comic strip “Garth”—both of which were published in the Evening Standard newspaper in 1970s Kenya.

I just loved Modesty’s spunk, wits, beauty and penchant for danger. I also loved her intimate, reliable and platonic relationship with her trusted companion, Willie—who called her princess and would die for her, no questions asked. Together they enjoyed the adventure in every single caper.

The “Modesty Blaise” comic strip was my entry point into rather alternative gender politics for that time. Simply because Modesty and Willie’s relationship (and gender roles) differed from the domesticated and sexist heteronormativity of the day.

It was simply brilliant to get to see a woman who was not only intelligent, but also daring, strong, flawed and all kinds of sexy beautiful – as well as a man, who complemented her with similar depth of character.

O’Donnell’s interesting storylines are also just the best, spread across 95 stories with the spectacular artwork of 5 different artists: Jim Holdaway, Enric Badia Romero, John Burns, Pat Wright, and Neville Colvin. These stories appeared in the Evening Standard from May 1963 until April 2001.

It is these stories that are now in several compilations; including, this one published by Titan Books in 2017. The stories we get in this particular compilation are “The Killing Game”, “The Last Aristocrat” and “The Zombie”. They are a Must Read, alongside the stories in other compilations—some of which I gladly have in my possession.

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