TRASHY TUESDAY – JOHN GARDNER’S BOYSIE OAKES: Founder Member (1973, Corgi); The Airline Pirates (Coronet, 1972)
Two early seventies covers from John Gardner’s semi-comic series about British spy Boysie Oakes. Founder Member (1969) was the fifth book in the series and The Airline Pirates (1970) the seventh. Both are enjoyable reads, if somewhat dated.
These two covers nicely capture the fun loving, campy feel of the books and are quite attractive. Although the cover for Founder Member was done some six years before the James Bond movie Moonraker appeared, you could be excused for thinking that it was trying to cash in on the movie! It has a very strong James Bond feel to it and the movie poster look is probably due to Arnaldo Putzu who designed the cover. Putzu was a renowned Italian artist known for his bold movie posters, including Get Carter, The Wild Geese and the Carry On movies. It is a nicely balanced cover with the three key elements of 1960/70s spy fiction: guns, blondes and phallic symbols!
The above three elements are also present on the photographic cover for The Airline Pirates, with an extra two girls thrown in. It is a good early 1970s cover, although perhaps lacking the impact of other covers from this period.
John Gardner created the cowardly and incompetent Oakes as a send-up of James Bond and other sophisticated spies of the period. In a marvelous twist of fate, Gardner was approached in 1979 to revive the James Bond and between 1981 and 1996 he wrote fourteen James Bond novels and the novelisation of two of the movies!