Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The spies that came in from the cold

This doesn't have anything to do with comics -- though the trend undoubtedly will make its way around to funny books -- but I have an inexplicable interest in espionage thrillers, and will sit slack-jawed for hours watching Bond films:

Publishers Weekly (subscription required) notes that some 16 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the spy story is making a comeback, this time in the form of "curvaceous-babe" spies, kid spies, rodent spies and, yes, even a teen-age James Bond -- and all aimed at kids. (Anyone remember James Bond Jr.?)

In April, Miramax/Hyperion will release SilverFin by Charlie Higson, the first in a series of Young Bond novels commissioned by Ian Fleming's estate. The book begins with what easily could be the opening of one of those fetishy boarding-school fantasy stories:
The smell and noise and confusion of a hallway full of schoolboys can be quite awful at twenty past seven in the morning. The smell was the worst part-from this great disorderly mass rose the scent of sweat and sour breath and unwashed bodies, mixing with the two-hundred-year-old school odor of carbolic and floor polish.
The scent of sweat and sour breath and unwashed bodies? Moving right along ...

Other offerings include books that tie in to the Totally Spies! animated series, from Simon Spotlight, Spy X from Scholastic, and Spy Mice from Simon & Schuster's children's imprint. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Blame Spy Kids, Simon & Schuster's Rick Richter says: "Spy Kids definitely kicked it off, and these trends often come in waves. There's also no doubt that the Harry Potter effect gives a bounce to everything that fantasy readers might like."

And there's big money at stake. PW notes that Miramax plans a 150,000-copy first printing of SilverFin, bolstered by a $200,000 marketing campaign.