Friday, February 24, 2012

Diversity in Comics: TV Adaptations - I Spy

The first American TV drama to feature a black actor (Bill Cosby) in one of the leading roles, I Spy ran from 1965 through 1968. It was adapted for comics by Gold Key, the first issue having an August 1966 publication date. The comic book series lasted 6 issues (to September 1968). Set in the East, the team of agents (Cosby, and Robert Culp) use the identities of a tennis player (Culp) and his trainer as their cover. Cosby won three consecutive Emmy awards for outstanding lead actor in a drama series for each of the three seasons of I Spy. In the comic book he is in no less of a prominent role. The first issue has some decent artwork by Alden McWilliams, and was written by Paul S. Newman. Putting this series into the context of the introduction of diversity into comics, the Black Panther was introduced in Fantastic Four 52 (July 1966), so Gold Key with I Spy were right up there in terms of setting the pace for integration and racial equality in comics.

(Above) on p.8 the two spies are lured into a trap, which results in Kelly being captured. On p.18 Scotty (Cosby) sets off in search of his buddy, Kelly (Culp), in the streets of Hong Kong, but finds himself out of his environment then in a spot of bother.

This wasn't Cosby's only contribution to comics (here as the character upon whom this series is based). Stay tuned for more Cosby and comics in future posts on Out of This World.

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