Several dozen readers voiced their requests to bring back the "Modesty Blaise" comic strip in the recent Deseret News comics survey.
One of these readers even hinted of a "conspiracy" that took the strip away. Another reader sent in a copy of "Modesty" as it is now appearing in Spanish in a small South American newspaper.These comments are appreciated, but it is impossible to comply and bring the comic back. Perhaps a detailed explanation is in order to - hopefully - end all confusion on the "Modesty" subject.
The Deseret News starting publishing "Modesty" on Jan. 10, 1977. In all, we carried the British strip for just over 10 years and through 27 different serials.
Originally, it was syndicated by the Los Angeles Times syndicate, but the L.A. Times later dropped it. However, the London Daily Express continued to provide the strip to those newspapers that were still carrying it at the time.
It was during this time that our problems with the "Modesty Blaise" strip really began.
One problem we had with all the "Modesty" strips aside from the fact that being modest was not one of her attributes was that each new serialized story came in one big batch. They were undated, so we'd have to haul out a calendar and date each strip ourselves. By doing that, we could determine when the next serial would be needed and, about a month or so prior to that time, we'd start calling the Express office.
The East Coast London Daily Express office, we were told, would get copies of the strip from London and then forward them to Salt Lake. This system worked fine for nine years.
By 1986, The Deseret News was having great difficulty in not only contacting the Daily Express office in New York, by telephone or letter, but also in getting new episodes of "Modesty" when the current one was winding down. Several times, we had to run a "spare" comic while we waited for the next episode.
In the spring of 1987, following six months of numerous phone calls and desperate letters, the Deseret News gave up on hoping to obtain any more "Modesty" strips. The New York office would generally not return our calls or answer our letters. When it did, promises of new material were never kept.
Even letters to the main London Daily Express in England had not produced any results. (Such communication problems are unheard of among any of the other syndicates that the Deseret News deals with.)
Despite the great difficulty in obtaining the "Modesty" strip period, there were also many other problems with it. The strip was our only foreign strip and it showed.
It was by far the MOST expensive comic strip that the Deseret News has ever published. While its outright cost per serial was not that much, many man hours of work were required by editor and artist to edit/delete the numerous panels that contained immoral and profane material unsuitable for even the nation's most liberal newspapers.
(Anyone who is familiar with the British tabloids will understand the editing problems involved.)
Also, another problem with "Modesty" was in its re-production. By 1986, we were receiving only fuzzy "photocopies" of the strip, making reproduction nearly impossible.
But, despite these other big problems, you simply CAN'T publish what you CAN'T get and so "Modesty Blaise" ceased publication in Salt Lake on March 19, 1987.