Modesty Blaise Cronology

I've confused matters a bit by trying to correlate the comic chronology
with the book chronology, but only with the strips that have been collected.

	Jim Gillogly
	Highday, 10 Foreyule S.R. 1994, 18:31

Subject: Modesty Blaise timeline

Q: What do Modesty Blaise and Rocky Horror have in common?
A: They both do the Time Warp.
		    Modesty Blaise Chronology

It would be challenging to play the "Sherlock Holmes is a real person
and all we need to do is resolve a few tricky bits and we'll have his bio"
game with Modesty Blaise, both because there are inconsistencies between
the comic timeline and the book timeline, and because both timelines are
stretched mercilessly to keep her up-to-date with the real world that's
moving inexorably along outside the hectic but sheltered world of the
Evening Standard.  We can't ignore either the comics or the books, though,
because good guys and bad guys pop back and forth between them regularly.

There are a few specific dates (contradictory) that we can point to.  The
first comic, "La Machine" [May-Sep 63], shows us Fraser's interpretation
of her dossier, which shows her currently age 26, and first on record in
1953, believed 17 years old -- this means "La Machine" takes place in about
1962, and MB was born between 2 Jan 35 and 31 Dec 36, depending on when
in 1953 the dossier entry was made and how much over 17 she was at the
time... and all subject to the fact that she herself doesn't know how
old she was.

The action of "Modesty Blaise" [1965] takes place some time after Mar
1963, when King Saud's plane crashed in our world, and she is still 26 at
the time (near as she can tell).  It's not as late as 1964, because she
married and divorced in 1962, then closed up the Network 11 months ago
and moved to England.  However, the marriage and divorce were placed two
years earlier in "La Machine".

In "Sabre Tooth" [1966], the year can be established by the observation
that oil first start flowing in Kuwait 16 years ago.  A trip to the
Britannica establishes that oil was discovered there in 1938, and the
development begun in 1946; 16 years after that is 1962, so it looks like
"Sabre Tooth" would occur before "Modesty Blaise" in a naive chronology...
but I'll be sophisticated and assume month fiddling and subtraction errors
and so on for whoever puts down a specific year.

Here's a first guess to the chronology, trying to shoe-horn everything in
together -- I had to give up for "Dead Man's Handle", which can't be
reconciled easily.  The MB years are assumed to match the Real Life (RL)
years until the first few books and strips are finished, after which they
begin to diverge.  The chronology of the books is assumed to supersede the
comics.  An "MB" year is determined by MB's age and by reference to other
"pegged" events, so that something corresponding to a RL 1979 event would
have an MB year of 1966 if she was known to be 30 at the time.  Willie
Garvin's age is given variously as 4 to 8 years older than Modesty's; I
choose 4 arbitrarily from his "La Machine" dossier, which means the
"circus in his 20s" reference is rejected in favor of the contradictory
"circus in his teens".

No effort has been made (yet!) to resolve some of the trickier bits that
would nail down the RL dates -- for example, in "Modesty Blaise"
Tchaikowsky's Swan Lake was being performed at Covent Garden on Tuesday;
this could be tracked down to see if it was real, and, if so, narrow down
the precise dates.  As another example, in "A Taste for Death" the
astrology column in Thursday's Evening Standard said somebody would
receive an unexpected gift from somebody in a high position.  As a final
example, in "Silver Mistress" Stoppard's latest play was about to open in
London.  I have done some standard Almanac work to find out about Kuwait,
the Moro insurrection, and the Shah's abdication, though.

MB Yr   RL Yr   Event                      Date Notes
----    ----    -------------------------- ---- ----------------------------
1932            Willie Garvin born Whitechapel  From 4 to 8 years older
1936            Modesty Blaise born             Approx (she doesn't know)
1938            WG's "auntie" no longer taking care of him.
1939            WG 2nd sop. in orphanage choir  "Red Gryphon"
1942            MB in DP camp, Kalyros Greece   Age 6
1945/6          MB spends year in Malaurak as goatherd
1946            WG, age 15, apprenticed to TV repair by orphanage
1946            WG leaves orphanage after conkers incident
1947-50?        WG worked at circus sometime in teens (or 20s)
1948            MB captured by "flesh gang" in Syria, escapes in Port Said
1949            MB takes care of her teacher, Hungarian (?) professor Lob
1950            WG enlists in Foreign Legion
1950            MB's "Alaeddin incident"
1952            Lob dies
1953            MB arrives in Tangier
1954            WG discharged from F.L.
1954            WG studies Thai fighting
1954            MB takes over Louche Group
1954            WG has a run-in with Delicata   2y before joining MB
1955            MB studies combat 6 months with Saragam
1956            WG joins MB's Network
1958            MB + Mike Delgado
1959            MB backs down vs. Gabriel
1961            Network shakes down John Dall
1962            MB marr+div James Turner        "MB" (1960 in "La Machine")
1962            MB splits up The Network        "MB" (1961 in "La Machine")
		11 mo bef action of "MB"        Spring - "Night of Morn."
1962            WG buys share of Gogol's circus.
1962            "La Machine" action         63  Dossier: MB 26 now, 17 in 53
1962?   1962?   "Mr. Sun" action            64  8 yrs aft Dienbienphu?
1963            MB, WG move to England, buy Benildon and Treadmill.
1963            "Puppet Master" action    71-72 MB abt 26
1963    1963    "Modesty Blaise" action     65  After Mar: Saud's plane crash
1963    1963    "Sabre Tooth" action        66  16y after 1946 (Kuwait oil)
1964    1966?   "I, Lucifer" action         67  MB met Dall (ST) last year
		RL date is almost 70 yrs after (1899) Moro insurrection.
1965            "A Taste for Death" action  69  2 yrs after last Gabriel (MB)
1965    1966?   "Impossible Virgin" action  71  WG+MB for 8-9 yrs
		RL is one yr after big deal in S'pore: 1965 indep?
1965            "A Better Day to Die" act   71  2 yrs after ST (Pieces of M)
1966    1969+   "the Giggle-wrecker" action 71  4 yrs after retirement (PoM)
		RL is after Prague Spring (1968-9).
1966            "Salamander Four"           71  Network 5 yrs ago (PoM)
1966            "Silver Mistress" action    73  MB about 28
8/66?           "Last Day in Limbo" action  76  2 yrs after "Puppet Master"
		Silver Mistress was last summer;11 yrs after WG joins Network
		RL: Belize no longer British Honduras
12/66           "Dragon's Claw" action      78  MB bought Benildon 3 yrs ago
1967?   1979    "Xanadu Talisman" action    81  More than 1 yr after "IV"
		Some time after June (doesn't really fit...)
		RL is just after fall of Shah (he left in Jan 1979).
5/67            "Night of Morningstar" act  82  Limbo was last year
		12 seasons since retirement: is that moved up to 1964??
		RL reference: SALT talks going on.
1966??          "Dead Man's Handle" action  85  9/10 yrs after WG joins MB
		Limbo was "long after" her retirement


That's what I've come up with so far... looks rather like a dog's breakfast,
since O'Donnell is evidently more interested in telling a good story than in
getting all the chronological details to match for the more fanatical of us.
Evidently Modesty Blaise is intended to stay under 30 for the entire series,
while Willie Garvin's age waves around rather randomly.  This rather
compresses their recovery times.  More effort could be put into trying to
add up the elapsed times -- e.g. the Christmas card Giles sent from Chile
after "IV", the six months before winter MB plans to do after the events
of "XT", and so on -- I haven't tried that (yet).

Please send or post corrections and additions to this; I don't have access to
all the comics: just those that were published by Titan and by First American
Editions, so anything that would shed light would be welcome.