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PHILIP DRIVER, GOLF SPY

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Full Name: Philip Driver
Codename: Agent 721
Nationality: British
Organization: British Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Unknown
Time Span: 1969 - 1970

ABOUT THE SERIES

Philip Driver is an agent with British Secret Service.

Exactly what agency he works for is not specified. What is shown is that the department is a small, highly secretive one with missions taking place all over the world with a decent number of operatives and assistants. It is run by an unnamed older man called the Chief by his people and having a particularly nasty attitude towards those who decide to leave his employ before he is quite done with them.

The title to each of the several recorded adventures of this operative have the description of "Golf Spy" which makes him rather unique in the cloak and dagger world - someone who wears spats instead of a cloak and wields a golf club instead of a dagger.

When we first meet him, he would not answer to that at all. Golf was something he had played a few times here and there over the years and had a basic understand of and some skill in the sport but it was for occasional fun and not at all related to his work as a field operative. That is when the cover role for his latest mission would change his life.

After a short but intensive training period to brush up on his game, the athletic Driver, likely in his late 20s or early 30s and possessing a definitely flair for action and excitement, is put on the pro circuit for one particular mission. It is after that mission was completed that the Chief tells Driver, Agent 721, that Driver would continue to use the cover for missions in the future. It did make sense in that golf was played around the world and tournaments drew lots of professional players so no one would question Driver's appearances. This was especially true when it turned out that Driver had a real knack and love of the game.

Accompanying Driver on his missions, acting as his caddy and traveling companion, is the short, burly older man named Jones, his first name unknown but having the nickname of "Peanut". This man with his penchant for V-neck sweaters with a tie instead of a sports coat is Driver's friend and partner before the adoption of golf as the cover and it is clear that the two are best of friends.

A couple of missions after the start of golf cover, Driver and Peanut decide that they could earn a pretty good living on the circuit and leave the mayhem and danger behind so they resigned and went on their way. Unfortunately for them, the Chief, as mentioned above, is not prone to letting his agents just leave. As a result, deception is often used to force them back for "just one more mission".

COMIC BOOKS, GRAPHIC NOVELS, AND MANGA

Number of Stories:12
First Appearance:1969
Last Appearance:1970

       For 33 years, from 1954 to 1987, IPC Publications put out a combination of text stories, graphic stories, and articles aimed at older teens and young men. Tiger was the title of the magazine with a subtitle of "The Sport and Adventure Picture Story Weekly". A total of 1,555 issues would be released, each filled with a nice assortment of series.
       Roy of the Rovers, a soccer/football series, was the main sports title to grace the pages of this weekly but several other sports got their own storylines from time to time. Boxing, Formula One and stock car racing, swimming, rugby, and so on, would be represented.
       In 1969, it was decided to combine yet another sport, golf, with the still popular and exciting vocation of international government agent so for the next three years the operative with the somewhat appropriate name of Driver would take part in a dozen interesting adventures.
       It must have been challenging to come up with plotlines that had the protagonist out on the links a good deal of the time, often in the view of spectators and television cameras. The writer(s), whoever they were, did pull it off for a while.


       Several times in the life of this series there were definite starting and ending spots but just as often the merging from one storyline to the next was less seamless. I have done my best to find the optimum sports but it might be better to read in order.


Note: None of the adventures were given any sort of title so I came up with these. I alone am the guilty party.

1 The Golf Course Dead Drop Mission The Golf Course Dead Drop Mission
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Unknown (writer and artist)
Copyright: 1969

Published in Tiger magazine #785-790, Nov. 8, 1969 - Dec. 13, 1969, 2 pages each for 12 pages.
Philip Driver is told that for his next mission, he must refresh his skills on the golf course in order to take the role of a pro golfer with Peanut being his caddie. The goal was to find who a known foreign spy is passing data to on the course.
Click here to read the story.

2 The Kidnap A Japanese General Mission The Kidnap A Japanese General Mission
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Unknown (writer and artist)
Copyright: 1969

Published in Tiger magazine #791-797, Dec. 20, 1969 - Jan. 31, 1970, 2 pages each for 14 pages.
Using his new position as a golf pro, Philip Driver and Peanut head to Japan where his assignment is to kidnap General Kirwato, a man known to be a traitor to his nation.
Click here to read the story.

3 The Passport Theft Mission The Passport Theft Mission
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Unknown (writer and artist)
Copyright: 1969

Published in Tiger magazine #798-800, Feb. 7, 1970 - Feb. 21, 1970, 2 pages each for 6 pages.
Having resigned from the British Secret Service, Philip Driver and Peanut are down to their last twenty dollars and in need of a win on the links. Meanwhile, the Chief is determined to have them perform another mission - breaking into the offices of an aircraft manufacturer CEO and take a passport from a safe there.
Click here to read the story.

4 The Film In The Aquarium Mission The Film In The Aquarium Mission
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Unknown (writer and artist)
Copyright: 1969

Published in Tiger magazine #801-804, Feb. 28, 1970 - Mar. 21, 1970, 2 pages each for 8 pages.
On their previous mission, Philip Driver and Peanut learn of some important film hidden in an aquarium in the city of Yellow Pine, the site of the latest tournament Driver is attending. They want to get the film before their Chief can. The Chief, though, is more than a little bitter about it and decides on a nasty turn of events.
Click here to read the story.

5 The Spot The Traitor Mission The Spot The Traitor Mission
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Unknown (writer and artist)
Copyright: 1970

Published in Tiger magazine #805-812, Mar. 28, 1970 - May 16, 1970, 2 pages each for 16 pages.
When Philip Driver gets arrested for stealing a booby-trapped briefcase in the previous mission, the Chief promises Peanut that Driver will be let free if Peanut handles one small assignment. That job is to try and identify which of two men flying on a commercial airplane is a foreign agent. Things get tricky when a hijacking gets thrown into the mix.
Click here to read the story.

6 The Stolen Nuclear Weapon Mission The Stolen Nuclear Weapon Mission
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Unknown (writer and artist)
Copyright: 1970

Published in Tiger magazine #813-816, May 23, 1970 - Jun. 13, 1970, 2 pages each for 8 pages.
While Philip Driver is having a good day on a golf tournament, 3000 miles away a military plane carrying a nuclear weapon is stolen. The Chief needs Driver to get the plane back but Driver declines - at least until Peanut gets kidnapped.
Click here to read the story.

7 The Help Marilyn Mission The Help Marilyn Mission
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Unknown (writer and artist)
Copyright: 1970

Published in Tiger magazine #817-822, Jun. 20, 1970 - Jul. 25, 1970, 2 pages each for 12 pages.
On the course practicing, Philip Driver and Peanut are nearly hit with a low-flying helicopter who then drops a message asking for help from film star Marilyn Martin who had just been reported as missing.
Click here to read the story.

8 The King Hassif Mission The King Hassif Mission
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Unknown (writer and artist)
Copyright: 1970

Published in Tiger magazine #823-827, Aug. 1, 1970 - Aug. 29, 1970, 2 pages each for 10 pages.
Travelling on a train to their next golf tournament, Philip Driver and Peanut are nearly killed with gunshots from a sniper. The goal was to keep them from joining an Arab king in a golf match because the man behind the plot wants to remove influence. The attempts continue.
Click here to read the story.

9 The Call To Insanity Mission The Call To Insanity Mission
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Unknown (writer and artist)
Copyright: 1970

Published in Tiger magazine #828-835, Sep. 5, 1970 - Oct. 24, 1970, 2 pages each for 16 pages.
Doing well on a tournament, Philip Driver suddenly started acting in an extremely irrational manner and yet later, he has no memories of anything after taking a phone call.
Click here to read the story.

10 The Who Am I Mission The Who Am I Mission
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Unknown (writer and artist)
Copyright: 1970

Published in Tiger magazine #836-842, Oct. 31, 1970 - Dec. 12, 1970, 2 pages each for 14 pages.
An elaborate plot involving a sniper and a phony in a twosome game of golf all lead Philip Driver into the clutches of Professor Nemo and his mind-draining machine.
Click here to read the story.

11 The Mechanical Man Mission The Mechanical Man Mission
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Unknown (writer and artist)
Copyright: 1970

Published in Tiger magazine #843-846, Dec. 19, 1970 - Jan. 9, 1971, 2 pages each for 8 pages.
Philip Driver and Peanut are pressured into yet another mission by their Chief, this time to track down and learn what the man who hired Professor Nemo in the previous case was really up do.
Click here to read the story.

12 The Golf Course From Hell Mission The Golf Course From Hell Mission
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Unknown (writer and artist)
Copyright: 1970

Published in Tiger magazine #847-858, Jan. 16, 1970 - Apr. 3, 1971, 2 pages each for 24 pages.
A very wealthy and totally devious man named McCraig invites Philip Driver to a match, offering Driver £1 million in a private game on the golf course on his wide estate. That course is full of very nasty dangers, such as a quicksand trap.
Click here to read the story.

MY COMMENTS

     In the States, reshown in the UK, the spy drama I-Spy had just finished it third and final season when someone on the Tiger staff (my guess here) decided to use the same concept of a sports pro traveling the world on missions.

     The writers did a pretty good job of presenting quite decent, albeit standard, problems to challenge the main character and to entertain the readers. They kept the excitement up there while also giving the people in the stories personalities. We get little in the way of background but for once I never felt slighted by not knowing.

     I actually had fun reading the tales.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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