Literature, as Comic Books

Here’s a fun one from Flavorwire (“Classic Literature Transformed into Comic Book Art”) detailing the literature-as-comic-books series, Illustrated Classics:

“Running 169 issues long, the series’ first run ended in 1971, leaving us to adore them only through hand-me-downs and chance thrift store finds. Works such as Moby Dick, Hamlet, and Huckleberry Finn were transformed into comic book-style adventures (with illustrations galore) in order to introduce young readers to classic novels they might have otherwise ignored.”

Just based on the Wikipedia entry, Classics Illustrated comic books has a surprisingly long and varied history. My only exposure to the comics comes from remembering Tom Berenger in Major league reading the Moby Dick comic book on the plane.

But, based on this post from AbeBooks (“Meet the Comic Book Collector: Classics Illustrated and their Literary Twins”), those literature comic books are sometimes worth a hell of a lot of money. I do think some of these vintage comic book covers are kind of cool (check out Jane Eyre on the right).

Proving that there’s always money to be made in old ideas, it looks like Marvel comics recently got into the action, with their own, updated Marvel Illustrated series. Wow, Jane Austen comic books. I wonder who reads them. No, I mean really — I’d be love to know who is the reading audience is for Emma or Sense and Sensibility in comic book form?


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I run the ThinkLab at the University of Cambridge, and research digital habits, productivity, and wellbeing.

tyler shores cambridge

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