Classics Illustrated

A Cultural History, 2d ed.


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About the Book

A significant expansion of the critically acclaimed first edition, Classics Illustrated: A Cultural History, 2d ed., carries the story of the Kanter family’s series of comics-style adaptations of literary masterpieces from 1941 into the 21st century. This book features additional material on the 70-year history of Classics Illustrated and the careers and contributions of such artists as Alex A. Blum, Lou Cameron, George Evans, Henry C. Kiefer, Gray Morrow, Rudolph Palais, and Louis Zansky. New chapters cover the recent Jack Lake and Papercutz revivals of the series, the evolution of Classics collecting, and the unsung role of William Kanter in advancing the fortunes of his father Albert’s worldwide enterprise. Enhancing the lively account of the growth of “the World’s Finest Juvenile Publication” are new interviews and correspondence with editor Helene Lecar, publicist Eleanor Lidofsky, artist Mort Künstler, and the founder’s grandson John “Buzz” Kanter.
Detailed appendices provide artist attributions, issue contents and, for the principal Classics Illustrated–related series, a listing of each printing identified by month, year, and highest reorder number. New U.S., Canadian and British series have been added. More than 300 illustrations—most of them new to this edition—include photographs of artists and production staff, comic-book covers and interiors, and a substantial number of original cover paintings and line drawings.

About the Author(s)

William B. Jones, Jr., is the author of Petit Jean: A Wilderness Adventure; the editor of Robert Louis Stevenson Reconsidered: New Critical Perspectives; and a contributor to The Oxford Handbook of Adaptation Studies and Icons of the American Comic Book. He has written introductions for more than 100 reissued titles in the revived Classics Illustrated and related series.

Bibliographic Details

William B. Jones, Jr.
Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 416
Bibliographic Info: 357 photos (48 in color), appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017 [2011]
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7231-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8840-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

Introduction: “Good Stories”      1

I. Albert Kanter’s Dream      9

II. Of Musketeers and Mohicans: The Jacquet Shop      17

III. Louis Zansky: The Painter’s Touch      26

IV. Eccentricity Abounding: The War Years      35

V. Arnold Lorne Hicks: Transitional Figure      42

Between pages 48 and 49 are eight pages containing 22 color plates

VI. Enter Iger: The Fiction House Artists      49

VII. Henry Carl Kiefer and the Classics House Style      63

VIII. Alex A. Blum: “A Prince of a Man”      76

IX. A “Newer, Truer Name”: The Late Forties      90

X. Blood, Sweat, and Rudy Palais      104

XI. Painted Covers and an Extra Nickel: The Early Fifties      111

XII. Maurice del Bourgo: A “Man’s World Artist”      131
XIII. Canonical Matters and Classical Curiosities      135

XIV. Lou Cameron: “If John Wayne Had Drawn Comic Books”      144

XV. Norman Nodel: “A Certain Integrity”      153

XVI. From the Crypt to the Classics: The EC Era      165

XVII. George Evans, Reed Crandall, and the Tradition of EC Realism      182

XVIII. Roberta the Conqueror      197

Between pages 200 and 201 are eight pages containing 26 color plates

IX. High Tide and Greenbacks: The Late Fifties      201

XX. Gerald McCann: The Colors of the Sky      213

XXI. Gray Morrow: “Real People and Real Events”      217

XXII. “Roberta’s Reforms”: The Early Sixties
XIII. William E. Kanter: About a Son      240

XXIV. Five Little Series and How They Grew: Picture Progress; Classics Illustrated Junior; Classics Illustrated Special Issues; The World Around Us; The Best from Boys’ Life Comics      244

XXV. “Frawley’s Folly”: The Twin Circle Era (1967–1971)      270

XXVI. Classics Abroad: The Worldwide Yellow Banner      274

XXVII. The Wilderness Years: The Seventies and Eighties      280

XXVIII. Great Expectations: First Publishing’s Graphic Novels      283

XXIX. “Your Doorway to the Classics”: Acclaim’s Study Guides      291

XXX. Restoration: Jack Lake Productions and Papercutz      294

XXXI. Classics Collected: Notes on the Evolution of a Pastime and a Passion      299

XXXII. Classical Coda      306

Notes      309


A. Classic Comics and Classics Illustrated      317

B. Classics Illustrated Giant Editions      334

C. Fast Fiction/Stories by Famous Authors Illustrated      334

D. Classics Illustrated Educational Series      335

E. Picture Parade/Picture Progress      335

F. Classics Illustrated Junior      336

G. Classics Illustrated Special Issues      342

H. The Best from Boys’ Life Comics      343

I. The World Around Us      344

J. British Classics Illustrated, First and Second Series      349

K. Classics Illustrated, Second Series (Berkley/First)      353

L. Classics Illustrated, Third Series, Study Guides (Acclaim)      353

M. Classics Illustrated, Fourth Series ( Jack Lake)      355

N. Classics Illustrated Junior, Second Series ( Jack Lake)      357

O. Classics Illustrated Special Issues, Second Series ( Jack Lake)      359

P. British Classics Illustrated, Third Series      359

Q. Papercutz Classics Illustrated DeLuxe Editions      360

R. Papercutz Classics Illustrated Editions      360

S. Correspondence Between Roberta Strauss and the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, re: The Dark Frigate      360

T. Letter from Roberta Strauss Feuerlicht to E. Nelson Bridwell      361

Bibliography      363

Index      367

Book Reviews & Awards

• “This second edition adds some 100 pages of in-depth details, new interviews, and the latest adventures of the series…an especially salient piece of comics culture…chronicles a growing respect for the medium…of interest to comics fans, culture watchers, educators, and high schoolers”—Library Journal

• “Highly recommended major revised edition…illuminating…more thorough and more heavily illustrated, than the original…a book to enjoy and appreciate again and again. Our Highest Recommendation”—Bud Plant, Bud’s Art Books

• “Fabulous…wonderful. A wealth of information is presented, bolstered by interviews with people, especially artists, who worked on the comics. The book’s layout is breathtaking…lavish. The repros of panels and covers are of exceptional quality, clear and crisp…excellent introduction…an extremely well researched, entertaining volume”—Classic Images

• “The appearance (or rather, reappearance, as a second edition) of this volume is an occasion for celebration across the world of comic art scholarship. There are no more than a dozen scholarly works (my favorites include Masters of American Comics, Will Elder: The Mad Playboy of Art, Underground Classics, Jews and American Comics and perhaps, although I am prejudiced, The Art of Harvey Kurtzman) in the field, nearly all of them quite recent. None is as exhaustive for any genre as this. Every reader interested in comic art, will find this volume illuminating. Close readers will find it different, more thorough and more heavily illustrated, than the original. It’s a book to enjoy and appreciate again and again.”—Paul Buhle (Jews and American Comics, The Art of Harvey Kurtzman) Swans Commentary

• “A comprehensive review of the art and careers of the creators…well researched, documented, and analyzed…important…interesting…highly recommended”—ARBA

• “Information is endless…this book encompasses all…an excellent addition to any library…entertaining…in-depth information”—Public Library Quarterly

• “A massive research project…source material is rigorously identified”—Comics Buyer’s Guide

• “Mr. Jones’ study represents the best memory book in a long time. Anyone who remembers horse drawn milk trucks, mail deliveries twice a day, faded red enema bags, pin boys at bowling alleys, the St. Louis Browns, and the ‘cat’s meow’ will love this book. It is a work of outstanding achievement”—Film & History

• “Splendidly readable account…detailed”—Filmfax

• “Influence is immeasurable…wonderfully illustrated”—Hitch

• “For millions of American baby boomers, monthly issues of Classics Illustrated were a colorful, exciting gateway to the classics of Western literature”—The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

• “Remarkably well researched…meticulously detail…a beautiful volume…painstakingly, almost lovingly, defines the series’ unique place in comic book and cultural history”—Neighbor News

• “Eentertaining, informative”—Active Years

• “A labour of love…an important work…a reminder of the legacy of Albert Kanter”—Weekender, Leader-Post

• “Meticulously indexed…copiously illustrated”—Reference & Research Book News

• “Generously illustrated”—Knowledge Quest

• “Interviews, behind-the-scenes secrets revealed and correspondence all combine to give a wide-stroke history of the publisher that introduced classic literature to several generations.”—Boyce McClain’s Collector’s Corner