Classics Illustrated Joins Kids In Schools

by Jeff

In January, kids will reluctantly return to school. Luckily, Classics Illustrated will join them.

Classics Illustrated has introduced generations of students to great literature. These comic-book editions of novels, plays, and epic poems sold about 200 million copies from 1941 through 1998. Since then, librarians and educators have come to appreciate comics’ power to pull kids toward reading. As a result, several publishers have rushed to launch educational graphic novel programs.

Now, the series that started the trend is back.

Papercutz — publisher of graphic-novel series such as The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Tales from the Crypt — is reviving the series in two formats. Classics Illustrated presents abridged versions of classic novels, while Classics Illustrated Deluxe features longer, more expansive adaptations. These books are not jobs that the publisher has assigned as if ordering a stack of sandwiches, but labors of love by some of comics’ finest artists.

The line begins with Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, adapted by Michel Plessix. Later volumes will include Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations by Rick Geary, followed by Grimm’s Fairy Tales and The Invisible Man. Each adaptation will come from an artist with a special expertise in the book’s tone and topic. Great Expectations’ Geary, for example, is the writer-artist of the Treasury of Victorian Murder graphic-novel series and an expert in Dickensian England.

You can see Wind in the Willows art at,, and The 144-page book is available in both hardcover ($17.95) and trade paperback editions ($13.95). Plessix’s elaborately painted pages, precise storytelling, and style that can best be called “detailed impressionism” have earned shining reviews such as “adds dramatic flair to the beloved story” (Publishers Weekly), “brings to mind the best storybooks of our childhood” (Memphis Commercial Appeal) and “Excellent! Lively and fun!”(Children’s Bookwatch). F.Y.I., 2008 is The Wind in the Willows’ 100th anniversary.

Classics Illustrated was the creation of Albert Lewis Kanter (1897-1973), a visionary publisher. Kanter believed that comics could introduce young readers to great literature. In 1941, he launched Classic Comics (changed to Classics Illustrated in 1947). For thirty years, Kanter produced more than 200 Classics Illustrated and Classics Illustrated Junior publications. They introduced young readers worldwide to fiction, history, folklore, mythology, and science —

In 1990, the Berkley Publishing Group and First Publishing revived Classics Illustrated as a series of graphic novels featuring new adaptations by such top graphic novelists as Rick Geary, Bill Sienkiewicz, Kyle Baker, and Gahan Wilson. Papercutz will reprint many of these books. Papercutz has also obtained rights to new adaptations of the classics by some of the world’s finest graphic novelists. Published under the Classics Illustrated Deluxe imprint, they devote three to five times as many pages as the previous series and more fully capture the depth of the original novels.

For more information or to request review copies, please contact Papercutz publicist David Seidman at or 310-652-4369.

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