Classics Illustrated

These were comics.

Yeah, I loved Superman and all the others. Don’t let me think too hard about what my comic collection looked like – Since I started reading them in the 50’s, I could have sent all of my kids through Harvard if I had kept them all.

But I loved the Classics. It may be part of the reason that I enjoyed reading the real things later… I think I read every book whose Classics Illustrated version I had encountered. These things were great – almost like Cliff’s Notes in graphic novel format. Over time I’ve been able to reassemble a fair percentage of the ones I had as a kid – fortunately for me, they’re not highly sought-after and so I can usually find bargains in used bookstores (but not at ComicCon, where the dealers charge ten prices.)

They were even popular in other languages – here a sample of Theseus and the Minotaur in Greek (I noticed with interest that this one was printed in katharevousa, with polytonic instead of monotonic accents, so that’s a good clue that it was published earlier than 1976 when dimotiki became the official Greek standard.)

There appears to be no date information anywhere in the comic, so I can’t tell you when this was printed, but the Greek series began publication in 1951.

Classics Illustrated Junior

These were funny, often silly, but educational nonetheless. I learned a lot from these when I was very young.

I remember being on a camping trip with my youngest son once – we were trying to get a fire started, or a Coleman stove, or something, and the matches were damp. At one point he came out with “What a dreadful match! It has gone completely out!” and I just about needed a change of trousers from laughing so hard. It was good to know that some of my early culture had rubbed off on the next generation.

The Old Wolf has spoken.