Vintage Classics Illustrated Comic Books

Classics Illustrated was founded in 1941 by Russian-born publisher Albert Lewis Kanter. Under the name Elliot Publishing Co., and later Gilberton Company, Inc., Kanter adapted classic books and novels for the comic-book format. In 1967, Kanter sold his company to Twin Circle’s Frawley Corporation, and by 1971, with 169 publications to its name, the classic era of Classics Illustrated had come to an end.

The series actually began as Classic Comics, with an abridged version of “The Three Musketeers,” the Alexandre Dumas tale of the swashbuckling Aramis, Athos, Porthos, and their young protégé, D’Artagnan. With its line-drawn cover and interior art by Malcolm Kildale, the story ran for 64 of the comic book’s 68 total pages. Like most original printings of Classic Comics, issue number 1 of “The Three Musketeers” features the price (“10¢”) in the upper-right corner of the front cover, plus a preview of the following issue (“Ivanhoe”) on the back cover. Kildale did the line-drawn cover art for “Ivanhoe,” too, but that was the extent of his contributions to the series.

One of the things that keeps collectors of Classics Illustrated busy are the numerous cover variations, which can affect the value of a given title by as much as 90%. For example, there are 23 editions of “The Three Musketeers,” the first dozen of which feature the Kildale art. Subsequent issues had what are known as painted covers, a reduced page count of 64, new interior art, and a price increase of a nickel (the last two editions of “The Three Musketeers” in 1969 and 1971 cost a quarter).

In addition to cover, interior art, and page-count changes, early issues of Classic Comics were rebranded as Classics Illustrated in 1947. By then, the series numbered 34 issues. The last Classic Comics was Jules Verne’s “Mysterious Island,” whose cover depicts a smoking volcano in the background. The first Classics Illustrated was issue number 35, Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s “The Last Days of Pompeii,” whose garish cover by Henry Kiefer (the first of dozens by the artist) also features a volcano, but this one is erupting, causing oxen, horses, and people to flee for their lives.

Other titles in the series include “The Count of Monte Cristo” (one of nine by Dumas), “The Last of the Mohicans” (one of eight by James Fennimore Cooper), “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” (one of 10 by Jules Verne), “Romeo and Juliet” (one of five by William Shakespeare), and “Huckleberry Finn” (one of four by Mark Twain).

In 1953, Kanter created an even more youthful spinoff of Classics Illustrated called Classics Illustrated Junior, whose sources were well-known children's books. The first issue, number 501, introduced kids to “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” whose interior art was created by Classics Illustrated stalwart Alex Blum. Collectors of Junior titles focus almost exclusively on original printings since the reprints feature no cover or interior art differences to drive demand.

As with Classics Illustrated, Classics Illustrated Junior ceased publication in 1971. Its last issue was number 577, “The Runaway Dumpling,” which is described on the inside of t...

Three other Classic Illustrated titles of interest are the Giants printed in October 1949. Each had a new cover by Kiefer, cost 50 cents on newsstands, and contained reprints of four full issues. The Giant called “An Illustrated Library of Great Adventure Stories” includes “Tale of Two Cities,” “Robin Hood,” “Arabian Nights,” and “Robinson Crusoe.” The title devoted to “Exciting Mystery Stories” features yarns by Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe, and Robert Louis Stevenson. As for “Great Indian Stories,” it collected four of CI’s most popular James Fennimore Cooper issues (4, 17, 22, and 37).

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"doctor No" Classic Illustrated #158a Uk/australian IssueClassic Comics #13 Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde By Robert Louis Stevenson 1943Classic Comics #18 Hunchback Of Notre Dame March 1944 By Victor HugoClassic Comics #23 Oliver Twist (jul 1945, Gilberton) Cgc 9.2 Nm-Classic Comics #29 Good The Prince And The Pauper 1946 Hrn 29 1st PrintClassic Comics #12 Rip Van Winkle/headless Horseman (6/43,gilberton) Cgc 7.5 Vf-"joan Of Arc". Classics Illustrated Comic #78. 50 Pages In Full ColourClassics Illustrated Lot: #1, 3, 5, 17, 24, 26, 34, 52, 55,&138 Fr-fn (10 Books)Classics Illustrated #21 Good 3 Famous Mysteries Hrn 114Classic Comics #28 Good Michael Strogoff Hrn 28 1st PrintClassic Comics Comic Book No12 Rip Vanwinkle And The Headless Horseman NiceClassic Comics No. 26 Frankenstein Dec 1945Classic Illustrated Comic Newspaper "the Prairie" National Catholic PressClassics Illustrated No. 57 The Song Of Hiawatha (hrn 55)Classics Illustrated Digital Comic Collection On Two Dvd's #' 1- 169 Many ExtrasClassic Comics #20 Fair / Poor The Corsican Brothers Hrn 28Classics Illustrated #18 Very Good- The Hunchback Of Notre Dame Hrn 60Classics Illustrated #17 Fine The Dearslayer Hrn 64Wuthering Heights By Emily Bronte -1947- Rainbow Classics- Illustrated By Nell BClassics Illustrated Lot - 23 Different Marvel Classics -great Started Set - VgClassics Illustrated Comic - # 42 Swiss Family Robinson (original) Vg+ M.o.Classics Illustrated Rack Pack Of 2 - # 50 Tom Sawyer & #24 A Connecticut YankeeClassic Comics No. 13 Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde 1946Lot Of 20 Classic Illustrated Reprints + Others- Crossroads- Merchants Of DeathClassics Illustrated - #47 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (original) Vg/vg+ M.o.Classic Illustrated - Mr. Midshipman Easy - No.74 - 1950Classic Illustrated - The Cloister And The Hearth - No.66 - 1949Classics Illustrated Junior #540 The Tinder - Box July 1957 Fr/gd Comic BookClassics Illustrated #42, Swiss Family Robinson Hrn 131Classics Illustrated From The Earth To The Moon No. 105 Comic Book 1953Classics Illustrated Lot:#63, 86, 97, 100, 128, 136, 138, 144,&155 Fr-f(9 Books)Classics Illustrated #16 Very Fine Gulliver's Travels Hrn 62Classics Illustrated #16 Fine+ Gulliver's Travels Hrn 165Classics Illustrated #17 Very Good- The Dearslayer Hrn 60Classics Illustrated #18 Very Good / Fine The Hunchback Of Notre Dame Hrn 62Classics Illustrated #18 Fine- The Hunchback Of Notre Dame Hrn 118Classics Illustrated #18 Very Good+ The Hunchback Of Notre Dame Hrn 158Classics Illustrated #18 Vg / Fine The Hunchback Of Notre Dame 1970 Hrn 169Classics Illustrated #19 Very Good- Huckleberry Finn Hrn 117Classics Illustrated #18 Very Good / Fine The Hunchback Of Notre Dame Hrn 166Classic Comics - Arabian Nights - No.8 - 1943Classic Comics #21 Fair / Poor 3 Famous Mysteries Hrn 30Classic Comics #27 Very Good+ The Adventures Of Marco Polo Hrn 30Classics Illustrated Special Issue 129! Gd 2.0! The Story Of Jesus! Golden Age!Lot Of Five (5) Classics Illustrated Comic Books 1940's,50's,& 60's- No ReserveClassics Illustrated #9 Les Miserables (hrn 166) (double Cover) Vg+ ConditionClassic Illustrated Comic Newspaper "the Food Of Thegod" National Catholic PressClassics Illustrated No. 67 The Scottish Chiefs (hrn 67)Classics Illustrated #133 "the Time Machine" H.g.wells - Hrn #167 - $0.15 ComicClassics Illustrated "the Call Of The Wild" Acclaim Comic Study Guide LondonClassics Illustrated Junior 559 - The Japanese Lantern (jan 1967, Gilberton)Lot #3 Classics Illustrated - Under Two Flags (#86) & The Ox-bow Incident (#125)Classics Illustrated - Marvel Classics Comics # 28 Pit And The Pendulum- Vg/vg+Classics Illustrated #17 Very Good / Fine The Dearslayer Hrn 118Classics Illustrated #17 Very Good / Fine The Dearslayer Hrn 167Classics Illustrated #17 Fine+ The Dearslayer Hrn 169Classics Illustrated #19 Very Good- Huckleberry Finn Hrn 131Classics Illustrated #19 Very Fine Huckleberry Finn Summer 1970 Hrn 169Classics Illustrated #29 Fine+ The Prince And The Pauper 1970 Hrn 169Classics Illustrated #16 Fine+ Gulliver's Travels Hrn 169

Recent News: Classics Illustrated Comic Books

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Washington Post, September 9th

As he notes, he recently — in an assignment for Penguin Classics — illustrated and designed a centennial edition of Joyce's “The Dubliners.” And so again, Muradov doesn't merely draw scenes; he renders art that ... “I'm a bit overwhelmed by the sheer...Read more

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San Angelo Standard Times, August 30th

And it certainly is fresh, especially to those of us who grew up with the stodgy “Classics Illustrated” adaptations of half a century ago. And while U.S. publisher Papercutz currently has a high-quality “Classics Illustrated” line, they haven't yet...Read more

CAPTAIN COMICS: A manga Les Mis?
Indiana Gazette, August 29th

And it certainly is fresh, especially to those of us who grew up with the stodgy “Classics Illustrated” adaptations of half a century ago. And while U.S. publisher Papercutz currently has a high-quality “Classics Illustrated” line, they haven't yet...Read more

In my library: Lorenzo Carcaterra
New York Post, August 16th

I fell in love with the story as a boy reading the Classics Illustrated comic version, then read and re-read the Bantam Books version in high school and each year after. For my money, the story of Edmond Dantes and his quest for revenge will never be...Read more