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Classics Illustrated: A Cultural History, with Illustrations Hardcover – Illustrated, November, 2001

5 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"...a massive research project... His source material is rigorously annotated with identification." -- Comics Buyer's Guide # 1457 (October 19, 2001)

"A comprehensive review of the art and careers of the creators... well researched, documented, and analyzed…important... interesting... highly recommended" -- ARBA

"Fabulous... wonderful... wealth of information... layout is breathtaking... lavish... exceptional quality, clear and crisp... excellent introduction... extremely well researched, entertaining" -- Classic Images

"Influence is immeasurable...wonderfully illustrated" -- Hitch

"Information is endless... this book... encompasses all... an excellent addition to any library... entertaining... in-depth information" -- Public Library Quarterly

"Remarkably well researched...meticulously detail...a beautiful volume...defines the series’ unique place in comic book and cultural history" -- Neighbor News

"Represents the best memory book in a long time...a work of outstanding achievement" -- Film & History

About the Author

William B. Jones, Jr. lives in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is also the author of Robert Louis Stevenson Reconsidered: New Critical Perspectives (2003). He has written on twentieth-century American popular culture and has co-produced an archival CD compilation of regional garage-band music.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 287 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company; 1st edition edition (November 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786410779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786410774
  • Product Dimensions: 11.5 x 8.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,926,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ever said that line? Then you'll love this beautifully written and lovingly researched book about the history of Classics Illustrated.

Jones manages to evoke the characters of the men and women who contributed to this fascinating niche of Americana: illustrators, editors, publishers, and even its detractors. Interviews were obviously thorough, chapters are meticulously footnoted, and yet it reads like ...well, like an engrossing classic tale of adventure! Pick a chapter at random or read from cover-to-cover... it's consistently a winner.

While occasionally too ready with a disavowal of nostalgia, Jones does not hesitate to reveal his personal lifelong love of the comic book series. Truly, the best works of fandom itself can be so endearing, so contagious with admiration and awe. This book is no exception. Like myself, Jones loved the comics when he was a kid. Just as publisher Albert Kanter intended, as an adult I've managed to read every word of the real Count of Montecristo and War of the Worlds and The Moonstone, but I first learned these vivid and amazing tales by reading the Classics versions. Jones augments my personal appreciation and gratitude in this excellent book.

His work was in-depth and, while certainly using a critic's eye, relatively even-handed when it comes to the series' contributors. Now, reading the book, Jones has even made me appreciate the work of Classics artists whose pages I'd previously disliked.

Excellent illustrations, particularly of rare pages and covers, fill the book. Nice personal photos of the artists and editors are a great touch, seeing as this is a book of both down-to-earth and scholarly sensibilities.
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Format: Hardcover
The thing I appreciate most about this book is the soberness (with no lapses into pretentiousness or portentousness) the author brings to his subject. A survey of Classics Illustrated, to be sure, could have very easily elicited yet another visually engaging pretty-picture book saddled with a stridently jokey, throwaway text --ala Chronicle Books. We can be thankful that the tone here is intelligent, the level of detail scholarly, and very few, if any, stones are left unturned. The author has done all his homework, giving all known writers, editors, artists of the series coverage commensurate with their contribution.
This is a thoughtful, caring volume that is so much more than a tribute to a long-gone comic series, although it could be read as that too. One can't help but feel this is a primer on the way more books about popular culture really ought to be written.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
CLASSSICS ILLUSTRATED comprised such a crucial, influential, and above all, entertaining part of my youth that they have never entirely left me, and in fact I still have my entire childhood collection, and then some. The author of this book, William B. Jones, notes that his approach to the subject is meant to be objective in nature; but of course anyone raised on CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED can never be completely objective about them, and time and again Jones' understandable passion for these books seeps through. Nor is it simply nostalgia: when I go back to reread old issues it is mainly for the inherent richness of the storytelling and artwork they contain. Where in all comic book history is there a work so profound and moving as the Norman Nodel-illustrated LES MISERABLES, or as sad and tragic as the Angelo Torres-illustrated TOILERS OF THE SEA? Where is the comic book art that can excel, for its sense of historical time and place and fine drawing, John Severin's treatment of the Alamo and the Mexican War in BLAZING THE TRAILS WEST? Has there ever been a swashbuckling comic book so superbly ALIVE as George Evans' treatment of THE THREE MUSKETEERS? As for THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, I wholly agree with the author that it was never adapted so effectively, in any medium, as it was in CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED. I could go on. This is not to say that there weren't issues that were pretty bad, especially in the early days, and Mr. Jones freely admits this. But for those who are already familiar with this series, and especially for those who aren't, I cheerfully recommend this book as a kind of bible to CI and its several related series. I learned so much that was new to me about the issues, the artists, the editors, and the evolution and ultimate decline of the publishing house, Gilberton Company. The packaging and layout and paper quality of the book is a delight. Bravo, Mr. Jones! And bravo, CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED!
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Format: Hardcover
About every five or ten years, when the nay sayers are about to bury Classics Illustrated again, they bloom from the earth like the Phoenix rising from the flames. And now, Willian B. Jones Jr has taken the baton for this decade, for this century, and brought new and exiciting joy to the legion of Classics Illustrated collectors. How much more new information is there to be found on the wonderful illustrated stories that Al Kanter first brought to us in Octover of 1941? The answer is that we will never know but we keep on finding more and more. We can speculate about Red Majic, Action Play Books, Red Projectors, Tatoos, Classics Boxes, Pen and Pencil sets and many other yet to be explored items of the Classics Illustreated lore. But here, Bill Jones has filled in a tremendous gap for all of the ages to enjoy. What a tremendous effort! What an overwhelmingly comprehensive peeling away of the darkness to open the lives and tribulations of anyone who ever picked up a pen, pencil or brush to bring us Classics Illustrated. As the acknowledged Father of Classics Illustrated collecting it brings unbrided joy to my heart to read and reread the wonderful stories that Bill weaves on every page about the men and women behind the comics we came to love as Classics Illustrated. His effort is now in a second printing and deserves many, many more. My Classics Illustrated collectors friends are buying this book whenever they can. It is a joyful six hour read to be then put aside and opened randomly again and again with refreshing illumination with every new opening. Buy this now! You will not see the likes of this ever again. Raymond S. True, Classic Comics Library
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