Saturday, December 20, 2014

For the Classics Illustrated fan on your Christmas list: Regent's Illustrated Classics, more

What to get the Classics Illustrated fan on our Christmas list? Too late for this season, of course, but Christmas 2015 is only 270 (or so) days away.  Time enough, maybe, to score a small set of Regent's Illustrated Classics, an obscure 1980s series which offered pirated Classics Illustrated art, Weekly Reader-style texts, and bad cover art.  Never heard of it?  Neither had I, until I read about these things in William B. Jones, Jr.'s Classics Illustrated: A Cultural History.   The moment I learned of their existence, I just had to locate some--maybe the CI fan on your list will find them as cool as I do.  The trick is finding them at non-stupid prices.  Beware the crazier ones being asked out there.  Please.  You'll hate yourself, otherwise.

Check out these covers, scanned from my collection.  I love them:

Chintzy, no?  But they're my kind of chintz.  (There's no accounting for lack of taste.) 

Understandably, William B. Jones, Jr. is down on this series--after all, it stole its material and altered the texts.  But I dig these for the black and white CI art reprints and, as I've already confessed, the tacky covers, most of them derived from splash page art (save for Frankenstein, which was blandly redone from the awesome line-drawn cover for that number).  Here, by the way, are some interior page samplings:  

Less obscure than the Regents pirates (probably way so) are the highly classy--and totally legit--Pendulum Press series of CI-style books, which showed up right about the time CI passed on.  I say "series of," because the Pendulum titles showed up under a number of logos, including Now Age Books, Pocket Classics, Picture Classics, AGS Illustrated Classics (reprints), and Lakewood Illustrated Classics (ditto).  The art was provided by excellent Filipino artists like Jun Lofamia (my favorite!), E.R. Cruz, and Nestor Redondo.  Wikipedia has a very good piece on Pendulum Press.

Here are some covers from my stash:

There were bios, also:


Below, I've scanned the back-cover promo pages for Now Age, AGS, and Lakewood.  Notice the resemblance?  

Picture Classics had a different back-cover blurb which listed two additional titles--The Great Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Three Musketeers:  

And, if you can find it, the Filipino National Classic Comics (a.k.a. National Classic Illustrated) series is quite nice, judging from the one issue (The Turn of the Screw, art by Jun Lofamia) in my collection.  These are contemporary with the Pendulum Press titles, and were even more CI-inspired.

Here are some cover images, all swiped from on-line, save for my reissue of Turn of the Screw, which had a Classics Illustrated logo added.  I'd sell the farm for the NCI Time Machine!

Other possibilities: Another Filipino series, Famous Classics Illustrated (wonder what line those were based on??).  Those look pretty cool (I have yet to land one).  Or, original series-wise, you can find a mint copy of Westward Ho! (Classics Illustrated, No. 14) if you've got the dough.  And only if the CI collector on your list is a really, really close friend.



  1. I just ran across your blog. I've been loking for a decent image of "The Flayed Hand" boko for over a year!! That book, of course, contains a reprint of CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED #21 from 1947, which has the 1st comics version of "The Murders In The Rue Morgue" in it, along with stories by 2 other authors (Arthur Conan Doyle & Guy De Maupassant).

    I've been working on a MASSIVE Edgar Allan Poe blog project since October 2014, attempting to compile in one place every Poe comics adaptation in one place, chronologically.

    It all starts here...

    1. Glad to be of help! I've checked out your blog, and I love it. So Charlton did the first comic book adaptation of "Pit and the Pendulum"?? Too cool! I would have thought it was CI, of course.

      The Regents covers are (badly) redrawn from the original interior art--usually the splash pages, of course. I lucked out and got a set of these for very reasonable money on eBay....