Friday, January 9, 2015

The Pendulum Press mystery deepens....

I tried hard to come up with some "pendulum" word play for the post title.  I focused and focused, hoping some arc of creativity would put me on the path to a razor-sharp pun, but, in the end, I just couldn't swing it.  That'll happen.

So, I told you about the Classics Illustrated (and Classics Illustrated Junior) reissues published by Pendulum Press, Inc.  Turns out there were twelve of these:

Black Beauty, v. 1
The Call of the Wild, v. 2
Cinderella, v. 3
Frankenstein, v. 4
Huckleberry Finn, v. 5
Moby Dick, v. 6
Negro Americans--The Early Years, v. 7
The Red Badge of Courage, v. 8
The Time Machine, v. 9
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, v. 10
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, v. 11
The Wizard of Oz, v. 12

To date, I've gotten my paws on one of these (20,000 Leagues...) and have seen cover scans for two others, so we know they exist(ed).  The memory of these Pendulum Press CI reissues was long ago eclipsed ("obliterated" may be the better verb) by the Pendulum Press series which began in 1973 and featured new adaptations drawn by Filipino artists under the supervision of Vincent Fago.  The series title remained the same--"Now Age Illustrated" (and/or "Now Age Books Illustrated").

It's the latter series that people know and remember, of course, not the twelve CI reissues.  Eager to get more information about the CI's, I bought a copy of Rosebud Graphic Classics: Arthur Conan Doyle (2002), which starts out with the Vincent Fago essay, "Nestor Redondo and the Pendulum Classics."  Lots of great inside data about the Philippines-drawn Now Age titles (which were three years in the planning, starting in 1970), but zilch about CI!  No word on when or why they came out.  My copy of the CI 20,000 Leagues... reissue gives the original copyright date but no printing date, so there you are.

Is it possible that, during the three years Fago was getting the Philippines-drawn adaptations together (1970-73), Pendulum Press got impatient and insisted that something be published under the "Now Age Illustrated" series title, even it that meant recycling someone else's previous line?  Just musing on my part, but it's highly possible, given the fact that the Classics Illustrated series met its end in 1972, just in time for Fago to get reprint rights.  It's possible, even likely, that the Pendulum CI reissues were never intended as anything except filler until the new, all-original series could get going.  In the first edition of his Classics Illustrated: A Cultural History, William B. Jones. Jr. writes that the Filipino-drawn Now Age comics came about when the CI reissues (for which he gives a 1972 date) failed to sell well, but would this have given Pendulum enough time to effect a series turnaround?  Doesn't seem likely.

Below: Front and back cover, and interior splash page, from the Now Age reissue (1972?) of the 1948 Classics Illustrated version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which featured b&w reproductions of the great Henry Keifer illustrations. The back cover blurb (with "reading is fun!" in large, bold font) carried over into the new-art series, along with the Now Age Books logo:

The cover art was expanded from this interior panel:


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