BBC Radio 4 Celebrates 70 years of Classics Illustrated 

Classic Comics presentes "The Three Musketeers"

BBC Radio 4 has been celebrating 70 years of Classics Illustrated with a special programme about the comic, broadcast earlier today, and available now through iPlayer.

Marking the 70th anniversary of the comic book Classics Illustrated, actor Bill Paterson explores the publication’s impact and recent revival on Britain’s bookshelves.

Classics Illustrated, the comic book adaptations of classic literature, began in America in 1941, starting with an adaptation of The Three Musketeers, followed by Ivanhoe and The Count of Monte Cristo, and soon became a favourite reading material for children and many adults.

Paterson reveals his lifelong passion for the comic as he charts the fortunes of Russian Jewish immigrant Albert Kantner, who conceived the idea of a comic book series as self-contained abridgments of a literary work into a single comic book.

Over a thirty year period a vast range of literary classics were adapted, from The War of the Worlds to Sherlock Holmes, Moby Dick, Treasure Island, Faust and Dr No.

The first appearance of James Bond in comics: Classics Illustrated #158A, published in December 1962 with cover and interior art by Norman J. Nodel.
The first appearance of James Bond in comics: Classics Illustrated #158A, published in December 1962 with cover and interior art by Norman J. Nodel.

These publications later became popular in Britain but the series regularly came under fire for distracting children from reading the original stories.

Contributors to the show include Professor John Sutherland and British bookseller Jeff Brooks who in recent years revived the comic book versions using the original artwork with new covers.

Classic Illustrated 49 - "A Midsummer Night's Dream
Following up on the release of a number of hardback editions in June, seven new titles in the Classics Illustrated Modern Regular were recently announced: Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Davy Crockett, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Rob Roy, Tom Brown’s School Days and The Food of the Gods.

Classics Illustrated – The Comic Book Unbound is  available to listen online via BBC iPlayer here

Find out more about Classics Illustrated in the UK here

With thanks to Paul Gravett

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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