By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.
I fully admit I am
an adult that still gets excited to go into a comic book shop. I am also a parent who has used children’s
books, as well as comics to introduce reading to my girls. I have also used
comics in my classroom to help get students more excited about a certain time
period. Classics Illustrated was a series of comics that ran for thirty
years (1941-1971) and would adapt well known novels into comic book form. Think of it as an earlier version of
CliffNotes with pictures for students.
Many of the Classics Illustrated
comics hold up well, they were beautifully adapted and illustrated. For my girls, they enjoy the comics as much,
and in some cases more than the original book. So, let us take a trip down
memory lane with some classic sci-fi adapted novels from H.G. Wells and Jules
You can read H.G. Wells
classics like The Time Machine (No.
133) and The Frist Men on the Moon
(No. 144). The Time Machine
(originally published in 1895) is about an English scientist and the time
machine he creates and uses. He uses his machine to travel to 802,701, where he
meets the Eloi and the Morlocks. Unlike
the original novel, in the comic adaption the Time Traveller is not set in
Victorian England but instead contemporary 1950s. Also, the bonus feature in the comic is part
of a 12 part series on The Story of Great
The First Men in the Moon (originally published in 1901) is about a
journey to the Moon by a businessman, Mr. Bedford, and an eccentric scientist, Mr.
Cavor. Long before we would actually go the moon, Wells let us know about
things like weightlessness, and that Moon travel was possible. Unfortunately, he was wrong about finding a civilization
of insect-like creatures called the Selenites.
Sadly, there is no bonus feature in this comic. However, there is extra info on The Mysterious Moon and Celestial Streaks (Comets).
Some of the great
Jules Verne adaptions are Around the
World in 80 Days (No. 69), Off on a
Comet (No. 149), and Master of the
World (No. 163). Around the World in
Eighty Days (first published in 1873) is the story of Phileas Fogg and his
French valet Passepartout as they attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80
days thanks to a £20,000 bet. The extras in the comics are about Der Meistersinger by Richard Wagner, Smoky The Quick Thinking Dog and Thomas Wedgwood, the inventor of the
Off on a Comet (originally published in 1877) is about the comet
Gallia. When it collides with Earth it
carries a part of it off including 36 people. As they travel on the comet, they
are able to explore the solar system and eventually return back to the Earth.
Extras in the comic are about Mercury and Jupiter, and one on the constellations.
Master of the World (first published in 1904) is a sequel to
Robur the Conqueror. In the comic, Robur has perfected his new invention, the
Terror. It is a vehicle that can be many things, a speedboat, submarine,
automobile, or aircraft. It is up to John Strock to find him and the Terror.
The extras in the comic are Who Knows?,
a short story, and The Bride comes to
Yellow Sky. There is also a short
comic about Socrates.
One thing I really
like about Classics Illustrated is
that each contain a bio on the author.
It is really nice that the reader can read the novel in comic/graphic
form and then learn all about the person who wrote it. Another great thing is that each story also
ends with the same challenge: “Now that
you have read the Classics Illustrated edition, don’t miss the added enjoyment
of reading the original, obtainable at your school or public library.”
These are just a few
sci-fi classics, what novel would you like to read as a comic book?