Marvel Classics Adapted Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Literature in the 1970s
Marvel Classics Comics #20 Frankenstein (Marvel Comics, 1977)
MAN vs MONSTER The Ultimate Classic of Nightmare and Retribution told in the MIGHTY MARVEL MANNER!
Like many kids my age, I owe a debt of gratitude to Marvel for introducing me to classic literature through this series. While the interior art isn’t anything spectacular, the covers always worked their magic and the stories, being the classics they are, did the rest.
At 52 pages, and without ads, these were long comics compared to most.
Stan Lees Presents Marvel Classics Comics Featuring Frankenstein
- Freely Adapted from the novel by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly (Shelley is misspelled throughout this comic)
- Written by John Warner
- Drawn by Dino Castrillo
- Lettered by John Costanza
- Colored by Petra Goldberg
I’ve scanned the first 21 pages of my well-read copy for your reading pleasure (click on the each page to open a larger image for reading):
About Marvel Classics Comics
Between 1976 and 1978, Marvel Comics published a series called Marvel Classics Comics adapting classic literature in the vein of the long-running Classics Illustrated, which had ceased publication in 1971.
I was well immersed in the Marvel Universe by the time this series appeared, but I was also old enough (10 years old in 1976) to be reading some of the classic works of Jules Verne, HG Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs by this time. The fact that Marvel Classics Comics included a lot of classic horror and sci-fi literature in this series drew me in and was my first exposure to many of these novels.
I still have my original copies of these book sin my comic book collection and thought it would be fun to share them with you. While my collection includes such titles as Black Beauty and Moby Dick, my collection is overwhelmingly focused on the more fantastic adaptations, including Dracula, The Time Machine, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and such. I plan to feature them all here in due course.
By the time Marvel published issue #20, adapting Mary Shelley‘s novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus in 1977, I was quite familiar with both Universal’s version of the story as well as Marvel’s own version of the monster. So this one surprised me a bit. While I noted the difference in the monster’s appearance on the cover, I was already familiar with the idea that there were different versions, thanks largely to my front-to-back readings of Famous Monsters of Filmland every month. It would be years before I would actually read Mary Shelley’s novel, so I was surprised at how different the story was. The monster could talk! More than that. he actually plotted and tool revenge in a calculated manner — I clearly recall not likely this version of the monster, who I always found one of the most sympathetic of the classic monsters due to Karloff’s magical portrayal.
Current price guide values list Near Mint copies of this comic at $13.50, and copies are readily available. None of the Marvel Classics series has appreciated significantly, in part because it’s not original creative content. Nonetheless, they make a nice addition to any Frankenstein or classic monster collection
Multiple copies are currently listed on eBay at less than $10.
In the early 80’s, Fisher-Price re-published several of the Marvel Classics comics as hardcovers and included fully-produced cassette tapes featuring audio recordings of the stories complete with sound effects and music. Intended as “read-along” to accompany the books.
What was your favorite issue in the Marvel Classics Comics series? Please share in the comment section: