Sunday, 13 November 2016

Marvel Classics Comics: Tom Sawyer

I absolutely read the cover off this issue of Marvel Classics Comics as a kid, and I still think it holds up really well. Tom & Huck are the perfect, original boys' heroes you'd love to be friends with, and Injun Joe is one of the all-time great villains in any genre.
It's puzzling though, why Marvel felt the need with Classics Comics to use such huge speech balloons and typefaces. Maybe they thought it'd sell to educators and schools better that way, but they did make their rep partly on the fact that, as a company, they didn't talk down to kids. Or maybe it was to sell to the same parents who were buying their kid's Spidey Super Stories, I don't know, but it's a shame they felt they had to do that.
Irwin Shapiro contributes a pretty good adaptation of Clemens' book though, keeping the flavour and language nearly as well as Roy Thomas would've, and ER Cruz' art is evocative and slick too, although here's the thing:
We've all got comic artists we hated as kids, who now we've grown to appreciate. I'm sort of going the other way with ER Cruz. I find his later stuff, particularly for Warren, too slick and pristine, and almost completely soulless. His characters all look much too much the same, with blank, expressionless mannequin faces and dead, empty eyes, and though Tom Sawyer is the best thing I've seen him do, there's elements of that here too. Each page is undoubtedly a well-designed visual feast. Until you look at the faces.
There are some poor, misguided people who can't stand Gil Kane's patented up-the-nose shot, so maybe it's just like that....


  1. The stories in the first dozen issues of MARVEL CLASSICS (this one included) were not actually produced by Marvel. They were done for a line of paperbacks called Pendulum Illustrated Classics. The Marvel versions are reprints, printed in a larger size and with the additions of color and Gil Kane covers. +