September 4, 2019
One in a weekly series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of our favorite comic books, comic strips, and graphic novels.
In the summer of 1973, aged ten, I was living on a sprawling air force base in Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province.
Instead of allowing me a happy school’s-out sojourn on the Cavendish dunes, my parents sent me to a scout camp for eight weeks of paramilitary torture, complete with rifle training and angry morning calisthenics. This annual exile would continue for years, with a memorably horrible excursion to Newfoundland, where I had to be rescued from a hilltop bramble patch, and a winter orienteering contest in Manitoba, when I avoided frostbite only by sitting in a lean-to constructed of windfall tree limbs and drinking birch-bark tea.
Anyway! In ’73 I was allowed to pack some comics in my kit bag, along with all the required boots, berets, and blankets. My mother, a child of the CCA era, insisted that they be educational. And so: Classics Illustrated, aka Classic Comics, aka the weirdest comics ever produced.
From 1941 to 1971, this quixotic project, brought to life by Russian-born publisher Albert Kanter, rendered (among others) The Three Musketeers, Ivanhoe, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Last of the Mohicans in pulp-and-panel form. Not every hero is superhuman, you scouts! Ivanhoe was my favourite.
My 1973 camp-carries must have been hand-me-downs from my older brother, another victim of our parents’ summer character-regime. Of course I envied the other kids their cool Marvel and DC comics. Of course they mocked me for my geeky uncool ones. But I remember the stories, and later I read the actual books. Of course I did.
The camp was called, in now-unforgivable faux-Mi’kmaq mode, Tamawaby. That is: “[To] [a]void [m]ending [a]dults, [w]e [a]re [b]uilding [y]outh.” I’m far from unmended these days, but I will always cherish that summer, and the flashlight-under-covers pleasure of any comic book, however dorky. Classics, illustrated.
SERIOCOMIC: Mimi Lipson on LITTLE LULU | Sara Ryan on AMPHIGOREY | Gary Panter on THE NUT BROS./THE SQUIRREL CAGE | Gordon Dahlquist on POGO | Robert Wringham on VIZ | Matthew De Abaitua on CAPTAIN BRITAIN | Jessamyn West on FUN HOME | Bradley Peterson on HELLBOY | Stephanie Burt on KITTY PRYDE RETURNS | Jenny Davidson on OOR WULLIE | Luc Sante on MARSUPILAMI | Susan Roe on BLOOM COUNTY | Marilyn Berlin Snell on CHARLES ADDAMS | Deb Chachra on ARKHAM ASYLUM | Judith Zissman on ERNIE POOK’S COMEEK | Alexandra Lange on BETTY (ARCHIE) | Catherine Newman on VERONICA (ARCHIE) | Josh Glenn on SPIRE CHRISTIAN COMICS | Adam McGovern on THE CREW | William Nericcio on ERRATA STIGMATA | Chelsey Johnson on DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR | Sherri Wasserman on TANK GIRL | Tom Nealon on MEGATON MAN | Erin M. Routson on THE WEDDING OF SCOTT SUMMERS & JEAN GREY | Douglas Wolk on FRANK IN THE RIVER | Annie Nocenti on DICK TRACY | James Parker on 2000 AD | Adrienne Crew on NUTS | Vanessa Berry on MEAT CAKE | John Holbo on WITZEND | Michael Campochiaro on SPIDER-WOMAN | Miranda Mellis on RED SONJA & BÊLIT | Michael Grasso on THE NEW MUTANTS | Ty Burr on BINKY BROWN | Bishakh Som on AMAR CHITRA KATHA | Mark Kingwell on CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED | Brian Berger on JIMBO | Kenya (Robinson) on AGENT 355 | Seth on THE ETERNALS ANNUAL | Susannah Breslin on SLASHER | Lisa Kahlden on JACK CHICK TRACTS | Mandy Keifetz on KRAZY KAT | Tom Devlin on DUM-DUM POSSE READER | Eric Reynolds on ACTION COMICS #460 | Rick Pinchera on EIGHTBALL #16 | Juan Recondo on DAYTRIPPER | Elizabeth Foy Larsen on ROZ CHAST | J.E. Anckorn on HALO JONES | Deborah Wassertzug on GREAT POP THINGS | Peggy Nelson on MAD MOVIE SATIRES | Holly Interlandi on ANGEL SANCTUARY | Karen Green on THE SMITHSONIAN COLLECTION OF NEWSPAPER COMICS.
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