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date: 02 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

During its thirty-year history, from 1941 to 1971, the first US series of Classics Illustrated comic-book adaptations of literary fiction and biography continually reaffirmed its intent to guide young readers to engagement with “the original text.” Adaptation approaches varied in the 169 titles over the course of decades of new-title production. Most of the earlier issues remained in print, resulting in a mixture of simultaneously available adaptation styles. The three eras in CI adaptation might be loosely described as Interpretive (1941–44), Hybrid (1945–56), and Faithful (1957–62). Although scriptwriters’ methods overlapped, precluding neat boundaries, the issue of textual fidelity was a constant concern, explicitly or implicitly. Analyses of individual adaptations by representative scriptwriters illuminate the evolution of adaptation goals and strategies in a new, disfavored medium and reveal the adapters’ offhand creation of their own canon that in some ways has outlasted the canon they sought to enshrine.

Keywords: literary adaptation, Classics Illustrated, comic book, textual fidelity, adaptation, scriptwriter

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