Classics Illustrated Bonanza Studios

Grt_Britain told in pictures

An Appreciation of
Classics Illustrated
Strato Publications (UK)

Putting together this web page came about because in 1998 although there were and still are American sites, I could not find any UK details.
Below is what data I have been able cobble together to-date. If you have any further details, please email me.

Classics Illustrated was started in America in the 1940s by Albert L Kanter and published by Gilberton World Wide Publications Inc. New York,
It is possible that he had seen or was aware of the Sankey, Hudson & Co. series of publications under the title "Britain's Story Told In Pictures".
The earliest edition that I am aware of being 1933.
(Update: 1/3/2010)

Though I have not found any evidence to the effect it is quite possible that some early prints of Classics Illustrated were imported with the
stationing of American troops in the
UK during WWII, however, Classics Illustrated appeared in print, in the UK under licence from
Gilberton World Wide Publications Inc. by Strato Publications Ltd. (head off.) 39 upper Brook Street,
London, W.1.
The company as far as I can find out is no longer in business.

Around 1950 the UK selling price started at about 9p, and rose in 1955-1960 from 1 shilling to 1/3 pence (old UK currency). (about 10p now)

Some American imports still made their way onto the book stands at this time, so you can find US versions and UK versions from the same period.
However, the majority were published by
Strato Publications Ltd. who had sole distribution in the UK. Printing was by Thorpe & Porter Ltd., East St. Oadby, Leicester.  Occasionally some issues appear to be printed by A. Thom & Co., Ltd., Dublin.

It is funny to consider that Kanter started producing an illustrated form of the classics because he was concerned about the falling standards of
children’s reading in the 1930’s and figured a comic book would get them to read more – I often wonder what he would make of the children of the 21st century.

It should be noted that some of the rarer titles are valued up to 200, however, as far as I can find out this only applies to the US copies
and no known value appears to be given to those produced under
licence. This does not detract from the esthetic value of great classic stories and
some very fine art work. An average price in a second hand bookshop varies but 2.00 is general.

The scanning and reading of ebooks / ecomics in the last few years has become very popular in my research I found several locations which may be of interest.

Useful Links
Wikipedia Excellent write up which includes the copyright situation as it stood in 2008. (35 High quality cover scans are available.)
Classics Illustrated Comics UK. Produce reprints and educational resouces (see English resource page in Supply Teachers resources)
Tom's place - CI page
New - viewable on-line scans, Good quality, 29 in all, nice site. (checked on 06/09/2018) Very large of scans available on the open source books area  Note: Link enables IA search engine (checked on 06/09/2018)
Full List
Bonanza-Studios text list of the publications both US and UK, to check the different numbering system
Gilberton World Wide Publications Inc. and Strato Publications Ltd.)

Some variations to be aware of between the US/Canadian versions and the UK versions

1 - The numbering and titles of the American issues are different to the UK issues (see Full List).

2 - In some early UK case's the pricing comma (shown in shillings and pence) is cursive rather than the standard printers mark (')
e.g. issue number Moby Dick is cursive.

3 - Looking at the rear Re-order numbers in Macbeth (4) there are gaps between 5 and 11, 12 - 23 and so on. Good clues to age.
Of the 162 British titles, there were 13 that never appeared in America, plus some variations in cover art.

4 - The UK issues never published in the United States include Aeneid, The Argonauts, The Gorilla Hunters and Sail with the Devil.

5 - The British Classics Illustrated adaptation of Dr. No was never published under the U.S. Classics Illustrated line,
but instead was sold to DC Comics which published it as part of their superhero anthology series, Showcase.
The comic followed the plot of the film with images of the film's actors rather than Ian Fleming's original novel. (courtesy of

6 - Other titles were produced away from the parent Gilberton Inc. in the US. An example are the picture stories taken from the Bible
these were produce by Bible Pictures Inc. Ltd. East St. Oadby, Leicester.
Prices at the time = Old Testament priced at 12/6 (21/- Australia) New testament 8/6 (15/- Australia)

7 - There are also a series of Classics Illustrated produced by the Berkley Publishing House (1990) (Scans are available)
In 1997–1998, Acclaim Books, the successor to Valiant Comics, published a series of recolored reprints in a digest-size format
with accompanying study notes by literary scholars. Laterly Marvel Comics also picked up some of the titles to run.

8 - In 2003, Toronto's Jack Lake Productions Inc. revived Classics Illustrated Junior, reprinting art work from the original editions.
In 2005, Jack Lake Productions published a Classics Illustrated 50th anniversary edition of The War of the Worlds in both hard and softcover versions.
In early 2006, Jack Lake Productions in collaboration with First Classics began worldwide licensing of artwork associated with Classics Illustrated,
Classics Illustrated Junior, Classics Illustrated Special Issues and The World Around Us titles. (courtesy of

9 - In the UK the Classics Comic Store Ltd. bought the right to publish CI. Publishing both the original Gilberton Classics Illustrated regular
and Junior lines for distribution in the U.K., Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

In September 2009, Classic Comic Store Ltd announced that although they would continue to publish the Classics Illustrated titles,
they were no longer publishing the Junior series after issue 12, instead importing the issues from Canada.
(courtesy of

G Gillam (Bonanza Studios) Essex UK

rev. 2.7,1_06-09-2018
OK! Thats all for now folks!