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Blog into Mystery is willin’ – Classics Illustrated #48, “David Copperfield”

July 2, 2010

I think the old Classics Illustrateds are kind of neat, but the labyrinth of different versions and reprints of every single issue is extremely daunting, and I’m never quite sure if I’m over- or underpaying when I buy one.  I’d always held off on picking any up for those very reasons (though, honestly, there are proportionately few that are at all expensive), but I was unable to resist when confronted with this adaptation of my favorite Dickens book.

I won’t get into any review of David Copperfield.  I read it for the first time five or six years ago, and it’s one of those books that you miss when you finally put it down, a feeling like you get when an old cherished friend leaves after a too-short visit.  The eponymous David is your companion for a good long while (this is no quickie read) and you live his life right beside him, along the way encountering a diverse assemblage of characters that run the gamut from endearing to revolting (the former including Mr. Barkis, whose famous quote I appropriated for this post’s title).

The sheer length of the book means that any comic version is going to have to rocket over the plot’s events and encompass entire chapters in a panel or two.  That’s not as much of a problem as it sounds — the chief pleasure from something like this isn’t getting a beat by beat replay of an already told tale, but instead getting the highlights fed back to you.  The art may be a little crude (at least in this comic, things might be different in other Classics), but it’s still a hoot to relive certain scenes.  For an example, here’s a panel that gives us one of the most memorable moments from the original, the climax of much of the story’s tension, with the always-threatened-with-penury Mr. Micawber meting out some sweet justice to the vile, cloying and not really ‘umble Uriah Heep:

I’ve taken two things away from my purchase of this comic.  First, I’ll be more willing in the future to not worry about the multiple versions of each issue and pick up these books when they’re cheap and in good shape.  I certainly have nothing to lose.  And second, the name “David Copperfield” is now even further distanced from fruity illusions.  For that, I am very, very grateful.

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