Illustrated by Rolland H. Livingstone
Eponine: as a child, unnamed
Enjolras: no (random unnamed revolutionaries)
M. Gillenormand: yes
Both Mlle. Baptistine and Mme. Magloire: only Mlle. Baptistine
Thénardiers, after the inn: yes
Sister Simplice: no
Azelma: as a child, unnamed
Gavroche's brothers: no
Mme. Victurnien: no
Petit Gervais: yes
M. Mabeuf: no
Hugo's original preface used
Valjean is in prison at the beginning
Bishop Myriel remains asleep during the robbery (apparently)
Fantine and Félix Tholomyès
Fantine sells her teeth
Fantine becomes a prostitute
Valjean buries his money
Fight at Fantine's Deathbed
The ship Orion
Valjean meets Cosette at the well
The first incident at Gorbeau House
Javert chases Valjean and Cosette
* Through Paris
* On foot
* Car(riage) chase
The second incident at Gorbeau House
Valjean and Cosette see the chain gang
Lamarque's funeral is shown or mentioned
Chase through sewers (no, Javert waiting for Valjean. Inside sewer.)
Story continues after Javert's suicide
Marius, after learning Valjean's history, treats him badly
Correct number (no: 24706)
Works in the galleys
The factory makes glass beads (not mentioned)
The doll, Catherine (not named)
The garden at Rue Plumet (shown, but not named)
Correct address (not mentioned)
The Luxembourg Garden
The town's name is Montreuil-sur-mer (not mentioned)
The man Valjean saves in Arras is named Champmathieu
Valjean's name becomes Fauchelevant
Eponine/Gavroche as Thénardier's child
P R O D U C T I O N N O T E S
Classics Illustrated, or, as originally called, Classic Comics, was a way to bring literary masterworks to people who normally wouldn't pick up a book. Many high
school kids used them as a kind of proto-Monarch Notes. But to say they were a replacement for the originals is hardly the case. Still, they have their role in literary interpretations,
so it isn't out of line to compare them to other media.
Unfortunately, in terms of both physical and artistic quality, this version is sadly lacking. The printing quality, even taking into account the newsprint and the four
color "dot" process of the time, is horrible; few pages if any are even close to being in register. And to make matters worse, the art is appalingly bad. I have never heard of this illustrator
before and it's easy to see why no one's heard from him since: the perspective nonexistent (see the images below), the character design is mediocre, the scripting jerky and the
pacing unbelieveable. For example, Jean Valjean goes from Gorbeau house, escaping Thénardier's gang, directly to the barricade. Javert not only arrests him in Digne (as in
the Italian version) but it turns out he had originally arrested him for the theft of the bread! Let's see, Valjean was in his mid 20's then, so Javert, ten years younger, would have been
about oh say 15 years old. Four pages are devoted to Valjean's rescue of the man on the Ship Orion, and two pages encompass Fantine's entire story. Each main plot point is strung
to the next one as if each panel had been written on an index card and then the whole deck illustrated in sequence.
As for the other details of the plot:
- It is mentioned when he is arrested that Valjean stole to feed the children of his "dead sister."
- Again, Fantine is not a prostitute. There is no mention of illegitemacy, though. All that is known in the two short pages she has is that Fantine worked at the factory, was fired
for carelessness, beat up the foreman (!), got arrested, and then gets released by M. Madeleine because "she has a child to support."
- Fantine dies before Valjean goes to Arras. She just croaks in the hospital, no fuss, no muss.
- Valjean is arrested at the Champmathieu trial by Javert, taken immediately to Toulon it seems, escapes, returns to Montreuil-sur-Mer the next day, withdraws his money,
and disappears. How he got from Montreuil-sur-Mer to Toulon and back again in a couple of days I'll never know (since they're several hundred miles apart, and this before
- At the end, Javert waits for Valjean until he says goodbye to Cosette. When he emerges from the house and expects to be taken to prison, Javert tells him he's free and
walks away. Valjean runs back to Cosette while Javert takes a little stroll along the waterfront...
T H E B E S T T H I N G , S I N G U L A R ,
A B O U T T H I S
V E R S I O N
The best thing about this version is all the different little bits that got done right, no matter how minor they are. Even though there is no mention that the house Valjean and
Cosette are chased from is the same as that in which Marius and Thénardier occupy, unlike many other versions, this one contains both incidents, and keeps fairly true to them.
In the first, Valjean's landlady sees him with money through the keyhole and reports him as suspicious. He even climbs the wall of the convent and uses the rope from the lamp to
pull Cosette up behind him. In the other incident, Marius sees "Jondrette" plan to rob Valjean and goes to report it to Javert, who gives him a pistol. Even Mme. Thénardier
gets to throw the paving stone! The only thing is that the entire subplot of Marius's father being saved by Thénardier is missing, so, instead of him hesitating to fire the
warning shot... the gun jams!
T H E W O R S T T H I N G S A B O U T T H I S V E R S I O N
- Somewhere between the inn and Gorbeau House, the Thénardiers ditched their kids.
- I already mentioned the art. Here's a sample, just so you can see what I mean:
One: probably the worst renditions of a panel in perspective I've ever seen. Art teachers around the world are wincing at this.
Two: the second of the two pages comprising the entire story of Fantine. I think this is a record.
Three: in which we come upon a quandary: who, in the last two panels of this page, is prettier? (by the way, the fellow behind the tree in the first
panel is Thénardier)
Four: The only appearance of Éponine and Azelma. And, I suspect, the only time Jean Valjean has ever uttered the word "Pshaw!"
T H E S I L V E R C A N D L E S T I C K A W A R D S ( " STICKIES® " )
And the awards go to....
- Best Introduction Of A Character: When Valjean and Cosette are in the Luxembourg Garden, Marius walks by, reading a book, not looking where
he is going.. and he plows straight into a tree. This even before he sees Cosette! She sees this and, quite appropriately, laughs. Great first impression, there!
- Best Bonus: At the end of the comic, which is really 60 pages long, are four one-page articles. One is a biography of Victor Hugo. The second,
inexplicably, is the Bill of Rights from the US Constitution. The third page is the story behind, and the (English) lyrics to, La Marseillaise. The fourth is the story of the Statue of Liberty.
What any of this has to do with the comic book I have not the faintest idea, but they're still pretty neat.
- Best Imitation of the Grillwork of a '57 Buick: Inspector Javert. He has this same lockjaw expression in every
panel. His dental bills must be incredible!
W H E R E T O F I N D T H I S V E R S I O N
Many comic book stores that carry older comics will have at least one printing of these books. This title may be harder to find, but it's out there. Can run you $10 or more. There's
almost always one for sale on eBay