Penguin Classics Collaborates with Marvel on “Super” Special Editions

Penguin Classics Marvel Collection
Image: Marvel

Announced today, Marvel Comics will be collaborating with Penguin Classics for the first time ever to publish the Penguin Classics Marvel Collection, a series of carefully curated comic anthologies which will present the original stories and seminal tales of iconic Marvel characters.

The first three books in the Penguin Classics Marvel Collection – Black Panther, Captain America, and The Amazing Spider-Man – will publish on June 14, 2022. Each title will be published in paperback with a black spine but will also feature a collectible hardcover edition with gold foil stamping, gold top stain edges, and endpapers featuring artwork from the comics. They will also each contain a foreword by a contemporary YA author as well as a scholarly introduction that speaks to the lasting legacy of Marvel’s key characters.

  • The Amazing Spider-Man includes a foreword by Jason Reynolds, the award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author of many books including Miles Morales: Spider-Man, Look Both Ways and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You. Reynolds is the 2020-2021 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
  • Black Panther includes a foreword by Nnedi Okorafor, the multiple award-winning author of Who Fears Death and the Binti novella trilogy. She has written Black Panther and Wakanda Forever for Marvel Comics.
  • Captain America includes a foreword by Gene Luen Yang, the fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and the author of Shang Chi for Marvel Comics and American Born Chinese.

Series editor Ben Saunders, Professor of English at the University of Oregon (where he founded the world’s first undergraduate minor in Comics Studies), will write the scholarly introductions for Captain America and The Amazing Spider-Man. Qiana J. Whitted, Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of South Carolina and an Eisner Award-winning comics scholar, will write the scholarly introduction for Black Panther.

“The comics produced at Marvel in the 1960s can be compared to the most enduring popular music of that same tumultuous decade,” said Saunders. “Working at tremendous speed in what was widely regarded as a low-status commercial medium, the creators at Marvel initiated and participated in an aesthetic revolution. These comics have now influenced writers and artists across all forms of media — from contemporary novelists to hip hop musicians to Hollywood filmmakers. It is not hyperbole but simply a fact: these classic Marvel Comics are foundational documents of our culture.”

“When we talk about what makes a classic, we consider the work’s ability to connect with an audience across time, in both universal and individual ways,” said Elda Rotor, Vice President and Publisher of Penguin Classics. “Marvel’s sustained and rich engagement with generations of readers, one that also provides a critical social lens, a deeply personal reflection of the human condition, and a shared reading experience of such storytelling and artistic innovation, is a super power. For instance, you can just say, ‘Spider-Man,’ and it opens up a whole world of stories and understanding. To me, that makes a Marvel classic a Penguin Classic. To have this opportunity to place the work of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby and many other historic Marvel creators on shelves alongside the world’s classics marks a very special chapter in Penguin’s publishing history.”

Sven Larsen, Vice President of Licensed Publishing at Marvel Entertainment, said, “From The Odyssey to The Time Machine, the Penguin Classics list not only recognizes the most important works in storytelling but also places them in their important historical and cultural context. Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Captain America have become the bedrock of countless stories across media, and it’s a testament to the genius of Marvel’s writers and artists that these characters resonate so strongly today. It’s a remarkable honor to have these important chapters in Marvel history join this esteemed series from Penguin Random House. I can’t wait for new readers to discover these stories for the first time, and I’m excited for existing fans to be able to read the new introductions, essays and other material that will provide an even deeper appreciation of these seminal works of graphic fiction.”

It sounds like these books will be both an important asset for current fans – in that you will get important context about how these characters have achieved such an enduring significance in the pop culture lexicon while also getting a shiny new book to add to your collection – but also a great introduction for new fans, who might be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stories and comics available.

I will admit that just getting into comics can be a daunting prospect – where to start? Which run? Which iteration? Having everything collected into one book, with not only the important stories but also the cultural context and someone else’s take on how important the character is, will be immensely helpful in understanding how much history is involved with these characters. There is a lot of ground to cover, and these books will aid with that.

Additional titles in the Penguin Classics Marvel Collection will be announced at a later date.

Source: press release

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.

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