Re-Reading Les Misérables

Thoughts and commentary on Victor Hugo’s masterpiece.

Comics Lost and Found

All I wanted to do was update a couple of broken links.

The ComiXology store pages for the Manga Classics and Classics Illustrated comic adaptations had both gone missing. I figured they were casualties of Amazon finally absorbing the last remnants of ComiXology into Kindle.

It was easy enough to find a new link for the Manga Classics eBook, and I added a link to the publisher while I was at it.

But the entire Classics Illustrated line? Nowhere to be found, at least not digitally. Amazon had print copies of just about everything, some used back issues and some more recent printings. Barnes & Noble had a whole lot of books with “classics” and “illustrated” their descriptions, but the handful I found from this line were only print. Kobo (all digital) didn’t have anything from the series.

At this point I went looking for the current publisher. What I found was an extensive catalog, but only in print…and a history of the series that shed some light on what was going on.

The original publisher is long gone, and the rights have bounced around over the years. In 2020, the current publisher and the company that remastered the artwork in the early 2000s resolved a long-running dispute over the rights. It doesn’t say anything about digital editions, but given the timing, I wondered if that’s when the digital catalog dropped off of ComiXology.

Update: Found It!

The publisher was kind enough to point out that their books should be available digitally on B&N, and that they’re planning to sell ebooks through their own store sometime in 2023.

It turns out that I hadn’t narrowed down my search query enough at Barnes & Noble. If I hadn’t started this late at night, I probably would have tried searching for “Classics Illustrated Les Misérables” next, which would have turned up both the print and eBook editions, as well as several other cheap eBooks that happen to have illustrations in them.

Apparently Barnes & Noble’s catalog thinks Classics Illustrated’s print and ebook lines are completely separate, because none of the books I spot-checked link from one edition to the other.

So yes, you can still buy their adaptation of Les Misérables as an eBook! At least if you have a Nook device or app. (For future reference, here is a direct link to a more exact search for Classics Illustrated on the Nook.)

Library Scans

One other source: The Internet Archive has a collection of scans from the 1940s through the 1960s, including their 1960s version of Les Misérables. The scans are good quality, and they were able to find a copy in good condition. Not as clear as the digital remaster, of course. And the OCR seems to have had major difficulty transcribing the text in the narration and word balloons!