News | Penguin Random House | New York, 10/28/2021

Penguin Classics To Publish Marvel Classics

Penguin Classics has been publishing classics of world literature since 1946. Now, for the first time, the U.S. publisher is including Marvel comic classics in its program. “Penguin Classics Marvel Collection” is the name of the new series in which the original, groundbreaking stories of important Marvel characters such as “Black Panther,” “Captain America,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” will be published from June 2022.

Marvel’s “Black Panther,” “Captain America,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” are all world-famous comic book characters and series that have become an integral part of Western pop culture – not just since their triumphant advance onto the big screen in recent years – and are now quite rightly considered classics. So it seems only logical that a publisher like Penguin Classics, which has been publishing classics of world literature since 1946, should now add these comics to its program and even launch a whole new edition for them: the “Penguin Classics Marvel Collection.” This collection of carefully curated comic book anthologies presents the original stories and seminal tales of key Marvel characters, and serves as a testament to Marvel’s transformative impact on graphic fiction and icons and stories across popular culture.The first three books in the series, “Black Panther,” “Captain America,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” will be published on June 14, 2022, with more volumes and characters to follow.

Each title will be published in paperback as well as a collectible hardcover edition. They each include a foreword by a contemporary young adult author and a detailed scholarly introduction, speaking to the enduring significance of Marvel’s iconic creations. “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” trilogy. She has also written “Black Panther” and “Wakanda Forever” for Marvel Comics. Finally, “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.

Ben Saunders is the series editor and author of the scholarly introductions for Captain America and The Amazing Spider-Man; he is a Professor of English at the University of Oregon, where he founded the world’s first undergraduate minor in Comics Studies.  He has also served as curator for several museum exhibitions of comic book art.  Qiana J. Whitted is author of the scholarly introduction for Black Panther; she is Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of South Carolina, and an Eisner Award-winning comics scholar. 

Saunders, editor of the series, says, “The comics produced at Marvel in the 1960s can be compared to the most enduring popular music of that same tumultuous decade.  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.”

Elda Rotor, Vice President and Publisher of Penguin Classics, says, “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. 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.”