Seriously, if I had told my mother growing up that the comics I was reading, reprinted by Marel UK for British newsagents, would one day be reprinted again by Penguin Classics, she would not believe me. She still may not believe me. Let's find out.
Penguin Classics is an imprint under which classic works of literature are republished, with books in this series considered important members of the Western canon. The first Penguin Classic was E. V. Rieu's translation of The Odyssey, published in 1946, and Rieu went on to become general editor of the series. Rieu sought out literary novelists such as Robert Graves and Dorothy Sayers as translators, believing they would avoid "the archaic flavour and the foreign idiom that renders many existing translations repellent to modern taste". And now? The collected works of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.
Publisher's Weekly reports that the Penguin Classics Marvel Collection will anthologize "the original stories and seminal tales of key Marvel characters," and marks the first time that Penguin Classics has published comic book stories of any description whatsoever.
The first three books in the series, Black Panther, Captain America, and The Amazing Spider-Man, will be published on the 14th of June, 2022 in paperback with the Penguin's black spine and a collectible hardcover edition.
Each volume will also include a foreword by Jason Reynolds for Spider-Man, Nnedi Okorafor for Black Panther, and Gene Luen Yang for Captain America, as well as academic introductions to the work by the editor of the series, University of Oregon English professor Ben Saunders for Captain America and The Amazing Spider-Man and University of South Carolina English and African American Studies professor Qiana J. Whitted for Black Panther. More titles will be announced at a later date.
Elda Rotor, VP and publisher of Penguin Classics, said in a statement "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."
Now all they have to do is ship them safely.