This was a series of books produced in the 70’s by Pendulum Press. They were comic book versions of classics, done in the style that I always think of as soap opera-serious: severe black and white line drawings meant to communicate reality, accompanied by typed, not printed, dialogue.
In 1984, their parent company Academic Industries released the whole collection–including a sub-series of biographies–as a giant 100-volume or so set of tiny paperbacks.
My older brother got it for me, and that was my introduction to the world of literature. (In fact, I remember him keeping the Beatles biography for himself, and it was searching for that part of the set that finally led me to finding this info online now–so thanks!) Man, I loved those books. Many of them I read until they literally fell apart (the glue in their small spines, alas, was not strong).
These little comics were not dumbed down “Classics Illustrated” titles–they were mature and serious (or at least they felt so to elementary me). I feel like reading them legitimately prepared me to understand the original classics as I got older. Believe it or not, they truly were educational and fun.
At some point, I felt that such a set was childish and they were given away, but I’d love to have them again now. I wish my own children had access to these. I’ve checked, and nobody seems to have a set of them, not eBay, not any vendor–no more than just a handful at a time. It was a beautiful set, but it wasn’t built to last, I guess.
Isn’t this what Google Books is for? Where are they?