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155 7 Toward a New Aesthetic, 1972–1979 Verne’s ongoing renown was highlighted by two contrasting events in 1972. He received a Mardi Gras tribute, with coins and a Fat Tuesday parade composed entirely of floats suggested by various novels. The first network biographical show appeared in nearly twenty years, the “Jules Verne” episode of the series Nothing but Biography on NBC. Roland Winters was ideally cast in the title role, and producer Frank Michelli utilized the knowledge of noted Verne translator Walter James Miller. However, this show, along with the shift in audience suggested by The Southern Star and The Light at the Edge of the World, was followed by a reverse, as Verne henceforth appeared only irregularly on the big screen. Instead, the author shifted to the home and family audience on television largely in the form of animated versions, through which children gained their own entree to the author. Just as Victorian-era schoolchildren were initially presented with Verne though story magazines, after World War II Baby Boomers and their offspring received an introduction through special editions for the younger audience. These publications ranged from abbreviated editions of perhaps a hundred pages to thin books that emphasized illustrations. Going beyond the weakest of such translations, these texts were purged of subtleties and subplots. Drastically rewritten in a more modern and inherently less literary language, these versions themselves would be edited and rewritten many times over in ever more diminished form as 156 Hollywood Presents Jules Verne the years went by. Although satisfying a lucrative market, they fostered the impression of a writer more important for his general ideas than for his style and content, and their ability to serve as a transition and lure to reading the original works became ever more doubtful. One unique form of such literature that emerged in 1947 was the comic book. That year saw the first Sunday serialization of Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, later published in shorter form as part of a series, Classic Comics, that evolved into the beloved Classics Illustrated. The Gilberton Company issued all of the most famous and many of the less-known Verne titles in the series, selling them in the millions to American youth through 1970. Filled with bright, vivid color art and energetic and faithful adaptations, these comic books successfully guided many incipient readers to bookstores and libraries. Gilberton’s founder, Al Kantor, was a white Russian immigrant whose favorite story was, appropriately enough, Michael Strogoff, and it was consequently the first of the ten Verne novels published in the series. Most of the stories that Hollywood would adapt had already appeared in Classics Illustrated form—20,000 Leagues under the Sea, The Mysterious Island, Around the World in 80 Days, From the Earth to the Moon, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Off on a Comet—except for Robur the Conqueror and Master of the World, whose comic book versions appeared simultaneously with the release of their movie version, Master of the World, in 1961. Classics Illustrated ended domestically in 1962, the final ten titles including no less than three Verne adaptations ; the last was Tigers and Traitors (utilizing all of Verne’s The Steam House). New titles, including some by Verne, appeared in the Classics Illustrated overseas editions. From the mid-1970s to the present, many other comic book publishers in America issued the best-known Verne titles (but seldom the more obscure ones), including Marvel, King Classics (translated from a Spanish series), and Four-color and Dell with a number of comic book film tie-ins (not only for the Disney films 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and In Search of the Castaways as well as for the big-budget films Around the World in 80 Days and Journey to the Center of the Earth, but also for Master of the World and Mysterious Island). One of these comic book series, from Pendulum, was reissued with audio and visual tapes, and in this way the ultimate confluence of Toward a New Aesthetic 157 the comic book as a lead-in to animation was created. Already during the late 1960s and early 1970s, juvenile audio adaptations were for sale on the medium of vinyl records. These tendencies toward Verne children’s editions, in particular comic books, although largely beginning in the United States, spread globally. The saturation of the international market with these forms as well as the visual style absorbed by two decades of youth...


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