Washington and Lee alumnus Bill Falvey, a member of the Class of 1969 and a Memphis physician, had always been intrigued by the comic book versions of classics known as Classics Illustrated. Featuring such titles as Moby Dick, Hamlet and The Iliad, the series began publication in 1941 and produced 169 issues by 1971. The issues were characterized by their original cover art.
According to an article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal that alumnus Milburn Noell ’51, ’54L spotted, Bill is one of the world’s leading collectors of original Classics Illustrated cover paintings and interior illustrations. An exhibition of his collection is currently on display in the Goodwyn Gallery at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library in Memphis.
Bill began collecting Classics Illustrated material when he saw some of the issues he remembered from his childhood at a Memphis flea market. In the 37 years or so since then, he has collected about 2000 pieces of material related to the series, including early pen-and-ink line-drawn Classics covers as well as oil paintings of the covers.
As the newspaper story notes, the exhibition is in advance of two upcoming auctions of material from the collection to be handled Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas. “Obviously, I have a house full of this artwork, and I can’t display it all, so it’s time to sell the part I can bear to part with,” Bill told the reporter.
To see examples of some of the covers, go to the Commercial Appeal story.