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Friday, 9 March 2012

Classical Comics Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

At times I do tend to despair of the British comics industry with its in-fighting and lack of any real comics industry and then a brilliant shaft of light hits me right bang smack in the eye.

An Inspector Calls was followed last night by a headache trying to read and understand French (I would say by candle-light and while sipping red wine and eating a selection of cheeses but I have so much paper and books candles are out and I’ve not drunk alcohol in over 25 years and I was all out of cheese -this is my life). So, when the extremely heavy copy of Classical Comics Sweeney Todd fell on my toe I realised that it was a sign…a sign that I have too many heavy books!

Anyway, the detailed stuff…

Sweeney Todd
The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Sweeney Todd - Original Text Sweeney Todd - Quick Text
British English Language Versions
British Editions (Cover price £9.99)
Click here for an explanation of the text versions
Original Text Version
ISBN: 978-1-906332-79-2Click here to buy from:
Quick Text Version
ISBN: 978-1-906332-80-8Click here to buy from:
American English Language Versions
US Editions (Cover price $16.95)
Click here for an explanation of the text versions
US Pub Date: October 2012
Original Text Version
ISBN: 978-1-907127-09-0
Quick Text Version
ISBN: 978-1-907127-10-6
Sweeney Todd
The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
“Oh! to be sure, he came here,
and I shaved him and polished him off”

No one knows for sure if Sweeney Todd actually existed – but this story,
taken from a serialisation in a Penny Dreadful that ran from 1846-7, put
the Demon Barber of Fleet Street on the map.
Gory? No! What’s particularly good about this adaptation is that none of the
horror is to be seen – making this a truly wonderful version of a brilliant book.
Script Adaptation: Sean M. Wilson
Linework: Declan Shalvey
Colouring: Jason Cardy & Kat Nicholson
Lettering: Jim Campbell

Format: 168 pages
full colour
(click here for info)
Original Text (abridged)
Quick Text
Cover Price: £9.99

Oh dear, you are going to say “What -NO GORE?!”  No, we’ll leave that to Tim Burton. It is really not needed here because all the horror and terror will be weaved into your mind by the story!

Having struggled through the collected Sweeney Todd book over thirty years ago during my Gothic Horror phase (I am that old!) I can tell you that it was “writ for the day” so anyone reading modern English language books would be left staring cockle-eyed at what might be said to make even American English look good!
For that reason to read through all those pages and then edit it down to 155 pages of panels is no mean feat.  Sean Michael Wilson does an excellent job.  Characterisation is good and the story flows well.

Declan Shalvey drew, of course (you DID buy a copy, right?) Classical Comics Frankenstein and I would say that his artwork has gotten even better since that book.  Nothing like drawing hundreds of pages to improve your art!  The scenes look good and no problems with historical accuracy here -and I am always checking.

Scenes are also set with some moody colour work by Jason “Hug Me!” Cardy and Kat “Ninja” Nicholson.  As I’ve written before, colour work done well can set a scene really well and Cardy and Nicholson have done a great job.

Did Sweeney Todd exist, though?  Well, there is a nice back-up history in this book covering everything from the Penny Dreadfuls the character first appeared in, the collected book and why the original writer(s) are credited as “Anonbymous.”

It could be a gory subject and, despite the character being still popular today (thanks to Johnny Depp and Tim Burton) some teachers might baulk at how to handle any project for a class -drama or literary- on this.  No fears, the writing and art show just how to avoid gallons of  claret (blood) needing to flow.

You know, reading through this I have one thing make puts me at ease -being a vegetarian for thirty years and not living next to a rather dodgy barber and pie shop!


use the link on the blog roll to go to the Classical Comics site where you can see samples of both Original and Quick text versions.


  1. Is it adapted from "A String of Pears, or The Sailor's Gift?" or from "The String of Pearls: A Romance"? The latter was the original serialisatio and quite a bit shorter than the later version.
    There was a Penny Dreadful article in one of the last issues of Book & Magazine Collector that mentioned a story of a Sweeney Todd-like character apparently existing in Paris, but he was killed by a rioting mob rather than tried in a court, so it may have been a wild story that spontaneously appeared in an outbreak of hysteria.
    Which is REALLY scary!

  2. Hi. See if my comment is allowed this time!

    I've no idea which book they adapted the story for this book from -I don't get that kind of information..ah. Got it "The Sailor's Gift"!

    There are plenty of Todd like murderers in history rather like The Murders In The Rue Morgue was based on a true story.