All Action With a Sedate Cover and a Credit Change

All Action Classics: Tom Sawyer

While flipping through the latest Diamond Previews catalog to see what comics will be coming out next year, I noticed something strange in the Sterling Publishing listings.

The first thing that caught my eye was the contrast of titling a comic All Action Classics: Tom Sawyer and then putting this incredibly relaxed cover on it:

All Action Classics: Tom Sawyer

I know it’s one of the most famous incidents from the Mark Twain novel, but visually, it’s the opposite of “all action”.

Then I got curious about who this Ben Caldwell was who was credited with the art and cover for both this and The Odyssey adaptation solicited with it. Googling revealed that this is a relisting of something that came out over a decade ago, only then, it had actual creators listed: writer Tim Mucci and artist Rad Sechrist. That version calls Caldwell the “producer”. His Wikipedia entry credits him with toy design and other licensed work.

Why claim the credit now? Why not notify potential customers that this is a reissue or reprint or something? This is supposed to be an ordering catalog, after all. Shouldn’t those who purchase for resale be informed? (Ha. I know I’m being ridiculous — Previews stopped being just for store owners a long while ago.)

Sterling Publishing, it turns out, is “a wholly owned subsidiary of Barnes & Noble and publisher of illustrated children’s picture books and nonfiction titles.” They’ve also put out “All Action Comics” for Dracula and The Wizard of Oz, unsurprising public domain choices.

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