Arabian Nights (comics)

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Arabian Nights is the 8th issue of Classics Illustrated, created by Albert Kanter. It is an abridged version of One Thousand and One Nights in comic book form. This version of the tales consists of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, The Story of the Magic Horse, The Adventures of Sinbad the Sailor, and Aladdin and His Magic Lamp, which are all a part of the traditional One Thousand and One Nights. The comic adaptations were meant to bring classic literature and mythology to a younger audience, and create an interest in young readers. Although abridged, the comic adaptation of the tales remains faithful to the original tales, although the origins are not clear-cut.


The story is a frame narrative, told by Scheherazade. Shariar, the King of India, was infamous for beheading his wives, due to his suspicions of faithlessness. After running out of women to marry and behead, the King goes to his Vizier, who reluctantly offers his daughter, Scheherazade. She uses her dazzling tales to keep the interest of the King as the night begins, until the day comes, so that she will not be beheaded overnight. Eventually, because of her tales, the King decides to pardon her.[1]

Alfonso Azpiri (art & story). “Desert Shadows.” Wet Dreams. New York: Heavy Metal, 2000. 3-12.

The association of the Nights with pornography clearly dies hard, as the cover illustration to this anthology of vaguely mythological short stories reveals.

Carl Barks (art & story). The Carl Barks Library. 30 vols. USA: Another Rainbow, 1991–1996.

The second of Barks' classic Uncle Scrooge Arabian Nights adventures.

Neil Gaiman (story) & P. Craig Russell (art). “Ramadan.” The Sandman Library VI: Fables & Reflections. 10 vols. New York: DC Comics, 1993. 226-58.

The highest-selling issue in the whole run of Gaiman's Sandman series, apparently. Written in 1992, it ends with images from President Bush Senior's First Gulf War.

Jeon JinSeok (story) & Han Seughee (art). One Thousand and One Nights. Vol 1. 2004. Trans HyeYoung Im & J. Torres. Seoul: Ice-Kunion, 2005.

  • One Thousand and One Nights. Vol 2. 2005. Trans HyeYoung Im & J. Torres. Seoul: Ice-Kunion, 2006.
  • One Thousand and One Nights. Vol 3. 2005. Trans HyeYoung Im & J. Torres. Seoul: Ice-Kunion, 2006.
  • One Thousand and One Nights. Vol 4. 2005. Trans HyeYoung Im & J. Torres. New York: Yen Press, 2008.
  • One Thousand and One Nights. Vol 5. 2006. Trans HyeYoung Im & J. Torres. New York: Yen Press, 2008.
  • One Thousand and One Nights. Vol 6. 2006. Trans HyeYoung Im & J. Torres. New York: Yen Press, 2008.

A truly bizarre "manhwa" rewriting of the Nights for female Korean teenagers. A lot of stress on gay sex & incest (retellings of the story of Cleopatra - in love with her brother rather than either Caesar or Antony, apparently - & Socrates and Alicibiades, among others) makes it rather more "revisionist" than perhaps its original publishers intended. As a result, the English translations are lagging a couple of years behind the Korean version.

Maltaite, Eric. Les 1001 nuits de Scheherazade. Paris: Albin Michel, 2001.

A good, straightforward—though definitely sexually explicit - retelling of the first few stories from the collection. Highly recommended

Masters, Phil. Arabian Nights: Magic and Mystery in the Land of the Djinn. Ed. Steve Jackson and Susan Pinsonneault. Austin, Tx: Steve Jackson Games, 1993.

Probably for fans of Dungeons & Dragons-style games only. Extremely circumstantial and detailed, though.

Smullyan, Raymond. The Chess Mysteries of the Arabian Knights. 1981. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1992.

A somewhat eccentric adaptation of Arabian Nights scenarios to the exigencies of the chessboard.


  1. ^ Chestney, Lillian. Arabian Nights. New York City: Gilberton, 1943. Print. I suppose it was inevitable that the 1001 Nights would eventually inspire comics writers and artists as well as filmmakers (The Thief of Baghdad, all the various versions of Sindbad, Aladdin etc.), playwrights ("Kismet", "Hassan") and popular novelists (John Barth, A. S. Byatt - even Nobel prize-winner Naguib Mahfouz). Carl Barks, the creator of Uncle Scrooge, wrote two substantial adventure stories based on the Nights: "The Cave of Ali Baba", a fascinating tale within a tale framed by some magicians performing the Indian rope trick, and "Rug Riders in the Sky", somewhat more perfunctory, a fantasia based on the Flying Carpet motif familiar from Douglas Fairbanks. Barks is clearly fascinated by the Roc, that elephant-sized bird in the old stories, but beyond that archaeology sets his pulse racing more than folklore and narratology. I've listed below the Nights-related comics & games which I personally have come across. No doubt there are many more