Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

The Graphic Canon, Vol. 2

From "Kubla Khan" to the Bronte Sisters to The Picture of Dorian Gray

by Russ Kick

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The classic literary canon of Western civilization meets the comics artists, illustrators, and other artists who have remade reading in the last years of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century in Russ Kick's magisterial, three-volume, full-color The Graphic Canon, volumes 1, 2, and 3.

Volume 2 gives us a visual cornucopia based on the wealth of literature from the 1800s. Several artists—including Maxon Crumb and Gris Grimly—present their versions of Edgar Allan Poe's visions. We see a stunning take on the greatest American novel, Moby-Dick. Meanwhile, that other greatest American novel, Huckleberry Finn, is adapted uncensored for the first time, as Twain wrote it. The bad boys of Romanticism—Shelley, Keats, and Byron—are visualized here, and so are the Brontë sisters. We see both of Coleridge's most famous poems: "Kubla Khan" and "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (the latter by British comics legend Hunt Emerson). Philosophy and science are ably represented by ink versions of Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra and Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

Frankenstein, Les Misérables, Great Expectations, Middlemarch, Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment (a hallucinatory take on the pivotal murder scene), Thoreau's Walden (in spare line art by John Porcellino of King-Cat Comics fame), "The Drunken Boat" by Rimbaud, Leaves of Grass by Whitman, and two of Emily Dickinson's greatest poems are all present and accounted for. John Coulthart has created ten magnificent full-page collages that tell the story of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. And Pride and Prejudice has never looked this splendiferous!

This volume is a special treat for Lewis Carroll fans. Dame Darcy puts her unmistakable stamp on—what else?—the Alice books in a new sixteen-page tour-de-force, while a dozen other artists present their versions of the most famous characters and moments from Wonderland. There's also a gorgeous silhouetted telling of "Jabberwocky," and Mahendra Singh's surrealistic take on The Hunting of the Snark.

Curveballs in this volume include fairy tales illustrated by the untameable S. Clay Wilson, a fiery speech from freed slave Frederick Douglass (rendered in stark black and white by Seth Tobocman), a letter on reincarnation from Flaubert, the Victorian erotic classic Venus in Furs, the drug classic The Hasheesh Eater, and silk-screened illustrations for the ghastly children's classic Der Struwwelpeter, among many other canonical works.

Read an excerpt on Issuu here, and visit www.thegraphiccanon.wordpress.com (and follow @TheGraphicCanon on Twitter) for more information on the series.

Collected in  

Beyond Words
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“The graphic publishing literary event of the year.”

“| "Absolutely the most ambitious book I've picked up all year.”

“Does it seem that collecting thousands of years' worth of world literature in highly abridged form would be somewhat daft? Why, then, is Kick's gloriously ambitious attempt to collect sequential-art adaptations of those works into three massive volumes such a uniquely powerful piece of art? Because, while it can serve as a study of cultures and histories or as a pedagogical tool (as the source lists, further-reading section, and four indices attest), what this first volume does best is showcase the extraordinary potential of the artform itself. … Through the reprinted and newly-produced work of 59 (mainly American) adapters and 58 adapted titles, this is not only a survey of the world's diverse artistic past, but also a breathtaking glimpse of this young medium's incredible future.”

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Founder of the website The Memory Hole, which archived sensitive and difficult to find official documents, RUSS KICK has devoted much of his life to digging up what others hope to keep buried. His bestselling anthologies, including You Are Being Lied To and Everything You Know Is Wrong, have sold over half a million copies. The New York Times has dubbed Kick "an information archaeologist," Details magazine described Kick as “a Renaissance man,” and Utne Reader named him one of its “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.” Russ Kick lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee, and Tucson, Arizona.

Other books by Russ Kick