Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

The Graphic Canon of Crime and Mystery, Vol. 1

From Sherlock Holmes to A Clockwork Orange to Jo Nesbø

by Russ Kick


The first of two volumes builds on the brilliant and original Graphic Canon series in retelling classic works of literature as comics and other visual forms.

Organized thematically, Volume 1 opens with "The Act" (think In Cold Blood and A Clockwork Orange), followed by sections dedicated to "Criminals," Whodunit," "Judgment" (Scarlet Letter, anyone?), and "Punishment." Here you'll find stunning and suspenseful adaptations starring classic PIs Sherlock Holmes, Auguste Dupin, Hercule Poirot, Father Brown, Mike Hammer, and teenage girl-detective Violet Strange. But the mystery, intrigue, and foul play don't end (or begin) there. The artists also bring to life crime stories from the Arabian Nights, the Bible, The Canterbury Tales, China's Song Dynasty, Shakespeare, James Joyce's Dubliners, Patricia Highsmith, Truman Capote, and current writers like Stephen King, Jo Nesbo, and Sara Paretsky.    

Rick Geary brings his crisp style to Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. Teddy Goldenberg gives us a dense, murky treatment of Dashiell Hammett's "The Road Home," often considered the first hardboiled detective story ever published. C. Frakes resurrects the forgotten novella "Talma Gordon," the first mystery written by an African American; and Shawn Cheng renders the first serial-killer story, the so-called fairy tale "Bluebeard" by Charles Perrault.     

Even the very natures of crime, justice, and punishment are up for grabs. Landis Blair reimagines The Trial, as a choose-your-own-adventure story that you cannot win, Ted Rall retells an O. Henry story about a petty criminal who just can't get arrested. From The Marquis de Sade to James Cain, Aeschylus to Paula Hawkins, crime and mystery has never been so brilliantly reimagined.

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“Almost anything can be seen as a crime story, and almost anything can be adapted into a graphic novel. Few, however, have attempted such an ambitious and quirky melding of these two truths as editor and artist Russ Kick with his new anthology, The Graphic Canon of Crime and Mystery. This cleverly arranged series of graphic adaptations of classic mystery tales brings together a wide range of artists matched with a diverse list of stories, many of which are only loosely categorizable as crime fiction (that’s part of the fun of it). With everything from biblical judgements to decadent poetry to 19th century classics, Kick and his army of artists have crafted a formidable and fascinating collection.”

“This is a take on the crime & mystery genre that proves quite refreshing and a true eye-opener. Russ Kick, in the role of curator/editor, has taken an offbeat path in order to emphasize just how diverse and unpredictable his subject can be. ... Kick manages to keep just the right unsettling vibe running throughout this impressive anthology.”

“Featuring adaptations of famous crime classics, most of which were created specifically for this volume, this work displays a range of absolutely stunning talent. From a relatively straight­forward depiction of the murder scene in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment to a wildly experimental take on Stanley ­Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, editor Kick (The Graphic Canon of Children’s Literature) presents a fantastic survey of the literature concerned with criminal activity, as well as a primer on everything possible in the graphic format. ...[A]s an introduction to the crime genre, this edition is second to none”

“From Poe to Kafka to Dostoyevsky, all the masters are here, in these short, graphic renderings of the darkest, most foreboding writing of all time. With different artists and illustrators taking on each tale, there are many revelations.”

“[Russ Kick] has managed to create something unprecedented in comic art... It is, for now, the most sustained anthology of comic art in the English language — the best showplace of what comic art is today and what it can do. That’s quite an accomplishment.”


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.