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From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons (The Graphic Canon #1)
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From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons (The Graphic Canon #1)

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  635 ratings  ·  86 reviews
THE GRAPHIC CANON (Seven Stories Press) is a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind trilogy that brings classic literatures of the world together with legendary graphic artists and illustrators. There are more than 130 illustrators represented and 190 literary works over three volumes—many newly commissioned, some hard to find—reinterpreted here for readers and collectors of all ages.

Paperback, 512 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by Seven Stories Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Feb 25, 2015 Alex rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Okay, I've been reading The Graphic Canon, looking for a reason for it to exist. It contains abridgements or excerpts of tons of terrific stories, from Gilgamesh to Les Liaisons Dangereuses, in comic book format. But who cares about abridgements or excerpts? To whom are they useful?

I started, as promised, by comparing Valerie Shrag's adaptation of Aristophanes' best-known and dirtiest play Lysistrata (411 BC) to Douglass Parker's translation. I was...actually sortof into it. It's charming and ef
As in every compilation book with multiple contributors, it's hard to rate the book as a whole. There are some stories in here I'd give five stars, some I'd give one star. But the real question when discussing this book is, "Does this need to exist?" And the answer: "Kinda sorta." Most of the really great adaptations in here are excerpts from larger works, such as Gareth Hinds' adaptation of The Odyssey or Kevin Dixon's of The Epic of Gilgamesh, so in that sense The Graphic Canon is redundant. B ...more
This book has its ups and downs but all in all it's a nice reminder of the depth and breadth of our literary histories, and also a beautiful compendium of styles and approaches to adaptation. It's great to see the passion graphic artists have for their beloved prosy and/or poetical works.

Some perks: there are great prefaces to each adaptation contextualizing the text and its graphic adaptation. Also, a lot of artists are not published in a main-stream widely accessible format aside from these b
Christopher Rush
Blerg. Despite all the accolades Russ Kick and the collected artists/adapters have apparently garnered, this isn't really that good of a collection. It is quite evident from the beginning most of the people involved have no real affinity for the subject matter, certainly not in any way remotely resembling respect. The biographies of the artists celebrate the fact most of them delight in creating underground and subversive material - which is certainly fine for them. Admittedly, a number of the " ...more
I was thrilled to have won this from Goodreads and waited impatiently for it to arrive. It was worth the wait. I haven't been reading graphic novels for very long but it took a very short amount of time to realize that the limited space afforded to the author and artist oftentimes makes for a more powerful story. It is distilled down to its essentials and is all the stronger for it.

A lot of these stories I was already familiar with and it was like seeing an old friend, there are changes but unde
Der Herausgeber Russ Kick legt den ersten von drei Bänden einer Anthologie vor, die die großen Werke der Literatur als Graphic Novel adoptiert. Es wurde mehrfach kritisiert und muß dem Käufer / Leser natürlich klar sein, dass er größtenteils nur (sehr) kleine Häppchen der Originaltexte serviert bekommen kann, denn der vorliegende Band hat "nur" 502 Seiten, was nicht einmal ansatzweise für die komplette Bearbeitung zum Beispiel der "Faerie Queene" reichen würde. Wer das Buch kauft, um sich in ver ...more
Well that was....a thing? I guess?
I have to concur with many other readers. There doesn't seem to be a point to this. The works collected here are extremely variable in quality (the art for the Rumi section was particularly disappointing, being mostly tacky Photoshopping), and the fragmentary nature of it was just not satisfying. If you want to present the graphic canon, do it! Don't present "half-assed fragments of graphic versions of the canon." There were a few standout works, but the majorit
Miroku Nemeth
I will just say that there are things unearthed in this volume that are gems and rare metals, and others, pure fool's gold.

Some of the art was excellent, some simply repulsive and truly an insult to the literature. I found the overview of literature throughout the ages itself and the breadth of selections within the anthology very enjoyable.

I also found this beautiful:

How prone we are to sin; how sweet were made
The pleasures our resistless hearts invade.
Of all my crimes, the breach of all thy l
I'm one of those readers who had to ask the reference desk where to find the section of graphic books, so...

We were reading and discussing the Epic of Gilgamesh and the library catalog had led me to this selection. While I would rather the illustration had been of another selection from the story, I was delighted with the introduction, which took me to a respected translator whose name I had not yet encountered. We had fun sharing the book the night of our discussion; for most of that group, gra
Ray Zimmerman
This book is simply a great read. It provides pure enjoyment for those who love the classics and are not put off by seeing them rendered in a graphic novel format. Readers familiar with comics and manga, will recognize the names of artists famous for their illustrations. Literary devotees will recognize the titles and authors selected for inclusion.

Volume one includes 500 pages of great literary selections beginning with The Epic of Gilgamesh and ending with writings from the Age of Enlightenmen
Elizabeth A
This is such a fun book dip in and out of, and while I had heard of, if not read, most of these classics, there were some that were completely new to me. The thing to know before reading, is that this is a sampling of these classic stories - abridged, or a chapter of two of each. The graphics are simply wonderful, and while I did not love each and every one, there are many that are fantastic. I've added the next in the series to my TBR pile.
This was very good. Love the idea when they take a work of literature a turn it into a comic book. Most of the time they give you most of the work and you end-up not reading it because you felt like you read it before. With the Graphic Canon the thing I like most about this is that they only give you a sample of each work they have chosen. Thus, it forces you to read the actual work if you like what you have just read. If you read the introduction (which most people probably skipped) it tell you ...more
Phil Overeem
WOW! I cannot wait for Volume 2 (October) and Volume 3 (March 2013). A marvelous array of lit and graphic styles, and just the thing to motivate you to read the whole canon before you die. It is graphic in more ways than one, but it still would be a great stimulant for young minds striving to become citizens of the world.
I found this while browsing the graphic novel section of my local bookstore and finished reading the entire book before I left. Here is my review:

The Graphic Canon is a mixed bag. Some of the stories, such as the Native American story about Coyote and the stars, Dante Alighieri's Inferno and the dialogue-free Beowulf are wonderful. Other stories are terrible.
It must be noted that the stories are not complete. Instead of a story, you get a chapter, part, paragraph, or sometimes even just a senten
So this was pretty cool. Given to me by a friend for xmas because I like graphic novels and such, I was particularly looking forward to the ancient Greek adapted sections.

The editor of the collection, Russ Kick, put little introductions to each work that not only gave you some background on the work that was being adapted, which was often insightful if brief, but also some background info on the adapter of the work (He also has sections in the back, which are also brief, and expand on such thing
Christian McKay
Simply the most consistently top-notch anthology I've ever read. Out of fifty stories, I only thought one was sub-par. If I could only hand someone one comic to read, this would be it.
ay! don't even ask why. just go read it.
Joe Rouse
I was fortunate enough to meet Russ Kick, the editor/curator of this amazing work, while he was in town for Books on the Banks. He mentioned (as he does deftly in the Introduction) that we are living in the "Golden Age" of graphic novels, and this behemoth is true testament to that. The popularity of graphic novels in both popular and academic cultures is not to be underestimated. Kick's appreciation of this is forward-thinking and prophetic, at the very least.

The Graphic Canon, volumes 1 and 2,
Jonathan Funk
What an amazing idea! Take a sampling of the greatest works of literature throughout history and adapt them into graphic novel form.

This makes many of the classics far more accessible to a general audience. There are many classics that I've thought about reading in the past, but how to choose what to read? These adaptations are often not complete transcriptions of the works in question, but only specific portions of each story, meant to offer a taste of what to expect in the greater works. I fou
Margo R
I was expecting to really love this book. Comics! Literary anthologies! All the things I love best in the world! But instead I was thoroughly underwhelmed.

Some good stuff: I loved most of the stories I'd never heard before, like there were (as with any anthology) occasional gems, where the artist and the material worked very well together. Rebecca Dart's brilliant version of "Paradise Lost", for example, sent shivers down my spine.

There were also a few stories that I had never heard of, like th
I found The Graphic Canon very interesting on a few levels. First, each story is illustrated in a very different style, sometimes suitable for the story and sometimes it is given a whole new meaning by its graphic telling. All of the artists are talented in their own ways, and some give a literal summary of the story, while others share their impressions of it.

Secondly, the selections are truly taken from World Literature, not merely from the limited scope of the Western Canon. Because of this,
Wonderful idea, poorly executed. About 3/4 of the works are beautifully done. The problem I had with it is that the works are selections. And not all of the selections are the best. There are a few poems and works that are printed in full, but that is not the standard in this book. There are two more volumes following this and I have to say that I don't feel like I'll be missing out if I don't read them. I love graphic novels, don't get me wrong, but I don't think that the Graphic Canon did just ...more
I struggle with rating this book, because it is very well done in many ways. I like the stories they've chosen and think they cover the classics well. My difficulty comes in the choice of some of the depictions of the stories or poems. The physical portrayals of some of the works, prevent me from placing it in the school library. The bulk of the illustrations and interpretations are great, but the few keep me from recommending it to others. Unfortunate.
This book claims to be a collection of classic works turned into graphic form. It only lives up to this claim periodically. Most of the time, the "adaptions" are so spliced up and shrunken that they are barely recognizable to their original forms. The art is unpredictable, with some stories being masterfully drawn, others drawn so-so, and a sadly large amount drawn poorly. A few of the adaptions were good; but most of them were below average to terrible. I came into this with high hopes, and was ...more
Boyke Rahardian
Gorgeous, gorgeous book; the graphics are truly a feast to the eyes. Maybe the only weakness of this book is the way most of the stories are presented: they are snippets of much longer works. Most of the stories like Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad, Odyssey, Mahabarata, Tale of Genji are well known, while the others are relatively (at least to me) unknown past gems. I particularly love the tragic "Medea" and the lovely little poem "Forgive Us Our Trespasses."

I'd already encountered the art by artists I admire in this thing (Crumb, Geary). The rest, wow, please consider taking an art class BECAUSE YOU SUCK!

You see, this is supposed to be a visual interpretation of great works of literature. When we get this literature reduced, tweaked, condensed, (and I gotta say it) dumbed down, and then saddled onto a non-ready-for-prime-time cartoonist, it makes me angry.

Most times if you see an indy project like this you either tell your comic shop to order it
Mostly inferior art work is int tome. That is really a same because the premise holds much promise. There were only a couple of the stories that I would rate as quality work. You can rest assured I will not be looking for volumes 2 & 3~!
Really loved this anthology. While some of the stories were hit or miss, most of them were really good and really inspiring. I absolutely want to start adapting things on my own now. See my status updates for some of my favorites (of which there were many).
Danielle Beeth
I actually used this to help refresh my memory about all these ancient classics. every story is illustrated by a different artist and so has a completely different personality (which makes it easier for visual learners to remember details).
I finally got around to finishing my review of this work! Summary: A very mixed bag of pieces in a variety of styles, often in colour, which make it fun to flip through; however, some are poor interpretations, and sometimes Kick's commissions fall flat. For twenty bucks, though, hard to go wrong if you have the space.

In short: unsure about the commission aspect, no manga, heavy on Western and British literature, some comics poorly executed. But some gorgeous pieces by comic masters and newcomers
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Graphic Novel Rea...: Russ Kick - FREE event at Baltimore library 1 9 May 19, 2012 12:15PM  
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Editor of the website The Memory Hole which publishes and archives hidden US government documents, including scientific studies and reports, civil rights-related reports, intelligence and covert action reports.

He is also editor-at-large for The Disinformation Company, where he has published several books including The Book of Lists and 50 Things You're Not Supposed to Know.
More about Russ Kick...

Other Books in the Series

The Graphic Canon (3 books)
  • From "Kubla Khan" to the Bronte Sisters to The Picture of Dorian Gray (The Graphic Canon #2)
  • From Heart of Darkness to Hemingway to Infinite Jest (The Graphic Canon #3)

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