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The Graphic Canon, Vol. 2: From Kubla Khan to the Brontë Sisters to The Picture of Dorian Gray (The Graphic Canon #2)
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The Graphic Canon, Vol. 2: From Kubla Khan to the Brontë Sisters to The Picture of Dorian Gray (The Graphic Canon #2)

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  270 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
The Graphic Canon, 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. The great 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 ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Seven Stories Press (first published July 10th 2012)
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Community Reviews

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Dov Zeller
Sep 10, 2015 Dov Zeller rated it really liked it
(this review is the same as the one I wrote for volume 1. I really liked both volumes so far. I think perhaps the second one was more consistent in terms of sensibilities and quality, but I think that had mostly to do with the time period it was covering. Lots of great, beautiful stuff in both. Of course when dealing with canonization, what gets included and excluded, there is a lot to be debated. These books aren't super imaginative in that context, but hopefully they open up a space for others ...more
Aug 07, 2014 Molly rated it really liked it
Volume 2 was my first introduction to Kick's "The Graphic Canon" collection. I really enjoyed the volume, but I can agree with the drawbacks that other reviewers have listed: lack of diversity, lack of illustration for some pieces, and some illustrations that were "unreadable" or difficult to visually decipher.

That being said, I am glad I picked up the volume. Another reviewer said that she approached the book like she would an art museum, which I thought was a good comparison. I paged through
Christopher Rush
This volume was better than volume 1, but one has to say that with the same tone as one says "having a temperature of 104 is better than having a temperature of 106." Some of the artwork is great - this is a fine showcase of a number of up-and-coming artists who may make it big for all the right reasons. Some of the "artwork," though, is just sloppy mediocre pseudo-art pretentiously demanding we call it "art" just because it says so (even though Mrs. Wilson's 3rd-grade class could draw better th ...more
Oct 02, 2012 Matt rated it really liked it
Just as good as the last one. This covers probably my least favorite era in literature - the 18th and 19th centuries - but it still has a few really beautiful adaptations, notably Moby Dick and Huckleberry Finn.

A thought about the era: I recently read Jane Eyre and Les Miserables, two of the books adapted in this collection, and it's impossible to miss how much attention is given to minutia and detail, with Les Mis especially. My theory is that this was the first era where storytelling was domi
Mar 05, 2016 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This compilation of graphic adaptations was hit or miss for me. I loved the takes on Moby Dick, Middlemarch, Anna Karenina, A Message from Mount Misery, and the poems of William Blake. I was far less enthused by the inclusions of the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen and the brothers Grimm. These entries consisted of the entire text of selected fairly tales reproduced in a very small font and paired with a single illustration. I'm not an expert but I doubt that that would fit the definitio ...more
Like all anthologies, some of these were better than others. I personally enjoyed the following:

"The Message from Mount Misery"--Excerpt from Frederick Douglas famous speech
"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"--Wordless! Loved it. By far my favorite.
"Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"-- His escape with Jim. Does a great job showing slavery and how Huck was torn with helping Jim and turning him in as an escaped slave. The only part I did not like was Jim's thick dialect.
"Alice Gallery"--various artis
Jul 30, 2013 Susan rated it it was ok
Shelves: 800
spot illustrations + text =/= comics
cardulelia carduelis
Where these anthologies excel is when they reintepret the classics and bring to light the lesser known works. I may be in a minority but Kubla Khan was unknown to me before this and the rendition (see image below) is stunning - it's a great opening piece.
Equally, longer verse-style poetry, which can be hard to stick with and appreciate, is very digestible when interspersed with images.
The range of graphic styles and media is impressive as well.

Obviously such a large undertaking is going t
C.r. Comacchio
Nov 11, 2016 C.r. Comacchio rated it it was amazing
A quick, engaging survey, wonderfully illustrated--I read it in one sitting but will be dipping back in to reread.
John Bond
Jan 31, 2017 John Bond rated it really liked it
Continuation of the first volume. Looking forward to the final, more current volume. Uneven with length of stories covered and pieces chosen to anthologize.
Joe Rouse
Feb 05, 2013 Joe Rouse rated it it was amazing
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,
Boyke Rahardian
Again, similar with vol. 1, it's packed with gorgeous illustrations, one can simply flip through the pages and enjoy the spectacle even with limited knowledge on the context. Readers need not to worry though, as Russ's introductions before each piece give enough background information on the literary works which inspired them.

There are some drawbacks of course which several reviewers here already pointed out—lack of illustration for some pieces, and some illustrations that are difficult to decip
Roselyn - bookmarkedpages
The second volume of the Graphic Canon is equally as impressive as the first in terms of both the variety of artwork, the depth of the commentary and the breadth of the selection of literature.

In order to refrain from repeating myself, I’ll attempt to elaborate on my review of the first volume.

When thinking of the literary canon, one automatically thinks of novels and poetry, typically non-fiction. However, as Russ Kick points out, there are many important works that are non-fiction, or that are
This huge volume of graphic novelizations of various poems, stories and novels is almost too much to get through, some portions actually including large sections of works (Grimm's Fables and others) in very small print with relatively little illustration to accompany them.

Overall I enjoyed the various artists twists on the stories, some of my favorites include the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by Wordsworth I thought was conveyed very nicely by PMurphy, very colorful,
Aseem Kaul
Mar 09, 2013 Aseem Kaul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novel
There are some real gems here, most notably Julian Peters' thrilling rendition of Rimbaud's Drunken Boat, Megan Kelso's delightful Middlemarch, Michael Keer and Nicole Rager Fuller's On the Origin of the Species, and Tim Fish's Wuthering Heights (plus the inevitable Alice Gallery), but on the whole the second volume of the Graphic Canon struck me as inferior to Vol 1. In part, this has to do with the book's narrower definition of the Canon: Vol 1. included extracts from Native American stories, ...more
Sep 09, 2014 Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
In this volume they cover mostly the Romantic and the Victorian Era. One of my favorite times in the Victorian literature with the sudden upraise in female writing. Loved the fact this volume included Middlemarch. Just finished that last year, so it was interesting to see it in comic book form. I also really like the Alice in Wonderland gallery they included. So much beautiful art! The only downside to this volume, and the others, is the fact I don't like some of the samples. I really don't care ...more
Mar 09, 2013 Dan rated it it was ok
Only passable. The anthology claims to include "the world's great literature as comics and visuals," but this volume is truly the Western world only, and embarrassingly so. And while the editor chose a good selection within the canon -- and it is a pleasure to sample so many good works -- the number of selections means each one receives just a few pages. I'd have much preferred fewer works with more pages per work.

The art looks rushed. I didn't feel that all contributors offered their best work,
Apr 26, 2013 Aaron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this, much like I enjoy art museums. There's stuff I like, and there's stuff I don't like. This series (of which this is the first book I've read) is certainly an immense undertaking, and I would imagine that there are tons of literary gems that were passed over in the editing process. But, the heart of this project is the art associated with the literature. Most of it is great, a few were so-so, only a couple did I find not to my taste. Some are comic in form, others have their roots ...more
Mar 18, 2013 Andrea rated it really liked it
One aspect of the first volume I loved was its global focus; the anthology managed to produce a collection that truly felt representative of the literary canon. Volume 2 disappoints in this respect, it is very much focused on western classics.

The diversity of contributors is still impressive, and there are some works I would love to see get full-book treatment (Huxley King's P&P illustrations at the top of that list, obvs). Fortunately my favourite pages did (Introducing me to Kish's work is
Jul 02, 2015 Dee rated it it was amazing
I thought this was an absolutely amazing book. The classics and visual art combined. Great bios of authors so a great way to get the skinny on a lot of great writers. The artists were many and so varied in their art. I loved the Lewis Carroll/ Alice gallery, the Poe montage, again Carroll/The Hunting of the Snark and the reason I picked this book up, Wilde/The Picture of Dorian Gray. I skipped over some because the art was just too busy for me or I was very familiar with the book, but overall I ...more
Jan 10, 2015 Lisa rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed, 2000s, reference
The balance between the art and the excerpts was very poor compared to the first volume. Too much (sometimes unreadable) text and not enough image. I also felt like the creator's bias began to creep through in a way I didn't notice the first time around. That many pages on Nietzsche? Really?

PLUS, after only a week's worth of perusal the binding came unglued. Twice. Unprecedented for one of my mollycoddled books.
Jennifer Louise
Oct 20, 2012 Jennifer Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I really enjoyed volume two of the graphic canon. The excerpts were amazing for the most part, and the art work was brilliant. I would list off my favorites of all the great artwork and adaptations, but honestly there are too many that I enjoyed. I think I enjoyed volume two a bit more than volume one, but that may be because I am slightly more familiar with the works in this period. I am excited to get the third volume in April. I can't wait to see more, and to have the complete collection!
May 12, 2014 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Keeps up the same high standards set by vol. 1.

Not much else to say about it, some of the interpretations are really interesting and it is nice to take a look at old classics with a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective (such as seeing a black version of Lewis Carroll's Alice). It has inspired me to pick up a few that I may have overlooked in the past.
Nov 05, 2015 Cindy rated it liked it
Overall, this was still a good volume and a very good idea, but it didn't have quite the energy or pacing as the first. I was also disappointed by how often there were duplicate stories and plain illustrations. Several were really good like the Anna Karenina and Middlemarch ones, but it was often difficult to get through this.
Jun 06, 2014 Sylvester rated it liked it
What an amazing idea – excerpts from great literature in graphic form! My favorite was “Jabberwocky” (Lewis Carroll) adapted by Eran Cantrell, all in silhouette images, beautiful work. “Anna Karenina” and “Middlemarch were also good – and “Huck Finn” – “Crime and Punishment” was spectral. All in all, a vivid and imaginative collection.
Jonathan Funk
Mar 05, 2013 Jonathan Funk rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
Similar to volume 1 (See review:, but a bit less interesting to me, personally. "Less interesting" does not equal uninteresting, however! This is a great series. I can't wait for volume 3.
Stephen Houser
Jun 19, 2013 Stephen Houser rated it liked it
As with most anthologies, this volume is hit or miss. Some beautiful work, especially with the works of poetry. Some drawing styles are particularly well adapted to certain works, as in the "Walden" excerpt. Others are far too idiosyncratic.
amy boese
Apr 30, 2013 amy boese rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2013
The art is extraordinary. The idea that someone might want to sit down and read every story in the 11th grade 'literature' anthology back to back is ridiculous. Nice coffee table book, but not the epic read everyone had me believe it to be.
Dec 19, 2013 Bri rated it it was ok
I liked this volume less than the first. I wasn't as drawn in by the selections this time around and I ended up skimming the volume more than actually reading it. I still plan to check out volume 3, but hopes are not high.
Jul 30, 2013 Brian rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this one more than Volume 1 - a little more familiar with most of the works (lots of stuff you studied, or at least talked about in school...if not actually read). Looking forward to Volume 3.
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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)
  • The Graphic Canon, Vol. 1: From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons (The Graphic Canon #1)
  • The Graphic Canon, Vol. 3: From Heart of Darkness to Hemingway to Infinite Jest (The Graphic Canon #3)

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