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The Graphic Canon, Vol. 1: From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons Paperback – May 22, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1609803766 ISBN-10: 1609803760

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Frequently Bought Together

The Graphic Canon, Vol. 1: From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons + The Graphic Canon, Vol. 2: From "Kubla Khan" to the Bronte Sisters to The Picture of Dorian Gray + The Graphic Canon, Vol. 3: From Heart of Darkness to Hemingway to Infinite Jest
Price for all three: $81.21

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Product Details

  • Series: The Graphic Canon
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609803760
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609803766
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.3 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"While many of the great graphic books tackle dark subject matter, this ambitious three-volume set is a sheer delight. A huge roster of artists illustrates the Western Canan, including the works of Homer, Shakespeare, the Brontë Sisters, and Hemingway. A visual feast, the collection offers a fresh way of interpreting and appreciating the classics—and might encourage you to pick up a few you've never gotten around to" --Reader's Digest

Read more: http://www.rd.com/slideshows/graphic-novels-for-adults/#ixzz32HtWca8W

“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.”
Booklist, starred review

“The graphic publishing literary event of the year.”
Publishers Weekly

“This meaty slab is laced with more wit, beauty, social commentary and shock than one might expect. . . If artists, as British sculptor Anish Kapoor famously said, make mythologies, then this volume is genuinely a marriage of equals.”
Kirkus Reviews
“The Graphic Canon is absolutely the most ambitious book I've picked up this year.”
“The Western literary canon has long been debated and criticized by academics, and rightly so. Which books belong and which don't? Now The Graphic Canon, a three-volume series edited by Russ Kick which presents classic lit as comic strips, adds a bit more fuel to the intellectual fires.”
—Steven Heller, The Atlantic 

“These are 500 pages that contain more intelligence, wit, and savvy social commentary than anything else I have read in a long time. It is an amazing work. It is wild. It is dirty at times. It is nothing short of beautiful.”
New Straits Times
“The diversity and excellence of this volume is just about overwhelming.”
The Austin Chronicle

“Looks like a must-buy for all academic libraries, many public libraries, and many high schools, and an exciting new benchmark for comics!"
—Martha Cornog, Library Journal

"This is a masterpiece of literary choices as well as art and interpretation. It is a perfect graduation or summer-reading present, and the solid editing, including introductory notes for each piece, makes it a required purchase for any library."
School Library Journal

“It takes time to read this book, but it is a book worth taking time over [...] Robert Berry and Josh Levitas’ adaptation of Shakespeare’s eighteenth sonnet is among the best of the lot. They succeed, not only in doing justice to the original poem, but also, with the illustrations, in adding a kind of meditative short story reflective of the emotion the sonnet conveys.”
— The Comics Journal

“This delightful trove of comics and graphics adapted from and inspired by classic works of literature brings together mostly new works by dozens of contributors, from the legendary (e.g., Will Eisner, Robert Crumb) to newer talents (e.g., Fred Van Lente, Matt Wiegle). The diverse voices include women, Native American, Asian, queer, Jewish, and other creators; the artistic styles run the gamut of experimental to cartoonish to photo-realistic; and the tones of the adaptations range from serious to irreverent. One can imagine many potential audiences for this unique volume, including practitioners in art and design, students of world literatures and/or religious traditions, and instructors who deal with issues of adaptation and translation. Readers will be fascinated to see on display in one volume so many varied approaches to visualizing classic texts, including wordless comics adapting Beowulf and The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a contemporary setting for Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18," a simultaneously textually faithful and visually stunning rendition of The Odyssey, and a lesbian reinterpretation of John Donne’s “The Flea.” Substantial notes on texts, translations, and contributors round out a bargain-priced, must-have title. Summing up: Essential. All readers.”
—Current Reviews for Academic Libraries

About the Author

RUSS KICK's best-selling 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.

From the Boxed Set edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Miss Selenie on June 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
I really don't understand why the negative comments about the sexual explicitness. Firstly, there are nowhere near as many naked women and pornographic scenes as the first 2 reviewers would have you believe. Notice how they didn't even mention which works that they are talking about? One calls the artists "pigs" when one of the most graphic (and it really isn't even that graphic) was drawn by a woman. Also, the sexuality is in context with the story (Lysistrata the play by Aristophanes in which the women withhold sex from the males so that they will make peace & a lesbian take on John Donne's the Flea in which the narrator is trying to seduce a woman) and again it isn't even graphic enough to call "porn". This book is beautiful and the artwork is in my opinion phenomenal. I always wanted to read classics like the Iliad and Dante's inferno but could never get through them. This is like a supercool cliff notes version. I especially enjoyed "Medea". There are numerous stories in here with absolutely no nudity. I also enjoyed another similar book called "Masterpiece Comics". If you like graphic novels and want to learn more about the classics- and you understand that there are sexual underpinnings to some of the classics and are not ashamed and embarrassed of the naked female and male bodies then this book is for you!
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By T. Boyce on June 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
Volume One kicks-off the Graphic Canon trilogy in style -- lots of styles, actually. The contrast between works is breathtaking. Just when I think I'm looking at my favorite piece in the book, I turn the page and am blown-away yet again.

Helpful thoughts toward the potential buyer:

* Some of the works include adult content, either in text or visual form.
* The majority of works included in this anthology are excerpts. It could be no other way.
* It's a great way to gain exposure to a broad range of classics.
* It's a great way to gain exposure to a broad range of art styles.
* Look at the price -- for 500 pages, full color throughout, and on high-quality paper, it's an absolute bargain!
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Chris Clukey on July 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
The story of this volume is a story of soaring success and dismal failure. Much of the art is stunning, and some of the choices of which section of a great work would be included are pitch perfect. But where it fails, it fails miserably.

To give a concrete example, one of the stories included is "The Lady With Two Coyntes" from 1001 Arabian Nights. It's about a woman who convinces her husband she has two sets of reproductive organs so she can get it on with a stableboy without being charged with adultery. First, choosing this out of all the stories in 1,001 nights (there are three in this volume) is like going to Tavern on the Green and ordering a hot dog. Second, the story is illustrated with art so poorly drawn and ugly it makes Ren and Stimpy look like a Rembrandt painting. Sadly, this is just the worst of several sections where the tale chosen, the art or both leave the reader shaking his head. When you pick up a book of collected great literature and stop reading partway through King Lear because the presentation is just plain annoying, ugly and has less artistic merit than the Pedro the Burro cartoons in Boy's Life, there's a problem with the underlying editorial approach. I found myself wondering what a good artist could have done with Clarence's speech from Richard III in its place.

Another (albeit minor) problem is that some of the artwork is divorced from the literary work it depicts. The illustrations that represent Dangerous Liaisons are wonderfully detailed, charming and witty, but if you weren't told what they were supposed to represent, they could just be whimsical works depicting 18th Century musicians. They only tell the story to those who already know it intimately.

Still, there are spots that are not just bright, but wonderful.
Read more ›
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Lera on May 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Here are some things I noticed when I got the books (I bought volumes 1 and 2) that I misunderstood when I ordered them:

The book is not full color. There are a few sections with full color but there are *way more* sections of black and white and spot color (spot color is one or two additional colors added to a black and white page-- not full color). I had the impression the book was all color. Not even close.

The stories are not complete. Instead of a story, you get a chapter, part, paragraph, or sometimes even just a sentence is illustrated out of a whole work. That's okay, I guess. But again, I had the impression from reading the description that a story or tale was being told, not a fraction of a story. I should have known better, I suppose, but it seems like they could have been honest in the description. Instead of saying "Midsummer Night's Dream" they could have said "the first page of Act Two of Midsummer Night's Dream" or even just "a highlight from" or something like that.

I am enjoying the wide selection from history and the huge variety of styles on display. I recommend these books but I wish they would be honest in the description. I hope this review gives you realistic expectations so you can enjoy these books 100% when you receive them.
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