September 26, 2013
In The Fray recently conducted an interview with the man behind The Graphic Canon, Russ Kick. Here is a highlight:
The Graphic Canon isn’t just works of literature. You also include philosophical writings from people like Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Nietzsche and excerpts from religious texts. How did you decide what to include as “the canon?”
I started with a list of what I considered to be the most critical works of literature. These were stories that would leave a noticeable gap if they weren’t included, like The Iliad, The Odyssey, Dante’s Inferno, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Tale of Genji. But I also wanted to go beyond what was predictable and bring in unexpected things. That’s why I included the Incan play Apu Ollantay.
I also had a wish list of things I wanted to see adapted because I thought the story would work really well visually. Some of the artists I worked with told me they’d always wanted to adapt a certain work, but they never had a reason to do it. That’s what happened with Rebecca Dart and Paradise Lost, which are these stunning full-page illustrations and beautiful hand-lettering. It also happened with Rick Geary and the book of Revelation. Being a part of this project gave those artists the excuse they needed.
There’s a lot of diversity in the collection, stylistically and in how the artist approached the material. Some adaptations are straightforward and use the original text, while others are more abstract interpretations of a partial or whole work. What does this diversity bring to the collection as a whole?
People have told me they were pleasantly surprised with The Graphic Canon because it is so multilayered and features so many different artistic styles. A few times while I was editing, I was surprised when an artist brought something out of a story that I’d never noticed before. Even though some of these works are hundreds of years old, they still have really relevant things to say. The themes are so timeless and universal, and the artwork helps to get that across.
Read the full interview here.
In Russ Kick’s magisterial, three-volume, full-color The Graphic Canon, 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.
For all things Graphic Canon, Be sure to check out the website here.