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 of Russ Kick's Graphic Canon of Crime and Mystery 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.
It is with great sorrow that we share news of the death of revered independent investigative journalist, activist, literary anthologist, Seven Stories author, collaborator, and—critically—friend, Russ Kick.
While writing articles and a column for The Village Voice, Kick was the founder and editor, independently, of The Memory Hole, Memory Hole 2 and Altgov2 which made US government documents available to the public through FOIA requests and other means. In 2003 he exposed an unredacted internal report on Justice Department hiring practices. In early 2004 he brought to light government-censored photographs of the coffins of the military war dead from the Iraq War. In both cases, his reports on his own site became the subject of front-page reporting in the nation’s leading national newspapers.
Kick produced two explosive series of books that were published by the Disinformation Company throughout the first decade of the 21st century. The 50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know and You Are Being Lied To series of books became underground bestsellers, with titles like Everything You Know Is Wrong, Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong, etc., educating the Generation X kids who became adults in that decade about government lies and the history that wasn’t taught in schools.
At the end of that decade, Kick did an about-face, and began a new career as an anthologist bringing together comics art with our civilization’s legacy of classic literature, inviting hundreds of illustrators and artists to reimagine classic stories, poems and plays in new ways in a series of books known collectively as The Graphic Canon. The Graphic Canons were celebrated as a new kind of illustrated book, with Volume 3 hitting the New York Times Bestseller List for Graphic Books, and rights sold for foreign editions to publishers around the world.
Towards the end of the 2nd decade of the 21st century, Kick returned with renewed intensity to his political activism. From 2018 to 2021, he served as one of the directors of Rise for Animals, where he expanded their Animal Research Laboratory Overview with documents concerning animal experimentation obtained through FOIA and public records requests.
Kick also continued expanding The Graphic Canon. The Graphic Canon of Children’s Literature appeared in 2014, followed by The Graphic Canon of Crime & Mystery, Vol 1, in 2017. The Graphic Canon of Crime & Mystery, Vol 2, will be published by Seven Stories on December 7th, 2021.
From Molly Crabapple, comics artist and colleague of Russ Kick —
I first found Russ Kick when I was thirteen, through his book Outposts. For a friendless goth kid like me, Kick was the exact sort of guide I needed. Like a punk-rock Virgil, Russ's work led countless young people like me to the exact sort of places that America tried to hide—to the dangerous, thrilling, strange, ludicrous and beautiful realms where we imagined we could belong. I was an immediate devotee; his formative bad influence helped shape my own artistic path. With his Disinformation series, Russ challenged power. He peeled the censored bars off of redacted documents, and kicked down the doors of the pompous and mendacious, to reveal their skulduggery to the world. His work was transgressive, subversive, and irreverent of piety—all qualities in short supply today. Russ Kick showed the possibilities of life. Many years later, I was lucky enough to have Russ as an editor on The Graphic Canon. Never meet your idols, they say, particularly the ones of the gonzo variety, but in Russ's case, this would have been bad advice. He was unfailingly kind, supportive, generous and perceptive. I cannot fathom the loss of such a man, but the world is made more narrow by his absence.