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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

The Graphic Canon of Children's Literature

The World's Greatest Kids' Lit as Comics and Visuals

by Russ Kick

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In this follow-up volume to the lauded Graphic Canon series, master anthologist Russ Kick shows adults everywhere that great children's literature is great literature, period. And that it's not just for children.

The original three-volume anthology The Graphic Canon presented the world's classic literature—from ancient times to the late twentieth century—as eye-popping comics, illustrations, and other visual forms. In The Graphic Canon of Children's Literature, young people's literature through the ages is given new life by the best comics artists and illustrators. Fairy tales, fables, fantastical adventures, young adult novels, swashbuckling yarns, your favorite stories from childhood and your teenage years . . . they're all here, in all their original complexity and strangeness, before they were censored or sanitized.

Take a gander!

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“These dazzlingly varied renderings run the gamut from haunting to comical while offering visceral reminders that children's stories are often densely layered, infinitely transposable, and peddle in imagery both macabre and whimsical. It is the unfettered imagination of these stories that make them not only wildly entertaining, but also vessels of forgotten truths.”

“Some of history’s most skillful wielding of tales has refused to bend to the false divide between 'children’s' and 'adult' storytelling ... On the heels of the year’s best children’s books comes a magnificent embodiment of that ethos in The Graphic Canon of Children’s Literature”

“A masterful success. If [Russ Kick would] unleash several other loose Canons, I’d be living happily ever after.”

blog — September 23

Remembering Russ Kick (1969 - 2021)

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. 

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RUSS KICK is the originator of the Graphic Canon series, for which he has commissioned new work from over three hundred artists, now going into its sixth volume. The New York Times selected The Graphic Canon Volume 1 as an Editor’s Choice, and School Library Journal has called the series “startlingly brilliant.” Kick’s nonfiction anthologies, including You Are Being Lied To and Everything You Know Is Wrong, informed a whole generation of Americans about the hard truths of American politics. He created a media frenzy for being the first to publish suppressed photographs of American flag-draped coffins returning from Iraq. The New York Times dubbed Kick “an information archaeologist,” Details magazine described him as “a Renaissance man,” and Utne Reader named him one of its “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.” His popular website AltGov2.org is active again and getting national media coverage for archiving documents that the Trump Administration has been deleting.

Other books by Russ Kick