The Guardian UK says: “Ambitious” . . . We concur.
From the Guardian (UK), February 8, 2012:
From The Epic of Gilgamesh to Infinite Jest via Dante, Dangerous Liaisons and Dubliners, the western canon is set to be turned into a 1,344-page, three-volume graphic novel.
The ambitious project from New York press Seven Stories is being hailed as the “graphic publishing literary event of the year.” Each of the 189 works of literature covered is being interpreted by a comics artist, with 130 illustrators contributing to the project including Robert Crumb, Will Eisner and Hunt Emerson. The first volume of The Graphic Canon —“From The Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons”—is out in May, to be followed by the second (“Kubla Khan to the Brontë Sisters to The Picture of Dorian Gray”) in August and the third (“From Heart of Darkness to Hemingway to Infinite Jest”) in October.
Crumb covers James Boswell’s London Journal, in an adaptation “filled with philosophical debate and lowbrow debauchery,” as well as Sartre’s Nausea, capturing the author’s “existential dread,” while Eisner interprets Don Quixote. There will be two graphic takes on Moby Dick, one by Eisner Award-winning artist Bill Sienkiewicz, Emerson takes on Coleridge with an illustrated interpretation of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Dame Darcy turns the Alice books into a “16-page tour-de-force,” as well as visualising Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.
Graphic adaptions of Lolita—“everyone said it couldn’t be done!” said Seven Stories—Thus Spake Zarathustra and On the Origin of Species are also in the pipeline, as are Yeats’s “The Second Coming” done as a magazine spread, a letter on reincarnation from Flaubert, Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women and short stories by W Somerset Maugham, Flannery O’Connor and Saki, done manga-style. The Eastern canon also gets its due, said Seven Stories, with The Tale of Genji done in full-page illustrations “reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley,” three poems from China’s golden age of literature, the Tibetan Book of the Dead and a Japanese Noh play covered, as well as Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. Each adaptation receives a maximum of 16 pages of space, with a short introduction by editor Russ Kick.
The idea came to Kick when he saw a graphic adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Trial “and it all came together,” he told US books magazine Publishers Weekly. “I started thinking about the giant comprehensive literary anthologies done by WW Norton,” he said. “We tried to hit all the great books so it is a good way to familiarise yourself with the literary canon.”
Kick “wasn’t interested in a literal interpretation of the text into pictures” from contributors, so he “let them run with it,” he said. “I didn’t want Classics Illustrated comics. I want to see the artists’ stamp on it.”
He hopes the volumes will appeal to “comics and graphic novel fans and people who love literature, although I know there’s some resistance to turning literary works into comics,” he said.