Russ Kick – RIP

“Rogue transparency activist” and comics editor Russ Kick has passed away.

Russell Charles (Russ) Kick III
July 20, 1969 – September 12, 2021

From The Washington Post obituary:

Russ Kick, a writer, editor and self-described “rogue transparency activist” who pried loose government records, using Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain overlooked documents and peek behind the curtain of official secrecy, died Sept. 12 at his home in Tucson. He was 52.

His sister, Ruth Kick, did not give a cause but said he had been in poor health for more than a decade.

Mr. Kick’s interests extended from “undeleting,” as he sometimes called his document gathering, to classic literature, erotica, food and ancient meditation practices. “I can’t focus completely on any one thing for too long,” he wrote in an online biography. “My personal brand is a mess.”

He also edited literary anthologies and the Graphic Canon series, for which he enlisted artists such as Robert Crumb and Will Eisner to reinterpret literary classics as comics and visual art. By turns bawdy and poignant, the series marked a kaleidoscopic alternative to the giant, doorstop literary anthologies published by W.W. Norton. “Work that might normally put you to sleep will leave you awe-struck,” artist and author Annie Weatherwax wrote in 2012, reviewing the first volume for the New York Times.

Russ followed up the 1600 page trilogy with volumes adapting children’s tales and crime stories.


Among the comic artists involved are

From Nashville Scene:

Editor Russ Kick got the idea for The Graphic Canon trilogy when he was standing in the graphic-novel section of a Tucson, Ariz., bookstore. Picking up a comic adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Trial, he was suddenly struck by the idea of developing a literary anthology that paired great stories with great visual storytellers.

Pulling texts together into a coherent whole is second nature to a veteran editor like Kick. He’s best known for guides like Everything You Know Is Wrong and You Are Being Lied To, which he put out through the countercultural publisher Disinformation. These and other books established Kick as a synthesizer of disparate, fringe authors and ideas. And judging from the reviews he’s garnering for The Graphic Canon, Volume 1: From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons, it looks like this combining of contemporary comics art and the world’s best literature is also proving a winner. School Library Journal has called the trilogy “startlingly brilliant,” and Publisher’s Weekly has dubbed it “the graphic publishing literary event of the year.”