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Kevin Costner and Friends Recommend 12 Good Old-Fashioned Adventure Stories

From left to right:  Rick Ross (illustrator), Kevin Costner, Jon Baird (writer)   Kevin Costner is an internationally renowned actor and filmmaker. Costner has produced, directed, and/or starred in such memorable films as Dances with Wolves, JFK, The Bodyguard, Field of Dreams, Tin Cup, Bull Durham, and Black or White, among many others. He has been honored with two Academy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and an Emmy Award.   Jon Baird is the author/illustrator of the novels Day Job and Songs from Nowhere Near the Heart. He is a codeveloper with Kevin Costner of the Horizon miniseries.   Rick Ross is an artist and filmmaker whose first widely recognized work in graphic fiction was illustrating the Image Comics series Urban Monsters. He was the lead artist for the graphic novelization of Spike TV’s 1000 Ways to Die, and he has also created artwork for numerous animated-motion comics.

Kevin Costner is a lifelong fan of good old-fashioned adventure stories. It’s no wonder, then, that his recently published first book, The Explorers Guild: Volume One, is an action-packed, globe-trotting tale that belongs on the shelf next to Kipling and Tintin. Costner dreamed up The Explorers Guild with co-writer Jon Baird and illustrator Rick Ross. Off the Shelf asked the three of them about their favorite adventure tales for fans of all ages, and they shared this swashbuckling list.


My Side of the Mountain
by Jean Craighead George

This is a book that hit me right where I lived as a young reader. The idea that a twelve-year-old city boy would light out alone from the safe but stifling environment of home and pit himself against the wilderness, with nothing but the skills he’d learned in a library book and his own native wit: this was tremendously appealing to me. —Kevin Costner

My Side of the Mountain
Jean Craighead George

This is a book that hit me right where I lived as a young reader. The idea that a twelve-year-old city boy would light out alone from the safe but stifling environment of home and pit himself against the wilderness, with nothing but the skills he’d learned in a library book and his own native wit: this was tremendously appealing to me. —Kevin Costner

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Kevin Costner and Friends Recommend 12 Good Old-Fashioned Adventure Stories

By Kevin Costner, Jon Baird, & Rick Ross | December 18, 2015

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The Swiss Family Robinson
by Johann Wyss

Narratives about survival and self-reliance in incredible situations and environments have always spoken to me and challenged me and sent me into the world with the (perhaps ill-advised) idea that there was adventure everywhere for those who sought it. I’ve built my own kayaks and followed the trails of Lewis and Clark and knocked around for untold hours in the mountains and forests, rivers and oceans of the American West and around the world. When it came time to build a tree house, I raised it seven stories and might have gone higher if I’d felt the tree could bear it. I think I would have tried these things in any case, but what magical experiences they were, fueled by those golden old tales like THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON. —Kevin Costner

The Swiss Family Robinson
Johann Wyss

Narratives about survival and self-reliance in incredible situations and environments have always spoken to me and challenged me and sent me into the world with the (perhaps ill-advised) idea that there was adventure everywhere for those who sought it. I’ve built my own kayaks and followed the trails of Lewis and Clark and knocked around for untold hours in the mountains and forests, rivers and oceans of the American West and around the world. When it came time to build a tree house, I raised it seven stories and might have gone higher if I’d felt the tree could bear it. I think I would have tried these things in any case, but what magical experiences they were, fueled by those golden old tales like THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON. —Kevin Costner

MENTIONED IN:

Kevin Costner and Friends Recommend 12 Good Old-Fashioned Adventure Stories

By Kevin Costner, Jon Baird, & Rick Ross | December 18, 2015

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Treasure Island
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Long John Silver was a frightening—but tremendously seductive—character for me as a boy; and for my part, being that active sort of reader, I really felt I was Jim Hawkins, pulled headlong into the wild Caribbean, afraid but of course wanting to go on in spite of myself. Silver’s was the Siren song of true adventure—of that irresistible blend of fun spiked with danger—and Stevenson brings this out as few other writers can. —Kevin Costner

Treasure Island
Robert Louis Stevenson

Long John Silver was a frightening—but tremendously seductive—character for me as a boy; and for my part, being that active sort of reader, I really felt I was Jim Hawkins, pulled headlong into the wild Caribbean, afraid but of course wanting to go on in spite of myself. Silver’s was the Siren song of true adventure—of that irresistible blend of fun spiked with danger—and Stevenson brings this out as few other writers can. —Kevin Costner

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Kevin Costner and Friends Recommend 12 Good Old-Fashioned Adventure Stories

By Kevin Costner, Jon Baird, & Rick Ross | December 18, 2015

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Winsor McCay: The Complete Little Nemo, 2 Vol.
by Alexander Braun

McCay is, to my mind, one of the greatest artists that America has ever produced. He was the father of the animated cartoon, a prolific political cartoonist, and a hugely popular comic-strip creator. The enormously influential LITTLE NEMO is his magnum opus, a surreal Sunday comic that ran in different forms from 1905 to 1926. The best collection I’ve seen is this one from Taschen, but for the budget-minded, there are any number of smaller collections available, new and used, that will open wide the gates to McCay’s incredible genius. —Rick Ross

Winsor McCay: The Complete Little Nemo, 2 Vol.
Alexander Braun

McCay is, to my mind, one of the greatest artists that America has ever produced. He was the father of the animated cartoon, a prolific political cartoonist, and a hugely popular comic-strip creator. The enormously influential LITTLE NEMO is his magnum opus, a surreal Sunday comic that ran in different forms from 1905 to 1926. The best collection I’ve seen is this one from Taschen, but for the budget-minded, there are any number of smaller collections available, new and used, that will open wide the gates to McCay’s incredible genius. —Rick Ross

MENTIONED IN:

Kevin Costner and Friends Recommend 12 Good Old-Fashioned Adventure Stories

By Kevin Costner, Jon Baird, & Rick Ross | December 18, 2015

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Great Illustrations by N. C. Wyeth
by N. C. Wyeth

N. C. Wyeth was arguably the greatest illustrator of adventure novels working in the early twentieth century. Illustrating books like THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS, ROBIN HOOD, ROBINSON CRUSOE, and TREASURE ISLAND, his full-color oils brought scenes from each story to brilliant life and stirred the imaginations of generations of readers, young and old. This volume provides a nice introduction to his gorgeous images. —Rick Ross

Great Illustrations by N. C. Wyeth
N. C. Wyeth

N. C. Wyeth was arguably the greatest illustrator of adventure novels working in the early twentieth century. Illustrating books like THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS, ROBIN HOOD, ROBINSON CRUSOE, and TREASURE ISLAND, his full-color oils brought scenes from each story to brilliant life and stirred the imaginations of generations of readers, young and old. This volume provides a nice introduction to his gorgeous images. —Rick Ross

MENTIONED IN:

Kevin Costner and Friends Recommend 12 Good Old-Fashioned Adventure Stories

By Kevin Costner, Jon Baird, & Rick Ross | December 18, 2015

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Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938
by Hal Foster

Hal Foster was the king of adventure comics—from his 1928 adaptation of TARZAN to his original Sunday strip set in the time of King Arthur, PRINCE VALIANT, which he penned for nearly forty years, fashioning one of the longest continuous stories in the history of graphic fiction. His prodigious imagination and lush illustrations would make him a national celebrity and influence generations of artists to follow. With art reproduced from his original proof sheets, this first volume in the PRINCE VALIANT series is a must for any lover of adventure stories or graphic fiction. —Rick Ross

Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938
Hal Foster

Hal Foster was the king of adventure comics—from his 1928 adaptation of TARZAN to his original Sunday strip set in the time of King Arthur, PRINCE VALIANT, which he penned for nearly forty years, fashioning one of the longest continuous stories in the history of graphic fiction. His prodigious imagination and lush illustrations would make him a national celebrity and influence generations of artists to follow. With art reproduced from his original proof sheets, this first volume in the PRINCE VALIANT series is a must for any lover of adventure stories or graphic fiction. —Rick Ross

MENTIONED IN:

Kevin Costner and Friends Recommend 12 Good Old-Fashioned Adventure Stories

By Kevin Costner, Jon Baird, & Rick Ross | December 18, 2015

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Figure Drawing for All It's Worth
by Andrew Loomis

For anyone interested in learning to illustrate adventure stories, there’s no better book to start with than this. The renowned Andrew Loomis was one of the great teachers of figure drawing and realist illustration, and this book condenses his many years of experience into a practical guide for learning to draw the figure from imagination. All I can say is, I wish I’d had this book when I was learning to draw comics. —Rick Ross

Figure Drawing for All It's Worth
Andrew Loomis

For anyone interested in learning to illustrate adventure stories, there’s no better book to start with than this. The renowned Andrew Loomis was one of the great teachers of figure drawing and realist illustration, and this book condenses his many years of experience into a practical guide for learning to draw the figure from imagination. All I can say is, I wish I’d had this book when I was learning to draw comics. —Rick Ross

MENTIONED IN:

Kevin Costner and Friends Recommend 12 Good Old-Fashioned Adventure Stories

By Kevin Costner, Jon Baird, & Rick Ross | December 18, 2015

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The Dore Illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy
by Gustave Doré

Gustave Doré was the preeminent book illustrator of the nineteenth century. A master painter and draughtsman, he was no less gifted at identifying talent, especially the group of unparalleled wood engravers he employed—equally the heroes of this incredible volume. Whenever I’m stuck for an idea, this is the first book I pull off the shelf for inspiration. —Rick Ross

The Dore Illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy
Gustave Doré

Gustave Doré was the preeminent book illustrator of the nineteenth century. A master painter and draughtsman, he was no less gifted at identifying talent, especially the group of unparalleled wood engravers he employed—equally the heroes of this incredible volume. Whenever I’m stuck for an idea, this is the first book I pull off the shelf for inspiration. —Rick Ross

MENTIONED IN:

Kevin Costner and Friends Recommend 12 Good Old-Fashioned Adventure Stories

By Kevin Costner, Jon Baird, & Rick Ross | December 18, 2015

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Captain Blood
by Rafael Sabatini

Beyond-wily seafarer and physician Dr. Peter Blood is caught up in an English rebellion, convicted of treason, and transported to the West Indies, where he reluctantly takes up as a pirate. This is the absolute blueprint of swashbuckling adventure. Sabatini starts in high gear and builds from there. —Jon Baird

Captain Blood
Rafael Sabatini

Beyond-wily seafarer and physician Dr. Peter Blood is caught up in an English rebellion, convicted of treason, and transported to the West Indies, where he reluctantly takes up as a pirate. This is the absolute blueprint of swashbuckling adventure. Sabatini starts in high gear and builds from there. —Jon Baird

MENTIONED IN:

Kevin Costner and Friends Recommend 12 Good Old-Fashioned Adventure Stories

By Kevin Costner, Jon Baird, & Rick Ross | December 18, 2015

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Flashman's Lady
by George MacDonald Fraser

The Flashman series is still—despite my own best efforts—one of the better-kept secrets in adventure literature. For pure storytelling I’ll take Fraser over nearly anyone in the canon. He puts you in the saddle with the most unrepentant antihero in books, and runs you through the worst British and American military disasters of the nineteenth century—though as he demonstrates in FLASHMAN’S LADY, he can mine as much drama from a cricket match as from a military battle. —Jon Baird

Flashman's Lady
George MacDonald Fraser

The Flashman series is still—despite my own best efforts—one of the better-kept secrets in adventure literature. For pure storytelling I’ll take Fraser over nearly anyone in the canon. He puts you in the saddle with the most unrepentant antihero in books, and runs you through the worst British and American military disasters of the nineteenth century—though as he demonstrates in FLASHMAN’S LADY, he can mine as much drama from a cricket match as from a military battle. —Jon Baird

MENTIONED IN:

Kevin Costner and Friends Recommend 12 Good Old-Fashioned Adventure Stories

By Kevin Costner, Jon Baird, & Rick Ross | December 18, 2015

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Victory
by Joseph Conrad

This is often overlooked in the Conrad oeuvre, but pound-for-pound I’ll put VICTORY against his best. More of a graduate-level read than our other recommendations, this is a psychological drama of tremendous cumulative power. Never a dull moment, which is remarkable in a book that turned 100 this year. —Jon Baird

Victory
Joseph Conrad

This is often overlooked in the Conrad oeuvre, but pound-for-pound I’ll put VICTORY against his best. More of a graduate-level read than our other recommendations, this is a psychological drama of tremendous cumulative power. Never a dull moment, which is remarkable in a book that turned 100 this year. —Jon Baird

MENTIONED IN:

Kevin Costner and Friends Recommend 12 Good Old-Fashioned Adventure Stories

By Kevin Costner, Jon Baird, & Rick Ross | December 18, 2015

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Amphigorey
by Edward Gorey

Sui generis, unclassifiable, the greatest formative influence on me personally, Edward Gorey is a name I’ll push on anyone who’ll listen. I recommend hunting down early editions of Gorey’s short—ehm, stories? Whatever they are, this collection of fifteen books (the first in a series of collections) is probably a more practical place to start. The art is haunting; the writing seems to reference some very specific thing the author has in mind but that we’ll never know; and the ineffable quality of these works makes them somehow perfect. —Jon Baird

Amphigorey
Edward Gorey

Sui generis, unclassifiable, the greatest formative influence on me personally, Edward Gorey is a name I’ll push on anyone who’ll listen. I recommend hunting down early editions of Gorey’s short—ehm, stories? Whatever they are, this collection of fifteen books (the first in a series of collections) is probably a more practical place to start. The art is haunting; the writing seems to reference some very specific thing the author has in mind but that we’ll never know; and the ineffable quality of these works makes them somehow perfect. —Jon Baird

MENTIONED IN:

Kevin Costner and Friends Recommend 12 Good Old-Fashioned Adventure Stories

By Kevin Costner, Jon Baird, & Rick Ross | December 18, 2015

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