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Dostoevsky, the great Russian writer, is renowned for filling his books with women in hot pants and orange lipstick. Crime and Punishment has an abundance of Nancy Sinatra lookalikes, circa 1966. Raskolnikov has a guilty conscience and a natty pair of olive flares. In the version I'm reading anyway, a 59-page comic book published by Connecticut-based Academic Industries.

Sadly, for this year's feverishly behind A-level students, the comic is now out of print. The few remaining copies, found at car boot sales between the 1974 Blue Peter Annual and the new Sonia record, sell like hot cakes.

Thankfully, Gosh] Comics of London, stocks the all-new Classics Illustrated range of classic novels in comic form. For many of these books, the comic could have been their original form. Put simply The Fall of the House of Usher is a horror story, Cyrano de Bergerac a love story, and Crime and Punishment a murder story. Usher, the comic, is a swirling dervish of matted hair and magenta nightmares, Cyrano a technicolour farce, and Crime and Punishment, well, dig those kinky thigh high boots.

In another range is Epicurus the Sage, where the Greek philosophers chat with the Gods. Nonsensical legends that you were always too embarrassed to question in class are addressed by the characters themselves. Leda, of Leda and the Swan fame, here a blonde starlet with ample cleavage, mumbles, 'I was just thinking, wouldn't it be fun to have hot, juicy sex with a ten-foot bird. Not a thought I'd usually have.' No indeed. The bird looks like Alan Clark.

These corner-cutting yet insightful comics are perfect for the young generation of Reservoir Dog-watching, Pop Tart-popping slackers. One of the most important works of Russian literature read with one eye on MTV? That'll do nicely, thankyou.

Gosh] Comics, 39 Great Russell St, London WC1 (071-636 1011). Prices from pounds 2 to pounds 3.50 per book

Emma Forrest

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