First Second publishers graphic novels for adults.
(This is an old person — the specific kind of person we publish many of our graphic novels for! Image ganked from the National Library of Wales.)
Maybe you’ve heard of some of these graphic novels we’ve published for adults!
Feynman — a New York Times Best-Seller. Baby’s in Black — also a New York Times Best-Seller. Zahra’s Paradise — huh, also a New York Times Best-Seller. And The Photographer — that one’s a New York Times Best-Seller too!
(We have also published adult graphic novels that haven’t hit the New York Times Best-Seller list but that are also wonderful pieces that we love, like Bloody Chester, Koko Be Good, Gus & His Gang, Slow Storm, Alan’s War, Vampire Loves, Three Shadows, The Fate of the Artist, Ball Peen Hammer, and The Silence of Our Friends — oh, no, that one hit the NYT Best-Seller list too, nevermind.)
(I call out The New York Times Best-Seller list here because when a book hits it, that’s generally a sign that it is being bought by people, and also that The New York Times feels that the book is culturally significant enough to be worthy of attention — both relative quotients of popularity.)
The most frequent response I get when I tell other people in the comics industry that I work for First Second is, ‘That’s the kids comics publisher!’ And, well, we DO publish graphic novels for kids.
(Kids, we totally publish books for them some of the time, even if they are very small. Image ganked from the George Eastman House.)
But our graphic novels for adults sell equally well and get an equal amount (if not a larger amount) of attention in the media and on the internet, so I’m not exactly sure why people always associate us with kids comics! I have two theories:
1. Compared to other publishers, we publish a lot of kids books. Top Shelf, Fantagraphics, Oni, Slave Labor, D&Q — they all publish great comics and graphic novels for kids. But about 90 – 99% of their lists are adult comics. With First Second, the ratio is much different — maybe 35% of our list is adult comics; the rest aimed at kids and teenagers. But the adult graphic novels that we publish still exist, I swear! And we very much support and believe in them.
2. A lot of our adult books have content that reads down very well. Or, to put it another way — First Second isn’t very likely to be publishing Johnny the Homicidal Maniac or Paying For It. It’s not because we don’t publish book for adults (as you will have now come to an understanding about in the process of reading this post), it’s because we publish books with a specific sensibility which is a little too general-readers-friendly to include large quantities of mass murder or prostitutes. Not that we don’t think those can be narratively positive things — they’re just not our particular MO.
But seriously: graphic novels for adults, you can find them here. This season we’ve got Sailor Twain, by Mark Siegel, Sumo, by Thien Pham, and Tune: Vanishing Point, by Derek Kirk Kim, and they’ve all got adult protagonists meandering around in them and everything!