September 8, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Books

Winter 2015!

That’s our next season coming up — January through April of next year.

And we’ve got books!

First up: Andi Watson’s charmingly spooky graphic novel Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula.  It’s love — and cooking — for the over-stressed denizens of the underworld!  Also, it’s adorable.


We’re delighted to have the next volume of George O’Connor’s Olympians series: Ares!  Comes complete with a Trojan War.  Just what you always wanted!


Jay Hosler’s Last of the Sandwalkers is a story about a civilization composed entirely of beetles . . . and how they deal with finding out the world’s a bit bigger than they’d thought.


The Adventures in Cartooning creators are making their first-ever picture book!  Featuring the knight and Edward the horse from Adventures in Cartooning, Sleepless Knight is the story of a camping trip . . . and a missing teddy bear!


We’re thrilled to be bringing the Last Man series to the US from France.  This first volume is called The Stranger; we’ll be publishing three of them a year.


We’re so pleased that James Kochalka is creating a sequel to his hilariously fun graphic novel The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza — this next one’s called The Glorkian Warrior Eats Adventure Pie.  It’s honestly the best kind of pie.


And last but by no means least — Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor.  Scott’s been working on this book for years and years, and we’re so glad to finally have it in print!


We’re excited about these upcoming titles!  Winter’s going to be a great season.

We already can’t wait!

September 4, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Behind the Scenes


(a panel from Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s fabulous graphic novel This One Summer)

When you typically think of an editor, the picture that comes up in your mind is someone sitting at a desk writing notes on a manuscript.  I feel like this is just cultural conditioning — the same way that when you think of an apple, what generally comes into your head first is round and red even though apples can be yellow and green and pink and other delicious colors.

Like Rose in the above picture, what our mental picture says is, editors are people who sit and write notes.  Basically, they spend their job reading and responding to books.

In today’s publishing industry, that’s not necessarily an accurate assessment of what an editor’s job is.  It’s definitely not an accurate assessment of the entirety of an editor’s job here at First Second.

That’s not to say that sitting at that desk and editing manuscripts aren’t important.  They are.  They’re a vital part of what editors do, and an essential part of our publishing process here at First Second.  The editorial process, dialogue between an editor and an author about how to make their book the best book possible, is one of the cornerstones of our publishing program at First Second.

But a lot of the time, an editor’s job can feel more like the project manager — the captain of the ship of the book EXCITING NEW GRAPHIC NOVEL.

Within a publishing company, there are lots of people who have to help out with the process of publishing a graphic novel before it goes on sale.

The book needs to get presented to the Acquisition Board before it’s even acquired.  It needs to be spec’d out by production, and the size, paper stock, and cover stock need to be chosen so the price can be figured out.  It needs to go to a designer to be laid out, and possibly lettered.  It needs to go through the managing editor to go to a copy editor and a proof reader so everything is spelled correctly.  The cover needs to be assembled and passed by the Cover Approval Board.  The marketing team needs to read it and figure out how best to market the book, and put together plans for that.  The sales team needs to read it and figure out how best to sell the book, and put together plans for that.  Throughout this process, all these people may need feedback on their different bits.

The editor is in charge of presenting and representing the book as accurately and positively as possible to all of these people so that they’ll all be able to make their parts of the publishing grandfather clock function as smoothly and as accurately as possible so that at the end, the book comes together in a way that the author, the editor, and the publisher are all happy with.

This can involve a whole lot of conversations — conversations about font choice, about cover design, about trim sizes, about marketing plans, about local author contacts, etc.  The editor is the first person that anyone at a publishing company comes to when they have a question about that editor’s book, because the editor is the one who knows the book best (and also is probably just down the hall, as opposed to the author, who’s probably in another state or something).

On the other end of things, the editor is in charge of presenting all of these conversations — as well as the normal general procedure of the inner mechanisms of the publishing process — to the author, who’s wandering around in another state wondering why her publisher is making such mysterious decisions about her book and what she can do about it.

At last count, we here at First Second had something like sixty books signed up that are not yet published.  And that’s as well as the books that we’ve already published that need attention for things like reprints, e-books, events, conferences, awards, re-packaging, and just day-to-day questions from authors.  At any given point, we’re in a ‘crunch mode’ for ten to fifteen of these titles, working to get them to the printer in the next several months — and that’s the point after which the content editing (the part with the sitting at the desk and reading and making notes) has been completed.

So at any point, an editor will be working with tens of authors — hundreds of authors, even — who all have questions and suggestions and want more information.  And an editor will also be working with as many in-house people, who have the same (and different) questions and suggestions and need more information.

So while an editor certainly can (and does!) spend a significant amount of time reading, writing notes, and dealing with creative story-telling challenges, it’s frequently the case that as much — if not more — of her time is spent wearing that ship’s captain/project manager’s hat.

September 1, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Behind the Scenes


(the blurb from the back cover of Farel Dalrymple’s The Wrenchies.  It is an excellent example of its kind.)

As publishers, we frequently find blurbs to be a pretty contrived thing.  I mean, we’re obtaining them either from people we know or people we (or our authors) are convincing into reading our books through our charisma and charm!  And, obviously, if someone gives us a blurb that’s like, ‘THIS BOOK IS A TERRIBLE THING AND WILL DESTROY AMERICA,” we’re not going to put it on the book unless it’s from, like, Ultimate Evil (who we wouldn’t approach about a blurb anyways).

Blurbs don’t exactly work like this:

First Second: Art Spiegelman, will you give us a blurb?

Art Spiegelman: I will, but only on the condition that you sign this contract so that you’re legally obligated to print it even if I hate the book and no matter how long my blurb is and I can swear or use whatever language I’d like.

First Second: I can’t see what would be wrong with signing this contract!

Art Spiegelman: Here is my five-paragraph essay on the underlying symbolism issues with the video game culture.

First Second: Well, we seem to have gotten ourselves in a bit of a jam here.

They tend to work much more like this:

First Second: Craig Thompson, will you give us a blurb?

Craig Thompson: Let me read the book and see if I’d be up for it!

First Second: What did you think?

Craig Thompson: It’s wonderful!  Here are some sentences about it.

First Second: Hm . . . do you mind if we change the word order . . . and we might need to abbreviate this second sentence so this fits in the space we have on the book cover . . . someone else used that same phrase in their blurb, so we’re going to take that out.  Okay, what do you think?

Craig Thompson: Wait, let’s use this word instead.  And I’m going to play around with the language a little more.  I’m good!

First Second: Done!

It’s a collaborative process to make sure that the blurb works with the rest of the content on the book and at the same time accurately represents what the book is about.

But despite the fact that this is a contrived process, blurbs are awesome — because hypothetical!Craig Thompson wouldn’t have given that blurb if he didn’t actually really like the book a lot.  And what that says (right on the book cover!) is, ‘dear readers who like Craig Thompson, Craig Thompson thinks this book is great.’  Secondarily, it also says, ‘dear readers who don’t know who Craig Thompson is, someone besides the author and the publisher thinks this book is amazing.’  And both of those statements are very valuable.

So if you’re an author, how do you go about obtaining blurbs for your book?

The first thing to do is to check in with your publisher.  They may have cover design plans for your book that do not include a blurb.  Or they may have already been talking to people about blurbs, so you don’t have to do anything!  In which case, it is clearly time to go off and enjoy what remains of the summer.

If your publisher hasn’t already arranged for blurbs, you’re up!  It is time to compile a list of people who you know or whose work you admire and get in touch with them to try to convince them to say good things about your book.

When you’re putting together this list, it’s good to think about who exactly you want to get to blurb your book.  It’s wonderful if people you admire send you blurbs — but if H. P. Lovecraft sends you a blurb for your light, cheerful romantic comedy, it’ll probably give people the wrong idea about your book (besides having to involve necromancy — always messy).  Your very best bet is to go for authors of recent, popular books who are in the same vein as your own novel.  Obviously, you don’t have to one-to-one match your plot elements or anything, but you want to make sure that people who pick up your book based on that quote don’t put it down saying, ‘what in the world am I reading?’

Some crazy timing is also involved — you basically have to send people the book after it’s done, but before it goes to the printer.  That tends not to be a huge window of time!  We usually advise that authors send pdfs to people to blurb after the first pass of copy-edits has been input into the manuscript.  That way there aren’t huge errors, but there probably will still be some.  And blurbers will probably have a month at most to turn the book around.  We’re lucky that graphic novels are so comparatively fast to read!

The next thing to do in this process is write a letter to the person you’d like your blurb from and ask them for a blurb.  It is important to do this because people will not just psychically know that you need blurbs for your book.

Your letter might go like this:

Dear Best Ever Literary Friend,

You know that book I’ve been talking about for two years?  It’s finally done!  I’m so excited about it — I think it’s better than anything I’ve done before.

Would you consider providing a blurb for the book for us to use on the cover?  I respect your work so much, and I think it’d be amazing to have your kind words on my new project.

Here are instructions about how to obtain a manuscript.  I need the blurb by X date, which is soon.

Thanks so much for considering this.

Sincerely, the author

Two important features of this: it’s always good to provide a means for starting the book right away, and to explicitly explain how it works.  (It’s up on this FTP; you can download it with this username/password.)  The easier you can make it for people to obtain your manuscript, the more likely it is that they’ll at least read it.  And it’s essential to clearly provide the date when you need the blurb by so that people can look at that and their schedules and figure out where to fit it in.  You don’t want to be pouncing upon people to demand surprise blurbs, as that strategy tends to have mixed results.

If you don’t know the person you’re reaching out to for a blurb, you can still reach out to them!  After all, you’re reaching out to them because you know and love their work.  They might know yours already!  Or they might be excited to have new things to read.  The worst thing that can happen is that they say no.

Your letter might go like this:

Dear Respected Author –

I loved your book X; it really spoke to me in an important and significant way that possibly helped me save babies from a burning building and is also relevant to my exciting new novel.

That novel, UNTITLED, is being published by First Second next spring.  Would you be willing to read it and consider giving it a blurb for the cover?

UNTITLED is about the following things that are undoubtedly interesting to you because I know at least the vague facts about your life and work that have been reported on Wikipedia and have read at least one of your books.  I think it you will be especially intrigued by the way X thing and Y thing happen in the book that I know are particularly relevant to you.

I appreciate you considering this; your work means a lot to me personally.

Here is how to access a copy of my book to blurb, and I would need the blurb by date X.

Thank you!

Sincerely, the author

It’s always super-intimidating to e-mail strange people and ask them for things.

However!  This is a good way to meet people.  And it’s also a nice way to introduce yourself to your favorite author and give you an excuse for basically writing a fan letter.  Things being intimidating is never a reason for not actually doing them!

Especially when — like blurbs — they can be extremely helpful to the success of your professional career.

August 26, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Behind the Scenes


(Image from here.  I will actually be using it to metaphorically explain how the age category system in publishing works, so that’s exciting.)

We give all the books we publish an age category.

The age categories are very small segments of the population when it comes to kids: 4 – 8, 7 – 10, 10 – 14.  They’re meant to delineate different developmental reading levels and grade levels, and sometimes to indicate stories where sensitive topics exist that are handled in a way directed at one audience or another.  Our biggest age category is on the opposite end of the spectrum: adult, meaning everyone 17 and up.

This age category system isn’t meant to apply to every single reader out there.  Categories are by definition restrictive.  It is not meant to include, ‘your two year old is a strange prodigy and is reading Proust whilst becoming obsessed with graphic novels,’ or ‘I know I’m eighty, but I love picture books as a system of artistic expression.’

Instead, what an age category system is meant to do is to provide a focus — a way for us to say, ‘THESE people are the people who are most likely to enjoy this book.’

Those are the people in the bullseye, so to speak.

People in other age categories may enjoy the graphic novels we publish besides the ones in the our designated age categories.  They may be child prodigies who are reading beyond their age level.  They may be adults who enjoy reading teen fiction.  They may be parents who enjoy reading with their kids.  They may be people who are curious about the subject of the book and don’t care that it was written for someone at a lower or higher reading level.

The graphic novels we publish aren’t written to be restrictive, either.  We don’t look at the age categories we’re assigning books and think, ‘Okay, we said this book was for a 10 – 14 audience.  We must make it so that no one who is 9 or 15 years old will find anything whatsoever to enjoy in this book.  Middle school powers active!’  Instead, we work with our authors to make the best books that we and they can — and they’re often books that have appeal on multiple levels, to many different ages of readers.

If age categories are such vague and imprecise things, then why have them?

Despite age categories being both vague and imprecise, it’s good to have them.  They’re an essential signal to teachers, librarians, booksellers, and consumers about whether or not they’re the sort of person who should be picking up this book.  Even if you’re reading a book and thinking, ‘This book could be read by anyone!’ it still needs to be shelved somewhere on the bookshelf of the library or the bookstore.  Does it go in the adult section?  The teen section?  Age categories make this relatively easy for people to figure this out.

Readers also identify themselves by age category.  If you’re a kid reading two grade levels above your classmates, that tends to be something that you know.  If you’re an adult who enjoys YA, that’s also a thing that you know.  And people seek out books on the basis of their mental picture of what ages they should be reading at.

When thinking about age categories for books, it’s ideal to think about them not as a box that books are trapped inside, but as a starting point — here is where the book begins, but it could end up in the hands of anyone.

August 25, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Behind the Scenes


(art from Jen Wang’s wonderful graphic novel Koko Be Good)

One of the things that an author can hear from a publisher or an agent when they’re talking about the possibility of working together is, ‘what is your fanbase like?’

What does that even mean?

As a person who exists in the world, you have a pre-established audience — even if that audience is just ‘my mom, my dad, and my eight cousins.’  Depending on how many people you know — from your family, hometown, from your college, from your job, from any social groups you may be part of, from the internet — your pre-established audience before you start publishing any books could be ten people or it could be thousands of people.

A percentage of those people are going to be willing to spend $20 to buy a book from you.  Again, this could be ten people or it could be thousands.

And that is your fanbase.

Why do publishers and agents want to know about your fanbase?

When a publisher or agent is considering a graphic novel, they will use their experience with the publishing industry (and sometimes, black  or moderately gray magic) to figure out how many copies they can expect to sell.  ‘This is a graphic novel for middle-grade readers with an accessible art style and an action-adventure plotline,’ the publisher/agent may say.  ‘Our last three graphic novels along these lines sold an average of 15,000 copies, so that’s what we can expect this one to sell as well.’

If an author can come to the table and say ‘My last graphic novel sold twice that amount,’ it’s easy to see how that’s an incentive for agents and publishers to come to the table with an advantageous offer for that author — they’d want to work with someone who’s doing better than their average track record.

But!  Even if you’re not an author who has that kind of sales history — even if you have no track record at all and this is your first book — there are other things that can make publishers and agents interested in your book (besides it being a wonderful book of extremely high quality, which of course it is) — one of the most talked about is, a fanbase.

The easiest metrics to look at to see what someone’s fanbase might be like in this day and age are social media.  (Unfortunately, ‘I have 500 close relatives’ is less of a scientific method.’)  How many followers someone has on Twitter and Tumblr, and how many friends someone has on Facebook are all easy things to find out.  If an author regularly gets their tumblr posts reblogged by hundreds of thousands of people, that’s going to make a publisher more interested in them than they would be in someone who isn’t online at all.

That number probably seems crazy and impossible to you.  Don’t worry!  It seems crazy and impossible to most people, including us.  Luckily, when publishers and agents are looking at working with authors, their fanbase is only one of many aspects that they consider.

If a publisher is looking at someone’s middle grade action-adventure graphic novel and projecting that they sell 15,000 copies, and the publisher and the agent and the author are all happy with that number, that’s great!  You have a book deal.  And if the author makes effort to promote the book with their friends and family and social groups and the internet and can sell more copies than that initially estimated quantity, that’s just delicious icing on the cake of book deals.

The real need for a fanbase comes in when a publisher or agent is looking at someone’s graphic novel about rheumatoid arthritis and thinking, ‘We’ve never previously published a graphic novel about rheumatoid arthritis, and it’s not a hugely popular topic in the media right now —  how well can this book possibly sell?’

Without the author to say, ‘I’m the official worldwide expert on rheumatoid arthritis and I know that my quarter-million followers on Facebook will all buy this book,’ (or at least, ‘I’m an active part of the online and academic rheumatoid arthritis community and I’ll be actively promoting the book there — this is a really important subject that there’s a real need for a book on’), it can be difficult for publishers and agents to say, ‘Yes: this is the book out of all the ones I’ve gotten this year that I’ll take a chance on.’

There are a whole lot of factors that go into a publisher’s decision to publish a book, and an agent’s decision to work with an author.  What kind of fanbase the author has is only one — and while it is an important one, for publishers like First Second, the most critical factor is always:

‘How good is this book?’


* Numbers in this post are numbers I have miscellaneously invented; they do not reflect First Second’s sales or our expectations of potential authors’ fanbases.

August 21, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Behind the Scenes

Marketing and strategy

(image from here)

Marketing has a bad reputation.

People hear the word ‘marketing’ and think, ‘that’s the thing that’s going to trick me into buying all this stuff that I don’t want.’

Then they run in the other direction as quickly as possible.

That’s not how we think about marketing here at First Second.

We think all of our books are wonderful and that if only people were adequately informed about them, they would read them and buy them.

(Given the awards and starred reviews and industry and popular praise we receive, we think this is pretty accurate!  We hope you agree.)

Of course, not all of our books have the same audience.  The reading population who is buying Ben Hatke’s delightfully fantastical picture book comic Julia’s House for Lost Creatures is not the same population who is reading Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew’s superhero reinvention that emphasizes diversity and the Golden Age tradition, The Shadow Hero.

So when we talk about marketing, what we mean is identifying the unique audience for each book that we publish and doing our best to make sure those people are aware that the book exists and is awesome (and therefore worthy of their time and money).

Absolutely no hypnotism is involved!  The goal is for more people to easily find books that they enjoy.

As an author, marketing can at times feel uncomfortable and inappropriate — not everyone is at ease with spending time telling other people about their own awesomeness.  Changing your frame of mind so you’re thinking about marketing as ‘making sure that people know my book exists’ rather than ‘forcing unwary/weak-minded people to buy my book’ can help.

When thinking about marketing along these lines, there are lots of things that authors can do to raise awareness that aren’t just saying ‘buy my book’ over and over and over again.  Using your social media outlets to talk about different aspects of your creative process, and to share quotes and art and excitement are both things that don’t involve compromising any creative integrity that you may have.

All of that seems pretty harmless and non-evil, right?

August 18, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Behind the Scenes


(Adventures in Cartooning and sequels)

Figuring out whether or not a book should have a sequel can be a challenging task for publishers.  There are lots of creative questions to ask: does the book work best as a stand-alone?  Should the author take their future projects in a different direction?  Will a sequel be as fulfilling and as wonderful as the first book?  Will the two books complement each other well?

Besides the exciting publishing questions, there’s also the business end of things: did the first book sell well enough that a sequel makes sense?

One of the universal truths of publishing is that the first book in any series is 99.9% of the time always going to sell the best.  That’s because the best jumping-on point for a series — even if you’re hearing about Harry Potter for the first time when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows comes out, probably you’re still going to want to start at book one: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  And a percentage of people will pick up that book, not like it, and not pick up any of the rest of the books.

So you’re not necessarily going to see all the sales for the first book at the point when you’re publishing the first book.  In fact, every time you publish a sequel, that first book will get discussed and re-ordered and more people will hear about it.  So any sequels that an author writes act as a promotional tool to sell their other books (as well as being great stories in and of themselves, of course).

That’s pretty cool!  Because what it means is that the more books you publish by an author, the more of all their books you’ll sell.

But when a publisher is at the point of considering a sequel, they only have one thing to look at: those first book sales, all by themselves.

So the best way that you, as a consumer, can encourage a publisher to publish a sequel is to put your money where your mouth is: buy a copy.

If you’re a particularly savvy consumer, you can also advocate for books you love in your sphere of influence: tell your friends (both in person and on social media) that they should buy the book, too.  Ask your local library to buy a copy, and suggest they include it in any reading programs (like summer reading).  Offer to write a book recommendation for your local bookstore.  Buy copies for friends and relatives for birthdays and holidays.

It would be wonderful if all the books we love had sequels and sequels and more sequels!  But sometimes, it takes a little reader advocacy to get there.

August 13, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Behind the Scenes


As things go, being an author publishing a book is super stressful.  You’re putting your personal creative project out in the world for everyone to see . . . and who knows who will see and it what kind of success it will have?  Every single thing you do, every decision you make during the publication process can factor into how the book does.


So much stress!

As it turns out, putting that kind of pressure on every single thing you do in the publication process — which can sometimes be five or more years long — tends not to be helpful for anyone’s constitution.  If you’re looking at every single phone call, every e-mail, every tweet or facebook post as something that must be absolutely perfect because it’s vital to the success of your book, we fear that you will become an insane person.

Obviously, it’s good to put care and effort into the things that you do to promote and talk about your book.  For example, we don’t advocate going on twitter and telling your followers, ‘I think this book I’m writing is terrible.’  However, that kind of misstep is pretty easy to avoid simply by making sure that your brain is continually attached.

But the occasional typo in an e-mail or social media; the infrequent author attribution mix-up (wasn’t it Raina Telgemeier who wrote Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?), posting a picture of something upside-down, calling graphic novels a genre rather than a medium, etc. — that’s the sort of stuff that everyone does.

Your editor/publisher/twitter followers/Facebook friends will understand.  Nothing is ruined because you misspelled ‘the’ as ‘teh’ that one time.

August 7, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Events

We went to San Diego Comic-Con!

We’re still kind of catching up from it, because we promptly came home and got sick and our designer left and two books were due to the printer.  But we’re almost back on track, and to celebrate, we have pictures of things that occurred at the show.

We’ll start off at the beginning — with this delightful stack of boxes — because that’s how all our shows start.  Boxes.  More boxes.

photo 1

Eventually, they become something that looks like this.

(Also known as, the books come out of the boxes.)

photo 2

And then they are a booth for real!  With organization and everything!

photo 3

Then we’re ready for the show to start!

One of the coolest visitors we had at the booth this year was Zita the Spacegirl!

photo 45

Even cooler: multiples of Zitas!

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And Robot One, Zita’s surly companion with a heart of gold!

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We’re so thrilled that Ben’s final Zita graphic novel, The Return of Zita the Spacegirl, was a #1 New York Times Best-Seller, and it looks like other people are just as thrilled about this book as we are — thrilled enough to build things with paper mache!  That’s so fantastic.

On the other end of the age spectrum, we had some advance copies of our WWI trench poetry anthology Above the Dreamless Dead to show off to people who came by.

People who came by included the anthology’s editor Chris Duffy!

photo 17

We’re so excited about this book, you guys — it’s a wonderful and different way to look at World War I, which has its hundredth anniversary this year.

Peter Kuper adapts ‘The Immortals,’ by Isaac Rosenberg, for the book.

photo 27

And James Lloyd adapts ‘Repression of the War Experience,’ by Siegfried Sassoon, a really interesting meditation on PTSD.

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If you haven’t seen this book yet, you should definitely check it out!

We also had a number of authors stop by for signings, including Cecil Castellucci, the author of Odd Duck.

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Ducks were drawn in books!

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Lucy Knisley was a Guest of Honor at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, and we were delighted to have her come by and sign her wonderful graphic novel Relish (and draw little food in it).

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Faith Erin Hicks also stopped by to sign copies of Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong and Friends With Boys.

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She did lovely little sketches in all the books she signed!

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The astronauts in Dave Roman’s Astronaut Academy graphic novel were destined to meet with a new kind of kid space-goer . . . from Star Trek!

photo 31

Jen Wang, the illustrator of In Real Life, came down to San Diego to speak on a panel.

photo 14

The timing just worked out that we were able to have some advance copies of the book for her to sign!

photo 13

They had adorable sketches of the protagonist!

photo 23

We were excited to debut Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel with Sonny Liew, The Shadow Hero, at San Diego Comic-Con.  We were even more excited than usual because Gene was a Guest of Honor at the show this year!

photo 16

All the books had little turtles drawn in them, because the protagonist of The Shadow Hero is a superhero called The Green Turtle.

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Then The Green Turtle himself stopped by the booth!

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The Green Turtle is a Golden Age superhero who Gene and Sonny are reviving in this graphic novel — he’s apocryphally the first ever Asian American superhero.

It seems like he likes the new version of his story!

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Superhero and author!

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And we also had a very special visit from Scott McCloud, who came by to see the galley of his upcoming graphic novel with First Second, The Sculptor.

photo 12

This book is going to be really good, you guys!

And last . . . but by no means least . . . we won an Eisner Award, for Paul Pope’s fantastic graphic novel Battling Boy!

photo 22

We were excited to have some early copies of Paul’s upcoming book, The Rise of Aurora West, at the show for him to sign.

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This book is going to be really good!  It comes out at the end of September.

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We had a delightful time getting to connect all our authors and their readers.  San Diego is always interesting for us because, as an East Coast-based publisher, it’s sometimes the only time of the year that we get to see the First Second friends we know on the West Coast in person.  It’s always great to catch up with them!

Goodbye, San Diego!  We’ll see you again next year.

August 4, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: News

(from the desk of :01 Editorial Director Mark Siegel)


If one thing is reliable, it’s that things change.

As many of you know, Colleen AF Venable is leaving First Second, to be an Associate Art Director at Workman Publishing. It was just one of those offers she couldn’t refuse.

Here’s how Colleen started with First Second: some years ago, I was interviewing candidates for our design position, but none seemed quite right. Then one morning I opened an email and found a Shelf Awareness ad for approval, and it looked and felt just like what First Second needed to become. I called our marketing/publicity manager Gina Gagliano and asked, “Who’s the person that designed this ad? This is exactly who we need.” Gina answered, “She’s sitting at the cubicle just outside your door.” At that point, Colleen was working in marketing for Roaring Brook.

She also happened to be taking night classes to learn typography and dreamed of being a designer.

A number of years later, Colleen has helped make First Second what it is today. If it shines in any way, it owes it in part to her extraordinary creative sensibility and many talents. Have a look at the image at the head of the blog—that’s only some of her covers. Many awards and bestsellers later, it’s amazing to look at the range of sensibilities and flavors showcased in a single person’s work.

The good news is this isn’t actually only a farewell note. Colleen’s arts include her exquisite writing, and she is most definitely part of the First Second family in the future . . . as an author. Look in coming seasons for her Kiss Number Eight, a stellar teen project like nothing we’ve ever done before.

So I’m a little sad, but happy in other ways, and I don’t know how to say it properly other than simply THANK YOU COLLEEN. Your gift to First Second is huge.

And warm wishes for your next design adventures!