October 7, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Books

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We’re delighted to share with you this exciting new boxed set edition of George O’Connor’s Olympians books!

George O’Connor is a guy who’s excited about Greek mythology.  Myths were some of the first books he ever read . . . along with superhero stories, and he combines both those two storytelling forms in his Olympians graphic novels.  George somehow manages to take these ancient historical (or, um, pseudo-historical) tales and bring new life to them, while at the same time doing extensive research and honoring that within the story.

Every time George comes out with a new volume, we’re super-impressed — and we learn new things, which is impressive in and of itself, because we’re huge mythology geeks as well over here at First Second.

If you have yet to pick up the Olympians books, now’s your chance — the first six volumes fit nicely into this attractive (and heavy!) box, and it comes with a giant poster!

(We note: it also makes an excellent holiday gift for any young mythology fans you know.)

Happy reading to you all!

October 6, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Books

Spring 2015!  It’s coming up, and we’re publishing some books — to your great surprise, I’m sure.

Here’s the list — and the covers!  (You’ll find details and excerpts at the links.)

Anna Banana and the Chocolate Explosion, by Dominique Roques and Alexis Dormal.  This book is super-adorable, you guys!  And there’s baking!

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The Divine, by Asaf Hanuka, Tomer Hanuka, and Boaz Lavie.  This book is just gorgeous, you guys!  You will be astounded.

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Dragons Beware!, by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado.  The companion to Giants Beware!, this book is just as fun.  Plus, it’s got dragons!

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Exquisite Corpse, by Penelope Bagieu. If you’re a fan of women’s fiction, this is your book!  It’s fun, charming, and it’s got adorable art.

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Mike’s Place, by Jack Baxter, Joshua Faudem, and Koren Shadmi.  This is a gripping non-fiction story — with amazing art by Koren Shadmi!

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The Royal Cup, by Bastien Vives, Michael Sanlaville, and Balak.  The second volume of the Last Man series, this just gets better, you guys!

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We can’t wait for Spring — so we can share these amazing new graphic novels with you!

October 2, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Books

(from the desk of Ian Lendler, author of The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth)

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(illustration by Zack Giallongo, illustrator of The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth)

When I tell people that I’ve written a graphic novel of Shakespeare’s Macbeth for kids, most people say, “Macbeth?! You mean the horribly bloody play by Shakespeare? How on earth can you do that for kids?”

Quite frankly, a lot of Shakespeare’s work is a bit tricky to translate for the younger set.

  • Hamlet: “Hey kids, who wants to see a protagonist struggle with his INNER DOUBT?! Huh? Anyone? Hello?” <tumble weed rolls past>
  • Romeo and Juliet: My 7-year-old son currently thinks girls are gross. He will not be dissuaded from this opinion.
  • King Lear: “Umm…okay, it’s about an old man struggling with dementia and his sense of mortality and…oh, forget it.”

But Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most powerful characters because of his simplicity.

“Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.” –Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff Box

Macbeth is all about “want.” Macbeth wants power. He wants to be king. And “want” is something that kids understand far more than adults. Kids are utterly in tune with their wants.

The second that babies are born, they’re crying because they “want”– food, a blanket, to poop. Then as they grow older they want candy. They want to TV. They want a bike. Did I mention TV? They really want to watch TV. Preferably while eating a garbage bag full candy.

The entire process of childhood is about teaching kids to push their wants below the surface. We call this process “maturity.” Macbeth is about watching that façade of maturity shatter as that “want” comes raging back to the surface (with disastrous consequences).

The first two acts of Macbeth are essentially the famous Stanford Marshmallow Test. A scientist offers a child a marshmallow and a deal. He’ll leave the kid alone in the room with the marshmallow for ten minutes. If the kid can resist eating it, the scientist will come back into the room with TWO marshmallows for the kid to eat. (Watching them wrestle with this is hysterical.)

Similarly, the witches offer Macbeth his own personal marshmallow test. He can be king; he just has to get rid of the real king first. Can Macbeth resist? Maybe. But it doesn’t help that his wife is whispering in his ear that she wants some of that sweet sweet marshmallow too.

So Macbeth kills the king. He grabs the power. He gives in to his inner child and become a monstrous sociopath, unfit to mingle with the rest of society. He becomes Justin Bieber.

And the rest of the play? Well…the rest is Macbeth with a guilty look on his face desperately searching for someone else to blame. It’s too bad Macbeth didn’t have a younger brother or sister. Then, he could simply point at them, and with a mouth full of marshmallow mumble, “Uhhh…he did it!”

That’s certainly something that every parent could understand.

October 1, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Books

When the Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue puts on Shakespeare, they really pull out all the stops!

Here are the cast photos from their fall performance: Macbeth!

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Macbeth

Nickname: “Old Pushover”

Hobbies: Mongering (war, power, sandwiches, etc.),

Turn-ons: Pushy Women

Turn-offs: Pushy Women

Mental State: A bit iffy

Voted: Most Likely to Succeed (Note from the author: This joke works on so many levels it’s scary.)

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Lady Macbeth

Voted: Most Likely To Run A Presidential Campaign

Hobbies: Cleanliness; nagging; calling on the gods to make her a man; knitting doilies

School Play Credits: Blanche Dubois in Street Car Named Desire; The Little Engine in The Little Engine That Could Kill You All

Typical Small Talk: “…The babe that milks me — I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums And dash’d the brains out had I so sworn as you Have done to this.”

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Banksy

Nickname: “Sidekick McGee”

Position: Thane, whatever that is

Voted: Most Likely To Be Overlooked

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Detective MacDuff

Nickname: “Mr. Righteous;” “Dude Ex Machina”

Favorite dish: Revenge (served cold, but of course)

Yearbook quotes: “Hey, where’d my family go?”

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Shakespeare

Nickname: Mr. Mysterious

Turn-ons: Unknown

Turn-offs: Unknown

Hobbies: Writing. A lot. 40 plays and 154 sonnets in a period of about 30 years

(The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth came out this week!  Now you can acquire a copy of your very own.  How can you resist?)

September 30, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Books

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There’s a tendency in American media . . . and in our culture . . . that girls only get to be the sidekick, the accomplice, the mentor, the wife or girlfriend, the one behind the scenes doing research, instead of getting to be the hero.

We think that’s pretty terrible.  Because girls are awesome, and being a hero is awesome, so clearly the two of them should go together like chocolate and peanut butter.

When we published Paul Pope’s Battling Boy back in 2013, we were so pleased to find that many reviewers called out the character Aurora West as one of the best parts of the book.  An amazing girl hero, Aurora fights crime and monsters and is a wonderful, independent character.

We’re proud to be giving Aurora a place to tell her own story in The Rise of Aurora West, which comes out today.  This is the first of two volumes — and you’ll find that Aurora has her own problems, her own story, and her own mysteries to solve separate from anything that Battling Boy is dealing with.

The Rise of Aurora West starts out Aurora’s journey, and by the end of the book, you can see Aurora already becoming her own hero . . . and the hero who could save the town of Arcopolis.

September 29, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Books

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Today marks the date of birth for Ian Lendler and Zack Giallongo’s The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth, which is a book you should all read!

Macbeth is hungry . . . hungry for life (and also tacos).  The king is an owl — tiny but delicious.  This is clearly a recipe for catastrophe.

We’re so glad to be publishing this book, which has a unique take on one of Shakespeare’s most well known works, for younger readers who are just starting out with the works of the Bard.  In The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth, you get the play . . . and the perspective of the audience, both at the same time!  And these actors, all inhabitants of the Stratford Zoo, are some of the craziest folks you’ll ever meet!

Also, you guys: Lady Macbeth is a leopard.  A spotted leopard.

How can you resist?

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

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(cartoon by David Sipress; presumably from The New Yorker)

There’s a pervasive myth about big New York City publishers, and it’s that they’re evil — or at the very least malicious.  They’re out to break the hopes and dreams of authors everywhere, to be difficult to impossible for the regular person to get into contact with, to actively be preventing books from being published — and once they do manage to get published, preventing books from succeeding.

I’ve worked at a big publisher for almost a decade now.  Macmillan, First Second’s parent company, is somewhere around the fifth largest trade publisher in the United States; we have multiple buildings and offices just in New York City.  They’re a big company — big enough that even though I’ve been working here for almost a decade, I still don’t know everyone.

And guess what?

Everyone here loves books.

The secondary myth that goes along with this ‘publishing = evil’ deal is the second degree of separation.  Once you get a book deal, once you know people in publishing, you’re like, ‘my editor/publicist/etc. isn’t evil — but those nameless, faceless executives who run the company are!’

We don’t really get a lot of evil people here in publishing.  (It’s probably because the profit margins aren’t high enough to be tempting to them.)

Instead, we get a lot of people who love books, who love reading, who believe in literature and literacy, but who sometimes have to make hard decisions about what they feel can work successfully in today’s difficult to navigate book market.  Sometimes the decisions they make turn out not to be the best for a particular book or author, but they’re always made in good faith — never with malicious intent.

It’s really easy to vilify ‘executives’ or ‘publishers’ — people working behind the scenes at big publishers who often have little to no contact with authors, and whose every day choices can have a large-scale impact on the way that all books at that company are produced.  But all the ones I know are honest, earnest, hard-working people who spend their time doing things that are mostly invisible to authors, and to the general public, but that make the wheels in the book industry keep on turning for all of us readers.

September 22, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Books

New book new book!

We just got in finished copies of our upcoming graphic novel, The Rise of Aurora West, by Paul Pope, JT Petty, and David Rubin!

It looks fantastic!

Here’s the cover, with Aurora West.  She is off to fight monsters!

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Lots of spines all lined up together!  All with a little Aurora West on the bottom!

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And the title page!  I just think that this title type is really great.

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Also awesome: the insides of this book.

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David Rubin’s art is really gorgeous.  This book is filled with lots of lovely monsters!  And adventure!

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Oh, Arcopolis.  You’re such a troubled city.  Maybe Aurora West can help out with this.

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We’re so pleased to be publishing a companion to Paul Pope’s #1 New York Times Best-Selling, Eisner and Harvey Award-winning graphic novel Battling Boy.

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The two spines together!

We made the decision to publish this very girl-centric story in a slightly different format than Battling Boy — black and white, and a smaller size.  It echoes a little the traditional US manga publishing format!  Also, it’s just adorable.

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The Rise of Aurora West will be on sale next Tuesday.  We can’t wait!

September 18, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Events

We were able to head down to the Small Press Expo in DC this weekend!

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The show was especially exciting for us because we were up for two Ignatz Awards, for Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer and Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers & Saints.  This is the first time in quite a few years that we’ve been up for an Ignatz!

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We also had lots of great authors at the show, signing wonderful graphic novels!

MK Reed and Greg Means terrific their wonderful graphic novel The Cute Girl Network.

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Farel Dalrymple’s post-apocalyptic drama The Wrenchies was a show debut for SPX!  We were really glad to have Farel at the show.

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Farel brought his original art, and it looks amazing (as usual)!

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Farel did awesome little sketches in all the books he signed!

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We also had Nick Bertozzi signing his New York Times Best-Selling graphic novel Shackleton!

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We also had Dave Roman (with all-new blue hair) signing his hilarious graphic novel Astronaut Academy!

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Jillian Tamaki drew lovely little sketches in copies of This One Summer.

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And James Kochalka signed copies of his new book The Glorkian Warrior Delivered a Pizza!

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We were delighted on Saturday night to learn that Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s wonderful graphic novel This One Summer had won an Ignatz Award!

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Congratulations to Mariko and Jillian!

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More authors!  Including the wonderful Zack Giallongo, who is signing his upcoming graphic novel The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth.

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And Ben Hatke signs Zita the Spacegirl!

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He drew adorable little Zitas in the books!

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We had a lot of fun at the show this year, and so did our authors!

Yay SPX!

September 15, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Books

New book new book!

We just got in advance copies of George O’Connor’s latest volume in the Olympians series, Ares: Bringer of War.

This book tells the story of the Trojan War from the perspective of the gods.  Ares and Athena are locked in combat . . . who will win?  Unfortunately, not the Trojans — spoiler alert, they mostly end up dead.

Here’s the book cover.

Ares’ spears are done in foil that’s black and blue.  It’s pretty neat!  (Note: in this book — lots of dead people.  I think the cover makes that pretty clear.)

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And here’s the spine!  I love this dark mahogany color.

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Here’s the title page — and the giant family tree that shows how all the gods are related to each other.

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A spread!  Predictably, war is occurring.  Also, Ares seems to be on fire.

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Here’s the back cover of the book — with all the previous covers all tiny and adorable!

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We’re doing a trade paperback edition and a paper over board hardcover edition of Ares.  Here they are together!

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And here are all the spines of all the books together.  You can see that they’re forming the head of Medusa!

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Ares will be in stores in January.  We can’t wait!