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December 16, 2008

Open Letter to First Second Authors from Mark Siegel

Dear First Second creators,

One of the avowed dreams driving First Second is to create the best possible home for the graphic novel of tomorrow. With 2008 closing, we’re coming a few steps closer to it.

I find these times intense, turbulent and trying, but also full of huge promise and fresh potential. As we all know, these are rough days for the world’s economy, and the book business isn’t being spared. Perhaps you’ve heard these past weeks about the many layoffs in just about every publishing house, as everyone is bracing for a wholly unknown 2009. It seems like a good moment to let you know that in spite of all that, First Second is steady, sturdy and growing stronger with every passing month. We’re ploughing on. 

Today a press release [Download Macmillan Press Release ] is coming out from Macmillan, about some major restructuring company-wide. Roaring Brook (our parent company) will now be part of the Macmillan Childrens Group, and from what I’ve gathered so far, it’s all very good for First Second and may well add to our marketing and publicity muscle. 

We got off-and-running.

We’ve continued and continue to stay true.

Now we’re coming into the time to broadcast First Second in bigger ways. 

First Second made an exceptional showing, critically and financially, this year. We continue to win new ground in bookstores, comics stores, online and in libraries. Adding to the early successes we enjoyed with our titles for children and teens, we’re now breaking through with our adult list—and establishing what was always core to the First Second vision: a collection that truly spans all ages.

A few random highlights from this year:

ALAN’S WAR was named a PW Best Book of the Year, a National Public Radio Best Graphic Novel of the Year, and next week will receive a full review in the New York Times Book Review.  THE AMAZING REMARKABLE MONSIEUR LEOTARD was an Amazon.com best Book of the Year. LAIKA won its Eisner. We’ve had a number of star reviews from Kirkus, PW, Booklist including two for PRINCE OF PERSIA. SLOW STORM was New York Magazine’s number four Best Graphic Novel of the Year. First Second books continue to sell in translations all over the world, including in Czech, Chinese, Polish, and over a dozen other languages. Several projects are in development Hollywood-side, and you’ve probably heard that Paul Pope’s BATTLING BOY is signed and on a fast track with Paramount and Brad Pitt’s Plan B studio, even as the book’s pages are appearing weekly. There really is lots more, but off the top of my head, these are a few nice moments that come to mind.

Counting how many new projects we’ve signed this year quickly turns dizzying: 

. . . Including new projects with some existing First Second authors like Jessica Abel and Matt Madden, George O’Connor, Sara Varon, Nick Abadzis, Gabe Soria, Nick Bertozzi, Derek Kirk Kim, Jordan Mechner, LeUyen Pham, Alex Puvilland, Danica Novgorodoff, Paul Pope, Thien Pham, Glenn Eichler, Joseph Bruchac, A.B. Sina, Lewis Trondheim, Emmanuel Guibert, Adam Rapp, and Christophe Blain.

. . . But also new names to add to a prodigious stable of talent: Vera Brosgol, Jen Wang, Faith Hicks, Maris Wicks, Jorge Aguirre, Rafael Rosado, Aaron Renier, Lark Pien, Farel Dalrymple, Stan Nicholls, St.John Frizell, Simon Fraser, Kim Dong Hwa, Dr.Kevin McKay, Tiffanie DiBartolo, Joe Flood, Joe Infurnari, Sungyoon Choi, Ben Hatke, Humayoun Ibrahim, Sonny Liew, Zack Giallongo and Arthur Yorinks. 

This year First Second’s crewmates—our in-house staff—grew to include Calista Brill, whose outstanding editorial eye many of you have already come to trust; Colleen Venable, :01’s inspired new designer; and Jill Freshney, our managing editor who has already transformed the whole operation for the crisper. 

As usual, please keep an eye out for fellow talents we should know about. And please keep sending short videos of your home movies, especially short takes of your own drawing-table magic (speaking of which, as of this morning, Guibert’s YouTube video had over 382,000 views... ) 

Thank you, each and every one of you, for the remarkable work you’re turning in, the heart and soul of First Second’s highly distinctive collection—which now gathers a following all around the world. Do you realize we’re making history? I hope you feel as proud as I do.

With warm wishes,


Mark Siegel
Editorial Director

175 Fifth Avenue • New York, NY 10010


With First Second now being essentially folded into the Macmillan Childrens Group, do you forsee any potential difficulties in continuing to aquire and release the more adult themed works in your line in the vein of Alan's War and Fate of the Artist?

great post, not bad.

Three of my four favourite books of 2008 were from First Second:


You guys are the greatest!

Please keep publishing wonderful all-ages books, and I will continue to recommend your books to every parent, kid, teacher and literate-type I know. You're doing good work. Thanks.

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