As someone who turns frequently to blogs and youtube tutorials for information on how to do stuff (viz.: breaking in Doc Martens, baking biscuits, re-foaming my 40-year old advent speakers, applying liquid eyeliner) I am obviously already totally sold on the concept of the internet as a great big cloud-powered encyclopedia of know-how.
And perhaps you are, too, in which case I'm preaching to the choir. But! Preach I shall.
Blogs that share tips and little peeks into the cartooning process are one of my favorite forms of this open-source knowledge culture. Here are some I've enjoyed a great deal lately, which you may well enjoy also!
1) A recent blog post by Jason Rainey on the kick-ass webcomic "Americus" (soon to be a First Second book!) about creating gray tones for black line art with a lightbox.
2) "Sailor Twain" creator and First Second Editorial Director Mark Siegel on his morning routine in the studio. (Tea!)
3) The Comics Tools blog continues with tips both basic and esoteric for cartoonists of all stripes.
A slew of awards were announced yesterday at the ALA Midwinter conference, and among them some happy news for First Second:
RESISTANCE, the first volume of the eponymous trilogy by Carla Jablonski and Leland Purvis, is a Sydney Taylor Silver Medal Book.
Congratulations to Carla and Leland!
Congratulations also to Barry Deutsch and his publisher Abrams, whose lovely graphic novel HEREVILLE also won.
In this edition of exciting things that are happening in the coming year, there are books! These are actual-factual books with few to no pictures in them, because here at First Second, we believe in reading and supporting prose as well as prose's more graphic cousins. Even if we don't publish it ourselves.
(This list is somewhat more stunted than the graphic novel one was, because I am worse at knowing that books are coming out than that comics are. Usually I just rely on Shelf Awareness to fill me in. But it sadly does not work as well a whole year in advance!)
So without further ado, books!
The Monkey's Wedding and Other Stories, by Joan Aiken. It's published by Small Beer Press, who continually amaze me with the excellence of the things they put out. Their first Joan Aiken book was illustrated by Andi Watson, and adorable! And this one will clearly be just as good. Ever since I read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase at age eleven, I've had a crush on Joan's work -- secret passages and orphans and evil usurping guardians are heady at any age!
Genevieve Valentine's Mechanique -- I heard Genevieve read Seeing at a NYRSF event at some point this year, and clearly she is awesome. Also this book seems to be about steampunk circuses, so it is difficult to imagine it not being worth checking out.
Fair Play, by Tove Jansson -- I started reading Tove's fiction after D&Q started publishing her Moomin comics, and her prose is really very wonderful. It reminds me of the way that Sarah, Plain and Tall does lovely, contemplative, place-based writing, except set in Finland. Credit goes to John DiBello for pointing me at this one, which NYRB is publishing in the coming year.
Gabrielle Zevin's All These Things I've Done -- no cover for this one yet, but it is nonetheless fantastic. I have read this book already, as one of the privileges of working in publishing is that you get to read super-neat books way before they are available to the Common Man and it is actually your job to do exactly that! It's about a future where there is basically Prohibition #2, and caffeine (and therefore chocolate) are forbidden. Then there is a thing like a Chocolate Mafia! I can't wait for this book to exist for real so I can give it to all sorts of people.
The Pale King, by David Foster Wallace -- I have extremely mixed feelings about this book. I loved Infinite Jest, but it was a story about tennis and drug addiction, so subjectivally, there was no conceivable reason for me to love it at all. So I would read it and be like, 'tennis: clearly the best thing ever!' except my rational mind was reminding me all the time that I actually think that tennis is extremely uninteresting. And that is the power of The Writing of David Foster Wallace. I am sure that this book will suck me in equally as much. The question is: do I really want to be passionately sucked into a story that appears to be about the IRS eliminating peoples' humanity?
This one's a two-fer -- Deathless and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Cat Valente. New books! By Cat Valente! Deathless is based on Russian fairytales and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making has witches and velvet coats and wyverns who are half dragon and half library and they are both awesome.
One of Our Thursdays is Missing, by Jasper Fforde. I love Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series! It is like a cross between literary criticism and Robert Heinlein! Jasper Fforde manages to somehow be agreeably meta, and this book appears to be a meta version of a story that is already meta. We shall see how he pulls it off. I have high hopes of being amused!
Patricia Wrede's Across the Great Barrier -- the cover above is the cover of a book that's already come out, Thirteenth Child. In it there was lots of magic and adventure and dragons made out of steam on the western prarie frontier! Also people figured out the solutions to problems by thinking about them logically; I approve of that. Now there'll be a sequel, which promises to be just as good. Yay!
Embassytown, by China Mieville -- China does strange and new and curious things every time he writes a book, and this one is apparently about language and truth, two of the things I think are most interesting of all of the things there are. This actually sounds like it could be something on par with Ursula K. LeGuin's Hainish cycle of books. I am fascinated.
Jo Walton's Among Others comes last, because it has the best cover. If you haven't read Walton's other fiction, you are clearly missing out on a wonderful lifetime experience. I've been hearing about this book from Patrick Nielsen Hayden (its editor) for a few years now; it'll clearly live up to the excellence of Walton's previous book about dragons in the Victorian Novel's construction of England and the alternate post-WWII England detective fiction where England made a peace with honor with Germany instead of defeating them.
In conclusion: 2011! It will be so good. I just don't understand why all these books aren't out now! Doesn't the universe understand how difficult having patience is? It is definitely not my best virtue.
You know something I'm really bad at?
I think it is because I do not have the proper attitude; a good limerick requires a somewhat bawdy thought process, which is not really my work-brain specialty.
Nonetheless! In honor of the new year, I am going to endeavor to write a limerick a week, one about each of the books that First Second has published. We shall see how this goes; perhaps by the end of the year, I shall be better at limericks. Or else killed by the internet's poetry fans.
(If you are shocked and alarmed by the thought of poorly written limericks from my upright-thinking brain, feel free to e-mail me and contribute your own: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
And now! Limerick #1: Adventures in Cartooning
There was a hotheaded young knight
Who longed to get in a fight
But fights come with learning
And she wished with great yearning
That she could just hit something with all of her might.
(Terrible, right? Though, I defy you to do something even a little bit lewd with this book! It does not lend itself to it at all -- most inconvenient!)
Books are coming out! This is one of the things that makes 2011 exciting.
Here are some of them.
(Books from First Second not included, because I feel that it is in poor taste to be all, 'you GUYS, our 2011 books are the AWESOMEST,' even if it is possibly true. Possibly especially if it is true.)
Zach Worton's The Klondike -- right now, exactly the perfect kind of book for the season, as it is full of gold and snow. So excellently wintry! And by a really good guy, so it is bound to be excellent.
Pirate Penguin vs. Ninja Chicken, by Ray Friesen -- I don't know anything about this book other than what's at that link, but that demonstrates to me that a) it is adorable and b) there is a piratical penguin in it. Things do not get much better than that in the world of penguins, let me tell you. Or in the world of pirates, either.
Sarah Oleksyk's Ivy -- Sarah's been serializing this online forever, and I cannot wait to read it all in one piece! Also, the cover is just gorgeous.
Habibi, by Craig Thompson. Amazon tells me that this is coming out in September -- so exciting! All of the bits of it I have encountered around the internet have been gorgeous, and I have no doubt that it will also be thoughtful and interesting and entirely new. Yay!
Jess Fink's We Can Fix It -- the story that definitively demonstrates that the best reason to go back in time is to make out with yourself. This will clearly be utterly delightful; I can't wait.
Isle of 100,000 Graves, by Jason -- by Jason! With a girl protagonist! And more pirates! And also The School for Young Torturers! I expect new levels of excellence from Jason here.
Darryl Cunningham's Psychiatric Tales -- a moving and honest piece of comics nonfiction about mental illness, a subject that deserves to be more paid more attention in the US.
Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover's Gingerbread Girl -- whenever they work together, they seem to produce adorableness! I have no doubt that this book will live up to that very high standard.
In conclusion: 2011, what's not to be excited about?
(this post can also be known as, 'to no one's surprise, it turns out Douglas Wolk and I have very different taste in comics')
(from the Smithsonian; this was taken in Antarctica, not NYC, alas.)
After a week of snowed-in-ness, we are back in the office and raring to go! There is nothing like Staring at Blank Whiteness, the Extended Edition to make one eager for the fun and excitement (and living color!) that is comics.
Not that we wouldn't be excited anyways. Because: you guys, we have so much neat stuff coming up in 2011! It will be a most excellent year.
Details of Excellence TK.