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9 posts from March 2010

March 26, 2010

Sardine & Cat

Sardine4_jkt copy

One of my favorite things about the Sardine in Outer Space series is Sardine's cat.  (I even persuaded Mark to put this cat on our business card -- that's how awesome I think he is.)  The cat has the distinction of closing each Sardine story with, 'the end' (typically the only words he says) and otherwise rides around on Sardine's head in perfect contentment looking much like one of those baby Totoro creatures that is basically a ball with large eyes and ears.  I want a cat like that!

Here's my favorite thing about Sardine 4: Sardine's cat gets EVEN BETTER.  Did you think this was impossible?  Well, Emmanuel Guibert and Joann Sfar make it happen somehow: as well as being adorable and hat-sitting, the cat can also FLY!

Our Heroine with Sword


March 25, 2010

Who Reads First Second?

They have the option of nice big flat screen Macs, and instead they choose First Second. That is actually quite moving.
Do you read First Second Books? Send us a photo at mail@firstsecondbooks.com, and if we like it we'll put it on the blog.

March 23, 2010

My new favorite book

Most folks who've known me for a while know I'm a huge fan of the Disney Ducks. Scrooge is my favorite, though you'd never know it from the huge portrait of Daisy Duck that hangs on my office wall.

But I love Scrooge best of all. I grew up on the classic Barks/Rosa canon, and I was delighted to discover that Boom! has put Rosa's magnum opus, "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck," back in print. I never had a chance to read it, so I'm enjoying it double now!

Full desk

Don't spoil me! I'm only thirty pages in! But I think I may have just found my all-time favorite page-turn gag.

Set-up: the young Scrooge is on a Mississippi paddle-boat with his uncle in a high-stakes race to sunken treasure, when their villainous rivals attempt to drive them off a waterfall. Except....


Disaster! Both boats will be destroyed! What carnage will come next?


AHAHAHAHAHAH! That moment still cracks me up, and I've read these two pages at least twenty times since this morning on the A train when I snickered too loud and everyone glared at me.

PS - check out these rockin' endpapers! Props to the designer.


March 18, 2010

The Color of Earth


I love the covers for this trilogy.  Mark (our esteemed Editorial Director) designed them himself, pulling artwork from the interiors and having it colored. 

(My favorite part of that process was watching Mark get two different color samples, combine the two files, and somehow come up with something perfect that was halfway between the two options.  Photoshop being a complete mystery to me, this was like magic!)

Color covers

(This is what the Korean covers look like.  Also pretty, but a totally different style!)

March 17, 2010

Candyland, But Evil

On Foiled and Promotional Pieces
When Mike sent me the above art for a Foiled promotional board game, "Candy Land, but evil," was the general office verdict.  (Not that the art is all that dark -- it's just that the skulls with bat wings give it this indescribable aura of menace that Candy Land just doesn't have!  Possibly 'Candy Land, but slightly evil' would've been a better descriptor?)

One of the more interesting (and frustrating) parts of the marketing M.O. is thinking up new ways to get peoples' attention.  Why is it necessary to think up new ways to get peoples' attention?  Well, the last UNESCO survey (2005) put the number of books published in the United States per year at 172,000.  That many books (assuming a standard width of about half an inch) would make a stack about 7,166 feet high.  And you know what?  There are some people who I send things to (think: The New York Times, Barnes and Noble, etc.) who probably receive every single one of those books.  471 books a day. 

Now, there are a number of things that First Second does as a matter of course to get these peoples' attention.  We consistently publish great books that are well edited (yay Mark and Calista!) and well designed (yay Colleen!).  We work within the hierarchy of Macmillan (now the #5 largest publisher in the US).  We establish personal relationships with the people whose attention we want. 

But we're always looking for ways to go above and beyond those basics.  After all, we don't have the only excellent cover designer and editors in the United States.  And even if only a tenth of that daily stack of books is worth looking at, that's still 47 books a day! 

Therefore: the sublime and insidious tactic of the board game.  I'm not sure who came up with this idea (it might've been me, though if anyone wants to call me on it, you're more than welcome), but I know the reasoning behind it.  Anyone who sees the art of this book (you can read an excerpt here) thinks that it is charming, adorable, and we thought: we have to get this art in front of peoples' eyes -- and not just in that daily stack that arrives in the mail. 

So Mike was kind and gracious and made for us a board game that's based on the plot of the book (and, okay, a little on Candy Land, too).  And we've been sending it out to booksellers far and wide.  (I think Bergen Street Comics is actually going to organize a game-playing session on FCBD, which is super-exciting!  Possibly there will be a follow-up post to this, with pictures.)

We'll see how well we do with this new attention getting tactic (#59328653: The Adorable Board Game).

[you can download a digital copy of the Foiled board game here]

March 11, 2010

Cat Burglar Black

Here's what I have to say about this book: Richard Sala's art is amazing.  If I could read any graphic novel (currently in existence or only hypothetical) about a teen girl cat burglar with a mysterious past, currently accidentally throwing her lot in with a set of Gothic Evildoers, I would choose for such a thing to be illustrated by Richard Sala. 

Luckily, Richard fulfills exactly those parameters with this book!

Who Reads First Second?

Is this a simple case of red eye, or does reading Vampire Loves ACTUALLY TURN YOU INTO A VAMPIRE!
Kt with v

March 04, 2010

Notes for a War Story


A year or so ago, I went to a show at the Scott Eder Gallery and had the fortune to get to see in person some of Gipi's art.  It's amazing!  Perhaps some day I will be wealthy and able to afford to have some of it for my very own. 

If you haven't seen a comic by this guy, check it out!  He does stuff with paper and ink (and various other mediums, I've heard watercolor, oils, and turpentine all get involved) that's really like nothing else -- in the very best kind of way. 
(a page from Notes for a War Story)

March 03, 2010

Author Self-Portraits

I wanted to share a few of my favorite creator self-portraits.  We ask everyone for some form of image of themselves: some people send photos, and some of them send art.  I like art the best, because it's the most fun to get in the mail -- I already know what the vast majority of our creators look like, but everyone always does something interesting with a self-portrait. 

(Not entirely drawn, but super-awesome anyways!  This is Sara Varon.)


(Joann Sfar!  Clearly Little Vampire should be in everyone's self-portrait.)

Cyril Pedrosa
(Cyril Pedrosa!  Adorable and funny both!)

SalaSelfPort copy2
(I've got another version of Richard Sala's self-portrait where he's menacingly drawing an extremely cute cat because of Cat Burglar Black.)

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