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14 posts from September 2010

September 30, 2010

:01 and NYCC

You can tell that :01 and NYCC are a match made in heaven because our names are both made of abbreviations!  That's how heavenly match-making works, right? 


First Second's got quite a number of things going on at this convention.

First: we're exhibiting!  Stop by; we're at booth 2314.  We will do our best to be sociable and also have many excellent books to show off.

Second: authors!  It turns out that there are actual people who write and illustrate our books (this came as a shock to us all; we found out early last week) and that sometimes they are in town and can be convinced to sign their books.  Thus: autographing schedule!


3:00 – Jessica Abel (Drawing Words and Writing Pictures)


11:00 – Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan, and Pascal Dizin (City of Spies)

12:00 – George O’Connor (Zeus: King of the Gods; Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess)

1:00 – Mike Cavallaro (Foiled)


10:00 – Matt Madden (Drawing Words and Writing Pictures)

12:00 – Jane Yolen (Foiled)

1:00 – Tracy White (How I Made It to Eighteen)

2:00 – Faith Erin Hicks, Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan (Brain Camp)

3:00 – Carla Jablonski (Resistance)

4:00 – Andrew Arnold (Adventures in Cartooning)

Third: talking in public (also known as panels).  People do it!  Many of them are our authors and illustrators!  Some of them even show images!  It's a whole exciting thing. 


Building a World in Comics


Room 1A22

When you open a comic, a world appears on the page in front of you.  What goes into creating this world on the part of the writer, and on the part of the artist?  Is the process different between fiction and nonfiction?  And what pieces do you need to add to that world to make it come alive on the page? 

With Mike Cavallaro, George O’Connor, Susan Kim, and Laurence Klavan, moderated byTucker Stone


A Day in the Studio


Room 1A24

What does creating comics look like on a day-to-day basis?  Join four comics creators to see pictures of their studios, a discussion of their process, and the ins and outs, ups and downs, of making a living in comics. 

With Jane Yolen, Dave Roman, Tracy White, and Matt Madden moderated by Brian Heater


Wild, Wacky, and Zany Comics Adventures


Variant Stage/Kids Day

Adventure!  Excitement!  Fun times!  Step up for adventure as talented cartoonists take the stage to tell their own stories in comics format – and yours! 

With Andrew Arnold, Faith Erin Hicks, and Dave Roman


Comics Storytelling


Room 1A17

How are comics different from prose books, from picture books and screenplays and illustration?  What makes a story something that should be told in the comics format?  Four cartoonists talk about their inspiration to work in the comics medium and how panels and speech balloons come together to make great storytelling. 

With Faith Erin Hicks, Carla Jablonski, Tracy White, and Jane Yolen, moderated by Margaret Maloney

And Jessica Abel's on an panel for educators on Friday at four; if you are an educator, you should go to that as well.  With Jessica involved, it is bound to be interesting!

We're looking forward to seeing you there.

September 29, 2010

First Second and the Onset of Winter

One of the parts of my job as Marketing Personage at First Second is to get out information about our books.  Therefore we have a catalog (it is here). 

When clicking upon the above link, you may be surprised to come across an entirely new season for us: winter! 


(photo ganked from here)

We heard that winter was cold and full of baby seals, and we had therefore initially determined not to publish books in it.  But upon further rexamination of the whole winter idea, it turns out that fireside hot chocolate makes some people want to read more. 

Therefore we reapproached! 

(And also we've started publishing a few more books, so we needed a place to put them.) 

Going back to my job as a Marketing Personage; one of the things I do to get out the catalog is put it here on the blog!  Another is to send a general e-mail to persons who would have special interest (teachers, librarians, retailers, media, and various other kinds of persons I am doubtless forgetting). 

I sent that e-mail out yesterday; if you are reading this blog and didn't get it and feel that you are a Person of Interest, send me an e-mail (gina.gagliano@firstsecondbooks.com) and I'll put you on my list.  I do catalog mailings extremely infrequently (we only just discovered there were more than two seasons in the year, after all), but they do exist, and tend to be fairly decent at this whole information-providing thing. 

September 28, 2010

And did I mention....

...that all this week (Banned Books Week, you'll recall), Save Apathea (the online presence of :01 graphic novel Americus) is running special programming with daily updates of the comic as well as giveaways and interviews with luminaries such as free speech activist Pat Scales and banned-book author Chris Crutcher!

What are you waiting for? Hurry on over and check it out!


September 27, 2010

Don't like a book? Ban it!

...And you guarantee that it will sell ten times as many copies as it would have otherwise.

In Fall 2011, First Second will publish Americus by MK Reed and Jonathan Hill. It's a graphic novel about Neil Barton, a teen in a small town in Oklahoma, who finds himself up against members of the community who want to ban the wildly popular fantasy series Apathea Ravenchilde from the local library. Americus is being serialized online (updated 3 times per week) at Save Apathea, leading up to publication next year. You should read it: it's awesome.


Please ban this book.

Can I tell you a secret? I'm kind of hoping that someone decides to ban Americus when it comes out in print. Why? Because then everyone will read it!

This is one of the reasons banning books just doesn't work very well (at least not in this country). It tends to attract attention to the book being banned. And that's sort of the opposite effect of what's intended! But just because banning a book is a pretty terrible way to suppress an idea doesn't make it a harmless, laughable pasttime. The suppression of ideas (ineffectively or not) is not something to ignore.

Book banning is bad.

I think most of the folks reading this post will agree with that statement (and not just because it's pleasingly alliterative). But it's worth unpacking it a bit. Why is book banning bad?

  • It involves one section of society imposing their tastes and values on everyone else, specifically through the suppression of free expression and free exchange of ideas. 


  • It's predicated on the idea that objectionable ideas go away or lose their power if you suppress the public expression of those ideas. Not only is this not the case (kids are going to figure out that sex exists pretty much no matter what you do), but you run the risk of obscuring reliable facts in favor of unsupressable wild speculation. Misinformation about the concepts being censored (sex, drug use, atheism,etc) gains momentum when the real story isn't available. Kids! Can't find a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves? Don't sweat it! My cousin told me you can't get pregnant if you take a shower after sex. But some girl on the playground told me you can get AIDS by smoking pot. 


  • It involves the misguided concept that it's safer to ignore a scary or repugnant idea than to confront it, talk about it, contest it, even defray it. Generally, the best thing you can do to imbue an idea with inescapable power and fascination is to make it taboo.


  • It's ultimately self-defeating. Children are not stupid, by and large. And they aren't as fragile as we think they are when we hasten to protect them from exposure to ideas we think will warp their little minds. They can take it! And they should. Would you rather have a child come around to the "right" position on an issue because they've been bullied and deceived into it? Or because they've got all the facts and they've thought it through and made a decision freely and based on what they believe to be right? Which of these conversions is likely to be the one that sticks?

None of these ideas are all that unusual.

I'm certainly not the first person to voice any of them. But there's something else that I think is worth examining, something that maybe doesn't get all the real estate it should in this conversation: there is this impulse to villify people who advocate for banning certain children's books. They're ignorant and reactionary, we tell each other. They're religious nut-jobs. They're assholes.

No. They're just people.

Not everyone who wants to see a book banned is a bad person.

In fact, most of them are probably good people, at least as much as any of us can be said to be "good." I would say they're misguided, even destructive. But they're not terrible human beings--they're just human beings with a terrible idea. The thing is, a lot of people come to this idea from a place of sincere concern. Their intentions are good, even if the conclusion they draw is not. They want to protect their children. They want to be good parents. They want to shape their world in a positive way. It's just that some of us strongly believe they're going about it all wrong.

This is why our aim should be to persuade, not to alienate. One of the things I love about Americus is that in addition to being hilarious and true and a great story, it's also a terrific piece of persuasive writing. It makes a very strong argument in favor of the open expression of ideas, and it presents a heartbreaking picture of what happens to families when that openness is shut down--when certain books are forbidden and certain subjects are avoided at all costs. It's not a pretty picture...but it's a powerful one.

Americus presents an idea worth sharing. And that's why I hope it gets banned as widely as possible.

Banned Books Week is September 25th to October 2nd, 2010.

September 21, 2010

Koko Be Good


This seems like an awesome swing!  Except maybe not one I would want to be on; I feel like the balance might be off.

(I'd go to the events anyways.)

September 20, 2010

Reviews We'd Like All the Time, Please

You know what's awesome? 

Reviews that really get what the books they're reviewing are about.  Strangely, this actually happens somewhat infrequently. 

This is not to slight the excellent reviewers that exist around the internet and in print media.  There are many of them! 

It's just that sometimes, you get books that resonate with you on some inner psychological level, and you are like, 'THAT!  I recognize that!'

Then sometimes, reviewers manage to encapsulate the THAT you felt in their review.  They know exactly what you were feeling when you were reading the book!  It's like the best form of communication.

So you should take a look at this review of Koko Be Good, which starts out: 

"You know that phase in your life where you wanted to be a research scientist or an astronaut or a novelist or a social worker or whatever because you really wanted to change the world and then, eventually, you ended up dropping out of college because you didn't really want to be a research scientist and weren't sure what you wanted to do but you needed to figure it out and then your friend actually became a research scientist and you felt like a jerk?"

And it just gets better from there.

You know what is also awesome? 

Reviews that straight-facedly use a photo of Alec Longstreth holding The Unsinkable Walker Bean to provide hard evidence that pirates will like this book.  (It's the beard that gives him his piratical air, I think.)  Also reviews that call it "a great rolling cannonball o’ fun."

What an excellent Monday it is turning out to be. 

September 17, 2010

Comics & Prison

Are you a teenager and worried about what might happen if you get arrested?  Well, now there is a comic that gives you a step-by-step run-down of how it works and what your options are.  There is even an instructive flow-chart!

Prison Comics

This comic is made even better by the fact that it is drawn by Danica Novgorodoff, who you might remember from her books Slow Storm and Refresh, Refresh

September 16, 2010

Kaput & Zosky


Every now and then you need a shoot-em-up space alien-related piece of media of some sort (whether it be book or movie or theater). 

That's what Kaput & Zosky is.  

Kaput and Zosky (the title characters) are space invaders.  Their only problem?  They're very, very, very stupid.  (Also they have bad luck, but I feel that this is not really a problem that it is possible to actually solve.)  This makes them very poor at being space invaders, which is sad for them, because they really like their jobs!

How stupid are they?

Well, in the course of the first ten pages, Kaput and Zosky are: scared out of invading an entire planet by a flea; order an entire planet of people to puke on them, and accidentally become Kings (it doesn't last). 

My favorite part of this book?  Watching small children read it! 

September 14, 2010


I'm becoming somewhat obsessed with pirates.  I blame the whole thing on Aaron Renier, who kindly created a book for us where 50% of the action happens on board a ship in an alternative Napoleonic-era worldlet. 

Subsidiary blame gets assigned to Drew Weing, whose Set to Sea I got to see this weekend at SPX (but alas, have not yet read -- soon!), and Yuko Ota, who signed a book for me with a character who was wearing a three-masted galleon as a hat!  And also these two books (prose, mysterious!) that I happened to read as well.

This is all coincidence, mind you.  But I'm wondering if there are cultural cycles that are spinning a return of the pirate post-Pirates of the Caribbean in 2007.  Or maybe it just takes that long for the literary consumer cycles to echo the movie ones? 

In any case: Talk Like a Pirate Day is this Sunday, and you should celebrate!  Possibly with an utterance of 'arrrrr, matey!' or two, and definitely with some grog.  And also with these:

Kitten Plank

(This picture is awesome; it's of the planks that 826 Valencia sells at their piratical store.  Everyone should have one, if only to hold over your kittens' heads when they misbehave!  Picture ganked from seany@flickr [http://www.flickr.com/photos/seany/3158063162/]. Thanks, Sean!)

Have kids you want to celebrate your piraticalness with this Sunday?  Try our Piratical Activity Kit

September 10, 2010



SPX!  It is at a time that it almost now (ie, tomorrow).  And do you know who will be there?

Alexis Frederick-Frost!  And he will have copies of Adventures in Cartooning Activity Book

And Aaron Renier!  And he will be on a panel about kids comics on Saturday at 5:00 and also have copies of The Unsinkable Walker Bean

And also many other excellent people like: Kate Beaton, Scott Campbell, Jon Chad, Robyn Chapman, Shawn Cheng, Becky Cloonan, Ray Fawkes, Jess Fink, Dustin Harbin, Stuart and Kathryn Immonen, Jeph Jaques, Cathy Leamy, Pat Lewis, Alec Longstreth, Dylan Meconis, Corinne Mucha, Dan Nadel, Yuko Ota, Anatth Panagariya, Nate Powell (who may or may not have a mini-comic of his upcoming :01 book), MK Reed (who may or may not have postcards for her upcoming :01 book), Dave Roman, Jim Rugg, Raina Telgemeier, Drew Weing, Maris Wicks, Matt Weigle, and Chris Yates!

Double-plus also: there is a chocolate fountain. 

If that is not enough to tempt you (chocolate + comics = awesomeness, I swear!), I don't know what is. 

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