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10 posts from November 2010

November 29, 2010

Journey into Mohawk Country

(in honor of Thanksgiving, a post about the book that is probably the most traditionally American story that we've ever published)


I don't know if you've read this book?

If you haven't read this book, here is the quick-and-dirty of why it is an interesting American story.  Journey into Mohawk Country is set in 1634, and also it is all true facts.  It is about a guy from Manhattan who ventures off into the wilderness and establishes trading relationships with the New York state Native Americans!

(No Thanksgiving dinner is had.  But there is a bear, which kind of makes up for it.)

November 19, 2010

Monday = :01 Party Time


You know what we're doing on Monday?

Having a party!

Or rather: the good people at Greenlight Bookstore are having a party for us.  Because they apparently think we are awesome. 

(The feeling is mutual.)

If you're in NYC, be there or be square.  7:00 on the dot on Monday night; Greenlight is at 686 Fulton Street, right off the Fulton Street G or the Lafayette Avenue A/C.

November 18, 2010

Another Post About Trailers

Mostly because there is a new one!


Lewis & Clark!

You should watch it!

November 16, 2010

Book Trailers (and also Zita)


from the US National Archives; photo by Lyntha Scott Eiler

This is a quick post about book trailers, and why they are hard.

Trailers are an interesting thing because (for the great majority of books out there) their task is to translate text to visual.  And that's difficult!  Especially since we're so used to seeing movies with elaborate casting and costuming and all of that jazz.

Some people who make trailers get around peoples' expectations of seeing movies by actually making all of that jazz for the trailer.  Which makes for fun trailers -- if you do them well -- but they're also expensive and complicated.

Another way to do approach trailers is just to do it with words.  I actually like these better, because who doesn't like storytelling with words?  They feel like they're puzzles or something. 

Usefully for comics, when you've got art in a book, that makes trailers work much better than when all you have to start out with is one cover image and 300+ pages of text.  (This works for picture books, too.)  The fact I work in comics makes me feel lucky whenever anyone down the hall (where MacKids lives) is grappling with teen novel trailers. 

Also, here's a new trailer for our upcoming Zita the Spacegirl.  Warning for slighly earworm-y* music!


*The internet tells me that in Portuguese the term for this translates to 'ear chewing gum.'  That is just awesome!

November 12, 2010

Meetings, and Why I Like Them


(This photo was taken by Lewis Wickes Hine and archived with the NYPL.  Our offices are not this picturesque, unfortunately.)

"What do you have on your schedule tomorrow?" friends sometimes ask me when we are hanging out in the small hours of the evening.  (Because the small hours of the morning are too late for me to stay up for.  Mostly.)

My most frequently occuring reply?  "Meetings."

Then comes the inevitable lamentations, pats upon the shoulder, and assorted commiserations.  The general verdict?  Meetings suck.

I don't agree with this consensus.  My job, it turns out, contains a number of generally useful and interesting meetings that are essential to the process of me getting my job done. 

One of them is today! 

For every season of books we publish, we have a meeting called 'Marketing Preview.'  In general, what happens in this meeting is that the First Second people sit down, the sales people who are going to sell our books sit down, and then we talk to them all about our plans for packaging and promoting our upcoming books, with illustrative images. 


(image from Cornell University Library)

And then the sales/marketing people talk to us about new things that have come up in their respective markets that could help us promote our books, things that distributors and retailers are doing differently that will affect us, and, in general, tell us all about what they think will help sell our books better.

You know what?

This meeting is awesome

Any time I get to sit down with all the people in this building who know the market inside and out and work with them to make sure our authors are going to sell the most books possible is an excellent time. 

Even if it does require powerpoint presentations and hand-outs.

November 11, 2010

In honor of America's war veterans

Today is Veterans Day in the United States. Gathering around the Flatiron Building and around Madison Square Park, where the Veterans Day Parade begins in NYC are thousands of war veterans, young and old.

We honor and salute their service. In tribute to them here is ALAN'S WAR, by Emmanuel Guibert—one veteran's voice, from the second World War: Alan Cope, whose voice lives on through this work. And following it is a one-minute piece of artistic magic, from the making of this book.

Alans War_rgb



Pretty Things to Look At

One of my great pleasures is looking at pretty things on the internet. Luckily, it's pretty much part of my job description.


Here are some pretty things I've enjoyed looking at recently:

Escher-esque pools

This handsome web-comic

High-res scans of civil-war era photos

Very mysterious and beautiful graffiti

In conclusion, here is a photo of my cat.


You're welcome.


November 09, 2010

On Covers on Screen and in Print


This cover is our most vivid example of the difference between how covers look on the computer screen and in print.

It is a very fascinating thing!

So, you look at the above cover, and what you see is Exley (who is a main character), who's all dressed in black, the lettering, which is a similar color of black but haloed with some lighter color, and then the background and the rest of the text, which are all shades of brown-gray. 

The general theme you take away is black, which is pretty accurate.  But the rest of everything is pretty deceptive.

When we were playing around with this cover, what we wanted to do was something like Art Spiegelman did for In the Shadow of No Towers:


You see those towers?  They look darker than the rest of the cover, right?  But actually, what they are is a spot gloss effect -- they only look darker than the rest of the cover in that they are shiny. 

That's something that's difficult to represent on the screen. 

The same thing's true for Ball Peen Hammer.  Exley's dress and the title lettering really are the same color.  But they're also the same color as the background of the cover.  That halo effect and the cover looking brown?  That's because we (and the online retailers who carried this book) worried about being able to usefully sell it online if people had difficulty making out the title on the screen.

Next up on the horizon for difficulty-of-conveying-by-screen: foil!  It's shiny!  The computer screen?  Not so much. 

November 04, 2010

New Books, and Why They Are The Best Thing Ever

(a story in a single part)

Anya's Ghost - Vera

(photo ganked from Vera, because I don't currently have a working camera in the office)

So you know what the #2 best part of my job is? 

Getting new books in! 

First Second works on an early schedule where we get books in advance so People of Importance (read: select booksellers, media, librarians; also the author) can see them and get excited about them and then get other people excited about them and then the whole world thinks they are awesome. 

What that means is that one day, long before the books come out, they show up in our office!  And we get to work and there are boxes of things there that turn out to be books!  And we get to see them before anyone else in the world!*

And then the books lounge around looking very pretty, because we put out very pretty books. 

So we got in our first round of books that are coming out in Spring 2010 last week, and you would think the excitement would've worn off by now, but it hasn't, so I therefore had to share. (And also Vera posted the excellent above picture, which means I had something to illustrate the whole sense of excitement with, always a useful thing.)


*Not actually true, because the printers of course look at them to make sure that they are not printing upside-down and things.  But they are in China, so we are at least seeing them before anyone else in the entire country, which is almost-but-not-quite as exciting. 

November 02, 2010

Webcomics Weekend


This is where I will be this weekend, in a miscellaneously wandering around kind of way.  (All professional acquaintances please note: I miscellaneously wander around very professionally!)

If you are there too, then we will see each other and perhaps there will be cookies!  (And comics too, of course.)

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