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12 posts from March 2011

March 30, 2011


Spring has sprung, despite the fact that it has snowed twice and then hailed on top of that in New York City in the past week. (I think that perhaps Spring's springs are not functioning properly.)


(picture from The Field Museum Library's photo archive)

Mostly for First Second, spring means books (and also hail, apparently.  I am still bitter). 

You guys, this is going to be such a good season!  See?







Click the covers for more -- you won't regret it! 

(Unless you hate ghosts, Nazis, and quantum electrodynamics, which is logically impossible.  Or at least very improbable.)

March 25, 2011

Assasination Limerick


There once was a man named John Wilkes Booth

His views some thought were uncouth

But he firmly believed

And half a nation grieved

When he died in the name of his truth. 


Colleen did an amazing job on the design of this book!  You should go and take a look. 

March 23, 2011

Everyone Loves a Parade

(this is not the kind of parade we at First Second really do, but it looks like all sorts of fun nonetheless!)


One of the most interesting parts of marketing is watching things happening. 

When we're putting out a book, there's a limited number of people who are at the zeroth point, right?  It's all of us here at :01 and also the author.  And (presumably) if we never told anyone that the book existed, no one would know.

(Of course this would be sort of a silly and self-defeating way to publish a book, presuming that your point of publishing books is for people to find out about them and read them.)

When you're in the first stages of promoting things, it is fascinating to watch things happen because most of everything you can draw a direct line between the things you know you or your author did to what happens.  So -- I pitch an article, the people at the magazine know about the book because of the pitch I sent. 

Later in the game, it becomes more difficult to draw those lines, and therefore even more interesting!  So -- was the rush of review copy requests I got last week for Vera Brosgol's book because Booklist Online featured her starred review as their Review of the Day?  Or was it because people named Jess like to talk about Anya's Ghost on the internet? 

Unfortunately as information becomes less privledged, it's less fun to watch.  But I love those first two stages.  Information dissemination in action!

March 21, 2011

a submissions thank you


(mysterious pile of paper ganked from here)

I just wanted to send out a quick thank-you to everyone who's been e-mailing us submissions lately.  Because everyone has been reading our website guidelines and e-mailing to tell us how they want to be published by us because they know who we are and they like other things that we're doing.  And we really appreciate that.  Yay you all!

A (very very) quick refresher on submitting things for everyone whose fingers are just now hovering over the send button on their e-mail:

Everything you need to know can be found on our FAQ page, including links to the (much more in depth) two posts our lovely editor, Calista Brill, wrote for our blog. 

Thanks again to everyone! 

March 18, 2011

Detective Limericks


John Hardin is a desperate man.

Desperately in need of a desperate plan.

So he gets a disguise.

Disappears from everyones' eyes.

To discover how this whole mess began. 

(The best part about this book is really the art!  You should go and take a look at it.)

March 16, 2011

Comics for Small People

So you like comics.  And then you have babies.  (Or maybe your friends and relatives do.)  But!  It turns out that babies are not big on the comics classics except as dinner!


What do you do?!?

It turns out that there are some excellent comics that people make specifically for small people.  Regard:


This is one of the cutest comics that ever was.  Also it's really lovely; there is outer space and polar bears and flying and music and adventure and homecoming.  So really: the Campbellian heroic epic, in comics format, entirely silent, for age 4. 


Andy Runton's Owly series is lovely and charming, and this is my favorite of the lot.  These comics are black and white, completely silent, and feature much friendship and problem-solving.  What could be better?


Possibly the answer to the above question is: pirates!  Because pirates always win, being that they are rapscallions.  This book features such creatures, in a Gilbert&Sullivan-esque comics-format operatic piecce. 


This is a very BIG book for very small children.  Five classic wolf stories -- like Little Red Riding Hood -- come together amusingly in this tale of a top-hatted wolf and his desire to catch some dinner. 


Every time I read this book, I am sad that Jordan Crane does not just write books for kids all the time.  I would read a new one every day. 


Everything that Eleanor Davis makes turns out to be awesome.  If you are not reading her, it is at great loss to you. 

And if your friendly neighborhood babies do not like these books, at least you will be supporting excellent cartoonists!  And, until they develop some proper literary taste, there is colorful paper-based dinner for the babies.

March 11, 2011

End of the World Limericks


In this world, everything is dying.

With no hope left, people are trying

to improve on the ruin others made

to pay a price no one ever thought would have to be paid

to the broken world their lives are dignifying.

(Can I tell you about how this limerick doesn't scan at all?  The book: so much better, and also, contains a logical plot, which this limerick definitely does not.  Ball Peen Hammer; go read.)

March 09, 2011

A Short List of Steampunk Comics

At BEA last year, I somehow got called out in front of a group of people to answer questions about steampunk comics, which I more-or-less failed miserably at.  As it's starting to be that time of year again, I am preparing with a short list!

Daisy Kutter

Did you ever read Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet series and think, where in the world did this guy come from?  How did he become this awesome?  This is the first book by Kazu I ever read, and it unfortunately it does not answer that question at all, because even it is awesome.  It is full of gunfights and robots in the wild west!  And also girls who are the law. 


I really like the idea of Captain Nemo's submarine being a steampunk marvel.  He is full of science and guns and things, and then all of the European Nations are forced to acknowledge the superiority of the culture of the East!  (Okay, it doesn't quite work like that, and that might not really be the point in this book. . . .)


This is one of my favorite books First Second has ever published.  It's got lovely art (courtesy of Emmanuel Guibert).  And lovely writing (courtesy of Joann Sfar).  And also Queen Victoria is thrown into the Thames!  Steampunk doesn't get much better than that. 

Remarkable_Phineas Fogg

Steampunk + time machines!  This may count as the first steampunk comic I ever read, because I read it in college (before I ever knew that steampunk existed!).  If you're versed in steampunk, this may be the book on this list you haven't heard of; it's definitely worth checking out. 

Lovelace and Babbage_Chibi

Webcomics recommendation: if you need something steampunk-y to read RIGHT NOW, you should go read Lovelace & Babbage.  Ada Lovelace!  Charles Babbage!  Together they fight crime!  Also musicians!

Plus bonus kind-of recommendation: I have somehow not read Doug TenNapel's Iron West, presumably because I am lame and also insufficiently organized.  But: it is a steampunk western!  By Doug TenNapel!  There seems to be very little probability that it is not all sorts of fun. 

March 08, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS and the First Second Roadshow

I just returned from Minneapolis and St. Paul, and a whirlwind of presentations to all kinds of friendly book lovers. The Twin Cities has joined the top ranks of America's "book towns" and I had been very eager to go there with our First Second roadshow... 

In Minnesota I met a great many librarians, booksellers, writers and artists—and quickly became convinced the place is poised to take a key position in America's comics community.


I was very impressed with Brian Malloy of THE LOFT literary center, and Eric Lorberer, Editor of the RAIN TAXI Review of Books (indispensable, lovingly fashioned, and some of the best graphic novel reviews to boot). (Link at bottom of this post for more photos from Sarah Morean.)


(The Loft is a temple to the Gods of the book!)


Then there are terrific comics stores, like BIG BRAIN COMICS right in the heart of things, DREAMHAVEN, and SOURCE COMICS...


Big Brain's owner Michael Drivas, and below, Clarence—super friendly, knowledgeable staff—the kind you can send non-comics readers to and know they will be in good hands. 

And the comics and graphic novels selection is impeccably curated—for every age and temperament.


Nice mural on the back of Dreamhaven books, another fine comics shop to find the best of the best.


Famous bookstores—like Magers & Quinn, and Common Good Books (owned by Garrison Keillor!) both with select, fine graphic novels, too.



Libraries in Minneapolis are to die for. Does your local branch include a drive-through café?


There are a couple of small Comic Cons in Minneapolis as well, but best of all the Minneapolis Indie Expo (MIX) run by Sarah Morean, of the excellent Daily Cross Hatch blog. MIX is appearing on many a radar these days, and should interest American comics authors and publishers.

And The Twin Cities are clearly bursting with talent. Besides the Neil Gaiman-Minneapolis connection, there are some exceptional creators like Sam Hiti, Zak Sally, and Tom Kaczynski, and a legion of students brewing a comics revolution of their own in schools like MCAD.

Speaking of the Daily Cross Hatch—special thanks to Sarah for this lovely write-up of my visit to Minnesota.

And more photos from her here.


March 07, 2011

on CCS and Marketing


CCS sent us over an e-mail last week about an Awareness Week they're having to -- um, raise awareness about the fact that CCS exists.  I'm not really sure if anyone who reads our blog hasn't heard of CCS, but if you are that sole solitary reader scratching his or her head over this curious combination of initials, be made full of awareness now!

I got a chance to visit CCS this fall, which was fun, because it involved very long train rides and also butternut squash/beet soup and Alec Longstreth.  And (of course) the most fun part of all was talking for 2.5 hours to a group of second-year students about marketing (after which there was ice cream, which I needed because I had no voice left). 

As a marketing type, I find it to be an excellent thing when schools incorporate into their curriculum some sort of 'professional practices' class that includes marketing.  Because, it turns out, marketing is important when it comes to publishing books well.  And if authors are prepared beforehand, everything runs much more smoothly.  When authors have an accurate idea of what sorts of things are their responsibility marketing-wise, they are less frequently accidentally crushed to death under the weight of events, interviews, and other miscellany. 

(We like our authors best when they are not crushed to death.  It is a better state from which to get them to do more books for us!)

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