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21 posts from August 2011

August 31, 2011

Sara Varon's Sugared Flowers

In honor of the publication of Sara Varon's Bake Sale, we present to you: a sugared flowers recipe.  Happy baking! 



It works!  I recipe-tested myself: my flowers ended up looking like this.


Sweet and delicious.

August 29, 2011

Winter Wonderland


(image from Fylkesarkivet i Sogn og Fjordane, which means it's from Finland)

This is not what it currently looks like in New York City, but I kind of wish it did, because it is hot and rainy and therefore muggy for all of today, and I do not like it one bit.  If the weather could look like that and we could also have summer-fresh fruit, that would be ideal.

But in the meantime of snowstorms: coming soon to a winter near you is a new set of First Second graphic novels.  Winter is our smallest season, so we've got just four books coming out, but we are excited very much about each and every one of them. 

So here we go.


Friends With Boys, by Faith Erin Hicks.  We love Faith's work, so we're really happy to be publishing her again!  So happy, in fact, that we're serializing this awesome teen novel online before it comes out in February.  You should go read it!


Giants Beware!, by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado.  This book has swords and princesses and cake, and is therefore triply delightful. 


Hades: Lord of the Dead, by George O'Connor.  George O'Connor's Olympians books just get better.  And better.  And better. 


The Silence of Our Friends, by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, and Nate Powell.  This is the Serious Adult graphic novel of the season; it's about Texas and the civil rights struggle of 1967.  Illustrated by Nate Powell, this looks awesome. 

Our full catalog pdf thing is here, if you are a person in need metadata and all that sort of thing.

These books are going to be great!  If you are a teacher or a librarian or a media person and you want to request a reading copy, don't hesitate to get in touch: gina.gagliano@firstsecondbooks.com. 

The Trouble with Feynman

from the desk of Jim Ottaviani


When First Second suggested doing a book about Feynman, my initial reaction -- and I probably said it out loud without meaning to -- was "I'm not ready!"

The book is all printed up and on its way out into the world.  Soon.

And I'm still not ready.

Richard Feynman lived a full-color, wid-screen, 3-D life, in Sensurround. He worked with geniuses like Einstein, Bohr, Dirac, and Oppenheimer, and his own genius and curiosity led him to influence and work directly on the atomic bomb, nanotechnology, supercomputing, and the space shuttle.

He got his fingerprints all over the 20th century, in other words.

Feynman also wrote best-selling books, painted professionally, played percussion, and went out of his way to make sure his life, and the lives of everyone around him, was interesting.

Such a full life vexes people who write about him, because nobody wants a 17,000 page book. (Do you?)

So that's the trouble with Feynman. There's too much great material, and everything I had to cut out broke a little piece off of my heart.

Our book could never be as large as Feynman's heart, and life, and influence. But it's still large, and I think it's satisfying, and I know you're ready for it, even if I wasn't.

August 26, 2011

Klezmer Limerick


Once some musicians formed a band

They had nowhere to go to, no homes or land

So they turned to song

It helped their lives along

Though nothing worked out quite how they'd planned.

Joann Sfar's Klezmer is a lovely book about Eastern Europe and about religion but mostly about how music is awesome.  Because it is. 

August 24, 2011

Zombie Summer Camp Give-Away


To celebrate Faith Erin Hicks' new webcomic Friends With Boys (go read it! it's delightful), we're doing a give-away of Faith's most recent book with us, a zombie summer camp graphic novel called Brain Camp

We also celebrate with this end of summer camp for the year caused by the end of summer.  Remember those horrible summer camp experiences that had to do with mean people you had to deal with while in the middle of the woods whilst consuming terrible, hideous food?  Yeah, I thought so. 

No more 'til next year.

Writing Backstory

(a meditation involving Patricia Wrede's Across the Great Barrier)


So, backstory. 

It tends to be a good thing for characters to have.  I recommend it, personally.  It is always nice for readers to know that the character that they are reading out hasn't just popped into existance on the page specifically for them and their need for a narrative device just there, but in fact had a childhood and possibly an education and maybe even some previous adventures. 

(My current favorite character who clearly must have some sort of backstory is Tony Cliff's Delilah Dirk.  We haven't seen any backstory so far, but I have deep suspicions that Delilah Dirk's childhood involved her being Pippi Longstockings.  She changed her name to protect Tommy and Annika before embarking on dangerous world-spanning adventures, of course.)

One of the things that I'm finding interesting about reading Across the Great Barrier is that everyone has a backstory.  Of course the main character does -- the book starts when she is born, so you know absolutely 100% of it.  But the wilderness guide, the multiplicity of college professors, the settlers, the townspeople -- every single person in the book is invested with so much personality that you absolutely know that there has to be more of their lives.

Wrede writes these gems of people where two hundred pages after the mysterious settler was killed by being eaten by saber-toothed lions, I'm still wondering what in the world was it that made him so impatient with everyone, so prejudiced against African-Americans, and so determined to move his family to a place where no one spoke his language that he set out fool-hardily and got his whole family killed for it.

And I have a similar set of wonders about: the main character's best friend's father (what formed his character to make him so mad all the time?), the wilderness guide (what are his mysterious trips to New Orleans? And where does his magic come from?), the female college professor (and her mysterious background in Canadianness!  And where does her absolute insistance on scientific accuracy come from?) and the main character's brother (what exactly was his college experience like?) and her grade-school magic teacher (what is she doing teaching at a university now?) and on and on and on.

Even the country has backstory; we hear tales of many kinds of magical creatures that don't make an appearance in the story, and the characters are going out to do a survey of native wildlife, so the entire book is composed of them talking about plants and animals and where they are and where they've come from and why they're there and how their presence interacts with the rest of the plants and animals and people and magic that makes up the world.

So now I have a new wonder, which is: is it possible to ever have too much unwritten backstory?  When you finish a book and you are at the point where you are like, 'now I would like there to be novels about everyone in this book please,' is that overkill?  Does it help narrative flow to keep minor characters as relatively-simple archetypes and not show the reader that everyone who exists in your book is a multiplicity?

More thought clearly required.

August 23, 2011



(photo from the US National Archives)

Earthquake!  We had one. 

It's our first earthquake since First Second moved to the Flatiron, but I'm glad to report that our building looks in fact nothing like those houses from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and is, in fact, 100% fine.

Just a small taste of mid-day excitement!

August 22, 2011

Faith Erin Hicks' Friends With Boys


We like Faith Erin Hicks for many reasons, including that the last author picture she sent us looks like this:


How can you resist that zombie!face?

But now we have a new reason to like her very much, which is that we're publishing her next book!  Exciting!  Especially as said book is full of mohawks and ghosts and also high school.

Because we (and Faith) are just so excited we can't wait until the end of February for said book to exist, we give you: the book in serial form on the internet

You should check it out!

August 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Winnie the Pooh!

Winnie the Pooh

I'm sure the Hundred Acre Wood will have cake for you with plenty of honey.

August 19, 2011

Stupid Alien Limericks


Once there were two aliens who were extremely lame

Kaput and Zosky were their names

They would never learn

Not to crash and burn

They had no one but themselves to blame.

This book is hilarious and awesome.  Believe it. 

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