Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
First Second Books has announced it will publish Varmints, an all-ages graphic novel by Dallas-based Andy Hirsch, whose credits include The Royal Historian of Oz and BOOM! Studios’ Garfield, Peanuts and Adventure Time.
ROBOT 6 also has a first look at the Western, which began in 2011 as a self-published digital comic, and a brief Q&A with Hirsch.
Mythology is the intellectual gateway that’s gotten many readers interested in becoming a writer or artist. But few are as passionate about the subject as George O’Connor, creator of Olympians, the 12-book series from First Second recounting the Greek myths. This month, he releases one of the volumes he’s clearly looked forward to since first embarking on the project: Ares: Bringer of War.
Ahead of the book’s release, O’Connor spoke with ROBOT 6 on what appeals to him about mythology and these characters in particular, and the challenges of adaptation. He also recounts how became friends with Age of Bronze creator Eric Shanower not through their shared fondness for classical mythology, but rather a mutual appreciation of Oz.
Awards | Jillian Tamaki has won the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Prize for children’s literature illustration for her work on This One Summer, a graphic novel collaboration with cousin Mariko Tamaki (who was nominated in the text category). Their first book, 2008’s Skim, was previously nominated in the text division, further demonstrating a separation of illustration and story that Jillian Tamaki finds “strange.” ““I think we are both creators of the book,” she tells the Edmonton Journal. “You can’t read a comic without either component, it won’t make sense. It’s something I will always be addressing when talking about the award. But I am completely flattered by the honor and will be sharing the prize with my cousin.” [Edmonton Journal, via The Comics Reporter]
First Second has provided ROBOT 6 with the first look at the cover for Last Man: The Chase, the third volume of the martial-arts fantasy by Bastien Vivès, Balak and Michael Sanlaville.
Originally published by Casterman, Last Man is an homage to American pop culture that centers on Richard Aldana, a cigarette-smoking, leather jacket-wearing stranger who enrolls in the gladiatorial-style games of a medieval fantasy world, but insists on relying on his martial-arts skills rather than magic.
First Second will begin releasing Last Man in March with The Stranger, followed in June by The Royal Cup and in October by The Chase. The remaining volumes will be published in 2016.
Anda is a teenager eager for a place to spread her wings, and she finds it in Coarsegold Online, a massively multiplayer role-playing game in which she can make friends, slay monsters and build self-confidence. But when she befriends a gold farmer — a poor kid from China whose avatar collects valuable game objects to sell to players with money to spare, in violation of the rules — Ada quickly learns life is more complicated than it first appears online.
Arriving Tuesday from First Second Books, In Real Life is Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang’s adaptation of the acclaimed author’s 2004 short story “Anda’s Game.” It’s a beautifully illustrated graphic novel that touches upon myriad timely issues, ranging from bullying to economic inequality to safe spaces for female gamers, while maintaining the strong emotional thread of Anda’s journey.
To celebrate the release of his debut graphic novel, Doctorow — the author of Little Brother, Homeland and Pirate Cinema — participated in a “30 Questions” blog tour, answering a few questions at a different site each day. Today is ROBOT 6’s turn.
Creators | Attack on Titan creator Hajime Isayama estimates that the blockbuster manga series will end in three years. “I’d like to end things quickly, with a tight pace of story developments,” he told Japan’s Da Vinci magazine, “and then I always end up feeling like I should qualify that with a ‘but,’ so for now, I can’t say anything more specific.” [RocketNews 24]
Conventions | Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, has a thriving entertainment industry, and comics are blossoming there as well. At The Beat, Deji Bryce Olukotun interviews Ayodele Elegba, co-founder of this past weekend’s Lagos Comic Con, about the popularity of comics, what makes the Nigerian comics scene different from others, and the ever-present problem of piracy. [The Beat]
First Second Books has announced Secret Coders, a graphic novel by Eisner winner and National Book Award finalist Gene Luen Yang and Bravest Warriors cartoonist Mike Holmes. The publisher indicated on Twitter that it’s the first book in a series.
Aimed at middle-schoolers, Secret Coders centers on Hopper and Eni, who discover their rather mundane prep school was built atop another mysterious institution, one dedicated dedicated to secret and wonderful knowledge — computer code.
“There’s something magic about coding, especially old-school coding,” Yang, who for the past 17 years has taught computer programming to high-school students, tells Wired. “When you type these words into this machine, something kind of magic, something kind of crazy happens.”
His hope is for readers to learn code alongside Hopper and Eni. “There’s a pure, visceral sense of joy [in coding] that I want to communicate with my students and my readers,” Yang says. “When I learned how to code in fifth grade there was something very empowering about it. What I tell my students is that deep down inside of every coder is this desire for control. You get to tell this really powerful machine what to do.”
First Second, which published Yang’s American Born Chinese, The Eternal Smile, Level Up, Boxers and Saints and The Shadow Hero, will release Secret Coders on Sept. 28.
Manga | Tadatoshi Fujimaki is bringing his manga Kuroko’s Basketball to an end. The final chapter will run in the Sept. 1 issue of Shonen Jump, followed in October by the release of the 29th and final collection. The manga isn’t licensed in North America (although the anime is), but it became famous worldwide after more than 400 threat letters were sent to venues in Japan hosting Kuroko’s Basketball events and to retailers selling the series. The perpetrator confessed to the crimes, and was sentenced last week to four and half years in prison. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Brian Truitt interviews two creators of Cloaks: actor David Henrie, who created the main character Adam, a street magician in New York who is recruited by a black-ops group, and Caleb Monroe, who wrote the comic. Says Monroe, “As a magician, Adam looks for underlying realities, those things many of us have forgotten or deceived ourselves about. Then he develops ways to slip those back into people’s lives disguised as entertainment.” The first issue is due out next week from BOOM! Studios. [USA Today]
Danica Novgorodoff’s The Undertaking of Lily Chen is a road story, a love story, and something completely different as well. Set in modern-day China, it follows the quest of Deshi, a young man whose parents blame him for his brother’s death, on a quest to find a ghost bride for his brother, the corpse of a young woman who will be buried with him and keep him company in the afterlife.
Deshi’s attempts to find a fresh corpse are a washout, and he ends up instead with the very much alive Lily Chen, who is only too happy to escape her hardscrabble existence — and has no idea what Deshi has in store for her.
Novgorodoff deftly mixes elements of traditional and modern-day China in her story, and she illustrates it with beautifully rendered watercolors. I had a chance to talk to her about it last weekend at MoCCA Arts Fest.
Brigid Alverson: How did the story evolve?
Danica Novgorodoff: I started writing it based on these two characters I had I my head, Deshi and Mr. Song, so it took me a while to find the right character for Lily. I knew there would be a girl. I had originally conceived of it as a kidnapping story, and it really didn’t work out the way I had written it because in that situation she was not a powerful character, and I didn’t like that. So I kind of rewrote the plot based on her character, based around who I wanted it to be. I also thought of it as a Western — in a classic Western, there’s a big shootout and everybody dies in the end. That’s how I first wrote it, with everyone dying in the end. It just wasn’t the story I wanted it to be. I don’t need a happy ending, I don’t necessarily need that, but I eventually realized that at the core of this story was a love story, not a death story. I didn’t think of it as a western, but I still felt the relationship between the two characters really came through. I rewrote the ending several times until I found the ending I thought worked out.
Something has been going on at the First Second website. For about a year and a half to two years, the publisher’s marketing and publicity coordinator Gina Gagliano has been bringing personality to its blog with informative, funny and engaging posts that make me want to Make Mine First Second. Yes, there’s decidedly a lack of alliterations, but there’s an effortless style to the blog that harkens back to the classic days of Marvel’s Bullpen Bulletins, as written by Stan Lee.
Gina was introduced to us in 2007, when First Second was just establishing itself. It was using Typepad for its blogging, and editor Mark Siegel was the primary writer. Gina’s posts generally stuck to limericks to promote new releases. Cute, and a unique way to talk about First Second’s books, but maybe too brief and structured so they didn’t really create a personal connection or invite conversation. But then somewhere around summer 2012, she began to become the dominant voice on the blog. As she took over, her posts became meatier, and she started to cover a richer variety of topics that have really brought the site to life in a unique way.
While we eagerly await the release of Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew’s graphic novel The Shadow Hero, a revival of the Golden Age superhero the Green Turtle, Tor.com has posted a seven-part prequel strip by the duo that originally appeared in the comics anthology Shattered. It’s a nice preview of what we can expect from the book, to be published by First Second.
Created in 1944 by artist Chu Hing, the Green Turtle appeared in only a handful of adventures before fading into obscurity. According to Yang, Hing intended for his hero to be of Chinese-American.
“His publishers didn’t think that would fly in the marketplace,” Yang said in a video released last fall, “so Chu Hing reacted in this really passive-aggressive way: He drew those original Green Turtle comics so that we never see the hero’s face. Whenever the hero is on a panel, we almost always just see his cape. Whenever he is turned around, something is blocking his face. […] Rumor is that Chu Hing did this so he could imagine his hero as he originally intended, as a Chinese-American.”
Check out another installment of the strip below, and read the whole series at Tor.com.
First Second Books has announced in the fall it will release The Zoo Box, a book by married creators Ariel Cohn and Aron Nels Steinke described by the publisher as “a terrific introduction to comics for both learning readers and their parents.”
Here’s the book’s description: “When Erika and Patrick’s parents leave them home alone for the night, they head straight to the attic to explore. When they open a mysterious box, hundreds of animals come pouring out! Soon the town is awash in more and more zoo animals, until Erika and Patrick discover that the tables have been turned … and the animals now run a zoo full of humans!”
The creators live in Portland, Oregon, where Cohn is a trained Montessori preschool teacher and metalsmith, and Steinke is a second- and third-grade teacher and cartoonist whose work includes Mr. Wolf, Big Plans and The Super-Duper Dog Park.
Compared by the publisher to Avatar: The Last Airbender and Jeff Smith’s Bone, The Nameless City is set in an intricate world inspired by Central Asia and the Silk Road, where “the besieged inhabitants of an ancient city are desperate to learn the secrets of the perished civilization which carved the city out of living rock.” The story centers on Nameless City native Rat, and Kai, whose country recently conquered her home, as they form an unlikely friendship as they try to foil an unlikely conspiracy.
“I’m absolutely thrilled that First Second Books will be publishing The Nameless City,” Hicks said in a statement. “It’s a story that’s very close to my heart and something I’ve been working on for a few years.”
Hicks’ previous works include Zombies Calling, The War at Ellsmere, Friends With Boys and The Adventures of Superhero Girl.
Gene Luen Yang, whose two-volume Boxers & Saints was shortlisted just this morning for the National Book Award, has revealed details about his follow-up: a revival of the Golden Age superhero the Green Turtle with Sonny Liew (My Faith in Frankie, Malinky Robot).
Yang has mentioned the graphic novel, most recently last month in an interview with Comic Book Resources, but BoingBoing now has the final cover for The Shadow Hero, to be published by First Second Books, along with a video laying out the “secret origin” of Green Turtle, who was intended by his creator Chu Hing, who’s said to have wanted the character to be Chinese-American.
Boxers & Saints, Gene Luen Yang’s bestselling graphic novel set against the backdrop of China’s Boxer Rebellion, has made the shortlist for the 2013 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, announced this morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Yang’s 2006 work American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award.
The other finalists in the category are: Kathi Appelt, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp; Cynthia Kadohata, The Thing About Luck; Tom McNeal, Far Far Away; and Meg Rosoff, Picture Me Gone. The winner will be announced Nov. 29.
Published by First Second Books, the two-volume Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories set against the backdrop of the Boxer Rebellion: the first is of Little Bao, a peasant boy who joins in the violent uprising against Westerners following the destruction of his village; and the second is of a girl taken in by Christian missionaries when her village has no place for her. Boxers & Saints was released just last week.