First Second Books Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

Danica Novgorodoff on ‘The Undertaking of Lily Chen’

Danica NovgorodoffDanica 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.

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First Second creates a modern-day Bullpen Bulletins

First Second

First Second

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.

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‘Shadow Hero’ strip offers a preview of Yang and Liew’s new GN

shadow hero1

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.

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Exclusive | First Second to publish ‘The Zoo Box’

the zoo box

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.

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First Second to publish Faith Erin Hicks’ ‘Nameless City’ trilogy

nameless cityFirst Second Books will publish a new graphic novel trilogy by Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong creator Faith Erin Hicks, beginning in 2016.

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 reveals cover, background of ‘Shadow Hero’

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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.

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‘Boxers & Saints’ makes National Book Award shortlist

boxers-saintsBoxers & 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.

Published by First Second Books, 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.

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First Second’s 11th-hour promotional push for ‘Battling Boy’

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Paul Pope’s Battling Boy debuts this week, which is a big deal for all sorts of reasons. I like how publisher First Second has been trailing the last week of build-up through its Twitter feed, releasing postcard-like graphics pairing panels from the book with advance praise for the release.  As if we weren’t already salivating at the prospect of Pope properly commencing his first major project since 2006′s Batman Year 100.

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First Second announces ‘Delilah Dirk and the Blades of England’

"Delilah Dirk and the Blades of England" concept art, by Tony Cliff

“Delilah Dirk and the Blades of England” concept art, by Tony Cliff

Following the release of Tony Cliff’s 19th-century adventure Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, First Second has announced a second book, tentatively titled Delilah Dirk and the Blades of England.

As ROBOT 6 contributor Tom Bondurant recounted in Monday’s “Cheat Sheet,” the thief whose wit is as sharp as her sword debuted in 2007 in the self-published 28-page Delilah Dirk and the Treasure of Constantinople, which earned an Eisner nomination and a devoted fan base, leading Cliff to continue the character’s adventures online. That material was then collected in graphic novel form by First Second.

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New York bookstore offers personalized copies of ‘Battling Boy’

So, you’ve been waiting for Paul Pope’s Battling Boy in varying states of eagerness and frustration since first hearing about the project in 2006. Perhaps now you’ve seen actual physical proof that this near-mythical beast exists in the wild, and as such have allowed any despondency to be replaced again by sweet anticipation. Thinking, hey, looks like I’ll finally get my hands on this, you go ahead and pre-order it from your regular book pusher.

Well, in the immortal words of Warren Zevon, reconsider that pre-order: It turns out Pope has a special relationship going on with his local bookstore in Brooklyn, Word, and if you order it from them before Oct. 4, you can get an autographed and personalized copy instead, with the books then shipping on the official release date of Oct. 8.

Tempting, isn’t it? Just make it “To Mark, better late than never!”

(via Destroy Comics)

Mark Siegel hits the road (and the water) to promote Sailor Twain

Mark Siegel is going to be hard to avoid over the next few weeks, as he takes to the road and the Internet to promote his graphic novel Sailor Twain, a beautiful, moody story about the captain of a steamship on the Hudson River in the 1880s who has a close encounter with a mermaid. Siegel first published the book online, with the print edition set for release this week.

Siegel, the founder and editorial director of the much-acclaimed First Second Books, knows how to promote a book: He has set up a book tour that includes an actual sail on the Hudson (no word if there will be mermaids), an appearance at the Mark Twain House (no relation to his main character), and a talk at the Center for Cartoon Studies; he will also be at New York Comic Con, of course.

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