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Best of 7 | The best in comics from the last seven days

bestof7-jan26

Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about, as it says above, “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out. So without further ado, let’s get to it …

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First Second unveils books by Doctorow, Wang and Dalrymple

InRealLifeIt’s been a busy week for First Second: Following on its announcement of The Stratford Zoo, which features animals staging a production of Macbeth, the publisher has revealed two more graphic novels.

InRealLife, written by Corey Doctorow and illustrated by Jen Wang, is a story about the human side of gaming—specifically, the “gold farmers” who make real-world money from gaming. Based in part on the experiences of Doctorow’s wife, who was a high-level gamer in the 1990s, the book revolves around a teenager named Anda who’s recruited into a fictional multiplayer online game, Coarsegold, and ends up as a player in the game’s underground economy.

The graphic novel will explore attitudes about gaming and gamers, and, Doctorow says in an interview at Kotaku, there is a larger point:

When you contemplate the microscale phenomenon of a world-in-a-bottle like an MMO and the toy economy within it, it equips you with a graspable metaphor for understanding the macroscale world of monetary policy. In other words: thinking about gold farming is a gateway drug to thinking about money itself.

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Comics A.M. | Animator and blogger Michael Sporn passes away

Michael Sporn

Michael Sporn

Passings | Animator and blogger Michael Sporn died Sunday in New York City from pancreatic cancer. He was 67. Sporn’s short film Doctor DeSoto, based on William Steig’s book, was nominated for an Oscar, and his The Man Who Walked Between the Towers won several awards. He created animated adaptations of a number of children’s books, including Lyle Lyle Crocodile and Goodnight Moon, for HBO. In comics circles, he was also known as a blogger who turned up cool bits and pieces of animation and art. [Variety]

Publishing | Torsten Adair crunches some numbers from The New York Times 2013 bestseller lists, looking at each category and, in some cases, each publisher separately and breaking down the charting books into easy-to-follow pie charts. [The Beat]

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Comics A.M. | This weekend, it’s the Black Comic Book Festival

Black Comic Book Festival

Black Comic Book Festival

Events | The second annual Black Comic Book Festival will take place this weekend at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. The lineup of guests includes Norwood Steven Harris, Grey Williamson and Tim Fielder. “It is the largest gathering of black comic book fans in the country,” says Schomburg Director Khalil Gibran Muhammad. “There is something for everyone from the aspirational 9-year-old illustrator, to the costumed superheroes, to the lifelong collectors.” [New York Daily News]

Creators | Ed Brubaker discusses the exclusive deal he and Sean Phillips signed with Image Comics, announced last week at Image Expo: ” It’s almost like having your own label or something. Just the fact that we can green-light our own projects and we have approval over format, everything. … I feel like we have such a core audience that seems to follow us from thing to thing, so let’s take advantage of that and really just experiment and go crazy and just be artists.” [IGN]

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Fantagraphics announces two new Lucy Knisley books

age-of-license-coverLucy Knisley was the toast of comics last year for her graphic-novel memoir Relish, so the announcement that Fantagraphics will publish her next two books is big news.

Both books are travel stories. The first, An Age of License, is the tale of Lucy’s trip through Europe, where she apparently has all sorts of adventures, meditates on the meaning of life and finds love. It’s due out this fall and will be about 200 pages, black and white with some color.

In the second book, Displacement, Lucy takes her grandparents on a cruise, meditates on the meaning of life and “tries to hold her family together,” which sounds intriguing. This graphic novel will also be black and white with some color.

There are a couple of things about this announcement that are worth noting. First is the move from First Second, which published Relish, to Fantagraphics. First Second gave Relish a strong marketing push — for a while it seemed there was a Lucy Knisley interview somewhere, often in a major publication, every single day, and she did a book tour as well. I think that’s helpful to a young creator, and I hope she’s able to stay on a roll with Fantagraphics.

The other thing is format. Relish had a lush feeling because it was in full color. To me, a black-and-white or black-and-white-with-color format signals a different type of book, maybe something a bit more serious, a bit more literary. It works well for many of Fantagraphics’ titles, as it did for Knisley’s first book, French Milk, and it will be interesting to see how it changes the feel of her work.

Fall is a long ways away, so while you wait, check out Knisley’s sporadically updated webcomic, Stop Paying Attention, which is funny and perceptive and really shows what she is capable of.

The full press release can be found below.

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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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Comics A.M. | Details emerge about ‘Kuroko’s Basketball’ threats suspect

Kuroko's Basketball

Kuroko’s Basketball

Legal | More details have emerged about Hirofumi Watanabe, the 36-year-old man suspected of sending more than 400 threatening letters to convention centers, retailers and other sites in Japan associated with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The newspaper Mainichi Shimbun revealed Watanabe studied anime at a vocational school but dropped out at age 20. Also, a search of Watanabe’s apartment turned up toilet bowl cleaner, a scrap of paper that said “creating hydrogen sulfide” and, not surprisingly, several volumes of Kuroko’s Basketball.

Oddly, Watanabe claims to be two different perpetrators who use two different accents, standard Japanese and a Kansai accent, and many of the statements he made in his letters and online postings, including that he was acquainted with Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki, appear to be false. Anime News Network also reports that when he was arrested, Watanabe had about 20 threat letters in his backpack, and that he told police he was jealous of Fujimaki’s success. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Hayao Miyazaki’s samurai manga may take a while

Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki

Manga | Hayao Miyazaki’s samurai manga will be serialized in the Japanese magazine Model Graphix, but progress is reportedly slow: Miyazaki, the director of classic animated films including My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, has completed just three pages. [Anime News Network]

Creators | Veteran Archie artist Stan Goldberg, who most recently has been drawing Nancy Drew graphic novels for Papercutz, was in a serious car accident recently, along with his wife Pauline. Tom Spurgeon suggests you send them a car. [The Comics Reporter]

Conventions | Cleveland’s small-press comics convention Genghis Con is this weekend, with a guest list that includes Derf Backderf (My Friend Dahmer) and Mike Sangiacomo (Tales of the Starlight Drive-In). [The Plain Dealer]

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Box Brown’s ‘Andre the Giant’ biography unleashes its cover

andre-the-giant-cropped

A lifelong wrestling fan, Bellen! and Everything Dies creator (and Retrofit publisher) Box Brown will make his graphic-novel debut in May with Andre the Giant: Life and Legend, a biography of the professional wrestler turned actor from First Second (ROBOT 6 interviewed Brown about the project last year). Grantland has a new Q&A with the cartoonist, along with a first look at the cover, which you can check out in full below.

“Every wrestler had a story about him, but wrestlers like to tell stories and like to embellish those stories and make them their own,” Brown tells Grantland’s The Triangle. “And they’re good at it! Even the stories that are generally accepted to be true about Andre have a mythic quality to them. I really wanted to convey his human side and that he was a multifaceted human being with all the same idiosyncrasies as anyone. In our lives, sometimes we are magnificent and sometimes we’re not so much and we’re everything in between.”

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‘Feynman’ creators reunite for Stephen Hawking biography

hawkingJim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick, creators of the bestselling Feynman, have reteamed for a graphic novel biography of renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, to be published in 2016 by First Second.

Titled Hawking, the book “will tell the story of how he made his place in the many worlds he inhabits, from the scientific to the celebrity… and how his discoveries have shown everyone how to understand our place in the universe.” Boing Boing has the official announcement and a preview.

“July 4, 2012 was a good day in physics and for Gordy Kane, Leland and me,” Ottaviani said in a statement. “Not only was the Higgs boson revealed to the world, but Gordy — a prominent physicist and author of The Particle Garden — won a long-standing $100 bet with his friend Stephen Hawking on whether there even was a Higgs. And in an email letting us know about these things, Gordy and his wife Lois also added an ‘Oh, by the way …’ They told us that Stephen had read and enjoyed our Feynman book (!) and invited us to come to Cambridge and talk about doing a book about him. We didn’t get on a plane that same afternoon, but we did start planning our trip, and this book. Like I said, a good day.”

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.

‘Same Difference’ first GN selected for World Book Night U.S.

same-differenceDerek Kirk Kim’s Same Difference and Other Stories is among the selections for the 2014 World Book Night U.S., becoming the first graphic novel to earn the distinction. (Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges was chosen last year for the U.K. event.)

Celebrated around the globe on April 23, World Book Night was established in 2010 as a way to encourage more adults to read. Every year since the event was first observed in the United States in 2012, more than half a million books are given to people who might not typically have an opportunity to read.

First published in 2004, Kim’s award-winning debut graphic novel is the story of a group of young people attempting to navigate adulthood and personal relationships.

“It’s amazing to be the author of the first graphic novel included in this celebration of books and reading,” Kim said in a statement. “I never expected the places my book would take me; it’s wonderful that now, over a decade since it was first published, my story is still reaching new readers.”

Same Difference is in good, and varied, company on the 2014 list, alongside such books as Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, Agatha Christie’s After the Funeral, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.

Comics A.M. | New ‘Asterix’ lands in middle of political debate

Asterix and the Picts

Asterix and the Picts

Graphic novels | France 24 examines the Thursday release of Asterix and the Picts — the first album by new creative team Jean Yves-Ferri and Didier Conrad — from a political perspective, noting that the story, in which Asterix and Obelix journey from ancient Gaul to Iron Age Scotland, has already become part of the current debate about Scottish independence. [France 24]

Creators | Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who spent a night in police custody last week on charges of “suspicion of causing a disturbance,” spoke to the press this week. Liming, who has more than 300,000 followers on his microblog account, first ran into trouble two years ago for one of his cartoons, but police told him that China has freedom of speech and he could continue drawing. Nonetheless, another of his cartoons, depicting Winnie the Pooh (a frequent cartoon stand-in for Chinese President Xi Jinping) kicking a football was deleted and suppressed by censors. “For them, drawing leaders in cartoon form is a big taboo,” the cartoonist said. “I think the controls on the Internet are too harsh. They have no sense of humor. They can’t accept any ridicule.” [Reuters]

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Comics A.M. | Acclaimed editorial cartoonist Roy Peterson dies

Roy Peterson

Roy Peterson

Passings | Roy Peterson, editorial cartoonist for the Vancouver Sun, died Sunday at the age of 77. During his 40-year career, Peterson won more National Newspaper Awards than any other Canadian creator, but he was remembered by his peers chiefly for his sense of humor and his mentoring of younger artists. [Vancouver Sun]

Publishing | CNN contributor Bob Greene profiles Victor Gorelick, the editor-in-chief and co-president of Archie Comics who began working for the publisher at age 17, in 1958. [CNN.com]

Creators | Craig Thompson talks about the short story he wrote and drew for First Second’s Fairy Tale Comics anthology, and he reveals an interesting fact: “For six years or so, my entire income was based on drawing kids’ comics for [Nickelodeon] magazine. Later on my career shifted to drawing ‘serious’ graphic novels aimed at adult readers, but I’ve always wanted to revisit my more fun and cartoony style.” Former Nickelodeon editor Chris Duffy is the editor of Fairy Tale Comics. [Hero Complex]

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Comics A.M. | Edmonton Comic Expo attracts 25,000 fans

 Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo

Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo

Conventions | The second annual Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo attracted 25,000 people over the weekend, up from about 14,000 for the inaugural event. [Edmonton Journal]

Conventions | Tom Spurgeon reports in on MIX, the comics expo hosted by the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio, this past weekend. [The Comics Reporter]

Conventions | And Lyndsey Hewitt was on the scene at Wildcat Comic Con at Pennsylvania College. [Williamsport Sun-Gazette]

Conventions | Jim Steranko and Kim Deitch will be among the guests at the Locust Moon Comics Festival in Philadelphia this weekend. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

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