As a former editor myself, I was naturally drawn to Calista Brill’s first-hand account of a day in the life of a First Second editor at the company blog. But as I was reading it, I kept going, “Hey, wait! They’re publishing that?!”
Like, I didn’t realize First Second was publishing a new book by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, the creators of Skim. But here it is: Awago Beach Babies, due out next year. And Calista shows off some tiny samples of art from the book she is currently editing, Relish, a book about food by Lucy Knisley, which seems like the perfect project for Lucy and a bit of a departure for First Second.
Another project I didn’t know about — but that I’ll be following from now on — is Jerusalem, written by filmmaker Boaz Yakin and illustrated by Nick Bertozzi. It’s the story of a Jewish family at the time when Israel was just becoming an independent country. Also coming up: new books from Gene Luen Yang and Paul Pope and a sequel to their popular anthology Nursery Rhyme Comics, this one featuring fairy tales.
With a lineup like that, being an editor at First Second is my new dream job, even if the microwave in their kitchen isn’t working properly. (Here’s a recent CBR interview with Calista and her boss, Mark Siegel, that mentions a few of these projects.)
Several Brooklyn, N.Y. creators launched Trip City, a new “literary arts salon” website, this week, featuring free content by the likes of Dean Haspiel, Seth Kushner, Joe Infurnari, Kevin Colden, Chris Miskiewicz, Jef UK and many more.
“TRIP CITY reinvents the online arts collective with a virtual playground for a diverse set of accomplished and highly individualistic creators,” said Trip City founder Dean Haspiel, “spanning every borough of artistic endeavor from the visual arts to literature, music, video and beyond.”
Comis wise, there’s already a bunch of stuff to check out, including Dean Haspiel’s Bring Me The Heart Of Billy Dogma, Chris Miskiewicz and Kate McElroy’s Adrift, Joe Infurnari’s Memoirs of the Kid Immortal, Nick Bertozzi’s Lad Zeppelin, Kevin Colden’s Baby With A Mohawk and more. In addition to comics, the site will also feature profiles, interviews and podcasts with everyone from Moby to Henry Rollins to Michael Moore, who is interviewed by Dan Goldman in the site’s first podcast.
The release Haspiel sent out says that the group has future plans to take some of the content and perform it live on the road. “Working with so many Brooklyn locals, we have this great sense of community right out of the gate,” said Jef UK. “Then, when we take the next step and turn Trip City into a live event—which is in the works—our tribe is already gathered, so to speak.”
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item.
This week’s a big week for me, so with only $15 I’d have to leave a lot of things back and make some hard choices. My five under $15 would start with Joe The Barbarian #8 (DC/Vertigo, $3.99) by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy. I’m a big fan of both guys, but I have to admit the story went over my head the same way The Filth did in serialization. Be that as it may, I’ve kept buying the issues just to amaze myself with Murphy’s art. Now that the complete series is out, I’ll re-read it all in one sitting and hope for the best. Second would be the fourth issue of Incognito: Bad Influences (Marvel/Icon, $3.50) because, well, Brubaker and Phillips can do no wrong. After that I’d get Secret Warriors #25 (Marvel, $3.99) because Hickman’s writing here plays up to all the things I like — espionage, secrets, and overly-complicated story arcs. Over on the DC side I would pick up Brightest Day #21 (DC, $2.99). This series has ebbed and flowed for me, depending on which story arcs are brought to the fore in each issue… but I’m excited to see what happens and that’s what it should be about, right? My last pick is a cheat — I only have some change left, but thankfully the Fear Itself Sketchbook (Marvel) coming out is a free promotional item. I’ll take Stuart Immonen sketches any day!
Comic strips | In what Michael Cavna so accurately describes as “a seismic shift” for the world of newspaper syndication, United Media has announced it will outsource all editorial, production, sales, marketing and distribution functions for its 150 comics and other features to Kansas City-based Universal Uclick. (Tom Spurgeon likens the move to Marvel outsourcing all of its titles to DC Comics.) The transition begins immediately, and is expected to be complete by June 1. United Media’s stable of strips include Get Fuzzy, Pearls Before Swine, Rose Is Rose and Marmaduke. Universal Uclick’s lineup includes Doonesbury, Non Sequitur, Garfield, For Better or For Worse and the recently added Peanuts and Dilbert. [Comic Riffs]
Passings | Anant Pai, who’s credited with launching India’s comic industry in the 1960s with his series Amar Chitra Katha (Immortal Picture Stories), died Thursday of a heart attack. He was 81. Affectionately known by his fans as “Uncle Pai,” he also created the children’s series Tinkle and had spent the past three years working on Glimpses of Glory, which chronicles 40 defining moments from Indian history. After falling and fracturing his foot, Pai underwent surgery of Saturday, which prevented him from attending the first Indian Comic Con, where he was to be given a lifetime achievement award. [The Associated Press, India Real Time]
At the First Second blog, Nick Bertozzi takes us through a page of his newest graphic novel, Lewis & Clark, which is due out later this spring—including lessons learned:
I tried using a new roughing technique for LEWIS & CLARK, putting together all of my layout using Adobe Illustrator. It’s great for positioning text exactly where you want it, but drawing right onto a computer is a crazy idea. Just think, you can draw your image up to 800% magnification which means the awesome detail that you’re drawing on Meriwether Lewis’s epaulets will look like a muddy splotch at 100% magnification. Stay AWAY from the zoom tool is my advice here.
Incidentally, I have an advance copy of this and it looks awesome—it’s a historical tale told with a light touch and plenty of humor, and it’s well worth checking out.
First Second Books has just added a winter list to its traditional spring and summer releases. It’s just two books, but it’s nice to see a quality graphic novel publisher expanding its offerings rather than going into retreat. Here’s the 411, straight from First Second marketing coordinator Gina Gagliano:
Most Adorable Book of the Season: Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke.
Here’s what happens in Zita the Spacegirl: Zita accidentally gets transported into space, and she has to figure out how to get home and also make friends with many alien robots and a giant mouse along the way. Also includes: bonus space-chickens!
Book Most Likely to Make You Grateful that You Are Inside by a Fire and Not Trekking across the Country Having No Idea Where You’re Going: Lewis & Clark, by Nick Bertozzi
Here’s what happens in Lewis & Clark: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark explore the American West, in a non-fictional sort of way! Also includes: lots of expansive landscapes that make you realize just how intimidatingly big the American West was before we all started flying across it in six hours.
There’s more at the links, but that’s the gist of it. Look for both in February, but you can read previews at the links. And while I’m saying nice things about First Second, it’s nice to see a publisher get the website thing right, with a clean, useful catalog page for each book that’s up well in advance of publication.
Tomorrow his M.O.D.O.K. story for Marvel’s Strange Tales anthology sees the light of day. But (in a sublime/ridiculous pairing that could be sliced either way depending on how you look at these things) today, Nick Bertozzi, artist of Glenn Eichler’s graphic novel Stuffed! and writer-artist of The Salon, is offering a peak at a very different project: An abortive adaptation of The Awakening, Kate Chopin’s classic 1899 novel.
Chronicling the struggles of New Orleans native Edna Pointellier as she struggles against the oppressive constraints society places on women, The Awakening seems like a perfect fit for Bertozzi, whose comics are often period pieces centering on the clash between history and modernity. Alas, all Bertozzi can offer is a 27-page glimpse of what might have been: What began as a labor of love for Chopin’s novel ended prior to completion, he writes, when he got “distracted by paying work.” The first two installments of a promised five-post series revealing what he drew prior to that point may be found here and here.
A few weeks back when I heard about Iraq War Stories, Nick Bertozzi’s project with his School of Visual Arts Comic Book Storytelling Workshop students, I wanted to immediately interview him. Here’s the advance write-up that caught my attention: “I’ve been teaching cartooning at The School of Visual Arts for a while now and this past year I asked the students in my Comic Book Storytelling Workshop to adapt stories that take place in Iraq during the War. Most of the students found stories from bloggers on the web, a few adapted stories told to them by friends, and one student, himself a veteran of the Iraq War, wrote and drew a story based on his own experience.
My good friend Dean Haspiel was wise enough to suggest that we put the stories up on the internet for all to see at the internet comics site that I’m part of, ACT-I-VATE.com.
The purpose of this anthology is not to wave a flag for or against the war—though some of the stories certainly have a political bent—instead, I asked the students to give me stories that would give the reader a sense of how the War has affected individuals, both American and Iraqi.”
The anthology series will release its second installment this Sunday.
Tim O’Shea: The anthology series will feature 13 stories ultimately–selected from the Comic Book Storytelling Workshop, how many students in total submitted stories?
Nick Bertozzi: I’m waiting to hear back from two more students who are making very slight tweaks to their comics, so there may be 15 comics when we’re all done.