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First Second

Educating By Entertaining: The Success Of ‘Adventures In Cartooning’ With Co-Creator Andrew Arnold [Interview]

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Over the last few years, First Second's Adventures In Cartooning books have become something of a sensation. Created by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost, the at once entertaining, educational and even hilarious series follows the deeds of a magical cartooning elf and a knight as they help a princess to literally draw her way out of an encounter with a dragon and other harrowing scenarios; help Santa Claus inspire kids to trade their video games for books; assist an eccentric director in making a crazy movie; and go camping. Their blend of humor and clarity, welded to straightforward lessons on storytelling techniques, have met with acclaim from librarians and educators, and have inspired a generation of kids to start making their own comics with the drawing lessons and other activities built into the narratives.
We spoke to AIC co-creator Andrew Arnold about how he and his collaborators achieve the series' signature mix of smart, silly, and scholarly.

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Comics, Prose, And Virtual Realities: Cory Doctorow Discusses ‘In Real Life’ [Interview]

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In Real Life tells the story of Anda, a young girl who discovers that video games aren't always an escape from the problems of everyday life. Immersed in the fictional world of massive multiplayer roleplaying game Coarsegold Online, she learns that her life inside the game can influence and shape her life outside it, and vice versa.

Published by First Second in October, In Real Life is adapted by Jen Wang from a 2004 short story by Cory Doctorow. ComicsAlliance recently sat down with Doctorow to discuss the feeling of seeing his work adapted to comic form, the ever-shrinking divide between virtual and real worlds, and the unconscious elements of design and storytelling.

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Hire This Woman: Artist Heidi Arnhold

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In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”

Heidi Arnhold is a comic book artist (pencils, inks and colors) and illustrator whose work has included contributions to Archaia's Fraggle Rock comics and Tokyopop's Legends of the Dark Crystal and Star Trek: The Manga. A student of Savannah College of Art and Design's prestigious comic book training program, Arnhold's next work is an original graphic novel from First Second.

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Maris Wicks Leads You Into The ‘Human Body Theater’ [Interview]

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First Second is that rare thing in comics: a savvy publisher that is incredibly on the ball with future releases, announcing books up to two years in advance, and getting people excited about titles via promotion that's thorough, yet not in-your-face and bothersome. In that vein, I'm happy to share another of their upcoming books for 2015; Human Body Theater, a non-fiction biology guide by Maris Wicks (Primates), in which she acts as a master of ceremonies, leading readers through a theatrical revue of each and every biological system of the human body.

Starting out as a skeleton, the MC in Human Body Theater puts on a new layer of her costume (her body) with each "act." Wicks has long been passionate about science, having worked as as a science educator for elementary and middle-school students; a fact that's clearly evident when she talks about the book and its subject in our chat below -- and now that interest has combined with her artistic credentials to create this comics-format tour of the human body.

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Drawn To Other People: A Conversation With ‘This One Summer’ Artist Jillian Tamaki

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Jillian Tamaki’s work is a triumph of contradiction. It is lush, yet spare. Emotional, yet understated. Detailed, yet intriguingly simple. It is, at all times, astonishingly good. While reading This One Summer, which she created with her cousin, writer Mariko Tamaki, I found myself regularly putting the book down to better absorb the power of her pen. “Look at this!” I said, thrusting the book at nearby friends. “Look at that ocean! Look at those hands! Look at this part, where she does that flowy thing with the hair!” And my friends would look, and nod, and ask where I’d bought my copy so they could get one too.

As I strolled the aisles of the 2014 Small Press Expo, talk of Tamaki’s work was everywhere. Other creators I interviewed name-dropped This One Summer. Fans referenced Super Mutant Magic Academy, her soon-to-be-print-published webcomic, as a favorite. Aspiring artists called her an inspiration. She became, over the course of the weekend, an Ignatz Award winner. In the midst of this well-earned celebration, ComicsAlliance sat down with her to talk success, adolescence, and what’s coming next.

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First Second’s Spring 2015 Lineup Includes Dragons, Chocolate And Some Serious Stuff, Too

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The esteemed publisher of American Born Chinese, Laika, Friends with Boys, Boxers and Saints, Battling Boy, Relish, The Shadow Hero and much, much more First Second Books has revealed its lineup of new graphic novel releases for next spring. In keeping with the publisher's history, the slate covers a wide array of subject matter, from kids' adventure comics to explorations of violence and terrorism in the Middle East.

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Gene Luen Yang And Mike Holmes Conjure Computer Magic In ‘Secret Coders’ [Preview]

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As much as the kids who grew up with Harry Potter may want to become real wizards, there's really not much it'll ever happen. But a new work for middle schoolers focuses on a secret school that teaches some real-world skills (or maybe a slightly amplified version). The new graphic novel Secret Coders, by Gene Luen Yang (The Shadow Hero) and Mike Holmes (Bravest Warriors), makes computer programming an adventure.

“There’s something magic about coding, especially old-school coding,” Yang told Wired. “When you type these words into this machine, something kind of magic, something kind of crazy happens.”

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‘Laika’ Creator Nick Abadzis Returns With ‘Pigs Might Fly’, A Steampunk Adventure With Jerel Dye

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Pigs and airships? No, it's not a new Miyazaki movie -- it's Pigs Might Fly, a new graphic novel, written by Eisner Award-Winning Laika cartoonist Nick Abadzis, and drawn by cartoonist Jerel Dye, coming from First Second in 2016.

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First Second to Publish Six Volumes of Hit French Martial Arts Fantasy Series, ‘Last Man’

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Speculation about publishers First Second acquiring the rights to a book by French comics superstar, Bastien Vivès, first began swirling in March, and while I'd like to say I'm above such speculation, when it concerns my favourite authors, I'm just as readily excitable as anyone else. July saw things take a more solid shape, as a listing for the first volume of Last Man, Vivès' co authored series with Balak and Michael Sanlaville, showed up on various book retail sites, with a projected release date of March 2015. Happy news, but I'm here to bring you even better: not only are First Second translating Last Man, they've bought the rights to the first six volumes of the series, and will be publishing three books each year for the next two years.

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Battles, Ballads, And Comics As Music: A Conversation With Paul Pope [Interview]

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Paul Pope is one of comics' most respected and versatile talents. Over the past three decades, he's produced an amazing body of work, from his breakthrough self-published THB series to a number of acclaimed projects for DC/Vertigo. Last October, he unleashed his long-awaited Battling Boy graphic novel, which became a bestseller and won "Best Publication For Teens" at the Eisners last month. This coming September, First Second will publish the first of three tie-in volumes, The Rise Of Aurora West, written by Pope and J.T Petty, with art by David Rubin.

We sat down with Pope at the First Second booth at San Diego Comic-Con, the morning after the Eisners ceremony, and had a wide-ranging conversation about his creative inspirations, the changing face of the comics market, and his new and upcoming projects.

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