Comics make for a pretty great teaching tool. I, for instance, spent my childhood learning virtually everything that it was possible to know about bat-shaped boomerangs and the differences between lasers and concussive force beams, knowledge that has served me pretty well as an adult. But what if there was a way to learn more about, say, actual science?
Wonder no longer, dear reader. Starting next year, First Second is launching a new series of educational graphic novels, set to be released quarterly and focusing on a single subject in each volume --- and first up, we're finding out all about dinosaurs. And also coral reefs, I suppose, but really, I think we all know that we're here for dinosaurs.
Artists Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka and writer Boaz Lavie have produced a stunning work of fantasy in their new book The Divine, which follows the story of a US military contractor who goes to a war-torn South East Asian country to exploit its resources, and learns that ancient gods, mystic warriors, and even a dragon have taken to the battlefield. It's a visually sumptuous work, run through with darkness and wonder.
To mark the book's upcoming release, we asked the authors to come up with a reading list of other works that they would recommend, covering similar themes of magical realism, engrossing fantasy, and wondrous horror. These books may have influenced or inspired the creators of The Divine, or they may just be excellent company for it on your bookshelf.
If your life has felt a little empty ever since Avatar: The Legend of Korra came to an end in December, then we have some good news for you: First Second has announced that Korra and Avatar co-creator Bryan Konietzko will write and draw a series of graphic novels called Threadworlds, set to kick off in 2017.
Currently set for five volumes, the series is centered on Nova, a young scientist from a primitive planet that shares its orbit with four other worlds, and features a series of discoveries that tie the planets' fates together and sends Nova on a journey into space.
I think we can all agree that the one big problem with fairy tales is that they just aren't making a whole lot of new ones. Admittedly, they're usually meant for an audience that hasn't experienced a whole lot of stories, but still, it'd be nice to see someone exploring and adding to the genre --- which is exactly what Nathaniel Lachenmeyer and Simini Blocker are doing with their new graphic novel, Hop Hop Wish.
Exquisite Corpse is the English language debut of French cartoonist and hyphenate Pénélope Bagieu, a blogger, editorial illustrator, rock and roll drummer and honest-to-goodness knight (Well, a Chevalier des arts et des lettre; I don't think she carries a sword or anything).
Originally published in 2010 as Cadavre exquis, it's come to America courtesy First Second. It tells the story of Zoe, a twenty-something product rep at sales shows --- which mainly entails dressing up and posing in photos with handsy jerks in front of cars and suchlike --- who goes home to an unemployed loser boyfriend. A chance encounter with an older, reclusive author with a very weird secret (and even weirder publishing plan) introduces her to an odd new lifestyle that's better in many respects, although a loser boyfriend is a loser boyfriend, whether he's an uneducated, uncouth soccer fan or a wealthy narcissist.
Two weeks ago, First Second Books released The Sculptor, Scott McCloud's long-awaited, five-years-in-the-making, latest graphic novel. It's a complex and nuanced work that functions as both an emotionally rich personal statement, and a masterclass in graphic storytelling (not surprising, given McCloud's authorship of the seminal Understanding Comics, and its two sequels, Reinventing Comics, and Making Comics), and it's become an immediate commercial and critical success, shooting to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, and garnering a wealth of rave reviews.
The book tells the story of David Smith, a young sculptor living in New York City who makes a deal with Death that gives him only two hundred days to live, but allows him to shape any material, creating art with his bare hands from whatever he wishes… Which seems like a great deal, until he meets a mysterious woman named Meg, and falls desperately in love with her.
Since Scott McCloud first shot onto the cultural radar in the mid-80s, with his "reconstructionist" superhero series Zot!, he's been known as one of the modern masters of the comics form – his seminal 1993 volume Understanding Comics set a benchmark for intelligent analysis of graphic narrative language and technique (and became a go-to reference for college courses worldwide), his sequels, Reinventing Comics (2000) and Making Comics (2006) met with critical and commercial success, and his 1998 graphic novel The New Adventures Of Abraham Lincoln remains a fascinating and underrated attempt at melding the worlds of traditional and computer-generated cartooning. He's written a heaping handful of Superman stories, spoken and lectured around the world, and established himself as a comic creator, commentator, scholar and theorist without peer.
And this week, First Second Books is releasing his latest work, the five-years-in-the-making opus The Sculptor, the story of David Smith, a young sculptor living in New York City who makes a deal with Death that gives him only two hundred days to live, but allows him to shape any material, creating art with his bare hands from whatever he wishes…
The American Library Association (ALA) announced their yearly awards today in conjunction with the ALA Midwinter Conference in Chicago. In a groundbreaking move, a Newbery Honor has been awarded to cartoonist Cece Bell for her graphic novel El Deafo. This is the first time a Newbery Honor has ever been awarded to a comic. At the same awards, Jillian and Mariko Tamaki won a Caldecott Honor and a Printz Honor for their graphic novel This One Summer.
The last twelve months offered comic book readers a wide variety of work ranging from the most crowd-pleasing superhero epics to the most idiosyncratic of indies, and the return of old favorites to the emergence of exciting new talent. It was a busy and productive year for the industry, and one we’re pleased to celebrate with what we’re certain will be an uncontroversial, unenumerated list of awards that will prompt only resounding agreement and unbroken fellowship amongst our readers in the comments below.
Earlier this year, First Second released Box Brown's Andre The Giant: Life And Legend – a graphic novel biography of the wrestling legend that immediately jumped onto the New York Times bestseller list, and has been met with great acclaim from wrestling fans and comics critics alike. Our own Chris Sims described the book thusly:
"It shows Andre as a person. Not the giant with a dubious fifteen-year undefeated streak, not as the monster who was bodyslammed by Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III, not as the absent father that was put on blast by A Current Affair shortly before his death, and not even as the drinker and prankster behind the scenes in the world of wrestling. It shows him as all of those, as a person whose life was larger than everyone’s, but whose flaws were no bigger or smaller than anyone else’s. It makes the Giant relatable without ever undermining him. There’s a love in this book, but there’s an honesty, too, and it comes through in every scene..."
Recently, we got the chance to sit down and speak with Brown about the culture of professional wrestling, his artistic approach to comics, and how he went about adapting Andre's outsized life for a graphic novel.
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