First Second Books, an imprint of Roaring Book Press, which is division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, which also includes Henry Holt, St. Martin's Press, FSG and Tor, is launching an impressive list of six full color graphic novels this spring.  Editor Mark Siegal wants to publish a line of literate graphic novels that includes books for all age groups from eight-year-olds to adults -- and his list displays an impressive international flavor with books from European and Asian (in FSB's fall lineup) creators.


First Second Books has six graphic novels shipping in May followed by a second wave of titles in the fall.  First up is an ingenious volume by French artist Lewis Trondheim.  A.L.I.E.E.E.N.($12.95) is a 96-page full color volume, which appeared on earth under very strange circumstances.  Written in an alien language (with an alien alphabet) this is one of those 'wordless' graphic novels that depends entirely on the visual -- of course some readers well-versed in Klingon and other extra galactic languages may want to use this volume as their very own Rosetta Stone.


Eddie Campbell's work is well known to the American audience thanks to his collaboration with Alan Moore on From Hell.  FSB will publish his newest graphic novel, The Fate of the Artist ($15.95), a 96-page full color inquiry into the author's sudden disappearance, which makes use of all sorts of interesting movie and comic book related techniques including the newspaper comic strip, fumetti, and a Citizen Kane/The Killers-like hunting down of the Eddie's acquaintances, who provide a mosaic-like portrait of the artist.


Grady Klein, the creator of The Lost Colony ($14.95), has a background in animation and he brings a fluid cartoon-like style to this audacious tale of a mysterious island off the coast of 19th Century America.  Klein deals with key 19th Century American 'issues' such as slavery, unfettered capitalism, chauvinism, and greed in the context of a graphic novel that is at once both humorous and serious, but never boring.


French creator Joann Sfar, whose graphic novel The Rabbi's Cat has done quite well in U.S. bookstores in 2005, is responsible for two of FSB's spring releases.  His collaboration with Emmanuel Guibert, Sardines in Outer Space ($12.95) is a delightful all ages saga that will please kids and adults alike, while Sfar's solo effort, Vampire Loves ($16.95) effortlessly blends Eastern European Jewish mysticism with Gothic subject matter and visuals in a surprising tale of a genteel vampire named Ferdinand and his strangely romantic relationships with a variety of unearthly creatures including ghosts, golems, tree-folk, and, of course, other vampires.


FSB's other May release is Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda by J.P. Stassen.  This fearless and harrowing volume won the Goscinny Prize at Angouleme and it is easy to see why.  It tells the story of a teenage Hutu boy, who is in love with girl from the Tutsi tribe, during the genocidal horrors of 1994, when over 800,000 people were hacked to death in fewer than 100 days.  Switching back and forth in time Deogratis is unsparing in its depiction of the grip of madness and horror on one young boy and his country.