Our recent far-ranging conversation with First Second editorial director Mark Siegel covered not only the reaction to the National Book Award nomination for American Born Chinese (see 'First Second's Mark Siegel on 'American Born Chinese'') and sales on the first year's books (see 'First Second Response 'Better than I Had Imagined''), but also a look ahead to the company's 2007 releases.
Let's talk about 2007.
I've been told I talk too much about the future, but I'd be happy to. I just bumped into an editor from another floor in the elevator who said, 'I just got a peak at The Professor's Daughter. I think it's the most beautiful graphic novel in existence.' That was very cool and I would agree it's phenomenal. The script is by Joann Sfar and the artwork is by Guibert. They worked in reverse where Guibert was writing and Joann was drawing for Sardine, for example. On this one they switched roles. It's magnificent and it's also a very romantic story set in Victorian London. This professor's daughter falls in love with a 3,000 year mummy. It's really goofy but I think it's going to reach all different kinds of people. So that's one thing coming.
I mentioned also Tiny Tyrant, which is the next by Lewis Trondheim; he's one of the French star authors as well. That's a young 10 or 11 year-old boy story, I think. The premise is 'what if the most powerful man in the nation was a spoiled brat?'
We have Garage Band by Gipi; he's probably the greatest living Italian cartoonist at the moment. In terms of the sheer artistry of his work, you'd have to go back to Hugo Pratt to find someone of his stature. It's a really good book; really good adolescent angst kind of book, with these four kids in a garage band. They blow an amp and get into a whole load of trouble trying to replace it. It's a really strong story.
We've got the second installment of The Lost Colony. That story has got legs and it's going to grow as a series. It has a very significant fan base. We actually have interest in that particular series from all different quarters at the moment for licensing and rights.
We also have Eddie Campbell's The Black Diamond Detective Agency which is based on a screenplay. Now that's going to be one of our big titles we're rolling out for spring '07. That's a screenplay we bought from Wonderland Films, but then Eddie Campbell really did his thing on it. He took it and ran and twisted it and made his own and quite amazing.
Then we've got a few things coming in fall. I can mention three of them. One is Life Sucks, by Jessica Abel, and the art is by Warren Pleece. It's a queen of the vampires story, but it's much closer to Clerks than say Anne Rice. Warren Pleece is from DC. He's an incredibly talented British guy and he just did a beautiful job on this. The last pages are being colored right now and it's gorgeous. And it's a very, very tight script. I think it's probably the best thing Jessica has ever written.
And there's one by Nick Abadzis -- he's another Brit. The book is Laika, about the little dog that was sent up in Sputnik by the Soviet space program and is just sent off to die in space, really. It's both a tear-jerker and a really incredible historical fiction piece. All the characters are documented; he went to
The last one I should mention is Sara Varon. She did Sweaterweather for Alternative Press, and then Chickens and Cats, which was a picture book for Scholastic. This one is called Robot Dreams, which is a really enchanting wordless story. It has this very sweet style; it's a robot and a dog and they go to the beach. They're best of friends and they swim in the briny and then lay down in the sand and the robot rusts and can't move anymore (this is all in the opening scene) and the dog's basically abandoned his friend. These two stories then split and they continue throughout the book. What looks at first glance as a sweet, innocent, childlike story actually explores some real substance about friendship, about betrayal, about guilt and feelings. It's quite incredible stuff. I'm really curious to see how it's going to do. It's an experiment for a true all-ages kind of book.
How many releases are you going to have in 2007?
We do 12 a year, typically. In fall 07, we may have one book that may be late, so it may be 11, but typically we're doing 12 a year.
Are you going to release them in batches like you did in '06?
No, the plan with that was always for the first year we would do two batches, really thinking about the mainstream booksellers and the chains and trying to find a way to carve our presence out and push back a bit of space for First Second. But we're going to release them as two, two, and two. So each of the seasons [Spring and Fall] is a three-month window where two books get released each month.