Happy 10th Anniversary, FIRST SECOND!
Congratulations to book publishers extraordinaire, First Second Books, on celebrating ten whole years of making books!
They popped up on my radar back in maybe 2007 or 2008, at San Diego comic-con. It was the first time I encountered a book-maker who seemed to have a whole slate of the type of books I wanted to read: long-form, ad-free, and well-illustrated. Something more substantial than what I was familiar with from superhero comics, something with seemingly less pretension or navel-gazing than I expected from “respectable” “graphic novels,” something that seemed to include the qualities I enjoyed from cartoon strips and French comics. At the time, though, the only book I picked up was Cyril Pedrosa’s beautiful THREE SHADOWS. I probably bought it straight from the hands of Gina Gagliano, never imagining what sort of relationship we might have a few years down the road.
DELILAH DIRK AND THE TURKISH LIEUTENANT was, of course, published in North America by First Second. Don’t tell anyone at First Second, but based entirely on the image I had cultivated about them, it felt to me like there could not be a more suitable home for THE TURKISH LIEUTENANT among English-language publishers. I was and still am secretly thrilled that Delilah Dirk is counted among their roster of books. This could sound like I’m blowing smoke up someone’s ass or like deluded post hoc rationalizations, but that simply isn’t the case.
Now DELILAH DIRK AND THE KING’S SHILLING is coming out from First Second Books next month, and as we sort out book-launch details, there is no one more responsible for filling up my inbox as Gina Gagliano. The same person who once sold me THREE SHADOWS has, in more recent years, single-handedly coordinated marketing for books I made (inconceivable!), let me sleep on her couch (large, comfortable), introduced me to maybe thousands of amazing people I would never have met otherwise (I still do not know how to behave or what to say in these situations), introduced me to not a few books I’ve loved, and has always replied to emails quickly, directly, and with impeccable spelling (impressive because I assume Gina is – literally – always very busy).
But First Second is not just one person. It is… four, maybe five?
Editor Calista Brill is sharp-eyed, insightful, and honest. If Delilah Dirk 2 retains a few key signature qualities from Delilah Dirk 1, you have Calista to thank, because she was instrumental in course-correcting some story details in DD2 that were not quite working, and I couldn’t quite figure out why, myself. Calista could. Also: she cosplayed as DD at New York Comic Con in 2014, which blew my mind then and continues to do so whenever I remember it. Calista, I hope you are still getting use out of those boots.
Mark Siegel is the head of First Second and, if I recall correctly, he has a more interesting personal history than Brian Blessed. More on this subject I cannot reveal.
This has been a brief introduction to First Second Books. If you would like to celebrate this anniversary by reading a First Second book, well, be patient, wait a month, and read THE KING’S SHILLING.
If you are impatient, please, please, PLEASE read Maris Wicks’ brilliant HUMAN BODY THEATRE. “Oh, but Tony,” you say, “that sounds A) gross, B) like not much fun, C) weird, and D) like homework.” Well guess what, friend, it is a thoroughly charming, 100% delightful book that is not those things I said you said. As a person who loves knowing how things work and who also happens to have a human body, I was and am fascinated by Maris’ concise, accurate, and endearing revelation of the dark mysteries of how our hairy meat-blobs function. I intend to give a copy to every child I know (even some I don’t) and I hope you’ll do the same. Spreading this type of solid information and de-mystification among the next generation is good for humanity. Do it.
And buy my cartoon-adventure sword-lady book next month too.
Happy Ten-Year, @firstsecondbooks! I love you!