First Second

April 03, 2014 | 3:47 p.m.

‘The Undertaking of Lily Chen’ weaves a tale of ghostly love

'The Undertaking of Lily Chen' (featured image)
The Chinese tradition of ghost marriages — weddings performed for deceased bachelors — serves as the inspiration for “The Undertaking of Lily Chen,” the latest graphic novel from author Danica Novgorodoff. The ancient practice sought to partner recently deceased singletons for their journeys into the afterlife, but a modern resurgence of the macabre tradition in contemporary China has led to grave-robbings and even killings — setting the stage for Novgorodoff’s tale. “Lily Chen,” from First Second Books, follows a young man named Deshi whose elder (and more favored) brother dies in an accident. Deshi’s parents hold him responsible and send him on a quest to find a corpse bride so his brother won’t have to enter the afterlife alone. When he meets the eponymous Lily Chen, a sharp-tongued and impulsive young woman trying to escape an arranged marriage, he sees […]
Feb. 07, 2014 | 8:00 a.m.

Valentine’s Day gift guide: ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Sherlock,’ comics and more

Hero Complex Valentine's Day gift guide (featured image)
Do you and your Valentine put Clark Kent and Lois Lane to shame? Or is your greatest love a platonic one, like Sherlock and Watson or Finn and Jake? Whether your loved one is a gamer, a Whovian or a comics aficionado, the Hero Complex Valentine’s Day gift guide has you covered. Click through the gallery above and check out the list below for our selection of the best geeky Valentine’s Day gift ideas, sure to make your sci-fi-loving soul mate swoon. Under $25 “The Adventures of Apocalypse Al,” $2.99 per issue: J. Michael Straczynski’s new Joe’s Comics title follows plucky redhead Allison Carter, a resourceful private investigator tasked with saving the world from all manner of supernatural threats — zombies, imps, wizards, closet trolls and even undead ex-boyfriends, all while dispensing wisecracks with deadpan aplomb. If that winning combination […]
Jan. 23, 2014 | 5:00 a.m.

Exclusive: Farel Dalrymple’s ‘The Wrenchies’ cover revealed

'The Wrenchies' cover (featured image)
Imagine a world in which children brutally slay demons in order to survive, knowing that when they grow up, they’ll become demons too. “The Wrenchies,” an upcoming YA graphic novel from alternative comics star Farel Dalrymple, chronicles the adventures of the toughest gang of those children, the so-called Wrenchies. The book is due out this fall from First Second, and Hero Complex readers get a first look at the book’s cover, which shows the eponymous gang clad for battle. Dalrymple is best known for his award-winning comic series “Pop Gun War,” an urban fantasy about a boy who acquires a pair of angel wings and uses them to fly off on adventures. He also co-founded the comic anthology “Meathaus,” illustrated the Marvel limited series “Omega the Unknown,” written by novelist Jonathan Lethem, and authors the ongoing Web comic “It Will […]
Oct. 22, 2013 | 9:58 a.m.

‘This One Summer': Mariko and Jillian Tamaki bottle up adolescence

"This One Summer," by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki. (First Second)
Illustrator Jillian Tamaki and writer Mariko Tamaki remember what it feels like to be on the cusp of growing up, that moment in life where adult problems start to seep into summer days of bicycle-riding and seashell collecting. The Tamaki cousins open a window to that stage of life in “This One Summer” — initially titled “Awago Beach Babies.” Their much-anticipated graphic novel follows Rose and Windy, two girls whose families have always spent lazy summers swimming and building sand castles together in a sleepy cottage town by the beach. But this summer is different as they become wrapped up in the drama of the town’s teenagers, not to mention their own families. The book is due out in May. The cousins first collaborated on “Skim,” their 2008 graphic novel about a Wiccan, Gothic, Japanese-Canadian teenager grappling with depression and sexuality […]
Oct. 10, 2013 | 12:17 p.m.

‘Battling Boy': Paul Pope pits boy-god hero against monster siege

Paul Pope's "Battling Boy" (featured image)
“Battling Boy,” by alternative comics creator Paul Pope, follows the self-dubbed Battling Boy, the son of a warrior god sent to save a city under siege by deadly monsters. The young hero arrives in Arcopolis with a magic credit card, a book called “The Encyclopedia Monstrosity,” and a dozen enchanted T-shirts, each bearing a different animal totem, which allow him to become clever as a fox, strong as a Tyrannosaurus rex, powerful as a gryphon, etc. Meanwhile in Arcopolis, a girl named Aurora mourns the death of her father, the city’s jetpack-wearing hero Haggard West, and makes plans to take up his quest. “Battling Boy,” out this week from First Second Books, is filled with secret science laboratories, sci-fi ray-blasters, bandage-wrapped monsters and plenty of beast-bashing action. For Pope, the project is a mash-up of everything he loved as a child. […]
Sept. 30, 2013 | 7:00 a.m.

‘Fairy Tale Comics': Craig Thompson takes on a never-ending story

'Fairy Tale Comics' (featured image)
“Puss in Boots,” “Goldilocks,” “Snow White” and more classic fairy tales are getting makeovers in “Fairy Tale Comics,” a new anthology that features stories from all over the world. The book, which hit shelves this week, features 17 fairy tales, adapted by 18 cartoonists, including Gilbert Hernandez, Vanessa Davis, Jillian Tamaki, David Mazzucchelli, Luke Pearson, Emily Carroll and a dozen more. Not least among them is Craig Thompson, the Eisner- and Harvey-winning author of “Blankets,” “Habibi” and “Good-bye, Chunky Rice.” For First Second’s “Fairy Tale Comics,” Thompson adapted “The King and His Story-teller,” by 11th century Spanish writer Petrus Alphonsi. Thompson’s version, “Azzolino’s Story Without End,” follows a king greedy for stories and his court minstrel, weary for want of sleep. What results is an endless bedtime story that leaves both the king and his minstrel counting sheep. Hero Complex […]
Sept. 10, 2013 | 5:05 p.m.

‘Boxers & Saints': Gene Yang blends Chinese history, magical realism

'Boxers & Saints' (featured image)
It’s hard to know whom to root for in Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel diptych “Boxers & Saints.” At once humorous and heartbreaking, the books’ 500 combined pages examine both sides of the Boxer Rebellion in turn-of-the-century China, seamlessly weaving magic and history to tell two interconnected stories. “Boxers” follows Little Bao, a peasant boy who learns kung fu and harnesses the power of the Opera gods to free China from the “foreign devils” — Western soldiers and Christian missionaries. “Saints” tells the tale of Four-Girl, an unwanted daughter who finds acceptance (and a proper name — Vibiana) among the Christian missionaries and their Chinese converts. Both protagonists are haunted and inspired by visions of historical figures — Joan of Arc for Vibiana and Ch’in Shih-huang, China’s first emperor, for Little Bao. “Boxers & Saints,” out today from First Second […]
Aug. 28, 2013 | 1:49 p.m.

‘Delilah Dirk & the Turkish Lieutenant': Tony Cliff inks an adventure

'Delilah Dirk' (featured image)
Tony Cliff’s swashbuckling heroine Delilah Dirk finally has a graphic novel of her own. “Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant,” out this week from First Second Books, follows the globe-trotting, sword-swinging, treasure-stealing character across early 19th century Turkey, where she meets Erdemoglu Selim, a timid tea aficionado who finds himself unexpectedly caught up in Delilah’s misadventures (not to mention her flying sailboat). Cliff first introduced the character in 2007 in the 28-page short story “Delilah Dirk and the Treasure of Constantinople,” which earned an Eisner nod. Another installment found itself in the “Flight: Vol. 5” anthology. Delilah may remind readers of such adventure heroes as Indiana Jones, Lara Croft and even Adele Blanc-Sec. The daughter of a famous Greek artisan and a British ambassador, Delilah’s worldly childhood was filled with sword-fighting, archery and a dash of aristocracy — skills she puts […]
July 08, 2013 | 6:02 p.m.

Steven T. Seagle reveals the secrets behind ‘Genius’

'Genius' cover (featured image)
Comics writer Steven T. Seagle has had great success in his collaborations with Danish artist Teddy Kristiansen. Together they created the DC Comics series “House of Secrets” and the semi-autobiographical book, “It’s a Bird,” which earned Kristiansen an Eisner Award for best painter/multimedia artist in 2005. So it’s not surprising that they’ve teamed-up again for the graphic novel “Genius” from First Second Books. Ted Marx, the protagonist of Seagle and Kristiansen’s story, is a one-time prodigy physicist struggling to recapture his youthful glory when he learns about a profound discovery by Albert Einstein that the scientist kept secret into death. As Marx struggles with the knowledge he has acquired, he must also learn how to connect with his own wife and children. The Times’ David Ulin said the book “becomes a paean to the examined life, the life of the […]
June 18, 2013 | 2:44 p.m.

‘Primates’ graphic novel explores work of Goodall, Fossey, Galdikas

'Primates' (featured image)
Author Jim Ottaviani has made a name for himself writing graphic novels about some of the greatest minds in science, including Isaac Newton, Niels Bohr and Galileo Galilei. The Eisner Award nominee’s latest comics project, out last week from First Second books, is no exception. “Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas,” beautifully illustrated by Maris Wicks, explores the lives of the three greatest primatologists of the last century and the scientific research these women performed in Africa and Indonesia, studying chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. Ottaviani, a former nuclear engineer whose other graphic novels include “Two-Fisted Science: Stories About Scientists” and the New York Times bestseller “Feynman,” says that comics and science are a natural fit. Hero Complex caught up with Ottaviani to talk about science, comics and “Primates.” HC: What was the catalyst for this project? […]
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