Episode 158: A Publisher Spotlight on First Second Books

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“Ruining series since 2015”

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This week on the podcast, Derek is joined by Gwen for a rollicking good time with First Second books. This is another Publisher Spotlight episode for The Comics Alternative — the sixth of the year, so far — and this time, they focus on seven fall releases from First Second, including:

Gwen and Derek begin by discussing three works whose subject matter is more “mature” than the rest — although, as the they point out, the vast majority of First Second’s output can be enjoyed by all ages. Both Battling Boy: The Fall of the House of West and Last Man: The Chase are the latest volumes in ongoing adventure series, while Omaha Beach on D-Day is a hybrid text (comics, photographs, and short essays) surrounding the famous war photojournalism of Robert Capa. But most of the other books that Gwen and Derek review are part of series, as well. Yang and Holmes’s Secret Coders is the first volume in a new series centered on math and computer programming, combining instruction with humor and adventure. Similarly, The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review Presents Romeo and Juliet is a fun adaptation introducing young readers to Shakespeare’s tragedy and, as Derek points out, doing what the old Classics Illustrated professed to do, but much more effectively by taking its readers on their own grounds. Lendler and Giallongo’s latest book is also part of a series, following up last year’s volume on Macbeth. Yet another instructional adaptive work, and also part of a series, is Fable Comics. This book comprises adaptations of twenty-eight different fables from around the world, and from a wide variety of artists. It is a companion to Chris Duffy’s previous edited collections, Nursery Rhyme Comics and Fairy Tale Comics (also from First Second). Also combining fun and education is one of Gwen’s favorites of the week, Maris Wicks’s Human Body Theater. For anyone interested in biology and the functioning of our anatomy, both young and old, this book should be essential. As Derek points out early in this episode, First Second books are tried and true staples of the podcast’s programming. But for this week, the publisher — one of their favorites — gets the guys’ (or guy and gal’s) undivided attention.

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Get your copies of the books discussed on this Publisher Spotlight:


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The Comics Alternative is a podcast and blog focused on the world of alternative, independent, and primarily non-superhero comics.

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