Comic Love: Ten Years of First Second Books

Being in business for 10 years is a huge accomplishment, and it is an even greater feat when a company can maintain an exceptional level of quality for a decade. The prestigious graphic novel publisher :01 Books (First Second) is this rare kind of company, and in 2016 they are celebrating their tenth anniversary! To mark the occasion, we at Comicosity have chosen to highlight ten of First Second’s greatest works!

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THE SCULPTOR by Scott McCloud

The acclaimed comic book auteur, Scott McCloud, whom is significantly responsible for galvanizing the medium of comics as something that is learnable and teachable from his exalted works such as Understanding Comics, Making Comics, and Reinventing Comics has released an original graphic novel that speaks on his own turmoils and challenges with artistry. Using the faustian bargain, McCloud has produced a story that holistically inhabits the psyche of a tormented artist and the struggles of life, love, and one’s own legacy. The Sculptor wonderfully plays on urban aestheticisms –and their marketplace– while still offering a genuinely lovely story with deep, somber undertones. – Roderick Ruth

The Sculptor on Amazon

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BATTLING BOY by Paul Pope

Paul Pope has made a name for himself as one of comics’ modern masters, and Battling Boy is amongst his finest moments as a creator. One superpowered boy must fight (er, battle) monsters, other monsters, and more monsters in an effort to help save a city that has lost its finest hero. Pope’s furious and colorful art lends itself wonderful to this coming of age story full of mystery and explosions. – Sam Marx

Battling Boy on Amazon

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THE WRENCHIES by Farel Dalrymple

What starts off as a graphic novel that you think is a correlation of other stories like Lord of the Flies, Peter Pan, and The Goonies, quickly becomes its entirely own strange entity here in The Wrenchies. Farel Dalrymple has created some very dark and disturbing pieces in this story and eschews the entire child adventure story into a bleak dystopia of violence and fantasy. There is mischief, magic, vulgarity, and some psychedelic concepts being dealt with here in these pages, and when coupled with Dalrymple’s amazingly gritty style, makes for a more fierce impression to the reader about a story that metaphorically is coping with the loss of innocence. – Roderick Ruth

The Wrenchies on Amazon

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LITTLE ROBOT by Ben Hatke

Ben Hatke serves up an all ages read that is fun and entertaining, light-hearted and sweet in Little Robot, bringing readers a story that is accessible for everyone. Hatke’s characters — even the robots — are organic and filled with life, inviting the readers in to stay a while and enjoy a story is strong enough that children could just as easily share it with their parents and grandparents as could happen the other way around. – Doug Zawisza

Little Robot on Amazon

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THE RISE OF AURORA WEST by Paul Pope, J.T. Petty, David Rubín

A prequel to Paul Pope’s Eisner Award winning graphic novel Battling Boy, The Rise of Aurora West emerges as a definitive supplement to the activities that transpired in Battling Boy. The titular character is a different skill set than Battling Boy, and is in some ways much more relatable than the preceding novel. Aurora’s wit and determination is incredibly charming and when juxtaposed with her father Haggard West, only enriches the connection to the Battling Boy series, but assuredly can be read as a stand-alone graphic novel. While Pope’s artwork is sorely missed from this, Rubin is able to provide a faithful rendition that keeps the world of Acropolis somewhat consistent across these graphic novels. This is a must-read for teens and older readers that are looking for an unabashed and unfettered adventure. – Roderick Ruth

The Rise of Aurora West on Amazon

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ANDRE THE GIANT: LIFE AND LEGEND by Box Brown

Whether you’re a wrestling super-fan or just a fan of The Princess Bride, writer and artist Box Brown takes readers on a path through the life of prolific entertainer Andre the Giant. Brown’s bold art style lends itself perfectly to the larger than life personality of Andre, but also allows a look into the subtler side of this huge man living in pain. – Sam Marx

Andre The Giant: Life And Legend on Amazon

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SWEATERWEATHER & OTHER SHORT STORIES by Sara Varon

Sweaterweather & Other Short Stories is an engrossing read that is as cozy as a comic can be. Varon’s storytelling style will make you feel comfortable and what she shares about her work and history as a cartoonist will keep you glued to this book. – Aaron Long (find out more about Sweaterweather here)

Sweaterweather & Other Short Stories on Amazon

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THE DIVINE by Asaf Hanuka, Tomer Hanuka, Boaz Lavie

The Divine tackles the ugliness of war with such vibrancy and beauty it’s hard to not want to jump right in the thick of things with Jason and Mark, two army friends on a military contract in South-East Asia. Their targets aren’t the usual baddies though – they are sent to fight two ten-year-olds at the heart of a civil war. This book meets at the intersection of modern war and ancient magic that will leave you wanting more. – Sam Marx

The Divine on Amazon

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JULIA’S HOUSE FOR LOST CREATURES by Ben Hatke

While Julia’s House For Lost Creatures is ​”technically”​ a children’s book, let’s face it – kid’s books are just comics for youngins and First Second’s production values transcend age and medium. Ben Hatke is a great visual storyteller and Julia’s House is a wonderfully imaginative place to visit for readers of any age. – Aaron Long

Julia’s House For Lost Creatures on Amazon

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ANNA BANANA AND THE CHOCOLATE EXPLOSION! by Dominique Roques, Alexis Dormal

This one is another children’s book, and like Julia’s House the quality of this book is very high. This story is great for young kids as Anna Banana and her merry crew of rabble-rousers go hog wild in the kitchen and, well, it’s called Chocolate Explosion for a reason. Dormal’s artwork is exceptionally charming and this one is just plain fun. – Aaron Long

Anna Banana And The Chocolate Explosion! on Amazon

*Amazon links provided as a convenience. Comicosity receives no revenue from any related purchases.

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