Saturday, April 01, 2006

First Second part, um, two

Ok, let's continue our preview of First Second's debut line-up with a look at the first of two books by the incomparable Joann Sfar, "Vampire Loves."
This, as hardcore Sfar fans probably already know (I'm sure there's one or two of you out there) collects four of Sfar's "Grand Vampire" stories into one thick volume. If my memory of Bart Beatty's massive TCJ article on Sfar is correct, the "Grand Vampire" and the "Petit Vampire" stories (of which one volume has been published in the US so far) concern one and the same person, only Vampires age backward, so the "Petit" stories actually take place after the ones in this book.

Anyway, the book looks full of Sfar's usual charm and wit, only this time he's concerned with romance, love and relationships and not so much with God, religion and tradition (as he was in "The Rabbi's Cat"). It promises to be one of the best in the bunch.

Next is another Sfar book, this time teaming up with Emmanuel Guibert for "Sardine in Outer Space." Unlike Trondhiem's "A.L.I.E.E.E.N.," this book is decidedly for kids.
The loose collection of stories follow young space pirate Sardine, her uncle Captain Yellow Shoulder and her friend Louie as they attempt to thwart the evil machinations of Supermuscleman and his sidekick Doc Krok. It's fast-paced, silly fun that doesn't really pause for things like character development or worry about gaps in story logic. It's the most family -friendly book of the bunch and should appeal to its intended audience without any real problem.Finally we have "The Lost Colony" by Grady Klein. First Second is pushing this book pretty hard, with a special trailer on their Web site (and on the the CD press kit) plugging the book. That's not terribly surprising as this is probably the only book that comes from a relative unknown.

The catalog compares "Colony" to the "Asterix" books, suggesting Klein is world-building here, creating a cartoon community that kids and adults will want to visit again and again. That's a tall order and it remains to be seen if Klein is up to the job. His art work is very dense and angular, with thick black lines, which, to me, seems more foreboding than inviting. I'm more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt though. It would be nice if we had an "Asterix" equivilant on these shores.

So, that's all six books. They all look nifty and suggest a wide range of material and genres meaning there's probably at least one title here that will appeal to you. Please do take the time to check them out when they hit stores this April. A publisher like this should be rewarded for taking such a gutsy chance in a business where indie publishers, even those with big money and firms behind them, come and go like the seasons.

One quick word before I sign off about the catalog. It's pretty nifty, and features comics by Jessica Abel and Tom Gauld and an essay by Paul Pope. If you happen to be lucky enough to see a copy lying around somewheres, be sure and nab it.


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