Graphic novels, more commonly known as comics, have maintained a large popularity for all ages and backgrounds. We can thank First Second Books, an imprint of Macmillian Publishers, for fueling the supply.
First Second Books is an independent trade press, founded in 2005 and located in New York City. Behind the brand stands a small, devoted team of seven individuals who edit, publish, and advertise an average of 20 to 25 comics per year. First Second Books is well known for producing high quality comics that appeal to a large audience of comic fans. In fact, all that First Second publishes is strictly comics; however, the comics are diverse in different aspects, including the fact that many stories are published from around the world. Genres span from children’s to adult nonfiction and this range allows any age to enjoy First Second’s collection of graphic novels. The only material that’s not allowed: pornography or “gratuitous” violence. As broad at this is, not everyone reads comics, so their market is not as large as conventional publishers.
There’s not a lot of explicit information about funding for First Second Books, but they are a popular independent comic press and seem to be doing well on their own. I’m also sure that being an imprint of Macmillan has its advantages, as well.
First Second maintains its own blog and stays connected to readers through twitter, tumblr, Facebook, etc. As a fairly popular indie publisher, articles can be found celebrating its 10-year anniversary, new series to be published, and spotlight books. Their presence is also prevalent at comic cons, as they stay involved in the comic community.
Successful graphic novels are necessary to keep publishers like First Second Books relevant. For them, American Born Chinese by Gene Luan Yang thrust them into the spotlight. This novel was published in 2006 and is still on shelves!
Here’s 5 out of 29 notable awards/nominations:
Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Books of the Year
National Book Awards Finalist
New York Times bestseller
Chinese American Librarians Association Best Book Award
2007 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album: New
Comics and manga are incredibly popular industries and have millions of fans worldwide, but, the competition is fierce, especially for genre specific publishers, which First Second is not. Standing out requires publishers to find their niche in the industry and First Second seems to have found theirs with stories that have a personal element, regardless of genre. Balancing reader taste and staff taste has led them to improve each year’s publication.