Alphabetical Index of First Second

Sweaterweather

Sara Varon’s Sweaterweather is more than a reprint. It includes the material from the 2003 Alternative Comics volume of the same name, her first book, but it’s now twice the size, with more charming encounters among simple, cute creatures (similar to her Bake Sale). I particularly appreciated the short notes introducing each story. Each provides some context to the piece, including when it was made and sometimes the author’s inspiration. Since the stories are often wordless, or light on text, […]

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Human Body Theater

Human Body Theater is a whimsical exploration of our own anatomy. Maris Wicks (Primates, Yes, Let’s) makes an important (but sometimes dry) subject amusing and educational. As seen on the cover, her anthropomorphized body parts are adorable! Eleven chapters cover the main systems of the body, including digestive, immune, skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, respiratory, excretory, nervous, reproductive, hormones, and the five senses. The digestive chapter may be a favorite of younger readers, since it covers poop, burps, farting, and vomit, as […]

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Last of the Sandwalkers

It’s been too long since Jay Hosler (The Sandwalk Adventures, Clan Apis) brought out one of his amazing true science comics. He’s got a gift for explaining complex biological topics in entertaining adventure stories. Last of the Sandwalkers continues that trend with the story of a group of beetles seeking to learn more about their desert civilization. Lucy, a scientist, is keeping a journal of their expedition, based on her idea to explore. She’s accompanied by the knowledgeable Professor Bombardier, […]

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Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula

The unique conceits of Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula by Andi Watson make a charming fairy tale for all ages, although I suspect adults will better identify with Decomposia’s struggles. Although a princess, she’s overworked. Her father stays in bed all day and has left all the work of running the kingdom to her, although he won’t recognize her contributions and effort. He’s also a hypochondriac and a food faddist, which means they can’t keep a chef. That’s important, because […]

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Sleepless Knight

Sleepless Knight by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost uses the characters from the Adventures in Cartooning series of kids’ books about making comics to tell a straightforward (if goofy) story. The only nod to the series’ history of instructional how-tos are a few endpapers showing how to draw the book’s four main characters: the Knight, Edward the horse, a rabbit, and a bear. The Knight and Edward are going camping. Although poor Edward is completely overloaded with unnecessary […]

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In Real Life

It’s a timely topic, the struggle of a young woman to play an immersive video game, but the recent explosion of debate over the place of women in gaming has unfortunately overtaken the events of In Real Life. It’s unfair of me to wish that the story of this graphic novel better reflected what everyone’s been forced to talk about over the past few months, but because the world has moved past this book, even though it’s just been released, […]

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Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey

One of the most amazing things about the explosion of graphic novels in the current era is how many great non-fiction comics have come out. One might argue whether or not book publishers are too focused on “graphic memoir” these days, but if I can read more stories like this bizarre true-life story of Ernest Shackleton, Antarctic explorer, I don’t mind. The early 1900s was the “heroic age of Antarctic Exploration”, where daring men struggled to find out more about […]

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The Zoo Box

First Second reaches out to younger readers with the just-past-a-picture-book The Zoo Box, written by Ariel Cohn. It’s a simple story — Erika and Patrick are left home to tuck themselves into bed, but they wind up opening the zebra-striped zoo box in the attic instead — so the lasting appeal is the simple, charming art of Aron Nels Steinke. The kids love animals, and they’re promised a trip to the zoo tomorrow if they behave. After the events of […]

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