First Second: In the Business of Entertaining Your Imagination
As the holiday season not only approaches swiftly but ambushes us and beats us over the head with the need for gifts, it's nice to be able to depend on not just individual authors but individual publishers to provide us with dependable, entertaining go-to options when deciding what to pick out for loved ones and friends. Over the last year or so, my favorite graphic novel publisher has quickly become First Second, which operates out of New York and has a real knack for putting out lovely, compact, well-designed editions of classics by a variety of great creators, from Eddie Campbell to Joann Sfar.
A few highlights great for kids but also fun for adults include Robot Dreams, Tiny Tyrant, Vampire Loves, volumes 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the hilarious Sardine series of SF pirate adventures, the multiple award-winning American-Born Chinese, and the meticulously researched, emotional Laika, about the first dog in space.
For adults, the amazing A.L.I.E.E.E.N. by the great Lewis Trondheim is still one of my favorite graphic novels of the past few years. Akin to work by the great Jim Woodring, this series of harrowing interlocking adventures by cute-but-deadly creatures is horrific and funny at the same time. Also highly recommended are Campbell's The Black Diamond Detective Agency and Italian master Gipi's Balkan Notes For a War Story.
It's rare that I like all of the books from one publishers, but First Second does it for me almost every time. They also have a highly creative and seamless website, with excerpts, screensavers, and all kinds of other fun stuff.