‘When you get right down to it, democracy is only possible if you have people with different experiences and perspectives who are willing to talk to each other and work together.’
Why The People, the new book from First Second Books’ acclaimed World Citizen Comics series, looks at democracy and other forms of government, but it manages to be less a textbook and more a conversation about what people need, how government can be responsive to people and what it can enable. At a time when the democratic consensus in the United States is fraying, books like this, which are aimed at younger readers, are more important than ever.
Beka Feathers and Ally Shwed have both previously made books for the series. Feathers is a legal advisor who has worked in more than a dozen countries helping to draft constitutions and design transitional governments in addition to writing the book Re:Constitutions. Shwed is a cartoonist and editor best known for her adaptation of the book Fault Lines in the Constitution.
The book is in stores now, and the two were kind enough to answer a few questions about making an easily readable book about a very difficult and timely topic.
Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A | Beka Feathers and Ally Shwed”
The creator of ‘Nico Bravo,’ ‘Parade (with Fireworks)’ and more discusses his work in adapting Ian Rosenberg’s ‘The Fight for Free Speech’ into a graphic novel, his ‘comics graffiti’ approach to the art and more.
For the next 12 days, we’ll be looking back at the 2021 that was in the world of comics, with interviews, commentary and more. Check back often!
Mike Cavallaro is the artist behind the new title from First Second Books’ World Citizen Comics, Free Speech Handbook: A Practical Framework for Understanding Our Free Speech Protections. For people who know Cavallaro as the creator behind the acclaimed Nico Bravo graphic novel series, it seems like an odd project, but Cavallaro’s entire career has been marked by the way he moves from one project to another, adjusting his style and approach for each.
Cavallaro has drawn a number of graphic novels including a pair of fantasy stories with Jane Yolen (Foiled! and Curses! Foiled Again!), a dark science fiction tale with Adam Rapp (Decelerate Blue). Cavallaro made two different projects with J.M. DeMatteis (Impossible, Incorporated and The Life and Times of Savior 28). That’s in addition to his own work, which includes the Eisner nominated Parade (with Fireworks) and his work as a member of Act-i-vate.
Free Speech Handbook is based on Ian Rosenberg’s book The Fight for Free Speech, which looks at ten landmark court cases that defined the First Amendment and relates them to contemporary controversies and cases. Like all of the World Citizen Comics books, it tackles a complicated topic in a way that tries to give people an understanding of not just what it means, but of the history behind it and the people who took up the fight for freedom. Cavallaro was kind enough to talk about making nonfiction, what makes Mark Siegel such a great editor and how Frank Frazetta inspired his style for this book.
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The political cartoonist discusses her work with Beka Feathers on the latest title from First Second’s World Citizen Comics imprint.
Kasia Babis has been making comics for many years, but she gained a new international audience when she began contributing to The Nib about a wide range of topics. In particular, her comics about Polish politics offer an outsider’s take on events within the United States.
Babis has drawn the new book, Re: Constitutions, part of the World Citizen Comics imprint. Written by Beka Feathers, an expert in political development and post-conflict institution building who has worked in more than a dozen countries to help draft constitutions and design political transition, the book is about constitutions, but it’s also about what it means to be a citizen, our political landscape, the rights of individuals and what binds us together. It is a complex topic, and Babis’ art and designs help to masterfully juggle many ideas and complex topics in striking ways.
We spoke recently about her work and making the book while being an engaged citizen in a period of protest, as many basic rights are being eroded by an increasingly authoritarian government.
Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Kasia Babis on ‘Re: Constitutions’”
The accomplished illustrator discusses working on his first graphic novel for First Second’s World Citizen Comics imprint.
Tim Foley has had a long, accomplished career as an illustrator for a wide range of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and in books like the Who Was and What Was book series for Penguin Young Readers. But this year brings his first graphic novel.
For First Second Book’s World Citizen Comics imprint, Foley adapted the book What Unites Us by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner. The book of essays explored what Rather saw as what it means to love this country, the values that shaped it and the role of citizens. Foley is far from a beginning artist, but to make a long-form comic like this is a unique challenge, one that he makes look easy. He was kind enough to take the time to talk about What Unites Us, how he worked and wanting to make more comics.
Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Tim Foley on adapting Dan Rather’s ‘What Unites Us’ into comics”
The editorial and creative director of First Second Books discusses the origins of the new line of nonfiction graphic novels.
Mark Siegel is the artist and author of books like Sailor Twain and Moving House and the co-writer of the 5 Worlds series. He is also the editorial and creative director of First Second Books, where one of his major recent projects has been the release of World Citizen Comics. The series released its first two books this year, Unrig: How To Fix Our Broken Democracy by Daniel G. Newman and George O’Connor, and Fault Lines in The Constitution by Cynthia Levinson, Sanford Levinson,and Ally Shwed.
The books attempt to provide civics education, media literacy and historical context to current events, which are all too lacking today, but that damns the books with faint praise. They are also inventive, entertaining and informative, and artistically dynamic. Each stands in the very best tradition of nonfiction comics.
Today is Election Day in the United States, but that’s far from the only notable thing happening around the world. The people of Chile overwhelmingly voted to draft a new constitution to replace the one written when the country was ruled by a military junta. Poland has been rocked by days of mass protests, the largest since the fall of communism in 1989. Tanzania’s presidential elections were held last week, featuring an incumbent using government power to undermine the press and his political opposition. Protests continue in Belarus, Nigeria, Thailand and elsewhere.
We live in a moment of a great change and possibility, and Siegel was kind enough to mark the occasion with us by answering a few questions about why he launched the series, being global citizens and his ambitions for the project.
Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: First Second’s Mark Siegel discusses World Citizen Comics”
The cartoonist behind World Citizen Comics’ ‘Fault Lines in the Constitution’ discusses illustrating abstract concepts, her publishing company Little Red Bird Press and more.
Ally Shwed is the writer and artist behind Fault Lines in the Constitution, the second book in the World Citizen Comics publishing line at First Second Books. Originally a text book written by Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinson, the book takes a look at how the United States Constitution was drafted, the debates behind its writing, and how those arguments and decisions continue to reverberate today.
People might know Shwed for her work on The Nib, where she’s written and drawn a number of excellent pieces, or for her work as one half of Little Red Bird Press where she’s edited two anthologies, Blocked and the recent Votes for Women. We spoke recently about illustrating abstract concepts, the struggle to craft a style that looks easy and what we can learn from what the suffrage movement did during a pandemic.
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The creator of the ‘Olympians’ series discusses his work on ‘Unrig: How To Fix Our Broken Democracy,’ the first book released under First Second’s World Citizen Comics publishing line.
George O’Connor is the acclaimed cartoonist behind the Olympians series of graphic novels retelling the Greek myths. Readers may know him for his earlier comics like Journey into Mohawk Country and Ball Peen Hammer, but his new book, Unrig, is something of a departure for him.
Unrig: How To Fix Our Broken Democracy is the first volume of a new publishing line at First Second Books called World Citizen Comics. O’Connor worked with Daniel Newman, the president and co-founder of Maplight, a nonprofit that reveals the influence of money on politics. The book looks at how money has influenced American politics, how people and organizations with money have changed the system, and how individuals and local organizations have been fighting back. It’s an important book for many reasons, and I reached out to talk with George about the challenges of the project and what he learned from working on the book.
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New comics and graphic novels arrive this week from Tom Gauld, World Citizen Comics, Stan Sakai, John Layman, Al Ewing, Dan Slott, Sean Lewis and more.
Welcome to Can’t Wait for Comics, a look at what’s hitting your comic shop, bookstore or digital platform of choice this week. We’ve got comics, we’ve got graphic novels, we’ve got comic strips … and yeah, that’s about it. Comics of all shapes and sizes.
You can check Comic List to see what’s arriving in your local shop, and the comiXology new releases page for what’s available digitally. As always, you should check with your local shop on their hours, curbside pick-up and mask restrictions, due to COVID-19. Stay safe out there and enjoy some comics.
Continue reading “Can’t Wait for Comics | Chu, Joker Wars, Bliss and more”