A Cartoonist’s Diary

Mark Siegel: Part Four

Sending comments on two manuscripts. I’ve taken far too long to get back to these authors, but I wanted to make sure I applied myself carefully. One is in good shape, almost ready for an artist to sink his or her teeth into. The other one has some structural problems. I send my diagnosis and a couple of suggested prescriptions. I also make it clear that the author may have better solutions—I only ask that they take the diagnosis on board in their process.

New pages just arrived from Paul Pope—we all gather around the scanning station and drool. Some of these are his most beautiful pages ever. His monumental Battling Boy is for the ages. Paul has been working around the clock these past weeks, and is four pages away from finishing Book One. I call him to look over a revised palette from Hilary Sycamore. It’s gorgeous. It evokes Miyazaki and Moebius. This story is written for the youngest audience Paul Pope has ever attempted to reach, and it’s unbelievable.

A closer look at the "Humbaba" scene:

Next a meeting with Colleen Venable to look over some cover designs. Still working on a few of them that aren’t quite there yet. Looks like everyone is happy though, with the cover for Jerusalem by Boaz Yakin and Nick Bertozzi. That one clocks in at 400 pages, and it’s breathtaking.

Next I need to prepare for the Acquisitions Meeting, where editors present projects they want to buy. I have something big with an author I’ve wanted to work with for a long time. I pull together a financial picture, art samples and a pitch from the agent, and go up to the 10th floor.

To be continued in Part 5, the end of a day at First Second…

Mark Siegel is a picture-book creator, and the Editorial Director of First Second books. His latest graphic novel is Sailor Twain.