First Second Acquires KISS NUMBER EIGHT, a Graphic Novel About Growing Up Queer in a Conservative Community

First Second Books has recently acquired Kiss Number Eight, a YA graphic novel written by Eisner-nominated author Colleen AF Venable and illustrated by newcomer Leela Wagner. Due out in 2016, here is First Second’s tantalizing description of the book:

Amanda can’t figure out what’s so exciting about kissing. It’s just a lot of teeth clanking, germ swapping, closing of eyes so you can’t see that godzilla-sized zit just inches from your own hormonal monstrosity. All of her seven kisses had been horrible in different ways, but nothing compared to the awfulness that followed Kiss Number Eight. An exploration of sexuality, family, and faith, Kiss Number Eight is a coming-of-age tale filled with humor and hope.

Here are a few words from the author, illustrator, and editor behind Kiss Number Eight:

Author Colleen AF Venable: “I wanted to write a hopeful book about growing up queer in a conservative community—both in the present day but also in the past—inspired partially by my older sister’s coming out and the reaction of my very Catholic family, both good and bad. (How Catholic you may ask? Let’s just say it includes multiple nuns…who wound up being incredibly supportive.) There’s this obsession to box things in: Blue on this side. Pink on this side. But gender lines are much more fluid. Love is love, and if we had any control over it the world would be a lot less interesting. The first time I saw Leela’s art it was like an emotional train ran me over, backed up and ran me over again. All I kept thinking was ‘she is going to be a STAR.’ It’s so rare to find someone who can do depth and emotion but also brings the humor to a new level. I’m so honored to being working with her on her first book!”

Illustrator Leela Wagner: “When I read the script for Kiss Number Eight, I had this fantasy about if I were a decade younger, and I got to read this comic for the first time when I was Amanda’s age, and how much it would mean to me.  I remember the teenage feeling of a book having been written for me, and I think probably it would be one of those ‘I want to make comics’ or possibly ‘I want to be Colleen AF Venable’ moments.  So it’s an understatement to say I’m pretty pumped that I was born when I was and I get to be a part of bringing this story into the world.”

:01 Senior Editor Calista Brill:Kiss Number Eight is beautiful, witty, sincere, and surprising. Colleen AF Venable brings her pitch-perfect ear for dialogue to the table and Leela Wagner meets her stroke for stroke with some of the liveliest, most beautiful cartooning around. They’re a dream team, and this is a dream project: a teen graphic novel that tackles the biggest topics in teen life: sexuality, family, love, loyalty, religion, and, of course, minor-league baseball.”

We’re pleased and honored to share a sneak peek at two of the pages below, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted about Kiss Number Eight’s release!



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    I met Colleen AF Venable at a con once and she was super nice. Between that and this book sounding awesome, I’m sure to...
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