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First Second Buys Oscar-Nominated Dam Keeper Graphic Novels

Kondo and Tsutsumi’s Tonko House sells two graphic novels set in world of award-winning short film.

New York, NY -- First Second, an imprint of Macmillan, has preemptively acquired world rights to two graphic novels based on the Oscar-nominated short, The Dam Keeper from Tonko House founders Robert Kondo and Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi, as well as a third graphic novel to be announced. The first will be on sale in 2016. This is the first book deal to be announced under Kondo and Tsutsumi’s Tonko House banner, which is simultaneously developing a feature film based on The Dam Keeper.

Robert Kondo and Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi, the founders of Tonko House, wrote and directed the critically acclaimed animated short film The Dam Keeper, which to date has played in over 75 film festivals around the world, won 25 awards, and was nominated for a 2015 Academy Award for Best Animated Short. The Dam Keeper books will pick up some years after the close of the short and will address two questions audiences were left wondering about following the short film: What happened to Pig’s parents? How and why did this world come to be at the mercy of this dark cloud? 

Mark Siegel, Editorial Director of First Second Books, says, “There are many virtuoso artists in animation today, and Kondo and Tsutsumi shine high among them. But they are also ultimately storytellers, with inner wellsprings spilling over with worlds and characters and visions and tales that need to be told. Their love and respect for books as well as animation is a delight to me, and it’s a great honor for First Second to join forces with Tonko House and these superb talents.”  The book deal was negotiated by Siegel and, on behalf of Tonko House, by Kane Lee.

“It’s a dream come true to have the opportunity to create a cinematic experience in the form of illustrated novels, with the pacing and richness we have learned with film.  Through these books, we are challenging ourselves to take our concept art and storytelling to the next level,” said Robert Kondo.

“The reason to continue telling stories in the universe of The Dam Keeper is a deeply personal story close to our hearts. We wanted to find a partner we could trust to adopt and protect our characters and worlds, a team willing to take that journey with us to make our tales the greatest they can be—and First Second were the people we fell in love with and hope to grow together with. We are beyond excited, and slightly intimidated, to join their award-winning family of innovative books and authors,” said Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi.   

Source: First Second Books

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.