Exclusive: First Second Announces 'One Year at Ellsmere'

Over the years, the profile of writer and artist Faith Erin Hicks has risen significantly, and for good reason. She's even won an Eisner. But one could argue that's only the beginning. Between The Nameless City's third book dropping earlier this year and the recent beginning of her tenure as writer on Avatar: The Last Airbender comics, Hicks' star is still rising, and First Second will continue to help in that endeavor by releasing One Year at Ellsmere.

Originally published in 2008 as The War at Ellsmere by SLG, the book has been out of print for some time. First Second will be bringing it back into print in 2020, but not as it originally published. The new book will have a new title (One Year at Ellsmere) in addition to being entirely re-inked, and it will also come in full color with a new package.

Here's how First Second describes the book:

"When studious Juniper, 13, wins a scholarship to Ellsmere Academy, she expects to find a scholastic utopia at the exclusive boarding school. But Ellsmere isn't what she expected: Her roommate is bizarre, there's a scary legend about a monster in the forest next to the school, and Ellsmere's top student is out to destroy her."

ComicBook.com caught up with Hicks to talk about the new book, why she's completely redoing the ink, and what's coming next.

"[The War at Ellsmere] came out back in 2008 and sold like 2000 copies," Hicks says. "I'm really excited that I get to return to it now 10 years later and use the skills that I have now to upgrade the art, to make it look beautiful and modern. And then for it to hopefully find a brand-new audience when First Second publishes it.

"One thing I've noticed about this book is it's not like it was popular or it sold a lot of copies or made me any money. But when I do signings, I always get a couple young women who come up to me and they had these old tattered copies of The War at Ellsmere [...] And they're basically like, 'This book was the very first comic that I read in middle school. And it's always been very special to me.'"

Hicks says she's always excited to see those fans, and hopes republishing in a new edition continues the trend. "That's, for me, the legacy of this book," she says. "So I'm excited for it to hopefully find a new audience."

As for why she's revisiting this specific book now, it all comes down to timing. "It's all about these girls and their feelings and their relationships," Hicks says. At that time, she says "there weren't a lot of comics that were being published for girls." Now that the market is really booming for this sort of title, the book can have an entirely new lease on life.

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But if you're hoping for Hicks to return to another old work in the same manner, don't get your hopes up. "I always want to be moving forward in my career," Hicks says when asked whether other titles would get the same treatment. "This is just a special case."

You can check out some of the re-inked pages, as compared to their original pages, below:

OLD

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(Photo: Faith Erin Hicks)

NEW

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(Photo: Faith Erin Hicks)

OLD

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(Photo: Faith Erin Hicks)

NEW

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(Photo: Faith Erin Hicks)