The human fascination with death is as old as mankind itself.  From the Egyptians to the Greeks and from ancient myth to American Gothic stories, death has provided us with many lenses for examining life.  Today, we are pleased to announce that First Second plans to publish The Land of the Dead by writer Brian McDonald and artist Toby Cypress. The book is described as a “narrative storytelling guide” that examines the role of death in stories throughout history as well as how we tell stories set in the afterlife.

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According to McDonald, who has worked in film, television, and comics for the last 25 years, “This is one of those books you write because you want to read it and you can’t find it out there.” In the past, McDonald has worked as a story consultant for Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios and currently serves as a teacher at TheFilmSchool Seattle.  He is also a teacher at the Red Badge Project, a program that helps provide a narrative voice to veterans who suffer from PTSD and want to share their stories.

For his part, Cypress has been illustrating comics at publishers including Dark Horse, Marvel, and DC since 1999. He started a creator owned imprint, Punkrock*Jazz Publishing, in 2010.

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According to Cypress, McDonald’s “grasp for story is inspiring. With LAND OF THE DEAD, I finally have a chance to illustrate Brian’s magic. Our goal is to present story from a new and unique angle, while digging below the structures, and into the roots of story itself, the Land of the Dead.”

From the press release:

The Land of the Dead is about how from the oldest surviving stories right up until the present day, heroes have traveled to the underworld to gain wisdom and how modern storytellers can utilize elements found in the underworld to create deeper, more poignant, stories.