• Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Anne Frank - Sid Jacobson and Ernie ColónSee larger image
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Anne Frank

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FAQ's About the Graphic Biography

1. Is this a graphic biography of Anne Frank's diary, The Secret Annex?

NO. The graphic biography tells the story of Anne Frank's life, not only the period she describes in her diary when she and her family were in hiding. Information about the time before and after the period between 1942 and 1944 would not be included if the diary was chosen as the focal point. We think it is important to bring the whole story.

2. Why this graphic biography? What's its purpose?

Our mission is to make the life story of Anne Frank accessible to as large an audience as possible. Young people in particular enjoy reading graphic novels (as a preference to 'normal' books), and we focus mainly on this demographic with the publication of the graphic biography. Our first two educational graphic novels have proven to be a big hit with young people and hence it was decided to also depict the life of Anne Frank in this innovative and accessible manner.

The biography will not only show its readers the highlights in Anne Frank's life, but also the historical context in which they took place. Our hope is that the biography encourages its readers to think about the meaning Anne Frank had in history and it would be great if they then would feel tempted to read her actual diary.

3. Are you not trivializing Anne Frank's story by using such a medium as a graphic novel?

NO. The graphic biography is a serious work of non-fiction. On publication of the two previous educational novels of the Anne Frank House (A Family Secret 2005 and The Search 2007) similar concerns were voiced. We have found however, that with the reader this is not an issue. On the contrary, with teachers and pupils alike there is much appreciation for this novel approach to education. Educators are impressed with the meticulousness with which these books were developed, and we will do no less for Anne's biography. Furthermore, now that the generation that experienced WWII and the Shoah in person slowly fades, it is important to find new ways of keeping this period alive with the younger generations.

4. Who are the authors?

Writer Sid Jacobson and Artist Ernie Colón first came together to create the New York Times bestselling The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation (H&W, 2006). Since then, the pair have collaborated on After 9/11: America's War on Terror (2001- ) (H&W, 2008) and Che: A Graphic Biography (H&W, 2009) . Jacobson was formerly managing editor and editor in chief for Harvey Comics, and an executive editor at Marvel Comics. Artist Colón had a distinguished career drawing and editing for Harvey, Marvel, and DC Comics.

Praise for After 9/11
“In addition to providing a vividly comprehensible time line, After 9/11 makes intelligible - in a way that even an overtaxed Presidential candidate can grasp - the tribal and religious-factional complexities within Iraq and Afghanistan.”
-The New Yorker

“… It depicts the Commission's 'report card'on the administration's response to its findings, with an average grade of D. All told, a thoughtful - and by no means dumbed-down - approach to events still very current.”
-Kirkus Review (starred review)

“…Jacobson and Colon avoid sensationalism and editorializing; … [an] important and worthy effort.”
-Library Journal 

“Bold, factual and extraordinary creative.”
-Publishers Weekly

For further information on the authors, please see www.us.macmillan.com/HillAndWang.aspx

5. What made you opt for American authors to develop this work?

The graphic novel as a genre of serious non-fiction has a much longer history in the US than in Europe. To mention a few pioneering titles: the (auto)-biographical work of Will Eisner's Contract with God (1978), Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Price winning Maus (1991), and journalistic work such as The 9/11 Report and After 9/11, the first collaboration projects of Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon. We were particularly impressed with the way in which these two authors depicted contemporary history in The 9/11 Report. They showed an impressive understanding of how to make highly complex and sensitive information accessible in a creative and honest manner.

6. Why are there so many pages?

The current format of the 'graphic novel' originated in the US: a serious comic executed in a standard book format. This format was found to be better suited for our project and the story we wanted to tell, than the usually much thinner, and larger standard, European softcover “comic album”. To our often young readers we would like to present as complete a lifestory as possible, depicting the key moments in Anne's life  in a way with which they can identify themselves and embedded the historical context in which they took place. A time dominated by WWII and the Shoah. The interaction between what we call 'small history' and 'large history' can be connected beautifully in this flexible and dynamic format. The back of the book will moreover, contain an extensive timeline running from WWI until the publication of the diary.

7. How was the graphic biography developed?

In 2008 the Anne Frank House researched different educational options by interviewing  5,000 history teachers. A graphic biography came out as one of the preferred teaching methods about Anne Frank. This result and the established medium of graphic non-fiction in the US led to a collaboration between the Anne Frank House, Hill & Wang Publishers and the authors.

Several visits to Amsterdam followed, resulting in a first selection of historical sources and a phonebook-long synopsis. After this a first and second script of the main storyline ensued, resulting in various, detailed rounds of comments and revisions. Every detail has been intensively researched: from the first sketches of the different key-personalities to checking all historical data in every text balloon.

The authors were supported by an excellent team of professionals and researchers at the US publishing house and at the Anne Frank House: Thomas Lebien (publisher at Hill & Wang, and historian), Menno Metselaar (project leader on content at the Anne Frank House), Teresien da Silva (Head of Collections at the Anne Frank House), Lies Schippers (project leader educational materials at the Anne Frank House) and Chantal d'Aulnis (Publisher at the Anne Frank House).

8. Who will read the graphic biography?

The graphic biography is intended for the general public, but in particular we would like to reach out to young people between the ages of 14 and 18. The graphic biography will be complemented with elaborate educational material suitable for secondary education.

9. Is the graphic biography available to schools?

YES. Apart from its availability in bookshops and libraries the novel will also be distributed to schools. It can be ordered in combination with the teacher's guide and classroom enhancement material suitable for students between 14 and 18 years of age.

10. When will the graphic biography be published?

Beginning July 2010 the graphic biography will be published in the Netherlands. The United States and Canada will follow beginning September. Other countries, amongst which The United Kingdom, Germany France, Spain and Italy,  will follow during 2010 and 2011.

L Publishers (an imprint of Luitingh Publishers) is publishing the biography in the Netherlands, Hill & Wang in the United States, Canada and other English-speaking countries, MacMillan in Great Britain and Australia, Carlsen Verlag in Germany, Les Editions Belin in France and Rizzoli/Lizard in Italy, Norma in Spain, with others to come.

11. Is the graphic biography fictionalized?

The graphic biography tells the life story of Anne Frank based on historical facts and documents. Every page in the book has been thoroughly researched and authentic sources available at the archives at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, the Anne Frank Fund in Basel, as well as historical data and photos from external authorities have been used. However, of course details exists for which there is no 'hard evidence' available: for instance, the 5 second film that is the only moving image of Anne available can, for example, not tell us everything we might want to know about the way in which she carried herself. Such elements were illustrated by the authors with the utmost care and in close consultation with the experts. The graphic biography will contain an extensive source listing.

12. Has the Anne Frank Fund in Basel been  involved with the development of the book?

The Anne Frank Fund in Basel has had no direct involvement with the editorial development of the graphic biography. Naturally, the Fund has been kept informed throughout with its development and supports the book's objectives.
13. Why has the Anne Frank House not worked again with Eric Heuvel, with whom it produced A Family Secret and The Search?

The 'graphic novel' format - a serious story told in graphic form in standard book format - originated in the USA. We think this format is more suitable for the biography of Anne Frank than the European album format, because there is so much to tell about the life of Anne Frank.

In the format and the style we wanted to make a clear distinction between A Family Secret and The Search on the one hand and the graphic biography of Anne Frank on the other.

We decided to work with the American authors Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón because we were so impressed with the way they presented The 9/11 Report in graphic form. They also showed that they can make complex information accessible with creativity, rich imagery and integrity.

14. Are the drawings of Anne Frank and the other people in hiding good likenesses?

There will undoubtedly be differences of opinion on this. Every artist has his or her own style. An exact likeness is impossible, because a photo 'stands still' and a drawing in a graphic story has to have a dynamic effect. In addition, we do not have photos of everyone in all periods of their lives, especially from the period in hiding and afterwards. But: all the people are recognizable, and the drawings are beautiful. We are delighted with the result.


In New York: Jeff Seroy, Senio Vice President, Farrar, Straus and Giroux jseroy@fsgbooks.com

In Amsterdam:  Ms. C. d'Aulnis, Publisher, Anne Frank House - c.daulnis@annefrank.nl