FIRST SECOND BUYS TWO GRAPHIC NOVELS SET IN THE WORLD
OF THE OSCAR®-NOMINATED ANIMATED SHORT THE DAM KEEPER
New York, NY (March 11, 2015) – 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
“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.
Robert Kondo lends his unique design sensibilities and passion for storytelling to The Dam
Keeper. Originally from Southern California, Robert attended the Art Center College of Design
Illustration program in Pasadena and joined Pixar upon graduation. Robert was an art director for
Ratatouille, Toy Story 3, and, most recently, Monsters University. In July 2014, Robert left Pixar
to start a new animation studio, Tonko House, with Dice Tsutsumi.
Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi, originally from Japan, is a celebrated illustrator, painter and
philanthropist. Dice’s paintings have been exhibited around the world, and in 2009, his first
childrens book, I Can Hear, was published in Japan. A graduate from the School of Visual Arts
in New York, Dice has worked in visual development at Blue Sky Studios on Ice Age, Robots,
and Horton Hears a Who! His credits at Pixar Animation as an art director include Toy Story 3
and Monsters University. Dice is passionate about charity work and spearheaded both the Totoro
Forest Project and Sketchtravel. In July 2014, Dice left Pixar to start a new animation studio,
Tonko House, with Robert Kondo.
Macmillan Publishers is a global trade book publishing company with prominent imprints
around the world. Macmillan publishes a broad range of award-winning books for children and
adults in all categories and formats. U.S. publishers include Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Flatiron
Books, Henry Holt & Company, Macmillan Audio, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group,
Picador, St. Martin’s Press, and Tor Books. In the UK, Australia, India, and South Africa,
Macmillan publishes under the Pan Macmillan name. The German company, Holtzbrinck
Deutsche Buchverlage, includes among its imprints S. Fischer, Kiepenheuer and Witsch,
Rowohlt, and Droemer Knaur. Macmillan Publishers is a division of the Holtzbrinck Publishing
Group, a large, family-owned media company headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany.
First Second Books