comics and graphic novels for kids, graphic novels for reluctant readers

9 Reasons Why Kids Need Comics and Graphic Novels

Everyone knows the importance of helping kids establish a love of reading early in their childhood. And though it’s no secret that kids love comics and graphic novels, what still seems to be a point of contention is whether or not kids should be encouraged to read comics and graphic novels.

The answer? Absolutely.

Comics and graphic novels are flashy, yet underrated tools in parents’ and teachers’ educational tool belts. Kids are drawn in by the images and colors and learn important nuances of reading along the way.

Here are 9 reasons why kids need comics and graphic novels:

1.Reading comics teaches students inference.

According to Imagination Soup’s “8 Reasons to Let Your Kids Read Comic Books,” with comics, readers must rely on the dialogue and the illustrations – inferring what is not written out by a narrator – a complex reading strategy.

2. Reading comics slows down skimming speed demons.

Kids who skim their books find themselves moving slower when they take on comics. Instead of rushing to finish, they take their time to fully understand the pictures and plot.

3. Reading comics and graphic novels boosts exposure to diverse characters, settings and more. 

The push by readers for authors and publishers to include more diverse characters in graphic novels and comics, combined with a plethora of independent publishers who are bringing diverse characters to life means kids see a wide range of characters in visual form. Legend of the Mantamaji is just one of the diverse character created by independent publishers in recent years who are currently gaining critical acclaim among critics, librarians and readers.

4. Comics and graphic novels are perfect for reluctant readers.

Students who are struggling to read or who are tackling English as a second language (ESL) don’t just need books they can read, but also need books that give them confidence to keep trying. No one wants to have to use baby books to help boost their reading abilities. Comics help students by providing age appropriate materials with the added bonus of illustrations that aid in comprehension.

5. Comics and graphic novels tackle tough topics.

Comics and graphic novels have a rich tradition of taking on topics like racism, sexism and GLBT issues at various student age/reading levels. The addition of a visual element to these topics allows students to gain deeper insight into the material.

6. Kids who read comics and graphic novels learn to cultivate their tastes when selecting their own books.

According to’s “Are Kids Wasting Their Time NOT Reading Comics?” post, browsing comics is remarkably easy, because instead of merely sifting through the opening pages of a novel or relying on blurbs, flipping through a comic reveals its art style, its major characters, and a good deal about the mood of the story. The independence to choose their own adventure, so to speak, gives kids more motivation to explore their love of reading and what they believe is interesting or exciting – instead of simply having their choices limited by or dictated to them by the adults in their lives.

7. Graphic novels can be paired with classics to enhance student understanding and interest.

According to’s “Raising SuperReaders: The Benefits of Comics and Graphic Novels,” one high school teacher on the “Super Girls” panel at New York Comic Con said he’s found success in pairing a canonical text like The Scarlet Letter with a graphic novel that centers on female protagonists who feel alienated.

8. Graphic novels and comics help kids with disabilities, including autism and dyslexia.

According to, “For children with autism, the illustrations in comic books and graphic novels can help them better understand facial expressions and understand the emotions of the characters, things that might be missed when they are reading traditional text. For children with dyslexia, the pictures in graphic novels help them still follow the plot and recall details even when they are having trouble with the text, particularly as they often are better able to remember pictures than sounds or words.”

9. Graphic novels and comics aren’t just about superheroes.

Comics and graphic novels can be found in every genre including history, science, medicine, non-fiction, fiction adaptations and more. Diverse offerings mean students can pursue their interests and discover new ones outside of folks in tights. It’s not unusual for a student to move from a graphic novel on a subject to a non-fiction book on the same subject.

The back to school sales are on and it’s easy to blow past the colorful sections of comic books and graphic novels, but take a moment and help your child choose something that they’ll love to read, share at story time and with their reading buddies.

Here are a few sources to help you find comic book and graphic novel recommendations:

Middle School Monday: The Big 4 (part 1) by Julie Stivers Diverse Heroes,

New Series: Seventeen Graphic Novels for February, Black History Month  

Mantamaji at San Diego Comic Con!

playfulThere are a few things everyone looks forward to every year and San Diego Comic Con is one of them. The crew from Legend of the Mantamaji is there in full force with several exciting things happening. If you’re in San Diego, make sure you stop by Small Press Table P-13 to get your Mantamaji books autographed by TV director and author Eric Dean Seaton all weekend.


Get a chance to win an exclusive Legend of the Mantamaji tee and chat with Eric at the Geekscape booth (#3919) Friday from 2pm – 3pm!

If you dream of being an independent comic book creator, then check out the Insights for Independent Creator’s Panel Eric is on of the panelists! Room 32AB from 7 pm – 8 pm.

Moderator Charlotte (Fullerton) McDuffie (writer, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Ben 10: Alien Force/Ultimate Alien/Omnivers and chairperson, WGA Animation Writers Caucus),
Geoff Gerber (president, Lion Forge Comics)
Hannibal Tabu (writer, Artifacts/Soulfire: Sourcebook #1/Waso/Project: Wildfire),
Nilah Magruder (writer/artist, M.F.K., winner 2015 Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity),
Russell Nohelty (writer/creator, Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter and Katrina Hates the Dead, publisher, Wannabe Press), and
TAT co-founder Robert Roach (creator, Menthu, The Roach; storyboard artist, Insomnia; winner inaugural Glyph Award).

And then the big deal for us here: Legend of the Mantamaji: Live Action Short is being screened at the SDCC Film Festival!

Panelist include Eric Dean Seaton, Chris Philips (producer, Bella and the Bulldogs), and Nicole Seaton (2nd AD, The Great Indoors). Set a reminder for Saturday, July 23rd beginning at 2:35 pm Pacific 23, North Tower, Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina.

San Diego Comic Con is one of our favorite events. It’s a huge event and we always have a great time,” Eric Dean Seaton, TV director and author of Legend of the Mantamaji said. “We are over the moon to participate in the Film Festival with our live action short and the Independent Creator’s Panel.  Any time we can get Mantamaji in front of new audiences is always fun and talking with other indie creators is always a great learning experience.

Social Media for SDCC Film Festival.001

TV Director, Author Eric Dean Seaton Brings Sci-Fi Adventure Graphic Novels to Book Expo America

Meet the Mantamaji and Eric Dean Seaton at BEA!Hey Chicago! Come on out to Book Expo America this week, Eric is on hand meeting readers (new and well-versed) and signing books as well. Here’s more info:

Eric Dean Seaton, television director and author of the Legend of the Mantamaji  graphic novel series is on hand meeting Book Expo America attendees all this week with special book signing sessions at Booth 810 on Wednesday, May 11th from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. and Friday, May 13th from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

The graphic novel series continues to sell out at convention appearances as part of at 25 city international book tour. The series has been named a ‘Top Graphic Novel’ by and Atlanta Black Star, added to MTV’s Beach Reads for Social Justice Warriors list, earned brisk sales (including hitting top spots on and has spawned an award-winning live action short of the same name.

Book Signings:

Booth 810 (APG Book Distributor)

Wednesday from 2 pm – 3 pm, Friday 3 pm – 4 pm

Available for interviews Wednesday – Friday

adoptive superhero

Local Student, Mantamaji Creatives Eric Dean Seaton & Brandon Palas Share Love of Graphic Novels on Fox LA

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 12.32.42 AM Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 12.32.30 AM




Today April 27th at 10:00 pm (PST) TV director and Legend of the Mantamaji creator Eric Dean Seaton and Mantamaji illustrator Brandon Palas are participating in Fox 11’s Wednesday Child segment where they meet Raymond, a special kid who is looking for his forever home.

Raymond loves graphic novels and loves to draw, so it was a creative time on the set! He worked with Brandon on the drawing and got to keep the original!

Read more from the FOX11 news release:

This week on Wednesday’s Child we are re-visiting Raymond (2000), whom we first featured back in 2013 with the Lakers. Now a teenager, Raymond remains active and likes riding bikes and is still into basketball.

The last few years saw some chapters of possible permanency for Raymond open and close, so we wanted to take another look and see how we could help Raymond reach the sometimes elusive permanency he seeks. And in taking a closer look, we discovered another interest of Raymond’s – graphic arts and graphic novels. Raymond was more than happy to come along to Cal State LA’s School of Fine Arts to meet up with television director and writer Eric Dean Seaton, the creator and writer of the graphic novel series “Legend of the Mantamaji.”

Raymond can be a little shy at the onset so he was a little hesitant in showing us his artistic skills. But with the encouragement of Eric Dean Seaton and illustrator Brandon Palas, Raymond lent a hand at helping draw an original sketch of a Mantamaji.

Raymond is a determined young teen with a kind heart who currently has an eye on a career in the tech industry. Raymond shared with us that he would like to have a forever family that would provide unconditional love and support.

Tune in to Wednesday’s Child to watch Raymond lend a hand at bringing a Mantamaji to life and then do something heroic yourself – call 1-866-921-ADOPT (2367) to learn more about how you can become the forever family Raymond has been seeking.

Thanks Fox 11 for the chance to allow the Mantamaji creative team a chance to meet Raymond!

Where to buy prince comic book, Prince dead at 57

The Prince Comic Book by Dwayne McDuffie and other Comic Book Appearances

The cover of this gem has been making the rounds of social media for the last few years and most people didn’t believe it existed.

Prince? In a comic book? It’s true,  it’s cool, and it wasn’t the first time he had been immortalized between the panels.

In light of losing one of the greatest artists and musical geniuses that ever lived, we went looking for the super cool Prince comic book.

Created by DC Comics in 1991 and released in Great Britain it turns out Prince having a comic published by DC Comics wasn’t the only extraordinary thing. The legendary Dwayne McDuffie actually wrote the three book story arch with pencils by Denys Cowen and cover by Brian Bolland. has a great article on the whole thing including screen grabs of inside the comics.

Alter Ego, the three-issue story originally published by Titan Books in Great Britain in 1991 and then re-published by Piranha Music/DC Comics

But what about his other comic book appearances? has the breakdown on those. His first appearance was on the cover of Cracked #209 alongside Boy George, Michael Jackson and the Gremlins. According to Inverse, Prince would go on to make 7 more appearances in other issues of Cracked. He also appeared in Captain America #327.

More on the Prince comic:

Drop The `Valiant` — It`s Just `prince` In This Comic Book – Sun-Sentinel

Prince as a Comic Book Hero – The Shadow League

Rest in peace, power and purple. 

C2E2 Black Male Identity in Comics Panel Recap (Including video)

A great time was had by all at C2E2 this year — including us! The marketing team worked the booth while creators from around the country came in town to appear on our panel focusing on the Black male image in comics. John Jennings and Stacey Robinson (filling in for Kevin Grevioux) drove in from Buffalo, New York, David Walker came in from Portland and Eric Dean Seaton came in from Vancouver after wrapping up shooting a new show. Mark Smith moderated a lively, insightful and thought provoking panel.

A packed room full of excited, invested comic fans, creators and media heard how these creators feel about the current state of the Black male image in comics and how they approach their work. Check out what they had to say:

Shout out to everyone who attended, thanks to Mark Smith for moderating!

Photo of John Jennings Artwork and Black Comics And Action Entertainment C2E2 panel Black Male Identity in Comics

C2E2 News: Panelist John I. Jennings Talks Comics, American Culture & the Black Male Image

Photo of John Jennings Artwork and Black Comics And Action Entertainment C2E2 panel Black Male Identity in Comics

Here at “And… Action!” Entertainment, we are very excited about the selection of our panel proposal for next week’s Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo. The Comics, American Culture & the Black Male Image: Perspectives from Creators panel is a fantastic opportunity for us to have this important discussion – and some of the top creators in comics today will be the leading voices at this event.

This week and next, we will sit down with each creator and pick their brains a bit, to give everyone a preview of what to expect from next Saturday’s discussion in Chicago. Today, we catch up with the whirlwind that is John I. Jennings.

Jennings is an Associate Professor of Art and Visual Studies at the University at Buffalo – State University of New York. He is the co-author of the graphic novel, The Hole: Consumer Culture, Vol. 1 and the art collection Black Comix: African American Independent Comics Art and Culture (both with Damian Duffy).

Blue Hand Mojo:  Hard Times Road John Jennings Black Comic Book

Blue Hand Mojo:
Hard Times Road

He is also the co-editor of The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art and co-founder/organizer of The Schomburg Center’s Black Comic Book Festival in Harlem, MLK NorCal’s Black Comix Arts Festival in San Francisco, and the AstroBlackness colloquium in Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University.

Jennings’ current comics projects include the Hip Hop adventure comic, Kid Code: Channel Zero; the supernatural crime noir story, Blue Hand Mojo; and the upcoming graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s classic dark fantasy novel, Kindred.

And… Action! Entertainment: The panel at C2E2 is focused on “Black male identity.” Why is it important to confront stereotypes of the male image in comics? Even the “positive” ones of strength and virility? Are they positive?

JENNINGS: Fighting against black male stereotypes isn’t just about representational equity. It’s a matter of life and death.

In today’s exacerbated climate around the black body and heightened police brutality and discrimination, it becomes even more imperative to humanize the black body. Stereotypes are very dangerous because they simplify an entire group of people into one fixed image. Simple images are easy to transfer and propagate.

Comics pretty much traffic in stereotypes. So, if you propagate the idea of black men as sex-starved, violent savages in every aspect of media you end up with a populace that “mis-reads” the black body; all black bodies, as dangerous thugs.

photo of masculinity, male identity cisgendered

Masculinity. John I. Jennings, Artist

Trayvon Martin was killed because his black body was in the wrong place and Zimmerman’s racial literacy only allowed him to see the boy as a threat. So, when we are talking about black male images in comics, it’s not just to make ourselves feel better by seeing images of ourselves in the comics. We are trying to create resistant images to the hundreds of years of negative information that leads to so many tragic outcomes surrounding racialized violence in our country.

Something else we need to clarify when we say “the Black Male Identity in Comics”…are we talking about the medium of comics are we conflating the medium with the genre of the superhero? The reason I ask is because, as much as I love superheroes, they are inherently problematic constructions when we talk about masculinity.

The superhero is pretty much a white male power fantasy and when you map that fantasy onto a black male body you intensify that signification into a space that can be read as hyper masculine. Black men are already read as not-human and super sexual, violent monsters. How do you negotiate the tropes of a genre that is so mired in physical violence as righteous when it is projected onto a criminalized body?

It’s a catch 22 to be sure.

Can they be positive? Sure.
Are they usually? Probably not.


Comics pretty much traffic in stereotypes. So, if you propagate the idea of black men as sex-starved, violent savages in every aspect of media you end up with a populace that “mis-reads” the black body; all black bodies, as dangerous thugs.


AAE: There is a level of sensitivity that comes with saying “I’m not invulnerable, I am human, I am a man.” Do you think there has been a reluctance in the overall discussion of diversity in comics to acknowledge the special societal pressures on Black male characters?

JENNINGS: The main goal of the mainstream comics industry is to make money – like any business. So, as long as “diversity” is important to an audience that has money, it will try to engage as much as it can without disturbing what it thinks is it’s main fan-base; straight cisgender white men.

It’s not the job of the comics industry to really have the discussion. It’s job is to try to provide entertainment. I think that the work of discussions of this kind are happening in the independents as usual.

Mainstream comics are essentially IP farms for films, video games, etc. We can’t expect the industry to make a space to help us have these discussions. We can only utilize what we can from them to make our arguments and statements about the status quo when we talk about these issues of intersectional identity.

Comics, American Culture & the Black Male Image: Perspectives from Creators

Comics, American Culture & the Black Male Image: Perspectives from Creators

Comics, American Culture & the Black Male Image: Perspectives from CreatorsPack your bags because we’re headed to Chicago!

Legend of the Mantamaji is rolling into C2E2 with our usual booth an a hot panel you have to see:

Comics, American Culture & the Black Male Image: Perspectives from Creators

March 19, 2016, 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM Location: S405a

The heavy hitters are coming out for this panel to take a unique look at the Black male experience from a comic creator’s perspective:

“And… Action!” Entertainment invites you to join TV Director/creator Eric Dean Seaton (Legend of the Mantamaji), writer David Walker (Cyborg, Shaft), professor/artist John I. Jennings (SUNY Buffalo, Kid Code), actor/writer Kevin Grevioux (creator Blue Marvel & Underworld) and moderator Mark Smith (iHeart Radio 1390 am) as they discuss black male identity in comics past, present and future. How do comics in their various forms (books, movies, TV) impact society’s view of the Black male and how Black men view themselves? How are creators using art to reshape the narrative in pop culture as a whole? Diversity is not a buzzword, it’s a call to action.

Tweet: Hotness @C2E2: #Comics, American Culture & the Black Male Image: Perspectives from Creators #exploreblackcomicsClick to tweet: Hotness @C2E2: #Comics, American Culture & the Black Male Image: Perspectives from Creators #exploreblackcomics”

Stay tuned for interviews from the panelists and vids from the event. But you know the best way to be involved is to be there!

Get your C2E2 tix now.

El Rey Network, Legend of the Mantamaji

El Rey Network Selects Legend of the Mantamaji Live Action Short for Black Filmmaker Showcase

El Rey Network, Legend of the MantamajiThe El Rey Network, known for its action packed movies aimed at Latino audiences, began showing TV director Eric Dean Seaton’s (NBC, TVOne, Nickelodeon) short film, Legend of the Mantamaji: Live Action Short, this month as part of its Black Filmmaker Showcase that will run through the month of February. The award-winning short is based on the critically-acclaimed graphic novel series of the same name and is one of only two short films selected, by El Rey founder Robert Rodriguez, for the honor. The film airs immediately following popular high octane movies Reservoir Dogs, Shaolin Abbot, The Trail of the Broken Blade and Five Shaolin Masters.

“This is another exciting opportunity for the short and the series,” creator and director Eric Dean Seaton said. “What started as a love letter to readers of the graphic novels continues to build new fans and opportunities for the graphic novel series and beyond. It’s a great honor to be chosen.”

Air Times:

Thursday, February 11th: 8:00PM & 12:30PM following: Five Shaolin Masters
Thursday, February 18th: 10:15PM, 2:45AM following: The Trail of the Broken Blade
Thursday, February 25th: 8:00PM, 11:45PM following: Shaolin Abbot
Monday, February 8th 8:00PM, 12:30AM, Wednesday, February 17th 12:00AM, Saturday February 20th 10:00AM, 6:00PM. Saturday February 27th 4:00PM, 10:30PM following: Reservoir Dogs

[Click to read the complete media release here]

black comic books, diversity in comics

#BlackFutureMonth: 29 Places to #ExploreBlackComics

black comic books, diversity in comicsIn comics, diversity is talked about so often that it can come across as just a trend or a buzzword designed to get people to pick up the latest product. The reality is, diversity in comics is a call to action, not an ethereal idea to which big corporations should aspire. The average comic book fan has just as much to gain from and just as much responsibility to champion diversity in comics.

Sure, comic book companies gain more fans and “street cred” when they hire diverse talent and executives and publish products with a focus that lies outside of the outdated “white male” pool of characters. Comic book fans benefit when they push for diversity in comics because, by doing so, they gain new characters and varied stories. But fans also have a responsibility to seek out existing stories and creators who are already producing fantastic work.

This call to action is much bigger than Legend of the Mantamaji – which is why we aren’t just championing sites that have reviewed our books or carry them in their stores. Instead, we are highlighting sites and reference materials that work diligently to highlight creators of color and stories from a variety of genres, publishing companies, formats, etc.

This month is Black History Month, so we are highlighting Black creators, characters and publishing houses. But remember, diversity doesn’t begin and end with race.

Now, keep in mind, this is by no means an exhaustive list. This is a starter list – a place for you to check back with each day to try a new site, or pick a new book or series to try out. In March we will explore women in comics, so stay tuned!

Black Comic Book Websites:

 29 places to #exploreblackcomics, black comic books

Jamie Broadnax and her crew have their finger on the pulse of pop culture and are ahead of the curve in spotting up and coming comic creators with their “Creators You Should Know” column.

29 places to #exploreblackcomics, black comics, black comic book

With posts titled, “Magical Books for Black Girls,” The Blerd Gurl hits all the right notes with her reviews and news about comics for consumers and comic creators alike.


When asked why he created digital comic book store, PeepGameComix, Black comic book creator Imani Lateef said it was in direct response to “The Question.” You know the one: “Where can I find Black Comics?”

“Fans are also starting to use Peep Game as an answer to the question, ‘How can I get into Black Comics?’ Lateef said. “In fact, several educators have been using the website as a learning tool to introduce students to black comics, graphic novels and speculative fiction.”

29 Places to find #exploreblackcomics

The Shadow League: Comic Book Convo

Lead by Richard Hazwell, the Shadow League’s Comic Book Convo series is a must read. The series includes conversations with up and coming creators and other leaders in the field and explores a wide range of comics from creators of color.

africomics, 29 Places to #ExploreBlackComics, black comics, black comic books, diversity in comics

A clearinghouse of digital, print, indie and mainstream comics featuring Black protagonists and creators

29 places to #exploreblackcomics, black comic books, black comic book creators

World of Black

Not only does the site offer reviews, insight and interviews about Black comic books and creators, but it boasts a pretty large listing of Black comic book characters, including their powers and where these characters appear.

29 Places to #ExploreBlackComics, Black comic books, diversity in comics

Cool website with a variety of pop culture and BMX commentary that also features a dedicated comics section. Recently gave an in-depth look at the Black Comix Festival in Harlem, New York.

AfroPunk, 29 Places to #ExploreBlackComics, Comic Books, Comic book creators


Widely known for its music festivals, Afro of the Day social media posts and exploration of issues in the Black Diaspora, AfroPunk is also dedicated to promoting Black Comic Books and creators. The site is especially adept at highlighting indie comics creators.

29 Places to #ExploreBlackComics, black comic books, black comics, diversity in comics, black comics month

Fantastic Forum TV

The Comic, Science Fiction & Fantasy Fan’s FANTASTIC FORUM is a half hour TV series dedicated to various comics genres and fans who fuel the industry. The program is segmented with a panel discussion, interviews, event coverage, parodies, toy/game profiles and producer features.

 #blackfuturemonth,black comics, 29 Places to #ExploreBlackComics, black comic book creators

Geek Soul Brother

Geek Soul Brother’s job is to introduce the older generations to something new and younger geeks to the geek universe that was around before they were born.

 fanbros, #blackfuturemonth, #exploreblackcomics is a natural extension of the FanBrosShow podcast, with articles, reviews and previews that focus on exploring the diverse world of nerd culture and all that it represents. From editorials, to the latest news of the day, you can find everything you need to keep you up to speed on what is happening in the world of Fan Bros.

Black Nerd

An editorial and informative website that focuses on popular, nerd and geek culture from the perspective of People of Color.

The Museum Of UnCut Funk

Black Comic Book Facebook Groups and Pages

Geekdom and new comic discoveries (and spirited discussions) often happen in Facebook groups dedicated to all things comics and pop culture. Check out (and join) these groups.

Black Comix African American Independent Comics, Art & Culture

Comic Book Nerds of Color

The Extraordinary Journey of a Black Nerd

Black Comic Book Podcasts



For Colored Nerds

The Black Guy Who Tips

Blerds on Nerds



Back to the Pod

Black Comic Book Scholarly Exploration:

The blacker the ink

The Blacker the Ink by John Jennings






black comics politics of race and representation

Black Comics: Race and Representation by Dr. Sheena C. Howard




black women in sequence

Black Women in Sequence: Re-inking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime by Deborah Elizabeth Whaley






untold story of black comic books

The Untold History of Black Comic Books by Bill Foster