diversity in comics, eric dean seaton, long beach comic expo

Legend of the Mantamaji on the Road: So much fun in the #LBC (Expo)

diversity in comics, eric dean seaton, long beach comic expo

Diversity in Comics panel with Ray A. Height, Eric Dean Seaton, and David Walker. photo credit: DeWayne Copeland

This past weekend the Legend of the Mantamaji crew and I made our second stop on the 2015 Book Tour at the Long Beach Comic Expo and had a great time. The crowd was a lot of fun, and eager to learn more about Legend of the Mantamaji which is always a plus.

LBCE was kind enough to highlight me as a special guest and invited me to join a panel on Diversity & Indie Comics with David Walker and Ray-Anthony Height. It was a great opportunity to discuss the state of the industry and what indie creators are doing to advance diversity in comics.

Stop, Look! Legend of the Mantamaji Live Short Trailer

They say it’s not nice to tease, but what about when you have a new superhero digital short?

Shooting has wrapped up on the set of the Legend of the Mantamaji digital short which brought scenes from the graphic novel series to life. The short is 7 minutes and 6 of them are pure action.  You will see all the things you see in the book: morphing, weapons, fighting, drama, danger and fun.  The only thing we didn’t do is add a lot of jokes because we wanted to show something totally different and new.  The edits are almost complete and then the special effects crew gets their chance to add the next level of movie magic. While we wait though…check out some of what is in store!

We went with live action or animation because I am a live action director and the thrill of taking something that was 2D and making it 3D seemed much more challenging which was part of the fun. So far the best part of the process has been making a dream come to life. It was so fun to do that it never felt like work and was not hard at all. The biggest challenge was the suit.  In Batman vs. Superman they had 11 Batman suits that were very expensive.  We had one suit and one guy to do everything and it had to last for 3 days! It all came together though and the whole team is really excited and proud of our work. Subscribe to our YouTube channel “And…Action! Entertainment” for more updates and sneak peeks.

Buy the books that started it all: Legend of the Mantamaji series


Michelle Rodriguez is Wrong, And Right

Book1_cover_flatMichelle Rodriguez is wrong…and right, in her recent comments on race switching in superhero stories. I love Michelle, I can’t wait to see Furious 7 and I believe her heart is in the right place. But, both her initial comments and her revised comments leave quite a bit of the story of the role of diversity in the world of superheroes untold.

 “It’s not ‘stealing’ when creative minds look at a well known story and ask, “what if?” or even better, “why not?” If a group of astronauts can venture into space and get blasted by an anomalous force which turns them into people who can stretch beyond belief, become invisible, burst into flames, or become the equivalent of living rock, certainly that weirdness can happen to Black people. Especially when racial identity is not key to the story.

Stealing would be systematically casting white actors to play Egyptians without ever thinking about offering the parts to equally brilliant actors of color. Then, only casting actors of color when there is need for a terrorist, a servant, or ironically, a thief. That part Michelle, admittedly, got wrong.

What she got right was that the time is long overdue for superheroes who look like half of the population (women) and the ever growing number of people of color in this country to have the opportunity to tell their stories.

 What I wish Michelle had said is that for decades people of color, women and creators from the GLBTQI community have created, contributed and fought for outstanding heroes that look a little more like them.

Heroes that have a different perspective, fantastic backstories and complex villains. Heroes with awesome powers and trials to overcome and of course, that overwhelming call of duty to save, defend, unite etc. Maybe she didn’t know – and that’s okay. But not knowing actually illustrates the problem – these characters and stories ARE out there and doing well, but their creators simply don’t have access to the platforms and power to push them into the mainstream.

ART_BK2_Ch8_1000NEWNow, let’s be clear. It IS lazy, to simply gender or race swap in lieu of creating a new hero or focusing on the thousands of characters out there that already exist around which a new franchise can be launched. It means looking at the characters and the thousands of indie titles that are creator owned which have been filling in the gaps for multicultural audiences for YEARS.

Since last summer, while directing episodic TV episodes, I have been traveling the country on a book tour for my graphic novel series, Legend of the Mantamaji. I have seen people of all races and ages excited to see a well-drawn, thrilling story with multicultural characters. At the 2014 New York Comic Con, librarians exclaimed their ‘kids’ (library patrons) would go crazy over my novels. That’s not to brag by any means – it’s to show that the need is real, the audience is willing and a multitude of creators and fantastic stories are out there. The only people playing catch up are those who actually green light the shows and films.

It sounds silly right? All of this angst over comic books? But think of it this way – comic books and superheroes represent wish fulfillment for people of all ages and backgrounds. We all want to be the hero or the person that makes a difference. When a kid throws a sheet on her shoulders, slides her brown curly hair into a helmet and pretends to save the world, does she see herself defeating the bad guys or does she imagine that she’s a white male to accomplish the deed? What does it mean to all kids and kids at heart when the only toys you can find at Christmas are of the white male characters in your favorite movies? That the women characters aren’t important? That the characters of color don’t matter?

nhunitybankhallwaysplashv2Beyond altruistic reasoning is what really lies at the heart of the matter – money. It’s a fact that films with diverse casting do better than films that lack diversity. It’s a fact that women now make up close to half of the comic convention attendees and that women account for $7 trillion in consumer spending (and those are 2012 Nielson numbers). African Americans are projected to have $1 trillion in their buying power bank in 2015. The same goes for Hispanics and Asian Americans are inching toward $1 trillion. Native Americans have seen their buying power increase 149 percent since 2000.

The money is there and smart money says that if the full resources of a studio are put behind a great film with a great story and diverse casting that it will be a hit. It just makes sense – and maybe with more Hollywood creators joining the voices of indie creators and fans, we will be able to position ourselves to green light these projects – because it really is time.

Long Beach Comic Expo “Diversity & Indie Comics” Panel: TV Director Eric Dean Seaton Added

Saturday & Sunday Eric Dean Seaton at Booth #353, Sunday he joins "Diversity & Indie Comics" Panel

Saturday & Sunday Eric Dean Seaton at Booth #353, Sunday he joins “Diversity & Indie Comics” Panel

Television director Eric Dean Seaton is everywhere right now. The in-demand director’s star continues to rise as he crisscrosses networks directing epidsodes for top-rated shows including NBC’s ‘Undateable,’ TBS’s ‘Ground Floor,’ Disney Channel’s ‘Austin & Ally,’ and Nickelodeon’s ‘Bella & the Bulldogs’ while breaking new ground with his graphic novel series Legend of the Mantamaji. Long Beach Comic Expo is the second stop on Seaton’s 12 city book tour and the expo is featuring Seaton as a Special Guest [Booth 353] and as a panelist for the ‘Diversity & Indie Comics” discussion on Sunday, March 1 at 4 p.m. in Room S3B.

“I can’t wait to talk with comic industry pros Denys Cowan, Kevin Grevioux and Ray-Anthony Height on Sunday,” Seaton said. “Small publishers and comic book creators are in the industry at the right time. Comic book and graphic novel readers are vocal with their demands for diverse storylines, characters and creators. Small press and indie creators have been leaders in finding new voices and points of view. They set the trends and everyone else follows.”

Legend of the Mantamajiis a three book graphic novel series that tells the story of Elijah Alexander Elijah Alexander, an Assistant D.A. who has learned that his childhood storybook legends are actually the true stories of his heritage and that he is the last of a race of mystical knights known as the Mantamaji. After realizing he’s only part human, Elijah struggles with the shift in his world and becomes a hunted man charged with ridding the world of an ancient evil no other Mantamaji has ever been able to defeat. The full-color, action packed series has hair-raising plot twists and smart storytelling for all superhero fans.

The books feature artwork by Brandon Palas, colorist Andrew Dalhouse who has worked with From Boom, Dark Horse, Image, Marvel and DC and lettering by Deron Bennett, who was nominated for an Eisner Award for his work on titles like Jim Hensons Dark Crystal, Jim Hensons Tale of Sand and Helldorado, among others.

About Eric Dean Seaton: 
As an episodic director, Eric Dean Seaton has directed 195 television episodes of 38 different shows, 18 music videos and two pilots for Nickelodeon, as well as two pilots for Disney XD. He has also directed episodes of the NBC/Warner Bros. comedy Undateable, TBS’s Ground Floor, BETs Lets Stay Together and Reed Between the Lines. He is a Cleveland, Ohio native and attended The Ohio State University. Eric, his wife, son and daughter live in California. Legend of the Mantamaji is his first graphic novel series.

Praise for Legend of the Mantamaji:

“Fans who bemoan the ‘big two’ for a lack of vision, or effort, to create bold new characters and franchises, should learn that innovation can often be found elsewhere. ‘Legend of the Mantamaji ‘ has all of the excitement, imagination and suspense to be a TV or film series on its own, but instead it is here as a comic to be enjoyed by the masses who crave them. ‘Legend of the Mantamaji’ volume one is a must read for those who crave all of the spectacle and action of superhero comics, yet want a comic which offers creative new ideas and a progressive storyline with real weight behind it,” Alex Widen, Brooklyn Comic Book Examiner

“Legend of the Mantamaji is teevee director Eric Dean Seaton’s (Sonny with a Chance, That’s So Raven, Good Luck Charlie) first shot at writing comics, but this is clearly a professional storyteller with writing chops and a lifelong love of the medium, both of which are on full display here. I am not sure what I expected when I was invited to review Legends of the Mantamaji, but I can tell you I was definitely impressed by the quality world-building and storytelling.” –GhettoManga.com

For Media Interview | Book Review Requests Contact: Terreece M. Clarke, (614) 467-0361 | Press(at)Mantamaji(dot)com or TClarke(at)LifeSliceMedia(dot)com | LegendoftheMantamaji.com

Legend of the Mantamaji Graphic Novel, Black Superhero

#BlackFutureMonth: Yes, Black People Survive the Apocalypse

graphic novels, black superheroes, black comics, eric dean seatonTelevision director Eric Dean Seaton continues to break stereotypes of African Americans in science fiction and fantasy with his third book in the “Legend of the Mantamaji” graphic novel series.

When people think of superheroes and science fiction, they often imagine the strong chiseled features and extraordinary powers of white male characters. A two-time NAACP Image Award nominee, director Eric Dean Seaton wants to remind comic book and sci-fi fans that Black people can be superheroes, too. With the launch of his third book in the Legend of the Mantamaji graphic novel series on February 11th Seaton hopes positive representation of people of color in comics will go a long way to shatter stereotypes about Black involvement and interest in science fiction and fantasy.

“Science fiction and fantasy stories give people of all ages something to dream about. What does it say to children when the only heroes they read about are white?” Seaton, whose television hits include Disney’s Austin & Ally, NBC’s Undateable and Nickelodeon’s Bella and the Bulldogs said. “Black people do survive the zombie apocalypse, people of color exist in the future. They don’t have to be the first person the monster eats. And our interests go beyond civil rights and slavery. Our history is incredibly important, but so are our dreams and creative imaginings.”

main_sanctuants_1NEWThe third book in the Legend of the Mantamaji series finds finds Elijah Alexander, the last of the mystical knights known as the Mantamaji beaten and left for dead. Detective Sydney Spencer has just figured out who is behind the mysterious happenings of a new crime ring and that knowledge has cost her dearly. Time is running out to stop the sorcerer, Sirach, who is hell bent on controlling space, time and reshaping the world in his image.

“One doesn’t have to wait for the “big two” to offer crumbs of diversity when there are great new franchises like “Legend of the Mantamaji” that often put them to shame,” Alex Widen, Brooklyn Comic Book expert for Examiner.com said. “This third volume acts as a perfect bookend to this tale of ancient warriors and sorcerers, and one can only hope that there are more legends to come.”

Seaton’s successful series began with the first two volumes in the series being name “Top Graphic Novels of 2014” by Examiner.com and Atlanta Black Star. With Book Three’s release, the early buzz points to Seaton showing no signs of stopping.

Buy Legend of the Mantamaji today and receive an autographed copy.

black comic book hero, graphic novel, legend of the mantamaji

Live Action Graphic Novel: Legend of the Mantamaji Shoot has Begun

This weekend things get more exciting around here as we gear up for the third book launch AND shoot the live action short for Legend of the Mantamaji!

We’re working with Illusion Industries on this and check out the work they’ve done on Elijah’s armor:

black comic book hero, graphic novel, legend of the mantamaji

I’m going to be posting from the set all weekend so make sure you’re following me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

And don’t forget to order your copy of the books that started it all!