8 Things This Indie Comic Learned at the American Association of School Librarians Conference

Legend of the Mantamaji at ALAThe first weekend in November found the Midwest Legend of the Mantamaji team in Columbus Ohio for the American Association of School Librarians Conference. It was a great opportunity to meet one-on-one with books’ best friends – librarians. Many times independent comics creators focus on consumer sales – the cons, through comic book shops and web sales. One often overlooked market for indies are school libraries.

Making inroads into schools can take time and resources that indie comics creators and small publishers may not have immediately available. Here are a few tips to make it easier:

1. Go with an outreach goal in mind as well as sales goals.

The difference between comic cons and conferences like AASL is with comic cons you go into the event with a certain expectation of immediate sales. AASL should be considered as an outreach opportunity. Many libraries who appear aren’t buying books in bulk right at that moment. Others must purchase through their various channels which can take time (more on that later).  Some will pick up a single copy of the book to take back and pass around to see if interest from their school, students and district is there. So while there are thousands of schools represented you likely won’t sell thousands of books — right then.

What you will have is the invaluable opportunity to meet with the decision makers and biggest advocates for books you’ll find. You are an in person, walking, talking advertisement for your books which is way better than any flat ad in a magazine.

2. Know your audience – school wise.

Is your book or series perfect for reluctant readers? What age groups is it appropriate for? What about nudity, diverse characters or instructional tie-ins?

What’s a reluctant reader? How do you know for sure the age group your book fits into? Research. Read what your buying audience reads to know what language to use to reach your buyers.

When we talked about Mantamaji that weekend we of course shared what the book was about and gave background on its creator Eric Dean Seaton who has extensive experience as a TV director for Nickelodeon and Disney which adds to the validity of the author and product.

Then we talked about the diversity of characters which is not just a big deal to us, but it has been covered by every major library publication for the last two years at least. The School Library Journal dedicated an entire issue to diversity in children’s books. And as an all-aged graphic novel, we wanted to make sure the librarians were aware the types of diversity in the series, not just racial, but gender diversity.

And the deal sealer? Letting them know that not only did the female characters have true agency in the story, they were also fully dressed.

We’re proud there are no sexy lamps in our books and the librarians realized the books work for a larger swath of their students.

3. Take advantage of the event app.

If the conference has an event app, download it and get active on it. Post info about your booth, contests, like and comment on what’s going on and spotlight cool things you see. Become a part of the event conversation instead of being just an exhibitor. If you don’t have time to get social (which is another post) then at least educate yourself on what conference attendees are passionate about and what they want to get out of the event. That way you can align your goals and message with the overarching messages of the event.

4. Conduct a contest.

Librarians love contests and giveaways — and for good reason. Even the biggest, most well-funded districts have to maximize their budget. Those freebies can easily become part of a prize pack for a reading contest back home,  or act as a small token of appreciation for all the work librarians do for their students.

Social media contests are fun and help you to be a part of the conversation happening online not only with everyone attending, but those watching from all over the world. “Take a Selfie & Win Books for your School” is an easy to run contest: participants take a selfie with your book, use the event and your hashtag and you track the hashtag and randomly select a winner.

Another option is the drop your business card or sign up for our email list and win books for your school. This contest allows you to continue to grow your email list while giving the attendees incentive to take a longer look at your book(s).

5. Decide whether you’re going to give away samples.

As mentioned before, some librarians will want to take a sample back to review with their team before they purchase. Know whether you can give away books beforehand and know how many you can give away. If giving away books isn’t an option have information ready for them to take back and make it better than a slip of paper. A brochure or heavy cardstock flyer is less likely to get crumbled and dumped post conference.

Our two-sided flyer is the size of a half sheet of paper and heavy gloss cardstock. On one side we have a great picture of the series and a few fantastic review blurbs, on the other side we have book descriptions, the ISBN-13 numbers and logos indicating where they books are available for purchase.

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Voice of Youth Advocates,

VOYA’s Graphically Speaking Interview & Review

Voice of Youth Advocates, One of the important things for any book is to receive reviews. Not only does it help establish a book’s reputation among professionals and academics, it also helps people decide if they want to part with their hard won treasure and time.

This week the Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) released their December issue and Katharine Kan spotlights Eric Dean Seaton and Legend of the Mantamaji in her popular Graphically Speaking column. Not only does she do a thorough and thoughtful review of the trilogy, she spotlights Eric for an in-depth interview!

Reading this series reminded me of my love for Greco/Roman and Norse mythology, with the same flawed heroes and antagonists in a magical, mystical world. Palas’s art is dynamic and expressive and makes the story come alive; Andrew Dalhouses’s rich colors make great use of light and dark to indicate place and time.

Read the whole review and interview here: VOYA Dec 2015 Column.

Pick up the graphic novels today:

Welcome Roland Martin & CyberMonday Fans!

Exciting news today! First, Legend of the Mantamaji creator Eric Dean Seaton is appearing on national television! Roland Martin will interview Eric today at 7 a.m. EST on TV during his wildly popular show News One Now. Set your DVR’s or check the TVOne website to catch a replay.

Eric is discussing the Legend of the Mantamaji: Live Action Short and of course the Legend of the Mantamaji graphic novel trilogy that inspired it.


We have some really cool new products in the Legend of the Mantamaji store just in time for the holiday season. Coffee mugs, awesome logo tees and our BOGO Bundle deal is back! Buy one Legend of the Mantamaji graphic novel set and get the second for 30% off. Take a look at a few of the items in our new and improved store and pick yourself up some swag today.

CyberMonday Specials

Shop Now

independent comics, concrete park, diverse comics booklist, graphic novel recommendations voya

Legend of the Mantamaji Joins Concrete Park and Tephlon Funk in Forbes

independent comics, concrete park, diverse comics booklist, graphic novel recommendations voyaThis week Rob Salkowitz featured Eric and Legend of the Mantamaji in his article on indie comics taking different routes to success.

sometimes it turns out that when you have a vision that’s outside the mainstream, you have to forge a new path to get it done.

Also featured are indie comic stars Concrete Park and Tephlon Funk.

Seaton and Metayer say they were both partially motivated to do their stories because they had such a hard time finding good work featuring authentic black characters and black creators when they were growing up as fans. Puryear says he is proud of his African-American heritage, but bristles when people assume that his work is aimed primarily at black readers. “The future includes everybody,” he said.

This is a great time to be an indie comic creator and an excellent time for creators to make those diverse comics that the community is clearly eager to own. Carefully weigh your options before going the indie route. It can be an additional full time job, but if you have a specific vision and a good plan, you can do it.

Have a question about being an indie creator? Ask in the comment section below!

Eric Dean Seaton, Diverse Comics Take New York Comic Con by Storm

Three panels on comic book diversity, books signings and work included in the Schomburg Center: Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination Exhibit highlight television director’s appearances in New York this week.

NEW YORK – Oct. 7, 2015 — Television director and graphic novelist Eric Dean Seaton delves deep into the diversity in comics discussion with three panel appearances and book signings for his graphic novel series “Legend of the Mantamaji” at New York Comic Con and an appearance of his work in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s exhibit: Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination.

“Diversity in comics is an important conversation that is about more than simply creating characters of color. The conversation is also about creators of color owning and creating their own stories and publishers daring to challenge the status quo and publishing these stories,” Eric Dean Seaton said.

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Panel Appearances:

We Need More Diverse Comics Panel

Thursday, October 8 11:15am – 12:15pm Room 1A05

From Black Face to Black Panther Panel

Friday, October 9, 11:15am – 12:15am Room1A05

Geeks of Color

Friday, October 9, 6:30pm – 7:30pm Room 1E03

Book Signings:

Booth 972 Thursday – Sunday

Schomburg Center of Research in Black Culture:

Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination Exhibit

Open House, Wednesday October 7th, Exhibit ends December 31st

Eric Sits Down with Kam Williams

Recently, Eric got a chance to talk with the prolific entertainment reporter Kam Williams to talk about directing, comics and taking Legend of the Mantamaji from the pages of a graphic novel to a live action short.

Check out the whole interview here: “Meetin’ with Seaton

Watch the Legend of the Mantamaji: Live Action Short

Los Angeles Movie Awards Gives Best Editing Nod to Legend of the Mantamaji: Live Action Short

Legend of the Mantamaji Live Action ShortThe Los Angeles Movie Awards(LAMA) recently released its 2015 list of winners and prolific TV director Eric Dean Seaton’s short film, Legend of the Mantamaji: Live Action Short, is among the honorees. The superhero short film received a Best Editing Award and Honorable Mention from the group.

“I am so humbled and honored to be recognized by the Los Angeles Movie Awards,” Seaton said. “It was a dream come true to bring the graphic novel series to life on the big screen. The fan support has been tremendous and now to be recognized by peers is outstanding.”

The Los Angeles Movie Awards screening of 2015 winners takes place Saturday, September 19, 2015. At the screening, Legend of the Mantamaji has a chance to win another award – the Audience Choice Award- which is based on votes of those in attendance. Past LAMA winners include Sandra Oh, Ron Howard and Samuel Jackson.

Read the rest of the press release here.

legend of the mantamaji, eric dean seaton, long beach comic con, black superhero

Long Beach Comic Con Adds TV Director Eric Dean Seaton as Special Guest

legend of the mantamaji, eric dean seaton, long beach comic con, black superhero

Eric Dean Seaton names Long Beach Comic Con Special Guest

Legend of the Mantamaji author and longtime television pro continues on international book tour as part of the growing list of television, comics and entertainment appearances at the famed con TV director Eric Dean Seaton and his breakout hit graphic novel series and live action short, Legend of the Mantamaji, is everywhere right now. Fresh off of a Los Angeles Movie Awards Best Editing and Honorable Mention nod for his grassroots Legend of the Mantamaji Live Action Short, Seaton is a special guest at this weekend’s Long Beach Comic Con. During this stop on his 16 city international book tour, Seaton will be joining cosplayers and comic enthusiasts for book signings throughout the weekend, “And… Action!” Entertainment Booth 863.

“I always have a great time at Long Beach Comic Con, the staff is so welcoming and the crowd is absolutely fantastic,” Seaton said. “Small publishers and comic book creators really have a chance to connect with readers at Long Beach. People there are open to new stories and voices and seek out diverse and different creators and characters, which is what helps the industry grow.”

[Click to read the rest of the press release…]

female characters in comics, strong female characters

Want to Create Great Female Characters? Start with her brains, not her boobs

female characters in comics, strong female characters

“How do I create strong female characters?”

It’s a popular question many comic book creators now ask as they develop their stories. The short answer?

Develop her brains before you draw her boobs.

It is painfully, embarrassingly, obvious when a creator inserts a female character whose primary purpose lies in sexual objectification and exploitation.

The longer answer starts with a better question… How do I create great characters?

Character development for women isn’t any different than it is for men. There isn’t a special “pink book of characteristics” you must refer to in order to make fantastic female characters.

plague_4ripNEWWhether a creator is motivated by a genuine desire to include women as equals in their stories or is driven by less altruistic ideas (i.e. not wanting to end up on the front page of The Mary Sue for perpetuating stereotypes, or finally realizing the buying power of women, or realizing it may be be easier to get press because, “Look! Girls in Comics!”), it is imperative that comic creators avoid making the same stupid mistakes others have made that alienate readers and frankly, ruin a good story.

I wanted to make my female characters in Legend of the Mantamaji equal to the men in every way. That is why the Sanctuants (women heroes) in my story found a way to survive for thousands of years when the men could not. They are the backbone of the story.

Listen, character development is difficult. From nothing, you have to create a well-rounded, interesting person. The person has to have that ‘it’ factor in order for readers to care about what they say and do. If you’re still stuck on creating a relevant, female character, these three tips should help:

1. Develop her brains before you draw her body.

Get inside your character’s head and get to know her. What does her voice sound like? Where did she grow up? Why? How would she react if x happened? Why? What is her value system? Would it ever shift? How does she interact with other characters in the story? Why? What does she do in her downtime? Why? If you don’t understand a character’s motivation, your character is flat and unrealistic.

main_sanctuants_1NEW2. Don’t confuse girls who kick ass for characters with agency.

If your character’s actions don’t affect the story, you’re wasting ink. Kelly Sue DeConnick called it the “sexy lampshade test.” If you can replace the character with, say, the lamp from A Christmas Story and the quality of the story doesn’t decline significantly, your character sucks.

“But she is a total badass,” you say. “She can shoot big guns!”

So, what? Why is she shooting big guns? If it’s simply because someone told her to – seems like a lame reason.

3. Remember she is not “just” anything.

She’s not just a girlfriend, or just the mom or just the secretary. Look at the women you know. Are they “just” anything? They have lives, dreams goals and motivations outside of their interactions with you. Or to put it another way, would you ever throw a male character into a story just so he could get killed? How about throwing him in the story just so the hero has a way to be ‘humanized?’ Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

It’s lazy writing, bad storytelling and terrible karma to marginalize an entire group of people in your stories.
Why do the Mantamaji fight? Why does Superman fight? Is Wonder Woman simply waiting around for people to give her instructions? Is Detective Sydney Spencer sitting around the police precinct waiting for someone to kidnap her? No! They have their own reasons for taking up the mantle of hero or villain.

If your character development is lacking in any of these three ways it’s time to go back to the drawing board, you still have work to do.

Check out more great characters from Legend of the Mantamaji and pick up the books here.

Thank you iHeart Radio Inspiration 1390!

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Thank you to Angela and Mark for having us on today to talk about the series and live action short. We’d love to see everyone out at Wizard World Chicago this weekend.

If you can’t make it out, check out the live short here:

And you can purchase the books through our online store and get 30% off by using promotion code “mantamaji.”