By TERREECE M. CLARKE
We did it, moms! We limped across the finish line. School is out and if you are like me you are breathing a sigh of relief and twitching in a corner with a chocolate bar muttering, “No more drop off/pick up line…” Ahead of you are the wistful, warm days of… summer reading. Yes, another “To Do,” and even if your brown baby is an avid reader, the call of TV and YouTube beats out that summer reading list every time. So, why not embrace it?
You don’t know him, but there is a man who has kept the eyes of both kids and adults glued to their televisions for years, who is now hoping to get noses happily in books this summer and beyond—by putting stuff on YouTube. Tricky…
Eric Dean Seaton has directed more than 200 episodes of 38 hit shows, including many on your kids’ favorite stations, like Disney’s “That’s So Raven,” “Austin & Ally,” “Shake It Up” and “A.N.T. Farm” and Nickelodeon’s “Bella and the Bulldogs,” “The Thundermans,” “The Haunted Hathaways,” “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn” and “True Jackson.” Beginning late last year, he released the “Legend of the Mantamaji” graphic novel trilogy—a high flying adventure series with knights, ancient legends, dastardly villains, strong female characters and multicultural heroes.
The story focuses on Elijah Alexander, a selfish, successful assistant district attorney, who learns he is the last of an ancient race sworn to protect humanity. He’s the last person you’d want to save the world and he doesn’t want to, but he has to make some tough choices when an ancient evil resurrects in modern day New York posing as a religious leader. It also follows Sydney Spencer, a super smart detective who seems to be the only one with the guts to investigate the mysterious band of criminals that are occupying the shadows of the city. She’s no damsel in distress; sis is carrying a big gun and bigger right hook.
These are the characters Seaton is using to get families to read together. In addition to the graphic novels, Seaton also shot a Live Action Short to reach readers who aren’t browsing the science fiction/fantasy aisles at Barnes and Noble. The short, Seaton said, will arrive late this month, but for now he’s giving readers a glimpse of what it’s like to create a superhero in the web series, “Legend of the Mantamaji: Behind the Scenes.”
“The behind the scenes footage follows me and my production team over three days as we shoot the upcoming Live Action Short,” Seaton said. “Fans and folks new to the series get to learn more about the books in a visual way. You don’t have to read the back of the book blurb and imagine the story. We’re showing you more about these new characters, the rules of their world and more. When we’re out on the book tour, the kids stop because of the art and the videos from the series and then they pick up the books. ”
Diverse graphic novels are often proving to be the gateway to a life-long love of reading. According to the Library Media Connection, graphic novels and comics can also help improve language and literacy development and the illustrations provide great context clues to the meaning of the story. Reluctant readers are less intimidated by them and gain confidence in their reading ability, while avid readers enjoy the change of pace and the variety of subjects available in graphic novel form, including science fiction, historical, instructional, comedy and contemporary fiction.
“The series is for all ages,” Seaton said. “Whole families are picking up the books, taking turns reading and talking about books together. I love hearing that.”
Readers are seeing a sword and sorcery series come to life with a Black director and Black lead hero. You don’t get that too often and MyBrownBaby has the exclusive on this week’s double episode release:
Terreece M. Clarke is a freelance writer/journalist for a variety of magazines, newspapers and websites and a rocking’ wife and mother of three. Follow her on Twitter: @terreece!
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.