Yes, Black People Survive the Apocalypse

Television 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, 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” series Feb. 11, 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?” said Seaton, whose television hits include Disney’s Austin & Ally, NBC’s Undateable and Nickelodeon’s Bella and the Bulldogs. “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.”

The third book in the “Legend of the Mantamaji” series 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, 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 named among the “Top Graphic Novels of 2014” by and Atlanta Blackstar. With Book 3’s release, the early buzz points to Seaton showing no signs of stopping.

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!

9 Awesome Comics Represented at the Black Comix Arts Festival To Add To Your Collection

Last month, The Afronauts launched by attending the inaugural Black Comix Arts Festival presented by the Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Foundation. The Black Comix Arts Festival’s mission is to celebrate the creativity and subjectivity of African-Americans in the comic arts and popular visual culture, and it included a grand exposition, kids’ activities, special guest artists’ presentations, film screenings, cosplay events and much more. The event was held at the San Francisco Public Library, the Children’s Creativity Museum and City View at METREON. The Afronauts were the only media visibly in attendance, and we were able to interview half of the 28 artists/writers in attendance.

Here are some of the comics we would like to highlight from the event:



Siba is a young girl who is known for her huge appetite, kind heart and loyalty to her friends. Her two childhood best friends, Kevin and Jeff, are troublemakers. They always get into fights, stealing from shops and pulling pranks on people. Together they enjoy their childhood sharing the good times in the neighborhood.

Christopher Garner and Sebastian A. Jones:



Hidden from his kin and sheltered from his future, Dusu is raised among the Galemren (Wild Elves) in the secret heart of the Ugoma Jungle, a world in which he does not belong. But Dusu is not entirely human either. He is on the path to something more. Dusu must focus his rage and become the savior of Ugoma before all he loves is destroyed.

‘Legend of the Mantamaji: Book Two’ — A Book Every Blerd Should Read

It has been said before and it’s worth repeating — it is an AWESOME time to be a nerd — and for Black nerds, we are finally seeing more creators and characters of color push through in the graphic novel/superhero genre both in film and print, conglomerate and indie produced. This week is no exception.

“Legend of the Mantamaji: Book Two” published by And…Action! Entertainment is the second book in television director Eric Dean Seaton’s new graphic novel series. It was set for release on Dec. 10, 2014, “Book Two” brings new characters, lots of action and open-mouth-catch-flies twists.

In this series installment, Seaton has to carry the expectations that readers embraced in the first book in the series — a smart plotline, good pacing, great artwork, layered characters, lots of action and those darn plot twists that got us in the first book. He also has to work hard to avoid the pitfalls that plague the second anything in a planned trilogy. No one enjoys settling into a good second book or movie only to feel like the series was stalling for time until the good stuff happens in the final installment (looking at you Matrix Reloaded).

Fortunately, Seaton and his collaborative team have exceeded expectations with “Book Two.” Part of what makes “Book Two” work is continuity in the team that worked on “Book One.”

Eisner-nominated letterer Deron Bennett brings his talented pen to the piece with consistency and skill.

Artist Brandon Palas continues to produce fantastic work. The action scenes are epic, yet easy to follow and there are panels that you want to pull out simply to admire the work. Palas is also careful to avoid female “same face” that often happens to female characters in the superhero genre. If you listen to Seaton’s numerous interviews to date, he is adamant that the women in the series are every bit as powerful and influential as the men — a powerful declaration of his female characters’ value and purpose — which surely influenced Palas’ art direction.

Colorist Andrew Dalhouse brings Palas’ work to life with brilliant, focused color. There is real depth in his work and deliberation in color choices, from the body armor of the Mantamaji to the intricacies of the splash pages. His long-time experience with the big comic companies is evident and demonstrated throughout the series.

Seaton, of course, is the man behind the entire story that keeps readers engaged from page one. A critically acclaimed television director with 198 episodes and 38 series under his belt including hit shows like NBC’s Undateable, BET’s Reed Between the Lines, Disney’s Austin and Ally and Nickelodeon’s The Haunted Hathaways, Seaton manages to make each chapter of the book feel like both television show episodes and weekly editions of a comic book series. This creates nice stopping points, even though the book compels you to keep reading if you can hold off work, family and everything else for close to 200 pages.

Seaton also keeps the books very clean, with an eye on a wide audience range, he leaves out swearing and excessive violence. The books are listed as being for ages 9 and up.

The Good:

The Story: “The Legend of the Mantamaji” storyline is terrific with well-placed plot twists that keep readers guessing the entire time. Just when you think you have it all figured out, Seaton throws you for a loop. While this second book picks up where the first one left off, you don’t have to read “Book One” ahead of “Book Two,” BUT without “Book One” you miss much of the backstory that marries the ancient African warrior vibe with modern-day resurgence of the Mantamaji very well. It does have the signature middle book cliffhanger, but you never feel like you’ve wasted your time. “Book Two” is definitely not a standalone book in the sense that you can get to the end and be completely satisfied. Readers will want to pre-order “Book Three” for February release.

The Characters: Seaton continues to supply his characters with interesting backstories and opportunities to rise or fall down on the job. He even instills humor as a way to help readers identify with all of his characters, good and bad alike.

We learn more about top cop Sydney who continues to hold her own against the city’s bad guys — in the occasional party dress no less. The social media popular Sanctuants, the sisters to the Mantamaji, reappear as well. And fortunately, we don’t see any butt to the camera fighting action that seems to be the pose du jour for female characters in the superhero genre.

The Action: Most of the action involves the Four Horsemen who are as intimidating as their names. The battles between the four and Elijah spill all over the place — the city, the woods … it’s exhausting and rewarding at the same time as Seaton has been teasing the Horsemen as a part of his social media campaign since before the first book launch. We also get to finally see the rebirth of Sirach, which is both frightening and intense.

The OK:

The Dialogue: As previous reviewers have mentioned, the dialogue can get a bit stilted. Some of it works with specific characters, other times it feels not as natural as you would expect in something that is clearly very modern.

Overall, “Legend of the Mantamaji: Book Two” lives up to the hype and at $14.99 is worth the investment. Unlike many indie works, the series is available in all formats [except braille and audio] and through a variety of sellers including Amazon, Barnes and Noble stores and online, Comixology, iTunes, comic book stores and the “Legend of the Mantamaji” website. Previews of all three books are also available at the “Legend of Mantamaji” website and on Amazon.

Source: Terreece M. Clarke at

Graphic Novel ‘Legend of the Mantamaji’ Pushes Ahead With Second Book

With the release of Book Two of the “Legend of the Mantamaji” graphic novel series, television director Eric Dean Seaton continues to appeal to superhero fans of all ages with multicultural characters and a thrilling plot full of action and fun. “Legend of the Mantamaji: Book Two” is available for pre-order ahead of its Dec. 11 release, just in time for the holidays.

Superhero and comic book culture shows no sign of slowing down, and with the announcement of more diverse characters on screen, parents of kids and teens who love superheroes are quietly hopeful the trend continues. The wait for a Black lead in a franchise film will be three years, leaving parents still looking for quality media with heroes of color. Enter “Legend of the Mantamaji,” a three-book graphic novel series by Eric Dean Seaton, top director of hit shows like TBS’s Ground Floor, NBC’s Undateable, Disney Channel’s Austin & Ally and Nickelodeon’s Ricky, Nicky, Dicky and Dawn.

Launched Oct. 8 and available on all platforms, the series features African-American male and female leads; a multicultural cast and strong storytelling from Seaton. Book One begins with hotshot Assistant District Attorney Elijah Alexander at the top of his career and the height of his selfishness. Little does he know his career success is directly connected to a secret that will put it in jeopardy. When a mysterious stranger appears, Elijah learns something incredibly shocking – he is not even human. Suddenly he has superpowers and is thrown into a world of magic, mystery and legendary evil.

“I’m just like the rest of the comic-loving world – I’m excited for the upcoming Black Panther movie,” Seaton said. “I’m a huge Black Panther fan, the comic was part of what inspired me growing up as a kid in Cleveland, Ohio. I always knew I wanted to create a comic book with a big back story and I wanted to create a superhero that looked like me. People of color have been an afterthought in superhero and sci-fi/fantasy stories. I also wanted to create a story that appealed to a wide range of comic book and graphic novel fans – that is why the book has no swearing and the story is layered and nuanced for adult comic and graphic novel lovers.”

“Legend of The Mantamaji,” a 2014 San Diego Comic-Con exclusive, is perfect for comic and graphic novel enthusiasts, ages 9 and up.

Read more from Eric Dean Seaton at

The Ease of Creating Strong Black Female Characters for Comics

Creating well-rounded female characters in comics isn’t hard. Just look around you for inspiration, and if you can’t find real-life representations, you need to expand your own circle.

Diversity in comics is usually one of the main topics of the conversations I have when discussing creating the “Legend of the Mantamaji” with the press. And interestingly, the discussion of race tends to be shorter than the discussion of the portrayal of female characters in the series.

The reality is, creating strong, well-rounded, fully fleshed females isn’t any more difficult than creating any other type of character – and inspiration isn’t hard to find.

In my life and in my career, all the people who have been behind my advancement have been strong women.

When I first came to Los Angeles and started working on comedies, the creators and people in charge were women:

  • The executive producer who got me in the Directors Guild of America as an assistant director.
  • The line producer who was behind me getting my opportunity to direct.


They were all the same in that they were smart, strong and extremely talented. They were also mothers. I am lucky that, in my life, I have always been surrounded by women who were strong and who were hustlers. I have always seen women who were doing everything you traditionally saw men do and doing it well.

My mom is a lifelong educator who still consults at John Carroll University in Cleveland in multi-cultural affairs. My wife owns her own thriving business. So when I created Sydney, Cornerstone and the other female characters in “Legend of the Mantamaji,” I was drawing on people I have seen, known, worked with or worked for.

Sanctuants from the “Legend of the Mantamaji” series are explicitly mentioned as equal to the male Mantamaji warriors. It’s an unusual call out among the comic industry, but I didn’t want any of the female leads to be any less than the main hero, just different. It makes the story’s history so much richer.

If I had to boil down three things I wanted to accomplish with the female characters in “Legend of the Mantamaji,” I have to say I wanted to create a new batch of heroes who are full, real characters; I wanted to make sure people were interested in their journey, and I wanted to give women readers what they have been asking for and deserve from comic book creators – real representation.

Read more from Eric Dean Seaton at