Intermediate Reader – Almost Here!

The first issue of our intermediate reader series Cosmos Incendens is almost ready! Let’s take a look at what is in store in this epic new Latin comic series:

title card 2

THE COSMOS WAS MADE NEITHER BY
ANY OF THE GODS NOR HUMANKIND,
BUT HAS EXISTED FOREVER, AND IS,
AND WILL BE.
AN EVERLIVING FIRE: KINDLING IN
MEASURE AND GOING OUT IN
MEASURE.

HERACLITUS

A young adult, on the threshold between childhood and adulthood, looks out towards the wide world with a sense of wonder. There is freedom out there, and adventure. This premise might sound familiar: it is the basis for many a hero’s journey. The hero of such a tale is eager to break the bonds set upon them by the world so that they might go forth and become the best version of themselves that they can be. But what exactly is this “best version”? Does the young adult truly know what is best for them, or what their final destination is or ought to be? Society might say “No.” As might the individual’s family and friends. Perhaps they are right: the hero of this tale might not know exactly where they are going, but wherever it is, and whoever they are meant to be is out there in the great unknown.

screenshot_Fri_Jul_08_09.50.07The desire for adventure grows, the opportunity strikes, and the hero is thrust into a new world, beyond the protected crib of childhood. They fly the nest and find a world more beautiful and more hostile than they ever could have imagined. But if they have the courage and will-power to persevere, they just might conquer this dangerous world and become who they were always meant to become: the true hero of their own tale, and perhaps even the hero of the world! This is the story at the heart of Cosmos Incendens.

It is the 2nd century CE, and Marcus Aurelius reigns. The Mediterranean has seen worse times. There’s still plenty of war, poverty, sickness, and turmoil, but things are just about as “stable” as they can get in the Roman Empire. At least, they seem to be.

screenshot_Fri_Jul_08_08.39.55For most, it is life as usual: hard work and toil, a constant struggle for survival. Rough, unsympathetic, but manageable. The Gods and Goddesses rule from their lofty thrones; divine spirits roam the wilderness and cities; restless souls haunt every necropolis; and humankind rides the currents of it all, a small part in the severe yet harmonious order of things. But something stirs—something ancient, something angry, something bent on disharmony, discord, chaos.

A new cult is forming around this ancient evil. They call themselves the Philerides—Lovers of Discord. Twisting and warping the words of Philosophers and Poets of old, the cults feign reason and piety, filling its ranks with eager devotees. The leader of this new religion is called the Magister Optimus Maximus, The Most High and Mighty Teacher, a supposed living embodiment of the goddess Discord. This Magister Optimus Maximus rules his disciples from the shadows, communing only with his highest generals, the Magistri, or Teachers. This growing cult spreads unseen through the Roman Empire, waiting for the right moment to raise its ugly head and put its terrifying plans into action: Unwinding the very fabric of Nature itself—a return to Chaos.screenshot_Fri_Jul_08_08.46.24

The Gods and Goddesses of Mount Olympus know of this growing evil, know of its plans to disrupt the natural harmony of things. They also know there is a way to prevent it from achieving its goal. There is a prophecy that speaks of a hero who will rise to destroy this evil. Cosmic salvation depends on this one individual: a young mortal, and right now he is bickering with his father about doing his school-work.

screenshot_Fri_Jul_08_08.49.37Lucius is our hero, a legendarily stubborn sixteen-year-old boy who wants nothing to do with the patrician’s lifestyle his father desperately wants to instill in him. Lucius, like his younger sister Secunda, is no stranger to trouble. Unlike his sister, however, Lucius lacks the savvy and charm to get away with it. When Lucius’s father refuses to initiate him into adulthood on his sixteenth birthday, a day every Roman boy expects to be initiated, Lucius decides to take a break from his school-work and run away for a day. Little does he know, he is being eagerly sought by forces both good and evil. Who will reach Lucius first? Will he accept his destiny as laid out by the prophecy? Will he save the Cosmos, or will discord succeed in unraveling the natural order?

Cosmos Incendens is a coming of age story, an adventure, a sprawling epic, set in the fantastic world of Ancient Rome. Readers will meet a diverse cast of characters, mortal and divine, as they travel all across the Ancient World. The story is inspired by classics such as the works of Homer and Vergil, as well as modern classics such as Star Wars, Harry Potter and The Wheel of Time series. Yet it also draws heavily from many ancient religious and philosophical texts. screenshot_Fri_Jul_08_08.41.28It is an exploration of the individual’s agency within him- or herself, in the home, in society, and in the grand, cosmic scheme of things. What is “Destiny”? Can we change it, or are we like the dog pulled along by the cart? How do our actions reverberate and affect the people and the world around us?

Whether you enjoy action, romance, tragedy or comedy; political intrigue, mystery, magic or fantasy; history, philosophy, archeology or art, Cosmos Incendens has something for you.

Stay tuned for updates on the release date of Cosmos Incendens #1!

Secunda and Cosmos Incendens featured in PRIMA!

We are very happy to be featured in the Summer 2016 issue of Excellence Through Classics newsletter PRIMA!

“Colorado classicists promise a breath of fresh air for Latin students. Two new comic-book reader series open up a new world of compelling, comprehensible materials.”

Check it out:

For more on Excellence Through Classics, check out their website: http://www.etclassics.org

New Storefront & Insightful Article on Race and Ethnicity

Our storefront is new and improved! Now all Sequential Latin’s products are conveniently listed in one place and clearly indicate whether they are in Latin, English, Print or Digital formats. It’s almost too easy to navigate and find the right product for you! Check it out HERE.

Also, Sequential Latin’s Editor and president of Ionic Empire, Wesley Wood, has posted a fascinating article on Race and Ethnicity in the modern Latin classroom over at the Ionic Empire Blog. It features a close look at Race and Ethnicity as portrayed in our very own Secunda issue #1, and sheds light on some of the obstacles facing teachers and students when discussing Race and Ethnicity in ancient Rome. It is very thoughtful and definitely worth a read! Check it out HERE.

Secunda #2 released! Secunda #1 DIGITAL released!

It is late in the day here at Sequential Latin Studios, but, as promised, Secunda #2 has gone live and now available on Kindle with access via 23 different devices and the cloud! Print versions should be available next week. Click HERE to get your digital copy right now!

Also, the digital version of Secunda #1 is now available on Kindle with access via 23 different devices and the cloud! For Latin: click HERE. For English: click HERE

Stay tuned next week for the release of Secunda #2 in print and English versions!!

100 Faces of Nok Culture: Exploring Afra’s Ancestry

Today, we take a closer look at Secunda #2: Afra’s Tale and the historical background for the issue:

The Story of a Doll

“…my doll is a hero!”

 In Secunda #2: Afra’s Tale, Afra mentions in passing that she once had a doll, much like Secunda’s. “You had a doll?” Secunda asks. Afra nods. Secunda must know more: “Afra, come on! Tell me the story of your doll!” So Afra begins the doll’s story, but it quickly becomes apparent that the story is about much more than the doll. Afra’s Tale is the story of Afra’s ancestors. An epic journey that begins in the heart of Africa and ends in the heart of Rome. The doll is merely the thread that links it all.

During each phase of Afra’s ancestors’ journey, the doll is there, passed down generation to generation, a physical reminder of the memory of one family’s heritage. As memories faded, replaced by myth and archetype, the doll remained. As loved one’s passed away and their names were forgotten, the doll remained. In Afra’s Tale, the doll is a symbol of who Afra is and where she came from, but where did she come from?

Who Were Afra’s Ancestors?

“My ancestors lived in a village deep in the heart of Africa…”

Deep in the heart of Africa, in modern day Nigeria, there once lived a culture we now call the Nok culture. Emerging around 1000 BCE and finally disappearing around 300 CE, not a great deal is known about this culture. Like Afra’s fictional ancestors and their doll, so much of this ancient culture remains only in the form of innumerable terra-cotta figurines. Though we do not know the exact function of these ubiquitous figurines, they do offer us at times a surprisingly personal glimpse at the individuals that made up this ancient people.

Nok Figure, Louvre, Paris

While some of the figurines depict strange, often monstrous anthropomorphic beings, the majority we might well call portraits. Though highly stylized and standardized in overall form, the faces of these figures all show such distinct personality, one can instantly see in their mind’s eye the real-life people of whom these dolls may have been a likeness. So personal, so individual are these figurines, that one wonders if they were crafted as portraits, physical memories of people once living.

 Female Figure; Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina
Female Nok Figure; Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina

Afra’s doll is one of these figurines, and somewhere on the fringes of Nok culture lived Afra’s earliest ancestors.

 

 

100 Faces of Nok Culture

“Without their souls, they did not respond to their names…”

Nok Figure, Louvre, Paris
Nok Head, Kimbell Art Museum

When I set out to write Afra’s Tale, I first had to decide where exactly Afra was from. Clearly, she was from Africa, but Africa is a pretty big place. I began studying ancient African cultures. I was looking for a culture with a strong material heritage, to which I could anchor my historical-fiction tale, as well as my illustrations. In my studies I came upon the Nok culture and their beautiful figurines. Instantly I knew this was the culture I was looking for; every figure exuded such personality: the expressions, the clothing, the hair… For a story about people, about family heritage, where I needed to illustrate so many different individuals, the diversity of faces these figures portrayed made them exactly the sort of material culture I was looking for. That settled it: Afra and her ancestors were from the Nok culture.

Myth, History, and Fiction

“Then the doll embodied the spirit of my ancestors…”

While visually based on Nok figurines, and possessing one themselves, Afra’s ancestors and their story are fictional. Afra’s Tale is about a family and their journey through space and time. It begins in the fantastic realm of myth and moves ever toward the historically documented times of the Roman Republic and Empire. Yet, although the story is hinged upon real places and events, it does not care to linger on them much. It is not the places or the events that matter, it is one family’s collective memory of their past that is the focus.

As Afra tells her tale, readers see an Africa colored by these memories: memories of drought becomes boundless deserts and dead trees; memories of fertility become dense, lush greenery and fruits; memories of a wicked witch become a monstrously cruel visage. Astute readers will take note of the real life places and events treated in this issue, but to Afra, it is not that the God-ruled kingdom of Egypt was real or that once prosperous Carthage fell that really matters, but the perseverance, struggles, successes and losses of her family.


Be sure to check out Secunda #2: Afra’s Tale, available Friday, February 26th! Click HERE for a preview, and click HERE to visit our shop and get your own copy!

 

Secunda #2 Preview and Release Date!

screenshot_Thu_Feb_18_12.51.00Secunda #2 Preview and Release Date:

We are happy to announce that issue #2 of Secunda is set to release next week: Friday, February 26th! To wet your appetite for your favorite Roman girl’s next adventure, check out the free preview of issue #2 available today. Head over to the Preview section of sequentiallatin.org or click RIGHT HERE to check it out.

Stay tuned in the coming days for more exciting content and sneak peeks!

 

Belated end/beginning of the year update:

It has been a while since our last update, but we have been very hard at work getting more great content ready for release. 2015 was a year of establishing a foundation. We achieved a lot: Secunda #1 released to great reception, #2 is nearly out, and Secunda #3-5 are in their final phases of illustration. Also the script for the first 10 issue story-arc of Cosmos Incendens is undergoing final edits. 2015 was very productive and prepared us to confidently swan-dive into 2016.

That brings us to 2016: It’s is going to be a big year for Sequential Latin. We have plans for full-scale release of Secunda #2-5 by the summer, as well as the long-awaited initial release of Cosmos Incendens! We have also begun the first phase of writing Secunda #6-10 which should begin release before the year is over. So much to be excited about! Stay tuned here at the SLNews blog for regular updates.

Thank you all so much for your continued support, and get ready for a great year full of awesome Latin comics!

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE! Secunda #1!

We are very pleased to announce that Secunda #1 (Latin version) is currently available for purchase in print format! Head over to our storefront to get your copy today: http://ionicempire.com/secunda/ (You can always reach our store from this blog or our homepage sequentiallatin.org)

If you purchase more than 5 copies at a time, you receive a 25% discount (great for teachers!)

In the coming days, digital format for the Latin version will be made available, as will the print and digital formats for the English version. To be notified when further formats and the English versions become available, you can subscribe to this blog or download our FREE and lightweight blog app to receive push notifications right to your phone.

If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns we would love to hear from you! You can always get in touch with us HERE, or post in the comments section below, tweet at us or visit us on Facebook.

Enjoy Secunda #1, and let us know what you think!

 

YouTube! & Exploring Secunda, Part IV: Behind the Scenes

Well, here we are, one day to go before we can all get our hands on Secunda #1!

Today we have the final part of our four part series Exploring Secunda where we will take a look behind the scenes during the creation of an issue. This article even includes video from our brand new YouTube channel!

Exploring Secunda, Part IV: Behind the Scenes

 

The creation of a single issue of Secunda has several different steps from the abstract idea to the fully illustrated page. More than just mere comics, the careful balance of historical accuracy, linguistic integrity, artistic rendering, and narrative enjoyability presents a complicated balancing act during the genesis of our Latin readers. Let’s take a look at just what goes on behind the scenes during the making of an issue!

Phase One: Writing

The Idea

Of course, before any images are drawn, before any words are written, it all begins with an idea. Where the ideas come from, well, that’s for the philosophers to debate, but when they come is a bit easier to nail down.

screenshot_Thu_Oct_15_14.33.06It could be during research, for example the idea for issue #3: At the Kids’ Table, came to me while reading about Roman dinner banquets (cena). I had just read that the children at such banquets would not recline like their parents, but would sit on chairs in their own area. I wondered: what would being at one of those “children’s tables” be like? What would they talk about?

Other times, the ideas come while watching a film, reading a book or the browsing newspaper. A good example of this is the story from issues #4 & 5, which draw heavy inspiration from Scooby-Do. Sometimes the ideas come during a writing exercise, or while I’m doodling. And then there’s the time where the ideas just come out of the ether. Regardless how or when they come, however, every issue needs an idea.

The Research

screenshot_Thu_Oct_15_14.36.10Of course, before an idea can be put into action, it first must be researched to ensure that it is feasible. Would such a thing be possible in the 2nd century CE? Would it make a compelling story? Will it provide a context for meaningful use of language? Can it be done in one, at most two, issues? This is a pretty simple yet crucial step.

The Outline
Alright, so we’ve got a good idea, and some research has proven it viable, the next step is to begin writing the actual script for the issue. At this point I take some time to toss the idea and research around in my head in order to develop a plot-line.screenshot_Thu_Oct_15_14.24.25 I take notes, record myself telling the story and variations of the story, I explore motivations and characters and twists and setting… Once I have a solid idea of the story, I synthesize all that brainstorming into a point-by-point outline of the issue.

The Thumbnails

At this point, some writers might just go ahead and write out the comic’s complete script, often formatted like a screenplay. I, however, like to explore the visual element of the comic visually before I write the script. What does that mean? Well, first I’d better explain a bit about the typical comic book writing process so this can make a little more sense.

Depending on the writer and the artist, a comic usually has a script, which of course contains all the dialogue and a more or less detailed description of the action. Some scripts might describe the action in exact detail, complete with “camera” angles and shots for the final comic book page. Some might just describe the action generally, leaving it up to the artist to choose the angles and shots.

Generally the next step is for the artist to create what are called “Thumbnails,” basically little sketches of the final page used for approval from the writer then reference for the artist. Then the artist will begin to render the full-sized pages.

screenshot_Thu_Oct_15_14.24.46Since I am the writer and the artist, I do the script and the thumbnails in reverse order, sketching the thumbnails first. I sit down with my outline and start sketching out thumbnails with various notes, including dialogue notes. Basically I do this to ensure that the script I will eventually write is optimal for being rendered visually. While anything is possible with comics, not everything is practical, especially for comics as language learning tools. By making sure the visual element can be rendered with utmost clarity and comprehensibility first, I don’t have to spend time rewriting the script later when I eventually realize that there might be a better way of writing potentially large portions of the plot for the visual medium of comics.

The Script

Once I have the whole issue sketched in thumbnails I write that action and dialogue out into a script. screenshot_Thu_Oct_15_14.38.14Generally I write the dialogue within the script in Latin first, sometimes resorting to English when I need to research the best way of rendering something in Latin. I then review this first draft to make sure my Latin is correct and to translate the English bits. Once I am satisfied with this draft of the script it is then sent to my editor, who reviews its language and plot for historical and linguistic accuracy. Usually a script will go through several phases of editing, the final one of course being to check all the macrons are correct.

Phase Two: Illustrating

Once we have a solid script, it’s time to illustrate the comic, right? Not quite. First we need to make sure we know what all the characters and settings will look like. First we need to draw some concept art!

Concept Art

screenshot_Thu_Oct_15_14.23.25

screenshot_Thu_Oct_15_14.22.58Concept art is where we decide what the characters and settings will look like, draw out maps of certain scenes or settings, and  get the overall look for the issue nailed down. Concept art is more than just practice drawing characters and settings before official illustration, it is also valuable reference material for during the illustration process as well as a crucial time to make sure everything looks right before beginning illustration of the final product. Since Secunda is a historical fiction series, ensuring everything “looks right” is very important! From the clothes to the architecture, everything must look like it fits into the ancient world it is supposed to take place in.

Illustrating the Pages

Page illustration has four steps: layout, pencils, inks and color. First step is to layout the various panels on the page based on what I’ve got in my thumbnails. Then I sketch out the shots inside the panels, first roughly then I go over with more detail. Next I go over the pencils with ink, making the nice, smooth final lines for the page. I do all of these steps digitally with a creative tablet and the program Manga Studio Ex 5. These steps are pretty straight forward, so rather than explaining it, how about I just show you?

Here is a video of page 22 of Secunda #1 drawn and then inked:

Once everything is inked I send the inks to my colorist, who prints them out and colors them by hand! He then scans them and sends them back to me. Here is page 22 of Secunda #1 fully colored:

s#1 p 22 sine verbis

Once I get the fully colored scans back it is time to add the word bubbles. Again, I use Manga Studio Ex 5 which makes this process nice and easy. Here is page 22 of Secunda #1 fully colored and with all word bubbles, ready for release:

s#1 p 22