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!

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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.

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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!

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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

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Another Preview Page! & Exploring Secunda, Part III: A Latin Reader with a Modern Twist

Only two days to go until release of Secunda #1…

Today we present another free preview page in the Free Preview section of sequentiallatin.org. Be sure to head over and check it out!


 

We are very happy to have special guest Wesley Wood of Ionic Empire here on our blog today to tell us all about the unique features of Secunda that make it such a powerful and versatile Latin learning tool! Without further ado, let’s hear what Wesley has to share in Exploring Secunda, Part III: A Latin Reader with a Modern Twist.

Exploring Secunda, Part III: A Latin Reader with a Modern Twist

Guest blog by Wesley Wood, MAT

screenshot_Wed_Oct_14_21.35.11There is just something special about Secunda. She is a spunky girl, with traditional Roman values of course, but her imagination is what sets her apart from her peers. Too often Latin students are subjected to the same old types of stories and exercises – as I have lamented: “The raeda can only be stuck in the fossā for so many chapters before it gets old.” Students may be reading things that were designed to assist in their proficiency, but sometimes the drive isn’t there.

I remember coming home from the American Classical League Institute this year, and I was reading an early draft of Secunda #1 for editing. But the first step whenever editing, no matter first or final draft, is to read the manuscript in its entirety. So here I am in the Hartford International Airport, laughing out loud to myself because of this silly Roman girl named Secunda. “This,” I remember saying, “is someone Latin students will love.”

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Compelling Content
In theories of language acquisition and discussions of language pedagogies, the notion that material should be compelling to the student has often been overlooked. Granted, even as a native speaker you will not always read things you want to read (e.g. any high school or college course), but it certainly helps to drive you on when it does. In my experience as a student and magister, Latin seems to fall flat when it comes to compelling readings for students, especially beginning and intermediate ones. screenshot_Wed_Oct_14_21.43.55Of course, there are some students who love to read about the tactics of Julius Caesar in Gaul or the epic foundations of Roman legend in the Aeneid, but they have to first trudge through waves of synthetic Latin to reach “the good stuff.”

This is where Sequential Latin’s Secunda shines, by setting itself apart from other readers. Its visually-striking art in full color keeps readers’ attention and makes you want to turn the page. For me, the storylines are superb, quirky, and just hilarious, without the typical corny dialogue you would find elsewhere. Here, you will find angst and attitude that are perfect for preteen and teen readers alike, looking to make a connection. screenshot_Wed_Oct_14_21.47.41From a teacher’s perspective, I wanted to ensure that this would be an excellent introduction to Roman culture and history, and Secunda’s methodology does just that. The major premise for the series is that Secunda’s imagination will retell the myths and histories that we all (i.e. teachers) know and love, from Cloelia and Lars Porsenna to Theseus and the Minotaur and more. Most importantly, Secunda puts herself in the stories and is an active participant, not just a passive observer.

Comprehensible and Contextualized Vocabulary

Vocabulary is the hardest part of learning any foreign language, for most students. In language acquisition, this holds true as well, for you will eventually pick up the culturally accepted grammar – one day you will presumably no longer say: “I do-ded it”…“I did it.” It just takes time. For Latin learners, vocabulary is very often an onerous part of the whole experience, resulting in only short-term retention because no meaningful connections were made. screenshot_Wed_Oct_14_21.56.39Many teachers now present vocabulary with images or realia to create associations, myself included, and this should be extended into students’ readings. Phillip Ray’s marvelous illustrations were designed with the Latin in mind in order to foster this idea of “negotiation of meaning.”

I always say in class to use context clues in the sentence; in Secunda, there are additional significant clues that highly contextualize the vocabulary. One of the best examples in Issue #1 is when Secunda overhears a shopkeeper yelling out her goods: HABEO LUDICRA, MONILIA, ARMILLAS, ANULOS…. a list of words – the student’s nightmare. But fantastically, each one of these words is represented in the panel where that word is first introduced to the reader. Instead of seeing an English definition (those are available in the INDEX VERBORUM), the reader sees an image and can infer meaning. This is a major tool for secondary language acquisition.screenshot_Wed_Oct_14_21.53.38

Spoken Latin in Written Form

screenshot_Wed_Oct_14_21.59.34One last thing that I will address is the fact that this entire Latin reader is entirely colloquial. This is wonderful for a number of reasons. First, many Latin classrooms do not incorporate spoken Latin into the curricula, unfortunately. It is my professional opinion that we should learn as the Romans did OR as close to it as we can; if they were unable to read the language silently, my students and I should not either. For those types of classrooms, I believe this is a happy compromise to introduce conversational Latin. (N.B. This is technically not interpersonal communication; it is interpretive communication.)

However, for those of you teachers who do employ some level of spoken Latin, I can assure you it is a joy to use with students. Reading it together really gets you into the story (the onomatopoeia and interjections truly do it justice), but it is fantastic as an individual reading. With both the Secunda series and its advanced counterpart, the Cosmos Incendens series, students will soon be able to have extensive compelling readings at their fingertips – a true need in our field.

I can go on and on here, and I will at another time. But in short, I think it would be best to close out with a quotation I overheard at ACL this year, from a seventh-grade girl who watched a demo of Secunda #1: “Secunda is my homegirl!”


 

For more from Wesley Wood, check out the Ionic Empire official Blog!

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Quick Update: Preview Pages Alternate View

Salvete omnes!

Just a quick update here. It has been brought to my attention that some people are having trouble viewing the full page previews in the Free Preview section of sequentiallatin.org. I have gone ahead and added an alternate view that fixes this problem for those who were having trouble (currently only available for Latin version, English version coming soon!). You can find links to the alternate view in the Free Preview section or you can click the following link: http://secundalatin.webcomic.ws/

Gratias!

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RELEASE DATE ANNOUNCED!!!

At long last!

I am very pleased to announce that the first issue of the  Latin comic reader series Secunda will be available for purchase this Friday, October 16th! Links to our storefront will be found here on the blog as well as on the official Sequential Latin website then, so stay tuned.

screenshot_Sun_Oct_11_11.54.54We’ve been hard at work making sure our Latin comics are the very best in Latin readers and cannot wait to share the final product with you! Over the coming days leading up to release we will be posting plenty of preview materials, artwork, videos and other fun stuff so be sure to follow us here on the blog, as well as on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to this blog to receive updates via email, or you can download our blog’s FREE and lightweight App to receive push notifications right to your phone.

Coming… Tomorrow!

screenshot_Sun_Oct_11_11.56.19We will kick things off tomorrow by unveiling the new, up-to-date Free Previews section of the official Sequential Latin website, including a new preview page for those who have been following the story of Secunda #1. If you are interested in using Sequential Latin’s materials in the classroom, be sure to return tomorrow to see a FREE full-page preview of over twenty pages of the first issue!

New Website:

Finally, our website and blog have both been completely overhauled and streamlined! The new website is now much more concise and easy to navigate, includes plenty of full-color images, and provides a closer look at the features of our Latin comic readers.

What do you think of the new and improved website? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Have any questions? Feel free to contact us at any time!

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New Page in COLOR! And Coloring Cosmos Incendens!

A new preview page is up at sequentiallatin.org and today it is a fully colored version! Head over to the “Previews” section of the Sequential Latin homepage to see what happens next in Secunda’s quest for the coveted doll.

Lately at SL Studios: Coloring Cosmos Incendens

As we approach release of Secunda #1, applying final edits and making little adjustments, the first issue of Cosmos Incendens has entered its final phase of illustration: adding color. Floating around the Sequential Latin website and social media sites, you can find little peeks at colored versions of Cosmos Incendens artwork. If you’ve seen these pics, such as the one found HERE, you might notice that the coloring style is drastically different from that of the Secunda series. There are several reasons for this, the first being that a different colorist is responsible for each series, the second being the different artistic style overall, and the third being the more mature and serious tone of the Cosmos Incendens series.

Anyhow, the coloring of Cosmos Incendens #1 is fully underway, and I thought I might share a bit of the coloring process with you, via images, from the plain inked page all the way to the complete colored page.

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New Page and Cosmos Incendens Colors!

The next page of Secunda is now up at sequentallatin.org in the “Previews” section. Be sure to head over and check it out!

This past week I have been hard at work coloring the first pages of Cosmos Incendens and I am eager to show them to you and to hear what you think. This is some of my first work as a colorist, so some honest feedback would be much appreciated! Behold:

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Page 20 Released & What’s to Come from SL

Preview page 20 of Secunda issue #1 is now available in the “Preview” section over at http://sequentiallatin.org; Head on over to check it out!

Next Thursday

With the release of preview page 20 ends the current run of preview releases for Secunda issue #1. This means there will be no page 21 released next Thursday. Instead, we will be releasing a neat little surprise, as well as announcing the next run of preview pages for your viewing pleasure! So stay tuned for that!

What’s to Come

screenshot_Thu_Jun_04_10.15.53

Last week I gave you a little glimpse into how Sequential Latin has been growing over the last few months. This week, I’d like to delve a little bit into what sort of content you can expect from Sequential Latin moving forward.

Throughout the month of April, and into the beginning of May, Sequential Latin was hard at work fleshing out scripts for both Secunda and Cosmos Incendens. The first several issues of both comics series are fully written and in the process of being edited. What should you expect from these first issues? Where do I start!?

How about the Secunda series? In short, expect action, adventure, and the world of classical myth & history that you love!screenshot_Thu_Jun_04_10.17.54 The first issue continues from where we leave it today with the birth of Secunda’s imaginary alter ego, setting the stage for the exciting meld of the real world, the imaginary world, and the dream world that is the Secunda series! The issues that follow will include a Roman dinner at the children’s table, explorations of the classic Theseus and the Minotaur myth, a journey into ancient Africa following the wanderings of Afra’s ancestors (Afra is Secunda’s unenviable nanny), and the heroic adventures of Secunda’s alter ego, including her quest to solve the mystery of an island being plagued by a monstrous Lava Nymph! So much fun! We cannot wait to share it all with you!

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Now what about Cosmos Incendens? If I had to pick three words to describe the first bunch of Cosmos Incendens issues they would be: action, drama and mystery. screenshot_Thu_Jun_04_10.31.05Expect to meet Gods, do battle in Britannia, explore a luxurious Roman bath-house, brave dark, mysterious forests, and experience a nightmarish trial in a preternatural court! You will meet Lucius, our stubborn protagonist, as well as a slew of other characters from all over the Empire. Nature, the gods, and humankind all have their plans, but the Cosmos propels them all towards a future of its own making; In Cosmos Incendens, the name of the game is Destiny… or is it? This story is truly epic in scope and we cannot wait to begin telling it to you!

Right this Moment @ Sequential Latin

Right now I’m writing a blog post 😛 but immediately after it is to the office to continue penciling Cosmos Incendens issue #2. I just got finished with a big battle scene, check out some of the sketches:

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See you next week!

-Phil

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