Tag Archives: trevor crafts

An Educator’s Take on The Not-So Secret Society

Matthew and Arlene Daley’s The Not-So Secret Society is the next in a long line of comics made for and by educators with the explicit purpose of classroom use – a line that often varies in its quality and content, but generally has its heart in the right place.

As both an educator and an advocate for the intellectual and academic merit of the Comics medium, I’m firmly in the middleground of excited and tentative when a new educator-based comic is announced. Where content is concerned, I’ve seen more than a few well-intentioned educators more or less butcher the medium through fundamental misunderstandings of how comic books function, resulting in little more than an illustrated textbook; where tone is concerned, I’ve been disappointed more than once with a sanctimonious, pedantic tone struck toward a reading audience that we teachers know – we know – responds best to guidance when it comes from a place of mutual respect and openness.

Thankfully, The Not-So Secret Society appears to avoid both of these issues.  Billed as “an all-ages adventure that celebrates the value of teamwork and lifelong friendships”, the Not-So Secret Society follows the misadventures of a group of friends whose science fair project, a candy-making machine, inadvertently unleashes more than they bargained for on their city. The preview copy I had the chance to read promises a straightforward and accessible all-ages romp without a trace of condescension. Characterization of each of the main characters is clearly defined, if a little cut and dry, and follows the “stock school clique” format you’ve seen before – which, given the target audience, isn’t surprising nor a negative. The art is easy for young eyes to follow without being so simple as to lose the interest of older readers; there’s plenty of detail in the backgrounds and enough of a Saturday cartoon vibe to evoke memories of Recess, The Weekenders, and other dearly departed early morning classics.

I am curious to see where the co-creators’ education experience will come to pass, as the bit of the issue I was given to sample played very little to overt pedagogy or any kind of explicit subject area content (or, really, anything apart from setting up the story itself), but as far as I am concerned that is a good sign. If the Daleys can take a story about a candy-machine-gone-bad and somehow spin it into a lesson worthy of classroom inclusion, then more power to them.  There’s also the equally-valid notion that the endgame is the focus on “teamwork and lifelong friendships” that the overview promises, which has its place in the classroom but is less in demand as an explicit lesson, especially in the era of truncated instructional minutes and concerns about time, time, time.

Perhaps not surprising is the boost of confidence I feel for this title knowing that it is being published by an imprint of BOOM! Studios. BOOM! has become an easy favorite of mine over the past year for its fearless embracing of that which falls just shy of the traditional comic book reader’s tastes while still maintaining a family-friendly atmosphere. Titles like Adventure Time and Steven Universe come to mind, but also Lumberjanes, The Backstagers, and the masterful Power Rangers reboot all speak highly of a publisher that, while not as flashy as the big guys, certainly knows how to choose its horses in each race.  I may still be on the fence when it comes to the direction that The Not-So Secret Society will lead, but its inclusion alongside such noteworthy titles is worth consideration.

Don’t misunderstand: The Not-So Secret Society is still a young reader’s book. I can see its simplified structure and easygoing narrative style as an excellent fit for a late elementary school classroom, and clever development of the story might even suggest it as a contender for middle school libraries – but beyond that, I think it’s easy to pass on this one unless you’re an educator, mentor, librarian, or otherwise have a vested interest in this work’s intended audience.

The Not-So Secret Society makes for an easy read for the young comic book reader in your life, with its easy visuals, straightforward storytelling, and the publishing power of BOOM! behind it. I’m excited – and hesitant – to see where the Daleys take their candy-coated adventure, and whether it lives up to all that it could be.

BOOM! Announces The Not-So Secret Society Events & Educational Guides

Discover science, candy, and awesome adventure in The Not-So Secret Society, an all-new all-ages graphic novel from BOOM! Studios, available now in comic shops and bookstores everywhere!

The writing team of Matthew Daley and Arlene Daley call on 25 years of combined education experience to create this thrilling coming-of-age adventure featuring five young friends inventing a candy-making machine for their school’s annual science fair…and unintentionally unleashing a colossal candy creation that could destroy the city!

Co-created by Macrocosm’s Trevor Crafts and Ellen Crafts, and illustrated by Wook Jin ClarkThe Not-So Secret Society is an all-ages adventure that celebrates the value of teamwork and lifelong friendships. This original graphic novel is supplemented by parent guides and educator guides (newly expanded to celebrate the release) included in the book and more to be found online.

To support the launch of this original graphic novel, the creators at Macrocosm will appear at a variety of upcoming Not-So Secret Society interactive events including signings, meet and greets, presentations on creating comics, and special gummy bear raffles!

  • Children’s Book World in Los Angeles on Saturday, August 19th from 2:30-3:30pm
  • Barnes & Noble at the Grove in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 9th at 1:00-2:00pm

For more on The Not-So Secret Society check out their website where you can get FREE downloadable activities for kids, parent and educator guides, information on upcoming live events from the creator team, and even listen to the official theme song!

Archaia and Macrocosm Bring Steampunk to Monthly Comics with Lantern City

Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios, and Macrocosm Entertainment have announced the May debut of Lantern City, a new ongoing comic series created by Trevor Crafts, Bruce Boxleitner, and Matthew Daley. Written by Daley and Paul Jenkins, and illustrated by Carlos Magno, Lantern City combines the imagination-rich world of steampunk with an espionage thriller, while posing the question: How far will a person go to protect the ones they love? The series marks Archaia’s first ongoing series since the debut of The Secret History in 2007.

The Lantern City comic series is the newest extension of a larger transmedia universe. An illustrated novel, Rise (also available as an app), was published, and a television show is in active development. Lantern City combines the epic scope of the Star Wars series with the street-level intensity and attention to detail of The Wire. The series blends action, romance, unique sci-fi, and political upheaval in an engaging narrative.

In the Lantern City comic series, Sander Jorve just wants to keep his wife and son safe. Living in the brutalized lower class of Lantern City means living in near constant darkness, the enormous walls of the city always looming overhead, while the upper class enjoys the elevated, interconnected towers and airships above. When Sander’s brother-in-law, the persuasive activist Kendal, convinces him to infiltrate the brutal ranks of the Guard, he’s set on a dangerous path that will test his abilities and beliefs, all in the name of making a difference for his family and his caste.

Lantern City #1 arrives in comic shops on May 13th with a main cover by Benjamin Carré for the price of $3.99 under Diamond order code MAR151070. Also available in a limited quantity are a Jackpot Variant by series artist Carlos Magno (1 in 100 intermix), a 10 Years Anniversary incentive cover by Ben Caldwell (1 for every 10 copies ordered), and a retailer incentive cover by Dave Dorman (1 for every 20 copies ordered). Also just added are a 10K Variant cover by Bagus Hutomo (1 in 10 intermix), and a FOC variant cover by Brett Weldele, which can be ordered in any quantity by the FOC date.

Lantern City #1 10 Years Cover by Ben Caldwell (full wraparound image shown) Lantern City #1 10K Variant Cover by Bagus Hutomo Lantern City #1 Cover by Benjamin Carré Lantern City #1 FOC Variant Cover by Brett Weldele Lantern City #1 Jackpot Variant Cover by Carlos Magno Lantern City #1 Variant Cover by Dave Dorman