I few days ago, a friend sent me a link to a Kickstarter page about a few local guys, Carmelo Chimera, Steven Brown, and David Gonzalez, and their take on the super hero tale. Their book is titled Magnificent. Click here for the Kickstarter video.
When I saw this video, I knew that this could be something special for a number of reasons: one of the Chimera shops is in my hood; I love to support local businesses; and this book seemed like something that I might be able to use in my classroom. I immediately reached out to the guys, and within a few hours, I was making plans with Carmelo to set up an interview about the book for this blog. We arranged today; I met him at the 95th street store, and we had a pretty dope conversation.
Carmelo began by opening up to me about the history of the book. In 2010, the guys took what was then a shadow of a version of the now mostly completed story to C2E2 for feedback, and while they were met with much rejection at the convention, Carmelo told me, when asked about not giving up in the face of rejection, that his only goal was to leave C2E2 with ideas to make their product “better when we [left the show].” His words of encouragement are inspiring. Self-improvement in the face of rejection and obstacles seems to be a strong theme for these guys. Carmleo, when asked about his book possibly being used in a classroom said, “It would be my fondest dream. If that’s what happens to this book, that it becomes a teaching tool, I would feel like I’ve made my contribution to the world.” He went on to say that “The book is about a lesson, a lesson I learned, and it’s that you get to decide who you want to be no matter what life throws at you.” The book, he says, is PG-13. They did not specifically tone down the book for a younger audience; it just happened that way, but that’s a good thing for us educators!
I’m not going to lie; I went to into the interview mainly planning on discussing the possible use of this book in the classroom, and while we discussed that a bunch, I also found out a lot about the book (that wasn’t in the video) that certainly peaked my interest. For example, the book’s protagonist, Magnificent, has an outfit color themed around the Chicago flag, and his name comes from Chicago’s Magnificent Mile: very cool to know. I’m a Chicago guy, and I like Chicago stuff.
I found out that this is not a world filled with people with powers; actually, only two of the characters in the first book have powers: this seems to be a bit of a turn from other hero books. I also found out that although the story jumps around in time, for a good chunk of it, our protagonist is around 17, with the time he spends being experimented on and tortured working as a metaphor for college and exploring the time we all work against our facilities in figuring out what we want out of life. I see this working as a pretty neat entry point for a discussion on the future, college, and life success with my high school seniors.
Do I have my own agenda here? Without a doubt, but fortunately, I don’t have to hide it. I think, that if this book is as good as it could be, I can help these guys make a ton of sales, and some educators can gain the fortune of bringing in local storytellers to speak to their classes. It looks like I might also be in works with these guys to help them develop a teacher study guide for the book! And here’s my connection to Teen Read Week: kids like reading stuff that’s new and hip, so let’s try to give them more! New stories by young authors (hopefully) means engaged students. I hope you are passionate about finding new authors and stories for your students and children.
With that being said, there are now two Rewards on the Kickstarter page for educators: a donation of $18.00 gets you the book with the study guide, and for $280.00, you can get a class set of 30 books with the study guide. Teachers, back these guys. Toss them the $18.00, get a copy, support indy projects, and preview a new title that you might be able to use in your classroom. Heck, if you use it, I bet you can talk these guys into stopping in your room or at least Skyping in. We live in a world where we still mainly teach books by a bunch of old dead guys…why not give some living authors a chance?
When the guys reach their goal, they will be unveiling some pretty cool stretch goals as well, so if you do back it, keep checking back for the updated stretch goals.
Go watch that video, support the arts, and let me know what you think!