Secretary Prime

Secretary Prime

The Secretary book set is now available for sale.
Please use this post for discussion about the events in the book.

30 Responses to “Secretary Prime”

  1. K says:

    Woo, bought! The example picture is interesting, though. I’m guessing this means we should be expecting colour in the story long before it shows up in the web-based version? Seems like that’ll have some interesting implications on the story… or at least on my interpretation of it.

    Also, Zack, I should probably just email you about this, but since I’m here… if I wanted to make a request for my postcard sketch (you still do these for every order, right?), do I need to put both the name and email linked to my shipping address/paypal account, or just the name?

  2. K says:

    Sorry, to elaborate on the name/email thing, I just wanted to avoid using the paypal-linked email if possible since it doesn’t belong to me.

  3. Name says:

    *Mario Party 2 voice*

    “Got it!”

  4. Morgan says:

    I had to work during the time of Secretary’s release… back-to-school tax-free weekend hell… that’s what it was.

    I excused myself to the restroom at exactly 9pm only so I could buy a copy through my phone.
    Ahhh… droids…. how I love technology. I think I would be shitting bricks for the rest of the day in fear that when I got home, there would no longer be a copy left for me to buy!

    I can’t wait for them to come in nowww!! /excited

  5. Stephanie says:

    I’m pumped, can’t wait!

  6. Haluh says:

    Different ending huh? Interesting… I wonder if it’s because people didn’t really like how Secretary ended, or you simply came up with a better idea? I didn’t really mind the web ending myself, but I sure am curious what the changes will be like.
    Well, I won’t know for a week (or two, knowing Alaska…), so gotta keep it out of my mind so I don’t strain myself with impatience.

  7. Sande says:

    When will these be shipped out? Also, any idea on when you’ll be selling 10%+ books again?

  8. Zack says:

    Hey Sande,

    I believe I shipped your order two days ago. At that time, I sent an e-mail to your sandetelen address, so double-check your inbox.

    A kickstarter campaign to print the 10%+ books again will appear soon.

  9. Nobody says:

    I like the moral of this story a lot more than the other one!!! There was a typo in the… last book, I think, and the dialog and the pacing seemed a little clunky in comparison to the web version (like the transformation of nutsedge or thinks like “when we parted” or “you’re denying me”), but the little bits of extra character development (like the very end of the first part) and the overall unity of the piece was awesome and I definitely don’t regret the price of these books. OH AND THE POPCORN I COULDN’T STOP LAUGHING

  10. Jen says:


    I was a little surprised by how abruptly XZ’s “transformation” comes about–it was much more gradiated before. I was also not really happy with the spreads where the characters appear directly in the fold, but overall the quality is excellent, and the gradual colour shift is a nice touch. I can’t wait to see what you do with Wild Style! =3

  11. Sande says:

    Really happy with books 3 and 4, what with the beautiful color and exclusive content. Not so sure about the first two books, I got a headache sometimes from all the cramped lines. I still prefer the web version if I want to re-read something. I liked how you changed Marigold’s dialogue/personality a bit.

    Just wanted to say again I’m really impressed with the production quality of the entire fourth book. Hope you can keep that up.

  12. Sande says:

    also those of you who didn’t drop $105 for a set


    that is all

  13. Ava says:

    Finally back at home, and the books were safe inside the mailbox! I wanted to give myself time to read them, but then got impatient and burned through all 4 today. I’ll be re-reading the last two so many times over the next few days, to let everything sink in like it should.

    SV’s characterization after his epiphany is incredibly different; he’s not a blabbering madman, he doesn’t get so lost in his own passion that his words make little sense. You can tell he’s thought through his ideas so deeply and worked so hard to get where he is. You actually get to hear him explaining himself, conversing with others, learning, which lends so much to the story (it’s difficult to work a story with only one main protagonist, which the entire half after nutsedge was; having more people to bounce off of helped tell more of the story more fluidly). He had come across as such an arrogant and self-obsessed person, which he’s anything but. He’s trying to hard to help the world achieve something that he seemingly has only achieved so easily by disabling himself. Social conditioning doesn’t work so well on people without the mechanisms to receive it. To SV, it feels easy, but to others it is as undeniable as breathing!

    The story ties together infinitely better, and getting to see SV’s ideals come to short fruition, seeing things go just a few steps further than they did online, was amazing. He was subtly re-written throughout the series, and it made his character much more clear, understandable, but still open for interpretation. A lot of the NofNA audience wrote him off as a pathetic arrogant self-absorbed jerk when the pages were first being released (I remember a lot of angry tirades directed at him). I think everybody can relate to him, in a way, and not just as an artist, but as a person who has dealt with society! As for Malice, I think I’m finally connecting everything now, understanding the entire concept of it as SV sees it, and it’s funny how relevant it is to our society. What was clunky and difficult to piece together is food for thought now. Initially it was easier to relate to the many people getting impaled and being impossibly confused. Now you can feel the frustration alongside SV.

    SV isn’t this chaotic force floundering about killing everyone and screaming… and that was refreshing. He just has trouble interacting with others, and to be honest I’ve always seen him as having a social handicap (a terrible thing for someone who wants to bring something great up, but has none of the charm or charisma to do it smoothly or in a welcoming way) or something similar to a mild autism. He barely communicates anything and has people understand him, through the entire series.
    NT is openly exposed for being casually sinister. The short reveal of him having introduced Nutsedge to Chrysanthemum, sabotaging SV’s partnership, ah!!!

    There is a printing error in the first or second book where a few pages suddenly repeat themselves, but outside of that, these books are more gorgeous than I had thought they would be! So solid and the print on the paper has dimension. I’ll admit I’ll have to read the final book a few times. I do want to ask; when SV and NT have their square-off, are the ‘words’ actually intended to be legible, or are they abstract symbols? For a lot of the fight I can’t read a single one of the attacks, I can’t see past blocky squares and abstract shape.

    I’m looking forward to an addendum, if there ever will be one. I have so much more to say, I’ll likely come back when more people have gotten theirs and can pop in to discuss more on the content. Or, when I read the books a few more times and can take in more.

    To anyone who hasn’t: GRAB A SET!! I’m amazed that any are available still! There is so much more to this story than what we’ve seen here on the site! (I was expecting a few more pages of epilogue, not an entire book and a half of inserted scenes and a completely new direction)

  14. Zack says:

    I’m glad that everyone has such praise for the books. Thank you. I apologize for the printing error and the typo. (Nobody, if you could find it again, I’d love to fix it in my work files.)

    As for Ava’s question, the facture names during the final battle are indeed names, though they are highly stylized. They occur in this order:

    1. NT: Facture
    2. NT: Travel Moon
    (SV’s hawk wings disintegrate)
    3. NT: Facture
    4. NT: Blood Moon
    (SV’s eye becomes bloodshot)
    5. SV: Facture
    6. SV: Pontic
    (NT is repulsed a short distance)
    7. NT: Facture
    8. NT: Lightning Moon
    (The page fills with streaks)
    9. SV: Facture
    10. SV: Apex
    (NT flies into the distance)
    11. NT: Facture
    12. NT: Hunger Moon
    (The background becomes black)
    13. SV: Facture
    14. SV: Veneer
    (The skyhawks rise up out of the abyss)
    15. NT: Supreme Facture
    16. NT: Death Moon
    (SV is contained in the darkness)
    17. SV: Supreme Facture
    18. SV: Diastema
    (The horrible and unintended effect of Diastema)

  15. Swift says:

    Zack, I just wanted to say here how grateful I am for these stories. I wasn’t sure about the change for the ending at first, but I am glad that there was a final confrontation between SV and NT this time…

    It was beautiful, thank you.

  16. Haluh says:

    Hey Zack, do you happen to have the tracking number for my package? It’s been close to two weeks and I haven’t seen anything yet… ;[
    It’s comical how out of all the times for Secretary to finally be in print, it coincides with that rare moment when a hurricane goes and trashes the east coast. I’m never really surprised when mail is slow up here anyways, but I’m just curious where it is exactly.

  17. Zack says:

    Hey Angele,

    Unfortunately, I do not have a tracking number for your package. If you still do not have it one month from now (and I don’t receive it returned in the mail), I will refund 100% of your purchase price.

    It bears mentioning that Alaska might be considered a foreign country for how far away it is. Packages shipping to destinations this far away usually take two to three weeks to arrive.

  18. kuu says:

    I got a Nutsege on the back of my post card. little Nutsege with swirls. plants? manafested negitive feelings?

    thank for writing out the styles. they were hard to read.

    is there a real world version of malice style?

  19. Sande says:

    Yes, it exists in all of us.

  20. Embarrassed says:

    I hate to be a naysayer, but I was really bummed at the change in the books.
    I knew there would be a change upon purchase, but I didn’t realize the whole story was going to shift completely. The fight and destruction of nutsedge was so beautifully tragic, and I wanted to see it so badly in book form.
    I wanted to share with my friends that refuse to read web-comics the story of Secretary that I adored. Again I hate to be such a mood killer, and the change in the story is still decent, but I liked the story that ended in flames so much more. It caught the breath in my throat and sent a curious wild chill through my heart.

  21. Sande says:

    You could consider selling books 3 and 4 of the original ending alone. It would definitely be a more viable purchase for those who have already bought the books, rather than those who apparently always have money woes and skipped out on the first set.

    It would also make an interesting addition to have two alternate endings in book form.

  22. Sande says:

    To add on, I liked the new ending, but I think the original ending was more meaningful and ultimately more enjoyable. I did think you did the dialogue pretty well – although for awhile I couldn’t figure out why you changed certain lines. I especially missed SV’s dialogue right before the first fight with his teacher, although it wouldn’t have worked with his new personality.

  23. Zack says:

    Hey Sande,

    I think a print of volumes 3 and 4 would work, although it might confuse new readers who notice that the mydriatic eye and missing tooth switch sides.

  24. Nobody says:

    I don’t know; I think the new ending is just as good as the old one. Saying that hope isn’t all you need and that the past isn’t something to just leave behind is just as meaningful as your own bad feelings are what kill you, if not more universally true and generally more realistic. It was just as poignant and went own in just as many flames because of the new emphasis built on how much society needed the change SV was bringing. To think that a revolution was thwarted because of his brother’s own selfish hatred, and that he was so close, just seconds too late in his illness to finish his past, is just as depressing.
    I liked the new ending better, too (I think I might have said that earlier). The story started out about the terrible struggles between SV and his brother, and I think it was a lot more consistent. In the original, it felt like Nutsedge took the story away abruptly when she was really just a friend. Anyone who has had a sibling with whom they’ve lived their entire lives KNOWS that a friend would never become more important than their own blood just like that. The malice style was about letting go of the past even in the original, and it felt like it was disregarding its own idea when it focused on the few months with XZ as opposed to an entire lifetime of deception with NT.
    I’m sick and not quite tired yet so I guess I’ll elaborate some more on the book.
    I didn’t like most of the changes in books 1-3. I hated the dialog changes. The one I hated the most, I think, was the change in the dialog between SV and his beginner class teacher. The scale of fur line was so intense. It was quick, and concise, and you knew exactly what he was talking about right away. In the revised version, suddenly useless sentences that didn’t really add any new information. It just bogged down the timing of the delivery and muddied up the emotion.
    I also didn’t like the change in the advanced teacher’s personality. He seemed less in control in the new version’s second appearance, which contradicted how he acted in his first appearance. There were also bits that I felt were really nice from that scene and that I’d always wanted to see put in, like somebody pointing out SV’s own malice, and his ironic response that he’s not running from anything. I liked the rat’s little bit of elaboration on what he remembered after the style was used on him, because for more lost readers it helps them realize that the corn represents humiliating or bad memories.
    Some things I liked were the new metanoia design. I feel like the design of Nutsedge’s eyes were finally utilized correctly. The blue color splashes were used much more effectively in this version. The black feathers were something I liked a lot and I was glad they were used in the final SV design. The levity vs. obligation and sky vs. ground symbols were explained very well in this version, without diving into exposition mode. In turn this made the “new sky” aspect of the end design more satisfying too.
    I loved the brother’s realistic look in the final battle too. That was always, ALWAYS something I wished was played with more in Secretary, and the new emphasis on “hope” vs. realism made it even better too. And the way rodents’ eyes are naturally completely dark like SV’s malice eye was perfect. And how SV’s physical traits like the blackness of his nose and the circle on his back kind of integrated into NT’S design at the end– awesome!!
    But yeah. I loved NT; he was my favorite character because he was so conniving and his hatred was like the purest form of sibling rivalry. The switch from “Umbra” to “Penumbra” was a beautiful play on words, I mean with the inclusion of PEN and everything with how he became a markscraft, I just loved it so much oh god okay. I loved how he became a markscraft after too. He never actually wanted to fight and he didn’t even want to have the attention of his mom; he just wanted to outdo his brother, you know? The son/sun and eclipse puns (per se) were cheesy and simple, but I loved them still because they tied things in and it wasn’t pushed over the edge or presented as if it was a new concept.
    Also, the typo is in the fourth book, like 10 pages in, right before XZ admits she quit college. SV says “… you SHOLD be proud…”.

  25. Sande says:

    I think the part that got me the most about the original ending was that SV left nothing behind after he died. Everyone that had seen or acknowledged his ability was dead or refused to speak of the event. In the end, people still think of him as the madman who murdered two other students and disabled several teachers.

    Re-reading, though, I’m not sure which ending I enjoy more. The original story felt immensely powerful. I constantly felt myself straining to understand every panel and line of dialogue. I had to think about the story to fully understand it. I’m still not sure I understand some things.

    And the new ending, book four especially, feels like it’s something out of a high-action television show. I enjoyed it, and once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. Afterwards, I came back to re-read it a few times, and that was it. I don’t really feel like I took anything away from it. Although I did get my secret wish granted: watching SV being a general hardass and curbstomping in any battles he managed to get himself into.

    Even though SV still ended up dying in this version, it seems he managed to pass something on to his brother and his teachers. It seems he still ended up changing the world, just not directly.

    I don’t know, is that less meaningful?

  26. Ava says:

    ‘Nobody’– so great to hear it from somebody else, how Nutsedge takes over the story despite having little influence in SV’s life compared to his brother. She contributed a lot to the style, true, but she didn’t start the saga and it was strange to have it end with her, without returning to NT (considering the whole story focuses on arcs and circling back). It feels almost clumsy in the original telling of the story.

    I do enjoy both versions a lot; the online story is more gritty and tragic in an in-your-face sort of way, with SV’s failure and death with nothing left behind. It hurts but there is nothing left to tell of it. In the book, you see what SV wanted to do and could do with time.

    I think my favorite line is “but you have to depart from somewhere”.

    Also, the Malice style does have a real-world equivalent… revenge, the alternate reflex to push away rejection and return it to itself.

  27. Sande says:

    I never got the idea that Nutsedge took over the story, myself. She got much more time in the arc to begin with, even if that’s not where the story technically started. I thought that the theme of the original story was selfishness, or ‘malice’. SV’s mother tried to prevent him from going to the college. His brother sabotaged his efforts in class, and getting fed up with that, the jerboa abandoned him. In the end, with no outlet, SV’s ambition consumed himself. Perhaps if someone had stayed with and supported him, he wouldn’t have gone insane. But perhaps then he would have completed a fall to mediocrity. The original arc didn’t really run with the idea of his brother or his past causing all his problems, instead treating him as just one tipping point on a progressive set of scales. Who caused the death of two students? Everyone. Themselves. Any one person could have helped SV, and no one individual caused his fall, which I believe paints a poignant, realistic story.

    The new story is him fighting his past, which is awesome. He has friends now. His teachers/’victims’ end up supporting him, and if he’d succeeded, he would have been heralded as a hero.

    The original SV was probably doomed from the start to be vilified no matter what he ended up doing. I mean, look at the guy. Yelling and screaming about malice and black rainbows. Although that was cool too.

    So yes, I’d have to say the biggest change was the reveal of NT’s backstory. Before, he was just the person that set SV off on his personal conquest. It really felt as if the whole world had it out for SV. His partner left him for a boyfriend, his brother lied to him, and his teacher didn’t understand him. The story changes dramatically once it’s revealed that NT is behind most of his brother’s troubles. Before, he was just an older brother who accidentally set in motion a series of events that ended his brother. An older brother accidentally disabling one of their siblings at a young age? You hear of stuff like this all the time. Not anything extreme. More like, “Oh, I got this scar from when my asshole older brother punched me when I was five.” NT was just that older brother who lied and shoved his weight around to make himself look better. He has a visible expression of revulsion as he witnesses his ruined brother for the first time after his death. This tells me that in the original arc, his backstory may actually be different. If there is one, the second theme has to be ‘coincidence’. With the events we’re shown in the original story, especially compared to the backstory we’re shown in the new ending, we’re led to believe that everything just happens to end badly for SV. The old story made me ask, “Why is this all this happening?” And, as in real life, that question went unanswered.
    In the new story, the question was answered. I realized with a shiver that NT was the cause of everything. He introduced the jerboas and bit his brother. He lied to make his brother complacent. The new story has changed things: SV’s fall is due to his the machinations of a villain rather than the general cruelty of the world.
    NT is behind pretty much everything that caused SV’s fall. There’s no coincidence anymore.

    SV fares better this time around, however. He doesn’t go quite as insane. But the focus of the story has shifted. He isn’t fighting the entire world this time. He’s fighting his brother, and his own past belief in him.

    In real life, can one person cause the destruction of another, so completely and utterly? Definitely. However, reading the original story felt like watching a movie or reading a news clip from an older time. You have some vague notion of what will happen, but you hold your breath nonetheless to see how the story gets there. And it feels real. I really appreciated the display of group dynamics and character interaction in the story. Every character is ultimately meaningless and clueless of their larger role in things.

    The new story was more like 10%+. There was a central villain, and it was more about animals fighting each other in large page spreads.

    Either way Nofna decides to go, I’ll probably be happy. It can’t really go wrong for me.

  28. Haluh says:

    I like both endings as they work just fine in their own way, but I do think the new ending works better. As tragic and intense the original ending was, there were some parts of it that could have worked better, which the new version seems to fix. Having Diastema working against SV while facing off NT makes more sense, and being able to see the malice style working beyond its prototype version gives a clearer image of what exactly SV’s purpose was. Overall the concept of malice was much stronger in the newer version, and that’s what I like most about it.
    I really wish I could hear the opinion of someone who read the special edition first. I’d give it to someone to read but I can’t really think of many I know who would be able to understand it fully. I think that’s what keeps nofna from having a larger audience since it requires quite a bit more thinking power than a lot of other comics out there, and some of those who are willing to commit to that aren’t a big fan of comics. It’s very unique and certainly one of my most favorite things out there and I do think it has the capability of making comics a lot more popular

  29. Curious Mutt says:

    After reading Sande’s comment, this story totally sounds like Othello, where a central villian maunpulates the other characters to the point they eventually cause their own self-destruction (Desdemona killed by Othello, who then kills himself, etc.) I really want to read the new version, but no money means no book. Regardless, it’s hard to come across comics like these anymore.

  30. Furrama says:

    Reading through these older comments I find myself somewhat sad that there were changes that drastic to the end, and the overall theme. I mean, the horrible insanity and the uncaring but realistic cause and effect… that was the heart and soul of the story. It was so beautifully brutal and tragic. Having the brother play a villain sounds too easy, and the audience would just shift all the blame on the brother. Even if it DOES look and sound epic.

    I thought the opposite of hate was insouciance. With this version it sounds as though it would be caring, and that has far less food for thought.

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