My parents were born, poor and black, in the south in 1943. My father was two years younger than Emmet Till, and my mother was living in Alabama when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus. When I was a kid, my father would tell me about the Civil Rights movement, and the people who helped shape it. He'd tell me stories about Martin Luther King Jr. and Roy Wilkins, about Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin, about a bridge in Selma and a boycott in Montgomery. And he'd tell me stories about Congressman John Lewis.
In stores now is March, the first installment of three autobiographical graphic novels written by Congressman Lewis -- a U.S. Representative from Georgia and a Civil Rights icon -- co-written by congressional staffer Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell. March tells the story of Congressman Lewis' life, from humble beginnings in Troy, Alabama during the Jim Crow era south, to being one of the 10 speakers at the March On Washington, to eventually being elected to the U.S. Congress. Congressman Lewis is one of the most significant figures in modern United States history. As such, his life story is significant, and he's decided to share it with the "children of the movement" with his new comic, published by Top Shelf.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Congressman Lewis and Aydin, to discuss the decision to tell this story through a comic, the choices the congressman has made in his life, and how they both hope this book inspires the next generation to do more.
Top Shelf has kicked off its annual massive sale. Running through Friday, September 27th, many of the publisher's celebrated titles will be available at deeply discounted prices through its website, with several titles being 50% off and more than 100 books going for $3 or less.
Autobiographical comics aren't really my thing. I realize that this is limiting and that comics are more than just superheroes, but my love of the medium is kind of inextricably tied to my love of big action, weird adventures and, like so many other things I love, dudes in tights punching each other right in the face. Unless someone's autobiographical comic is truly exceptional, like Mike Dawson's Freddie & Me from a few years back, they tend to just leave me cold.
The reason I bring all this up is so that you know what it means when I say that Jess Fink's We Can Fix It, a memoir where Fink addresses all the major regrets about her past, is hands down one of the best graphic novels of the year.
At this year's Comic-Con, a real life hero got a standing ovation. When Congressman John Lewis was introduced to a packed hall room at a panel dedicated to his upcoming autobiographical graphic novel March, every single person in the room stood and applauded. And after a lengthy ovation, Congressman Lewis -- a Civil Rights icon, the last surviving member of the group who spoke at the March on Washington and one of the most significant figures in America -- spoke to the crowd about Congress, Civil Rights, preaching to chickens, and of course, comic books.
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