With the publication of March Book Two this week, U.S. Rep. John Lewis and collaborators Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell continue to tell the tale of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s from a personal, relatable perspective.
In the year and a half since the publication of March Book One, the graphic novel has won awards including the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and has become a classroom teaching tool for students in elementary school all the way up to college age. It's a remarkable work by and about a remarkable man, and ComicsAlliance was lucky enough to speak with Rep. Lewis about why he chose to tell the tale via graphic novel, the book's depictions of violence, forgiveness, and much more.
March: Book One was easily one of the best graphic novels of 2013. Not only did it begin a story of immense historical consequence-- the mid-20th Century fight for civil rights in the American South-- it also told that story from a strong, personal perspective. That perspective came from U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who serves as the reader's guide through some very weighty material.
Now, the pressure's on. Lewis, his co-writer Andrew Aydin, and artist Nate Powell are getting set to release March: Book Two in early 2015, and their challenge is to follow up a lauded text -- one that's been used in a good many classrooms since publication -- with a second chapter that gets more violent and shows just how difficult the struggle for civil rights really was.
ComicsAlliance chatted with Powell and Aydin for a few moments at Comic-Con International in San Diego to talk about that challenge, the difficulties of depicting such intense violence, and creating what's being regarded as an official historical text.
Image Comics' Humble Bundle offer, which ended about two weeks ago, was a notable success with tens of thousands of readers naming their price for contemporary comics. Top Shelf Productions is part of the site's newest book offer, which will benefit Doctors Without Borders and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
Buyers can snag three Top Shelf books through the site: March Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell; From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell and Ed Piskor's Wizzywig.
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.
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.
In what the company is calling a first for the United States Congress and comic book publishing as a whole, Top Shelf Productions announced Monday an agreement with Representative John Lewis to publish March, an original graphic novel co-authored by the Georgia Democrat based on his life in the American Civil Rights Movement. Lewis will collaborate with Andrew Aydin of his Washington, D.C.-based staff, who for years has worked with the congressman in a variety of capacities. Artists are presently being considered.A narrative of the Civil Rights Movement in America as seen through the eyes of Lewis, March will be the first graphic novel created by a sitting member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
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