ATLANTA (WXIA) – US Congressman John Lewis is considered one of the living icons of the American Civil Rights movement, having been present through the 1960s and into the 21st Century.
Lewis has helped pen a series of graphic novels that, in the first two volumes, has taken the story of his life from his youth in the segregated South in the 1940s and 50s, through his formative years and ecumenical education in the late 50s, leading to his drive for non-violent change in the early 1960s.
Called March, volumes one and two of this lushly illustrated graphic novel series take Lewis’ recollections and bring them to life never before.
Top Shelf Productions released Book One of March in 2013 to large scale critical acclaim – being named one of the best books of 2013 by USA Today, the Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, The Horn Book, Paste, Slate, Comics Alliance, Amazon and Apple iBooks.
It was nominated for the Glyph Award, three Will Eisner Awards, it was named one of Reader’s Digest’s Graphic Novels Every Grown-Up Should Read.
It was a #1 title on both the New York Times and Washington Post bestseller lists.
It has been selected for first-year reading programs by Michigan State University, Marquette University and Georgia State University, among other schools. The New York City Public Schools has endorsed the volume as part of the ‘NYC Reads 365’ program.
A middle and high school Teacher’s Guide is available for free from the publisher for the volume.
Book Two of March was published in 2015, taking John Lewis from where we left him at the end of Book One in 1960 to the March on Washington in 1963, where he stood alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
Book Two also won its share of awards, including the Street Literature Book Award Medal and the Denver Independent Comic & Art Expo Award. It was nominated for three Eisner Awards.
John Lewis’ story continues this summer as Book Three of March will be released in August 2016. The new volume will follow Lewis as he and a peaceful army of activists ultimately go to Alabama and a date with destiny, and an attempt to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. What happened next would shock the world and change history.
Lewis’ co-writer on all three volumes of March is Andrew Aydin, who is not only Lewis’ digital director, but a life-long comic book fan himself. After having learned that Lewis himself had been a comic book fan of sorts, and after a conversation about the influence of comics on young readers, the two decided to write a graphic novel about the civil rights era.
Award-winning artist Nate Powell has provided the visualization of Lewis’ words for all three volumes of March. Powell’s works include You Don’t Say, Any Empire, Swallow Me Whole, The Silence of Our Friends and The Lost Hero.
In addition to his award-winning graphic novel work, Powell has provided fulltime support for adults with developmental disabilities.
Along with the third volume of March, Top Shelf Productions is also releasing all three volumes of the graphic novel series in a single 3-volume hardcover edition.
In early May, Lewis, along with Aydin and Powell, talked to social studies teachers in New York City about "March," which is being added to the curriculum of nation's largest public school system, as part of an overall new program being developed by the New York City Department of Education, called "Passport to Social Studies."
Lessons from "March" will be included in the program's 8th grade curriculum in a format that will help engage students.