Between the chart-topping sales, rave reviews and widespread media coverage, it’s pretty easy to make a case for March: Book One as graphic novel of the year. To ensure that Rep. John Lewis’ congressional colleagues don’t miss out on the acclaimed civil-rights memoir, publisher Top Shelf is presenting all of the members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives with digital copies of the book, along with the groundbreaking comic that inspired it, Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story.
In a letter accompanying the gift, Lewis explained that March “is not just my story, it’s the story of a movement, the story of a generation that stood up for justice in our country.”
The Georgia Congressman continued, “Just like the comic book I read more than 50 years ago, it is my hope that this graphic novel can inspire new generations to speak up and speak out, to make their voice heard, and, hopefully, to make our nation a more just and peaceful place for all.”
Co-written with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell, the graphic novel recounts Lewis’ you in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King Jr., and the Selma to Montgomery marches. The second volume in the planned trilogy is set to arrive next year.
Last night, MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show devoted a full 10-minute segment to March, its creators Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, and to Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, the 1958 comic that helped to inspire the civil-rights movement.
While many authors, musicians and politicians have cited increased sales and profiles following their appearances on The Colbert Report — the frequently mentioned, by Stephen Colbert himself, “Colbert Bump” — March seems seems to be the beneficiary of the lesser-known “Maddow Bump”: Following last night’s episode, the book rocketed to No. 12 on the Amazon Best Seller list, its peak position.
Maddow, an avowed comics fan, recently conducted a one-hour interview with Lewis about March at the Kentucky Author Forum. CBR spoke with the March team in June, and in July at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
As we reported earlier this week, publisher Top Shelf Productions has partnered with Fellowship of Reconciliation to offer Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story in a digital bundle with March. Watch the Maddow segment below.
Congressman John Lewis has been asked in numerous interviews why he chose the graphic novel format for March, his memoir of the civil-rights movement, and his answer is that he and many others involved with that movement had been inspired, in part, by a comic book. And now Top Shelf is publishing that original comic as part of a digital bundle with March — and also releasing a special print edition.
The 1957 comic Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, published by the interfaith peace organization Fellowship of Reconciliation, told the story of the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott, starting with the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger, and concluding with a section on “The Montgomery Method,” advice for other civil-rights advocates. The comic showed the brutal treatment of black people in the South, but it also preached a message of nonviolent protest, drawing on Mahatma Gandhi as an example to be emulated. It was translated into a number of different languages and circulated around the world.
It was some 50 years later, when Lewis was a member of Congress, that he mentioned the comic to his aide Andrew Aydin, who researched the title (and ultimately wrote his master’s thesis about it); he also co-wrote March with Lewis.
Now Top Shelf and Fellowship of Reconciliation are offering Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story as part of a bundle with the digital edition of March; it is available on comiXology for $9.99, which is the same price as March alone.
And for those who prefer their comics on paper, Top Shelf and the Fellowship of Reconciliation are also publishing a commemorative print edition of the 16-page comic, priced at $5. Top Shelf and comiXology will donate their share of the proceeds to Fellowship of Reconciliation, which continues its nonviolence work to this day.
March: Book One debuted Tuesday from Top Shelf Productions, earning high praise and a lot of attention for Congressman John Lewis, co-author Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell. But last night the graphic novel garnered arguably the highest accolade of all: the coveted Colbert Bump.
Lewis, the civil-rights pioneer who spoke at the 1963 March on Washington, appeared on The Colbert Report to discuss the book, which chronicles his early life in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King Jr. and the Selma to Montgomery marches.
Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. With the buzz of D23 Expo dying down, we now turn our attention to Wednesday’s comics, which include the much-anticipated debut of March: Book One, which contributor Corey Blake says “isn’t just the release of the week, it’s the release of the year.”
To see what our other contributors pick, keep reading …
“I don’t see a vast difference [between Comic-Con and political conventions]. Here at Comic-Con, you see people dressed in different ways, but even in some political conventions, you see people with a lot of flags and colors, especially some of the young women, who will put all types of things in their hair, and some of the men. Politicians like to stand out, like people to pay attention to them. Here, I think it’s the real world. Comic-Con is the real world and to see people bringing their little children and seeing all the little children all dressed up enjoying themselves — that’s a great feeling, seeing them have fun.”
– Congressman John Lewis, talking with CBR TV about his first experience at Comic-Con International, where he promoted March, the upcoming graphic-novel trilogy from Top Shelf Productions recounting his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement
In case you didn’t notice, Comic-Con International happened last weekend. As always, it was an epic affair with tons of announcements, stunts and surprises. Amid cannons firing, actors dressing up as themselves, and big movie plans, there were also a good number of genuine surprises from comics.
Usually I end up picking a winner of Comic-Con, but after Dynamite Entertainment flooded the air waves with announcements the days before the event, no one else seemed to stand out as the clear winner. It’s not that everyone slacked off, however: They brought a good variety of interesting and exciting projects, and a number of standout announcements made my ears perk up. So instead of declaring a winner, I’m going to run down my Top 6 Comic-Con surprises in comics.
Before I start, though, two publishers deserve a little recognition for serious contenders for the Comic-Con crown. Top Shelf Productions classed up the joint by bringing in Congressman John Lewis for the debut of his graphic novel, March: Book One with artist Nate Powell and co-writer Andrew Aydin. I have little doubt this trilogy will end up being a historic release with profound benefits for schools, libraries and organizations looking for a powerful teaching tool and first=person account of the Civil Rights Movement and non-violent resistance. Plus, come on, photos of Lewis meeting Neil deGrasse Tyson and Lou Ferrigno? Everybody else, just pack it up. Maybe not as much of a milestone, but IDW Publishing also deserves a nod for the pure quantity and variety of good-looking books announced.
OK, on with my list:
BookExpo America takes place the Javits Center, just like New York Comic Con, but it’s a completely different kind of show. It’s a trade show, not a consumer show, so the folks in the aisles aren’t fans looking for a fix, they are potential customers to be wooed. And what you see there is a pretty reliable guide to what everyone will be talking about in a couple of months.
So if you happened into the little graphic novel enclave at the right time, you might see Gene Luen Yang sitting there, pen in hand, ready to autograph a free Avatar graphic novel for you, or maybe Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights pioneer, sitting next to Andrew Aydin, with ashcans of their graphic novel about Lewis’ life, March, and while you might have to wait a few minutes for your turn, you wouldn’t have to stand on the sort of long lines they might draw at San Diego. The pace is more leisurely than a comic convention — the creators chat as they sign your comics — and the blasting noise of video game and movie displays is blissfully absent.
It’s true there aren’t a lot of comics publishers at BEA, although there are a fair number of book publishers who include comics in their lines. Abrams didn’t send their ComicArts people, but if you consider Diary of a Wimpy Kid to be a comic (I’m always happy to claim that one for our side), then they were well represented, and many attendees had Wimpy Kid stickers on their badges.