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.
Stage | Dancer Daniel Curry, who was seriously injured during an Aug. 15 performance of the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, made his first appearance since the accident at a benefit concert held Monday that raised $10,000 for his medical bills. Curry was injured when his leg was pinned by an automated trap door — he blames malfunctioning equipment, producers say it was human error — resulting in fractured legs and a fractured foot; he has undergone surgeries and unspecified amputations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Actors’ Equity have launched investigations into the accident, and Curry’s lawyers are exploring a possible lawsuit against the $75 million show and the equipment suppliers.
During previews of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark — before the March 2011 firing of director Julie Taymor and the sweeping overhaul that followed — no fewer than five performers were injured, the most serious previously being aerialist Christopher Tierney, who fell about 30 feet in December 2010, breaking four ribs and fracturing three vertebrae. He returned to rehearsals four months later. There have been no major accidents since the show opened in June 2011. [The New York Times]
History | Michael Dooley celebrates Banned Books Week with a look at the comics singled out by Dr. Fredric Wertham in Seduction of the Innocent as particularly corrupting of our youth; Dooley juxtaposes scans of the pages with Werthem’s commentary. [Print]
Creators | Lynda Barry is now an assistant professor of interdisciplinary creativity in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID) as well as the UW-Madison Department of Art; she was an artist in residence at the university last year. [University of Wisconsin-Madison News]
Creators | Congressman John Lewis, co-author Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell talk about their involvement in the graphic novel March. [Free Comic Book Day]
The first volume of March, released this week by Top Shelf Productions,just oozes respectability. Its author and protagonist is a well-known and well-respected figure, no less than a venerated U.S. congressman. It’s about an important subject – race relations – and set in a iconic and turbulent time period – the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. It’s the kind of book that both the comics industry and the mainstream media like to trip over themselves in holding aloft as an example of the sort of general interest, literate work that would not only appeal to a non-comics reading public, but can be shown as an example of how the medium is capable of more than mere spandex fisticuffs.
In other words, I absolutely dreaded having to read the thing.
It’s not that I think that comics only work best only when they recognize their low-gutter, high-slapstick, overwrought melodrama origins or that cartoonists shouldn’t aspire to tackle complex, serious issues. It’s more that these sorts of works – biographical dramas where the central character happens to be caught in the midst of a major historical event – tend to simply not be very good, a few notable exceptions aside. All too often it seems as though the authors make the fatal mistake of assuming the subject matter itself is enough to carry the work forward and neglect to focus on things like crafting sharp dialogue, compelling page compositions or an interesting – or even comprehensible – plot. The end result is a lot of boring books with noble intentions.
Thankfully, that’s not the case with March. While the comic stays well within its basic, Bildungsroman structure, it’s an engaging, well-crafted read nevertheless.
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.
Conventions | Retailers in the Boston area talk about the importance of Boston Comic Con to their bottom line. This year’s event will be held Saturday and Sunday. [The Boston Globe]
Creators | Nate Powell, who got his start distributing photocopied minicomics at punk-rock shows, talks to his hometown newspaper about working with Rep. John Lewis on March, drawing a Percy Jackson graphic novel, and life as a full-time comic artist: “There’s a whole lot of constant hustling as a cartoon artist, and really I credit DIY punk as far as shaping the way that I navigate the world to allow me to still tap into the constant hustling necessary to keep my head above water.” [Arkansas Times]
Top Shelf Productions will publish a graphic novel by Congressman John Lewis, co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell in August; titled March, it’s the first of three books that chronicle Lewis’ life and involvement in the Civil Rights movement. This first book focuses on his youth in rural Alabama and the start of the Nashville Student Movement.
And as you can see in the image above, the back cover will sport a cover blurb from former U.S. President Bill Clinton. His quote says:
“Congressman John Lewis has been a resounding moral voice in the quest for equality for more than 50 years, and I’m so pleased that he is sharing his memories of the Civil Rights Movement with America’s young leaders. In March, he brings a whole new generation with him across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, from a past of clenched fists into a future of outstretched hands.”
— President Bill Clinton
Halo 8 Entertainment has released a trailer for Ghostface Killah’s Twelve Reasons to Die, the upcoming comic series from the rapper and his fellow Wu-Tang Clan member RZA, who’s serving as producer.
Debuting May 29 from Black Mask Studios, following the release of the album by the same name, Twelve Reasons to Die blends horror and crime for “a brutal tale of gangsters, betrayal and one vengeful soul hunting the 12 most powerful crimelords in the world.”
What’s impressive, though, is the lineup of cover and interior artists: Tim Seeley (Revival, Hack/Slash), Paolo Rivera (Daredevil), Francesco Francavilla (Black Beetle, Detective Comics), Ramon Perez (Tale of Sand), Ben Templesmith (30 Days Of Night), Riley Rossmo (Bedlam), Garry Brown (The Massive), Jim Mahfood (Tank Girl), Kyle Strahm (Haunt), Toby Cypress (Blue Estate), Tyler Crook (B.P.R.D.), Joe Infurnari (Mush!), Breno Tamura (Pigs), Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole), Gus Storms (Space Creep), Chris Mitten (30 Days of Night) and Ron Wimberly (Prince of Cats).
Twelve Reasons to Die was co-created by Ghostface Killer and Adrian Younge, and written by Matthew Rosenberg and Patrick Kindlon.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew talks about the death of … oh, wait, we already did that. In fact, nobody brought up [REDACTED] in their write-up this week. But they did talk about a bunch of other comics.
Our guest this week is cartoonist and teacher Ben Towle, creator of Oyster War, Midnight Sun, Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean and much more. Check out his website for all kinds of fun art and pin-ups (Alien Legion!).
To see what Ben and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Digital comics | Hank Kanalz, DC Entertainment senior vice president of digital, talks about DC’s decision to offer its single-issue comics on a variety of platforms, including Kindle, Nook, and iTunes, rather than exclusively through comiXology and its branded apps (which run on the comiXology platform): “It’s not a move [away from comiXology], it’s an expansion. My charter is to go as wide as possible, and to expand to as many readers as possible. That’s what this is.” [CNET]
Passings | Indian cartoonist T. Samuval died last week in Delhi at age 86. Tom Spurgeon writes, “He was best known for his pocket cartoons, contributed under the nom de plume ‘Samuel.’ Pocket cartoons were a development of British newspapers in the 1930s: single-column cartoons on a current news story designed in many cases to lighten the severity of bad or unpleasant news. Many, like Samuval’s, became recurring features with a specific character at their forefront.” [DNA, The Comics Reporter]
To see what Alex and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.
• Of course you can’t have Comic-Con without news about Comic-Con itself. CBR’s Kiel Phegley spoke with CCI’s David Glanzer about the show, while Ryan Ingram spoke with Scott Morse about the Tr!ckster satellite event. And it seems like every non-comics media outlet reports on the show in some form or fashion; here’s an article by The Christian Post about religion and the show, for example. And finally, Tuesday brought the tragic news that a con attendee camping out for today’s Twilight panel was killed in front of the convention center after being struck by a car.
• I’m not 100 percent sure if it qualifies as Comic-Con news, but since it was officially announced in the Entertainment Weekly Comic-Con issue, let’s just go with it. Marvel’s big news going into the Con is that they plan to relaunch several titles later this year as part of “Marvel NOW!” Their recently released solicitations reveal they plan to cancel nine titles in October, but of course you can expect many if not all of them to come back in some form or fashion as Marvel NOW! rolls out.
• Mike Mignola and Hellboy return this December in Hellboy in Hell, the first four-issue miniseries in a series of miniseries about the title character’s post-demise adventures.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
Here’s the thing: I really can’t decide if I want to spend part of my $15 this week on Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1 (DC, $3.99). On the one hand, it’s a new Darwyn Cooke comic, and on almost every other occasion, I’d be all over that. But on the other … It’s Before Watchmen. And I don’t even mean that in the “I have moral qualms about DC’s ‘ownership’ and use of the characters” sense — although I do — but in the “I didn’t actually LIKE Watchmen that much, so why should I be interested in a prequel?” sense. Let’s table that one, then, and wait and see what happens in the store. Instead, I’ll grab Earth 2 #2 (DC, $2.99), the new Simon Spurrier book Extermination #1 (BOOM!, $1) and the weirdly-coming-out-a-month-before-the-movie Amazing Spider-Man Movie Adaptation #1 (Marvel, $2.99), if only because it’s been years since I’ve read a comic book adaptation of a movie and I want to support Marvel’s odd apparently-spoiling-itself plan.
If I had $30, I’d put Spidey back on the shelf and grab the final DMZ collection (Vol. 12: The Five Nations of New York, DC $14.99). I’ve been following the collections of Brian Wood’s series for awhile, and have been patiently awaiting this one since the series wrapped in single issues awhile back. Don’t spoil it for me, please.
Splurge-wise, I’d likely pick up the GI Joe, Vol. 2: Cobra Command, Part 1 TP (IDW, $17.99). The movie may have been put back, but I don’t care; IDW’s Joe comics are my brand of military machismo, and I dropped off the single issues in favor of collections as soon as this crossover started. Time to get caught back up and try not to think about poor Channing Tatum.
Legal | The New York Times ventures deep into the legal battle between Archie Comics Co-CEOs Nancy Silberkleit and Jonathan Goldwater, noting the two sides have gone into court-approved mediation. “Competing lawsuits filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan and State Supreme Court in Westchester County lay out a litany of bitter allegations. He punctured her car tires, destroyed her Web site and claimed that she sexually harassed employees. She ordered him to fire several longtime employees because they were too old, too fat or too buxom, and let her dog, Willow, roam the offices and defecate in the art department.” [The New York Times]
Conventions | Although no figures have been released for last weekend’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, organizer Lance Fensterman said attendance was “way up,” noting that, “the size of the show floor doubled and the aisles were much more full than last year. That tells you how much attendance jumped to keep pace with the floor growth.” [Publishers Weekly]