Welcome to www.comprofessor.com a.k.a. Lynch Coaching: Media and Communication Prof's News and Views from Art Lynch. This blog exists to stimulate critical thinking, provide information on communication and media, stimulate discussion and share ideas. For additional media and other news see also sagactoronline.com. Thank you and tell your friends. - Art Lynch
John Lewis is the only person to have spoken at the 1963 March on
Washington who is still alive. He was just 23 years old when he
addressed the crowd of more than 200,000 at the Lincoln Memorial 50
years ago.Lewis is a pillar of the civil rights movement. The
son of sharecroppers in rural Alabama, he went on to become the
president of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and
then eventually, a U.S. Congressman from Georgia.
His story has
been told before in documentaries and books, but now he's putting his
life story into the form of a graphic novel, March. Every superhero has an origin story — and so does the graphic novel of John Lewis' life.
bunch of staffers on the Lewis' 2008 re-election campaign were sitting
around, talking about what they would do next, including staffer Andrew
"Unashamed, I said I would be going to a comic book
convention. And there was a little teasing, but Congressman Lewis stood
up for me," recalls Aydin.
"And I just said, 'You shouldn't
laugh. At another time in another period there was a comic book called
the Montgomery story ― Martin Luther King Jr. and the Montgomery story —
that inspired me ―"
Imagine a young John Lewis in 1958 —
18-years old — having arrived at college, picking up a comic book. Lewis
says the comic tuned him in to the greater story:
book tells the story of Rosa Parks' symbolic refusal ― but it also gives
a detailed account of how to protest non-violently. It was a lesson
Lewis took to heart when he staged sit-ins at segregated lunch counters
in Nashville in the late '50s.
"It was on February the 13th and
we had the very first sit in here. I took my seat at the counter, I
asked the waitress for a hamburger and a coke," Lewis says in a 1960 NBC
Lewis' staffer, Andrew Aydin, knew the history
but didn't know about the old comic book. Aydin became convinced Lewis
should tell his story as a graphic novel. But Lewis wasn't so sure.
"I preached to my chickens just about every night." .
Courtesy Top Shelf Productions
"I thought he was somewhat out of his mind? Why would I be writing a comic book?" Lewis says.
then he thought back: "I do remember reading the Montgomery story comic
book, and I said, 'Yes, if you would do it with me.' And it's been a
labor of love."
That labor brought them all the way to San
Diego's Comic Con — the geek and supernatural mecca known for its
outlandish costumes and.
Waiting in line were three Dr. Whos,
four Wolverines, and that one guy in an elaborate Transformers outfit.
But they weren't waiting to see the stars from the latest sci-fi movie.
Hundreds of people stood in line to have Congressman Lewis sign their
copies of March.
Among the Comic Con fans was Mary Clark, a teacher at San Elijo Middle School in San Marcos, Calif.
will go into my library collection ― as a graphic novel, sometimes
students who aren't really enthusiastic readers will pick it up thinking
its about the pictures ― so to be able to give them a story along side
those pictures... and something as powerful as Congressman Lewis'
story..." says Clark.
"... how we could apply nonviolence just as Dr. King did in Montgomery, all across America — South and North." .
Courtesy Top Shelf Productions
That story spanning the Congressman's seven decades, will be told in three books. March is the first.
begins with John Lewis as an old man waking on a dark early morning in
Washington, D.C. It's 2009, the day of President Barack Obama's
inauguration. Quickly the reader is sent back in time ― to Lewis'
childhood, when he was taking care of his sharecropper parents' chickens
― . The pictures are black and white, and graphic artist Nate Powell
renders Lewis' life in shadow. Powell says he drew the story close to
the ground, the way a child would experience the world.
slip into his shoes for that second and I knew precisely what it was
like to witness the baptism of these chickens ― the loss of a beloved
hen down a well. Hiding under the porch so that he could sneak away from
his house in order to get an education each day and hop on the bus with
his mom chasing after him.
The up-close perspective ―
sometimes so close you only see what Lewis is seeing ― gives way to wide
shots and birds' eye views as the story shifts to sit-ins and marches.
Powell says there were things that were tough to draw.
"Trying to find the appropriate and powerful way to respectfully depict the murder of Emmett Till," Powell said, for instance.
Till was a 14-year-old boy brutally killed in Mississippi for
allegedly whistling at a white woman. His murder received national
attention and helped galvanize the civil rights movement. In the graphic
novel, we see an image of Till's mangled body. Drawn from above, after
Till has been dragged from the river, Powell makes thin jagged lines of
ink to create a sense of human flesh that's turned into broken twigs.
Lewis says, just like the Martin Luther King comic book that inspired him, March
is also a primer on non-violence. The Congressman says this is a lesson
he and his co-authors, Aydin and Powell, want to keep alive.
remember hearing Martin Luther King Jr. preach from time to time," says
Lewis. "And his father would be in the pulpit. And he would say,
'Son―make it plain―make it plain.' So between Nate and Andrew, they
made it plain."