The aesthetics of history find a home for itself in the comic book medium. Case in point, Congressman John Lewis’ triple volume reflection and experiences during one of the most important and challenging times in American history, the American Civil Rights Movement. It’s a rare canvas to paint such a vivid and difficult story, but, with the help of scripter Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell, a new generation of children and adults alike will experience one of America’s most trying, yet most inspiring times as the age-old tale of the struggle for freedom lives on in March.
A frame story of sorts, March begins with Congressman Lewis waking up on the morning of the inauguration of President Obama, and, when arriving at his office, is visited by a mother and her two sons. It is here that he begins to recount his upbringing: His life as the child of a sharecropper in Pike County, Alabama. The property was purchased for $300 and Lewis became attached at a young age to the chicken coop, caring for the animals and raising them. He became upset when is parents would kill the ones he raised for food, and always dreamed of something more, especially preaching. Living during the early days of the Civil Rights movement, Lewis gives insight into his experiences, such as hearing about the murder of Emmet Till, the Rosa Parks arrest and subsequent bus boycott, and his first meeting with Martin Luther King Jr. A majority of the first volume deals with Lewis’ sit ins at diners in the South who refused to serve blacks at the food counters. Through the teachings of Gandhi, the embracing of non-violent protest is at the forefront of the book, and ends with the Mayor of Nashville embracing integration and equality in eating establishments. Yet, the road to freedom remains long…
The best thing about March is that it is raw, and taps the core of what the human spirit is capable of achieving when up against insurmountable odds. It is more than just an examination through the eyes of one of the key figure in the Civil Rights Movement, it is a story of sacrifice, determination, and what it takes to get there. It also seems like a unique teaching tool for kids who may not be into traditional methods of teaching history, due to its powerful narrative in a graphic medium. Regardless of politics, or feelings on social issues, any student or fan of history will enjoy March as it is, and I for one can’t wait for the remaining volumes to be released from Top Shelf. In short, March is an inspiring story that reminds us where we were, where we are, and where we are going as a country.
March is available now from Top Shelf Productions, at comic shops and other retailers such as Amazon.