Art By: Nate Powell
Distributed By: Top Shelf Productions
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I was recently offered an opportunity to check out the first in a trilogy of graphic novels documenting the Civil Rights Movement. A comic book about some of the most important historic events in the history of the United States? The history buff in me was definitely on board and so, I found myself downloading a copy of March: Book One.
March: Book One begins with a flashback to the march on what is referred to as “Bloody Sunday.” The march was to go from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, but was stopped on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where they were confronted by the Alabama State Police and were beaten and gassed. Flash forward decades later to the Inauguration of President Barrack Obama. Congressman John Lewis is preparing to speak at the event. As he does so, he thinks back on the events that led this country to the inauguration of its first black president and his role in the movement that made it all possible.
March: Book One, written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, shows John Lewis’ upbringing, his early calling as a preacher and his move toward the defense of the rights of blacks to live in equality with whites. It covers the initial moves to desegregate lunch counters, (the sit-ins, violence committed on the protesters and their arrests) the boycotting of buses and stores in an effort to desegregate both and the eventual march on City Hall in Nashville, Tennessee to confront Mayor West about the desegregation of lunch counters in his city. It speaks about John Lewis’ relationship with Martin Luther King, Jr. and his involvement with the SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, known to its members as Snick).
The graphic novel, illustrated by Nate Powell, is entirely in black and white. I think that this adds poignancy to the story. Doing the comic book in color would only distract from the message it is trying to convey. The artwork is spot on and the renditions of Lewis, King, Rosa Parks, Diane Nash, Fred Gray and more were very well done. The landscape art was also excellent, proving that Powell is one helluvan artist, capable of portraying people and places in incredible detail with equal skill.
March: Book One is a graphic novel that speaks to very important times in our lives. Knowing how the Civil Rights Movement made it possible for Barrack Obama to be President of the United States is extremely important and who better to tell it than someone who was so deeply involved in the movement? March is an excellent graphic novel series and I highly recommend it to all!