February 11, 2013
Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon, a man who has witnessed history in the making and helped make history himself as one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper's farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president.
Now, to share his remarkable story with new generations, Lewis is turning to the graphic novel format, in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell (winner of the Eisner Award and LA Times Book Prize finalist for Swallow Me Whole, NY Times Bestseller for The Silence of Our Friends). The resulting graphic novel trilogy, entitled March, will be released by Georgia-based publisher Top Shelf Productions, known for the thoughtful and award-winning works of Alan Moore, Craig Thompson, and Jeff Lemire.
March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights (including his key roles in the historic 1963 March on Washington and the 1965 Selma-Montgomery March), meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis' personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.
The first volume, March (Book One), will appear in stores everywhere on August 13, 2013. Two weeks later, America will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom.
Throughout the year, Lewis and his co-creators will travel across the country to promote the book, including featured keynote appearances at BookExpo America in New York, the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Chicago, and Comic-Con International in San Diego.
March is a historic first, both for the U.S. Congress and for comics publishing as a whole, marking the first time a sitting member of Congress has authored a graphic novel. Top Shelf Productions is the first and only graphic novel publisher to be certified by the House Committee on Standards.
In March, a true American icon joins with one of America's most acclaimed graphic novelists. Together, they bring to life one of our nation's most historic moments, a period both shameful and inspiring, and a movement whose echoes will be heard for generations.
March (Book One), a deluxe softcover graphic novel with french flaps and black & white interiors, 6.5" x 9.5", 128 pages, ISBN 978-1-60309-300-2, $14.95 US. August 13, 2013.
For more information and a 14-page preview, visit http://www.topshelfcomix.com/march.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Photo by Eric Etheridge
JOHN LEWIS is Georgia's Fifth Congressional District Representative and an American icon widely known for his role in the Civil Rights Movement.
As a student at American Baptist Theological Seminary in 1959, John Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. He was beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation in the South.
From 1963 to 1966, Lewis was Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). As Chairman, John Lewis became a nationally recognized leader. Lewis was dubbed one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and at the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963.
In 1964, John Lewis coordinated SNCC efforts to organize voter registration drives and community action programs during the Mississippi Freedom Summer. The following year, Lewis helped spearhead one of the most seminal moments of the Civil Rights Movement. Hosea Williams, another notable Civil Rights leader, and John Lewis led over 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965. They intended to march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as "Bloody Sunday." News broadcasts and photographs revealing the senseless cruelty of the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. After leaving SNCC in 1966, he continued his commitment to the Civil Rights Movement as Associate Director of the Field Foundation and his participation in the Southern Regional Council's voter registration programs. Lewis went on to become the Director of the Voter Education Project (VEP). In 1977, John Lewis was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to direct more than 250,000 volunteers of ACTION, the federal volunteer agency.
In 1981, he was elected to the Atlanta City Council. He was elected to Congress in November 1986 and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia's Fifth Congressional District since then. In 2011 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Lewis' 1999 memoir Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement won numerous honors, including the Robert F. Kennedy, Lillian Smith, and Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. His most recent book, Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change, has received the NAACP Image Award.
ANDREW AYDIN, NATE POWELL & JOHN LEWIS
ANDREW AYDIN, an Atlanta native, currently serves in Rep. John Lewis' Washington, D.C. office handling Telecommunications and Technology policy as well as New Media. Previously, he served as Communications Director and Press Secretary during Rep. Lewis' 2008 and 2010 re-election campaigns, as District Aide to Rep John Larson (D-CT), and as Special Assistant to Connecticut Lt. Governor Kevin Sullivan. Andrew is a graduate of the Lovett School in Atlanta, Trinity College in Hartford, and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
NATE POWELL is a New York Times best-selling graphic novelist born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1978. He began self-publishing at age 14, and graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2000. His work includes the critically acclaimed Any Empire, Swallow Me Whole (winner of the Eisner Award and Ignatz Award, finalist for the LA Times Book Prize), The Year of the Beasts, The Silence of Our Friends, and Sounds of Your Name.
Powell appeared at the United Nations in 2011, discussing his contribution to the fundraising fiction anthology What You Wish For: A Book For Darfur alongside some of the world's foremost writers of young adult fiction.
In addition to March, Powell is also currently drawing the graphic novel adaptation of Rick Riordan's #1 international bestseller Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero, while writing and drawing his own forthcoming graphic novel Cover and assembling the short story collection You Don't Say.
TOP SHELF PRODUCTIONS, based in Atlanta, GA, is the literary graphic novel and comics publisher best known for its ability to discover and showcase the vanguard of the comics scene. Founded by co-publisher Brett Warnock in 1995, and joined by co-publisher Chris Staros in 1997, Top Shelf has produced over 250 comics and graphic novels that have helped to revitalize interest in comics as a literary art form.
Among Top Shelf's most notable releases are Alan Moore's From Hell, Lost Girls, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; Craig Thompson's Blankets; Andy Runton's Owly; Robert Venditti & Brett Weldele's The Surrogates; Jeff Lemire's Essex County and The Underwater Welder; and Jeffrey Brown's Clumsy.