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Graphic novels about the Civil Rights movement—and a comic that helped inspire it

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, I wanted to post a couple of links relating to graphic novels about the Civil Rights movement.

Rep. John Lewis’s memoir March was one of the most talked-about graphic novels of 2013. On this site, Esther reviewed it and Eva interviewed the co-author, Andrew Aydin, who is Rep. Lewis’s aide. The book also made our list of top graphic novels of 2013. Some other reviews and feature articles:

Civil Rights Legend Congressman John Lewis Tells His Story in ‘March’ Graphic Novel (SLJ)
Interview with Rep. Lewis (LA Times)
Interview with Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin (The Appendix)
‘March’ Sheds New Light on a Civil Rights Hero (NPR)
Review (Comic Book Resources)
Review (Publishers Weekly)
Review (The Comics Journal)

When I spoke to Rep. Lewis at BEA last summer, he told me that during the Civil Rights struggle, he and many others were inspired and informed by a comic, Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, which was published in 1957 by The Fellowship of the Reconciliation. The comic is available in full here. The Fellowship of the Reconciliation republished it in 2011, after the comic got some attention in the news (it was translated into Arabic by human rights activist Dalia Zadia) March publisher Top Shelf has published a new edition in print and digital; you can also get it on comiXology. Susan Karlin wrote about the new release and Aydin’s efforts to find out who the artist is in an article at Fast Company.

While March is getting a lot of press, and rightly so, there is another book that tells the story of the Civil Rights movement from a more personal perspective—and it’s illustrated by the same artist, Nate Powell. The Silence of Our Friends is a fictional story based on the childhood memories of writer Mark Long, who grew up in Texas in the 1960s. It’s the story of the friendship between a white television reporter and a black college professor during the student protests of 1968, and it effectively shows the small ways in which racism was reinforced by society as well as the larger issues that both men faced in different ways. It’s hard for many of us to imagine now that there was a time when inviting a friend of a different color to your house for dinner would be considered a major social breach, and Long, Powell, and co-author Jim Demonakos really bring the era to life.

Interview with Nate Powell (Comic Book Resources)
Interview with Mark Long (Publishers Weekly)
Review (The Appendix)
Review (Publishers Weekly)
Review (A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy)
Review (The Horn Book)

Brigid Alverson About Brigid Alverson

Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor and a newspaper reporter; now she is assistant to the mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. In addition to editing GC4K, she writes about comics and graphic novels at MangaBlog, SLJTeen, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Comic Book Resources, MTV Geek, and Good Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters in college, which is why she writes so much. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.

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