It’s gotten starred reviews from outlets such as Booklist and Kirkus Reviews. It’s gained traction at major industry events like BookExpo America and San Diego Comic-Con. And it will be featured on The Colbert Report on its release date.
The “it” is March: Book One, released by Top Shelf on August 13 and probably the publisher’s most nationally lauded publication in years that isn’t written by that friendly chap named A. Moore. “It” is also the first ever graphic novel co-scripted by a sitting Congressman and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient.
That man is John Lewis, and March: Book One depicts his life story, from his modest early days at a farm in Alabama and leading up to its most defining moment: the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. As the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Lewis was one of the March’s leaders – its high point being the legendary “I have a dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. – so the graphic novel will give you a unique insight in both this historic event and the fight for Civil Rights like you have not seen before.
For Georgia-based Top Shelf, the chance to publish a work with a real-world impact, not to mention working with Congressman Lewis, is an honor, says Marketing Coordinator Leigh Walton. “As a Southern publisher, we definitely feel a special honor. But beyond that, we’re proud to say this isn’t simply a tacky celebrity cash-in project or a dry educational text – it’s a genuine graphic novel in the finest Top Shelf tradition.
“Also, Rep. Lewis and Andrew Aydin have talked about drawing inspiration from the 1950s comic book Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, a direct influence on Lewis’ generation, and this project is the natural next step in demonstrating the power of comics to touch people and even change the world.”
The ‘Book One’ in the title refers to this being the first part in a graphic novel trilogy, all co-written by Congressman Lewis and Andrew Aydin, Lewis’s press secretary during his 2008 re-election campaign, with Nate Powell of Swallow Me Whole and Any Empire fame on art. Walton promises readers will get to see a new dimension of Powell’s work.
“Nate is using the same wonderful grasp of emotion, subtlety, pacing, layout, and shading that made those graphic novels so powerful — but he’s now using an ink-wash technique as well,” he says. “Just as Jeff Lemire moved from the stark blank-and-white of Essex County to the spooky grays of The Underwater Welder, Nate is expanding his range, and the results are gorgeous.”
If this past SDCC is any indication, March: Book One will be the hit release for the publisher this year. Lewis’s convention appearance sparked several national news stories, including Roll Call, CNN, NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News.
Walton adds “His feature panel packed every seat in the presentation hall and kicked off with a spontaneous standing ovation. And we sold more copies of this graphic novel than we’ve ever sold of any book in 15+ years at Comic-Con — even mega-hits like Craig Thompson’s Blankets and Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen!”
The hardcover edition of March: Book One goes on sale August 13 from Top Shelf, carrying a cover price of $39.95.