Friday, February 10, 2017

March: Book Two

The second book in a trilogy can feel padded out, like the author is laying the groundwork for the grand conclusion but still holding back on the "good stuff." I am happy to say that the second book of March does not fall into that trap, and I daresay it is even better than Book One. The framing sequence of Obama's 2009 Inauguration remains a constant, but the past events depicted left me breathless and astounded.
This book is a highly informative piece of nonfiction in terms of facts as well as emotions. So much is chronicled in this book, from the Freedom Riders to multiple sit-ins and protests in Nashville and Birmingham, to the March on Washington where co-author Congressman John Lewis was a prominent speaker and MLK delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. And most impressively, the many people and events packed into this book are all briefly and deftly identified, which was no small feat to accomplish.
What sits with me the most after reading this book is just how much brutality and hatred Lewis and his stalwarts had to deal with. This book does not hold back in its depictions of those who opposed the civil rights movement, and their actions rightly are cast in terrible light. And although it does not cast its heroes solely in the glowing light of the entirely innocent, it does show just how much patience and perseverance they needed. It also shows just how much pain and misery they had to go through in terms of beatings and imprisonment. Certainly, the stories and travails portrayed here are essential reading for any informed US citizen. I know I am behind, and I will likely have to wait some right now, but I am eager to read Book Three.

Lewis and his staffer Andrew Aydin penned the narrative for this book, and it was illustrated by Nate Powell, a veteran and expert creator with a long list of praised works, including the graphic novels The Silence of Our Friends, Swallow Me Whole, and Any Empire. As you can see from the excepts, Powell's artwork is dynamic and energetic, and he makes excellent tonal use of black and white to tell riveting, moving, and powerful tales, even when people are simply speaking. You can watch all three creators talk about this book in this interview.

This book won an Eisner Award and has been lauded by many. Etelka Lehoczky wrote, "Speeches and meetings might seem like dull stuff for a comic book — or, at least, like the dull parts of a comic book — but award-winning artist Nate Powell doesn't let that happen." Michael Cavna called it "a must-read monument." Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and remarked, "Lewis, Aydin, and Powell’s combined experiences combine to recreate scenes of incredible feeling."

March: Book Two was published by Top Shelf, and they have a preview and much more available here. Book Three recently won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

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