February 13, 2016

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Graphic Nonfiction: An Excerpt from March Book 1 by Lewis/Aydin/Powell

February is traditionally Black History Month, the time when people who don't give a damn the other 11 months of the year trot out things to pretend that they care about people of color. I'm a firm believer in the concept of 28 Days is not enough, a call taken up by many people, including Panel Pal Joel Christian Gill, to show that we need to be recognizing the work of African Americans year round.

If you'll allow a brief digression, here's a true story from my teaching days:

Me: We'll be using this excerpt from a speech by my personal hero, Dr. King
Student (African American): But it's September. We don't get this kind of stuff until February.

Yeah. 

That doesn't mean we can't celebrate things in February, too, however. So let's get Graphic Nonfiction back into service with an excerpt from March Book 1, created by Rep. John Lewis, his aide Andrew Aydin, and artist Nate Powell. I hope that you've already read the book (and Book Two, which came out last year), but just in case you haven't, you can find an excerpt here.

Here's one panel from the book. I wrote back in 2013 about how impressed I was with how Powell approaches the subject matter, and how well the whole comic works. Look at the way Powell makes the dialog balloons part of the art itself--those cries for justice are forcing themselves on the judge as though they had a physical force as imposing as any police baton. Just about every page of the book is portrayed in that manner.



In a time when it seems that people want to give lip service to the needs of people of color, let's make sure we're going back and looking at the real history this month--and in the months to come.