Creating a graphic-novel memoir with the explicit goal of making nonviolent revolution attainable and urgent was audacious, but the late Rep. John Lewis
took that risk with us, alongside us and precisely because he knew the stakes.
We're still in awe of his trust in us to tell his life story, including his willingness to risk being brushed off and laughed at for this choice of medium and format.
Interviewers often asked us, "Why a graphic novel?" The truth is that "March" was always a comic
, starting with Andrew's initial vision after Congressman Lewis described 1957's buried but influential "Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story." Across 14 pages, the comic book
explains the philosophy and discipline of nonviolent social resistance through an illustrated recounting of Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Montgomery bus boycott. Comic books at the time
were widely demonized, considered by some to be a corrupting influence -- but having witnessed the inspiration "Montgomery Story" gave young activists, including himself, Lewis knew comics' potential. He saw the format as the most democratic and accessible mass medium, one that enabled anyone to express an idea with basic, inexpensive tools and reach a broad readership across educational, class and language barriers.
He was also conscious of the role the Internet played in creating a new literacy among young people. Words and pictures worked together in tweeted memes in much the same way as a comic panel. Sequential narrative was becoming the language of young adults. At the same time as we made our comics, Andrew and the Congressman worked together in the Congressional office (their day jobs, as Lewis would describe it) to dramatize the stories of the movement through social media, creating the now ubiquitous "#goodtrouble." These efforts worked hand in hand to sensitize, educate and inspire young people, bringing them a history and view of the world around them that was at once both iconic and immediate.
The idea for "March" first took root in 2008 on the Congressman's re-election campaign, as longtime staffers struggled to find new ways to tell his story against the growing question of "What have you done for me lately?", and the sharp backlash to Lewis' initial endorsement
of then-Sen. Hillary Clinton for president. Andrew, who had been on the Congressman's personal staff and was serving as the campaign's press secretary, suggested a simple idea: Congressman Lewis should write a comic book. Though it took some convincing, the Congressman agreed on one condition: He would do it, but only if Andrew wrote it with him.
It took five years for that idea to reach the world, as mainstream publishers rejected the conce