MARCH Discussion Recap

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On Valentine’s Day, we gathered to discuss March: Book 1, John Lewis’s memoir as adapted by Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. We originally meant to meet on the 7th, but this wacky winter hit Eugene with its second big snow storm of the year just in time to get in the CRG’s way.

We all enjoyed March, and could all imagine ourselves teaching it at some point. Considering its general marketing as a “children’s version” of the Lewis story, several of us admitted we did not expect the text to be so nuanced and formally innovative as it was. Below I will list the points of discussion and questions we raised:

  • Formal innovation of the text: extreme close ups on faces, varied and interesting panel transitions, complex page layouts–one particular topic of discussion was the image (on pg 27) of  Bible verse written onto young John Lewis’s body
  • We took note of John Lewis’s picture wall and were reminded of a similar picture wall in Isaiah Bradley’s home in Truth: Red, White, and Black. The picture wall is interesting both as a way to capture history, claim legitimacy, and in the way it mimics a comics page
  • MLK, Jr. presented in a very human light (first image, kind of tubby, in shirtsleeves, working at a desk–not the saintlike iconography we usually see)
  • Lewis has said that March was largely inspired by the 1957 comic book Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story. We discussed the relationship between the two texts, with particular interest in the choice of medium/audience (comic books) and the use of framing narrative
  • Besides March, we also read the introduction to Howard and Johnson’s Black Comics. A large part of our discussion revolved around the question of what counts as black comics…this is particularly messy because Aydin and Powell are white men telling John Lewis’s story in a new format. Though it’s not connected to our group, this post by Qiana Whitted at the Hooded Utilitarian, along with its comments, presents the questions and concerns we discussed in a clear and concise way.
  • Though we did not have much time to discuss it before we had to disperse, we discussed the ways in which a comic text, and March in particular, formally reflects or undermines the nonviolent resistance espoused by King and Lewis. Josh argued that the encounter with the image is inherently violent in nature, and we are left to mull over how that may affect the text.

We look forward to seeing you next time. Our next text is slated to be Sowena’s Marzi, though we haven’t settled on a date yet.

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