This past Monday the latest episode of Graphic Policy Radio hit the air with numerous special guests joining our roundtable discussion. While the main discussion was about the X-Men and their use as an allegory of the civil rights, it covered the series throughout its many incarnations and writers. The discussion also veered into the depiction of minorities in “comic” entertainment and Marvel’s continuity.
This Monday join Graphic Policy Radio for a special episode where we examine the X-Men, Professor X, Magneto and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. The episode will air live at 10pm ET, Monday Night. You can listen to it here.
One of the best releases of 2013 was Top Shelf‘s March, which details the life of Congressman John Lewis. Lewis was an instrumental individual in the Civil Rights movement. That successful graphic novel lead to Top Shelf partnering with the Fellowship of Reconciliation to publish new editions of Martin Luther King and The Montgomery Story.The comic is an amazing piece of history that has been used to promote peaceful, non-violent protests around the world, being translated into numerous languages.
The 16 page comic is a wonderful summary of the Civil Rights movement taking individuals through the methods and thought process used to protest Montgomery policy that African Americans were to ride in the back of the bus. The narration is from an individual named “Jones” and his experience through the protest. After the story wraps up, there’s a step by step checklist that breaks down the exact methodology used and also how its been used throughout the world, in particular to win India’s independence.
Top Shelf has focused on not just reprinting the comic in modern standards, they’ve used similar paper and coloring from the time that it originally was printed. This looks like a copy you might have held 40 years ago. A fantastic recreation of an important piece of comic and civil rights history.
Everyone should check this out, to learn about United States history, but also how comics have been used to create change and in political movements.
The Korean Times is reporting that educational comic books are flourishing in Korea as a new way to grab the attention of children and engage teachers and adults. That wave of educational comics is making it’s way across the seas to here in the United States.
A comic bio series in English published by Dasan Books has been adopted as supplementary textbooks at a U.S. elementary school in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Fort Lee Elementary School announced it will use “The Obama Story,” “The Bill Gates Story” and “The Charles Darwin Story” for history, social studies and bilingual education classes for the second half of this year. The three books are part of the comic biography series aimed at third to sixth graders.
In February 2009 Dasan Books even opened up a branch in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey to enter the U.S. market. Six biography comics have so far been produced, including ones about Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln and Hillary Clinton. By August, volumes on Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Stephen Hawking will be released. Their plan is to release 50 bio comics over the next 18 months.
The Obama Story clocks in at 200 pages and targets children ages 8 to 12. It focuses on his life from his early child hood up to his recent election as President.
The comic biography series is available in some nations in North America and Asia via online bookstores.
Bleeding Cool has a post asking if the below comic is “the most influential comic book in America?” It’s an interesting nugget of history and shows comic books played an important role in the civil rights movement here in the United States as well as around the world.
The fourteen page comic book published the Fellowship of Reconciliation tells the story of the 1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as the passive resistance movement in India.
The comic was used as a guide by students during the sit-in movement of the sixties and was cited as propagating civil disobedience tactics ten years after the books initial publication.
Fantagraphics is releasing a special edition of Ho Che Anderson’s graphic novel biography of Martin Luther King Jr. Entitled, King – A Comics Biography, the special edition is available for pre-order from their website. Also at the website is an 18 page PDF sample of the graphic novel detailing his life from 1960 to 1961.
Ho Che Anderson’s biography of America’s great civil rights advocate Martin Luther King is both a monumental recreation of his tumultuous public life (and death) and an intimate portrait of the man as politician, friend, lover, husband, and father.
With the triumphant ascendancy of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States, Martin Luther King’s advocacy for racial equality and the dignity of all men stands as one of the greatest and most successful achievements toward social justice in the 20th century. Originally published in three volumes (1993-2002), this Special Edition of King includes the original 240 page graphic novel as well many unique and original additions, including an essay by the author on the making of the book, preliminary sketches, pages of the typescript, visual breakdowns, “deleted scenes,” and a prelude about race relations in contemporary America entitled Black Dogs.
Anderson’s biography traces King’s life from his childhood in Atlanta and his education at Booker T. Washington High School, and his centrality to the civil rights movement when, in 1955, he organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott; his founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957; his Nobel Prize in 1964; the 1966 March on Washington and his “I Have a Dream” speech; and the tragic moment on April 4, 1968 when he was shot dead on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. King brings the man, and a singular moment in American history, vividly to life.
The original edition was widely praised upon it’s release:
“Widely acknowledged as a masterpiece, this award-winning biography invokes King’s flaws, tragedies, and triumphs.” – Library Journal
“[Anderson’s] effort will convince skeptics of the value of comics as a medium; King is a milestone of biographical comics.” – Publishers Weekly
“Stark, uniform black-and-white panels contain talking heads: a Greek chorus of varying opinions and historical background. Among these Mr. Anderson inserts montages of raw, visceral energy… tightly rendered grids give way to near-collage, in which hand-retouched photography is melded with oblique, loosely sketched forms that convey an ominous tension with moody imprecision. Violent eruptions splay into vast, painterly tableaus, as in the brutal rendering of the Birmingham riots of 1963… The final scene, depicting King’s assassination, is a chaotic wash of searing crimson that spills over four pages, seeming almost to seep from the book.” – The New York Times
“King goes beyond history to examine life’s complications, particularly pertaining to racial relations. King the character becomes the personification of these complications… Rare and vital, Ho Che Anderson’s King adds a significant contribution to the depth of artistry and subject matter in the world of graphic literature.” – Time.com
This 312 page special edition will retail for $34.99 and be released this January.
Created in 1963 Marvel Comics’ X-Men has often featured social issues such as the exploration of the civil rights movement through it’s brand of superhumans called mutants. A mutant as defined in the Marvel Universe is the next evolutionary phase of humanity where people are born with a mutation that grants extraordinary powers. These manifest in abilities like flying or telepathy or can deform the persons appearance making them easy to spot and often ostracizing them in society. Over the years laws have been passed and overturned discriminating against mutants and over time general acceptance has been gained as well.
And in this post, on the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated 40 years ago, the exchange below from X-Men: Legacy #209 caught me as appropriate. The two characters are asked whether Xavier or Magneto won their “perennial debate about ways and means”. I leave you with Xavier’s and Magneto’s conversation to ponder:
Magneto: So what do you think Charles? Force majeure versus love and peace and understanding. Which carries the argument?
Xavier: You and me Magnus?
Magneto: Yes, you and me. With the issues oversimplified for the sake of the easy soundbite.
Xavier: I — I think — I think — We cancelled each other out. For a long time. And then — Finally — We became irrelevent. The future walked around us.