Rep. John Lewis has been a lot of places and seen a lot of history in his 73 years. But the civil-rights icon had to admit that Comic-Con was something else altogether.
“It’s so different!” he told us Monday. “I have never witnessed anything like it. Hundreds of thousands of people dressed in so many different ways. They looked like people from another planet or from outer space.”
You heard that right: The Georgia Democrat made his debut Saturday at Comic-Con — the freewheeling conclave of pop-culture nerds who gather every summer in San Diego to gorge on the latest samplings of the sci-fi, superhero and fantasy arts.
Lewis, a 26-year veteran of the House, was there to promote his new literary venture, in stores next month. “March” is an account of his early years in the civil-rights movement — as one of the original Freedom Riders, a speaker at the 1963 March on Washington and a chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee — told in the form of a graphic novel: basically, a more sophisticated variation on a comic book.
Lewis, who collaborated with staffer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell, called the format “a way to reach another generation through new means.”
The congressman was back on familiar ground Monday night in Washington, speaking at a screening of “March to Justice,” a new documentary that’s part of this week’s March on Washington Film Festival — one of many 50th-anniversary commemorations where you’ll find him this summer. But he also found a welcoming crowd in the exotic land of Comic-Con: a packed, standing-room-only house for his panel discussion and book signing.
Who showed up? Lewis said he was astounded by the diversity at the convention, old and young, of all ethnicities. He encountered longtime fans of his work who wept when they met him, as well as costumed newcomers who stumbled into his panel out of sheer curiosity. “A lot of younger people buying [the book] for their teacher or for their parents, and older people buying it for their children.”
So, what does a congressman wear into a room filled with wannabe Batmans and Katniss Everdeens? “I just dressed in a regular suit and tie.”
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