LAST YEAR, when Rep. John Lewis began to share his illustrated tale of civil-rights fights, he depended on the sharp storytelling eye of Nate Powell. So for “March: Book One,” the Eisner-winning artist delivered a head-turning cover that pulled us in with hues of worn orange and hard-won history.
That riveting graphic novel, which topped bestseller lists and critics’ picks, told of the Georgia congressman’s early rise within the nonviolent path toward equality and voters’ rights. (“Book One” received a special recognition prize from the RFK Book Awards, and is nominated for Eisner recognition this month at San Diego Comic-Con.)
For “March: Book Two,” Powell — working with Lewis and co-author Andrew Aydin — has upped the ante on the visual potency.
The “March” trilogy’s publisher, Top Shelf Productions, on Monday will officially reveal the cover for “Book Two,” which will depict such graphic battles as Lewis’s imprisonment at Mississippi’s Parchman Penitentiary. (Top Shelf notes that “Book Two” is “significantly longer than ‘Book One.’”)
In eye-popping colors, the “Book Two” cover illustrates two distinct images: On top, we see the violence of a Freedom Riders bus that was set ablaze by white supremacists in May of 1961, in Anniston, Ala.; at bottom, we see Lewis as the youngest speaker of the day (at age 23) at the 1963 March on Washington, delivering words inflamed with his tremendous sense of mission.
“From a design standpoint, designer Chris Ross and I are composing all three book covers around two opposing elements, split in ways that shift along with the narrative,” Powell tells The Post’s Comic Riffs on Sunday.
“‘Book Two’ isn’t messing around — Congressman Lewis’s account can be intense and brutal, so we tried to call attention to the movement’s increased stakes, consequences and scope,” Powell continues. “Just as ‘Book One’s cover resembled a worn, secondhand text from the segregated schoolhouses of his youth, ‘Book Two’ suffers the singes and damage of that burning bus outside Anniston.”
“March: Book Two” is set to go on sale early next year.