Abrams ComicArts and Good Trouble Productions have announced that the Lewis memoir “Run: Book One” — a sequel to the best-selling “March” trilogy — will be published Aug. 3. The civil rights icon completed the story before his death last July at 80, collaborating with “March” co-authors Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell, as well as a new member, Texas-based illustrator L. Fury, making her debut as a graphic novelist.
The cover by Powell and Fury reflects the escalation of events after “Bloody Sunday” in Selma and passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act — as some run from or toward racist violence, and some run for office.
“The reason it’s called ‘Run’ is because first you march, then you run,” Aydin said by phone last week. “It’s about showing how a young person like John Lewis can go from being well-known but seen as largely radical by the vast majority of the American republic to being a public servant.”
The “March” books received critical acclaim — including the first National Book Award for a comic book — while also popularizing and contextualizing a favorite Lewis phrase to urge nonviolent civil disobedience: “Make good trouble.”
“I think the congressman, particularly in the last four or five years, had his eye on how we can inspire and motivate this new generation to participate in the democratic process not just as voters, but as public servants,” said Aydin, who also worked as Lewis’s digital communications director. As he spoke on Friday, the hashtag #GoodTrouble was trending on social media, in response to a sweeping new elections law signed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and lambasted by the White House. Some critics say the law could disproportionately affect Black voters.
The purpose of “Run” is “to show people that the mission did not end with the signing of the Voting Rights Act,” Aydin said. “Turn the page, and the story became a new chapter in the same struggle. Often we celebrate the great victory and forget what happens next.
“When you consider what is happening today,” Aydin continued, it is “urgent that we tell this next chapter.”
“Run: Book One” focuses on the sociopolitical strife in 1965-1966, as Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee founding member Julian Bond runs for Georgia office and Lewis hews to his nonviolent philosophy yet loses his SNCC chairmanship to Stokely Carmichael. Meanwhile, the segregationist violence continues, including the Mississippi murder of a wealthy Black businessman by the Ku Klux Klan.
Aydin said the longtime Georgia politician was uplifted by how many young readers embraced his life story in illustrated form: “They gave the congressman this reinvigorating energy — at conventions he got energy from them — and that’s how he knew he was on the right path.”