March Book One
Written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
Art by Nate Powell
Obviously my head works differently than most people.
Because well yeah I’m going to admit that I was very skeptical when I first picked up this book… I mean: at first glance it seems like it’s just a historical account of some big civil rights movement that happened waaaaay back in the past so you know: it’s nice and safe and everyone can feel good about it. “Oh yeah all the bad things happened in the past – isn’t it great how we’re so much better and enlightened now?”
I know that I sound like I should be myself getting fitted for a tinfoil hat but my general approach is that the types of books and films and whatever that get all of the pundits and praise and are trumpeted by those in power are the ones that you have to be most wary of – the recent Boots Riley on BlackkKlansman
thing being a particularly good example (short version: maybe BlackkKlansman is – gasp – actually bad
?). I mean the back cover of the copy of March I have in front of right now has a glowing quote from Bill Frigging Clinton: so you know – hopes were not high that March was going to be getting too political or anything. Instead I was just expecting homey anecdotes about young boys tending to chickens and a slow build up to the moment that Obama gets inaugurated and erm – Racism is finally vanquished from America? Or whatever?
(Here’s a thought: maybe symbolic victories are no solution to deep seated structural problems? No? Just me? Ok then. Cool).
And yeah – I mean the book kinda starts like that and didn’t really give me much hope for the first half or so… For those of you who don’t know: it’s a recollection of the life of John Lewis (no – not the one whose profits just dived 99%
) and how he did lots of cool stuff in a very momentous kinda way that makes you wants to nod your head solemnly and praise be that thankfully now we live in more enlightened times / or not / or whatever…
(I wonder how you guys think this compares to Logicomix
But then yeah: while it got to the point that I was almost falling asleep it got to the bit with Jim Lawson and the Fellowship of Reconciliation (“a pacifist group committed to the philosophy and discipline of non-violence”) and I swear to God I was like proper “wow!” because it felt like the book changed from doing all of the things that I expected it to – to kinda changing into this whole new thing and I swear to god I felt like I actually learned something…
In fact I’m gonna share this page with you because it’s easier than writing it down:
Like shit: I don’t know if this is going to get me into trouble or whatever but erm – “show yourself friendly and courteous at all times” seems like maybe it would be good advice for a lot of people who seem to do most of the public fighting for Social Justice these days. And please please don’t get me wrong or throw me into the box marked #ComicsGate or whatever (LOL). I am a big pro-fan of Social Justice and want to live in a world where everyone is treated in a much more beautiful manner than we are at the moment. But well seeing how I’m on the pro-side: is it fair to say – that I wish the people who were fighting in my name were doing it in a more loving manner instead of well: being as contentious as possible at all times?
I mean obviously like it said it so perfectly said in an article I read earlier on in the week
““So the algorithm favours clickbait and controversial content over meaningfully nuanced and positive content.”
Which I think pretty much perfectly describes the trap we all find ourselves in (the trap is our lives). But then I guess the question at the forefront of my mind is: how many reading this (incredibly popular comic – it was like the bestselling book when it first came out and stuff) were like: oh wow – maybe this is a better way to try to engage with the bad guys? And how many people just well – used it as just another example to keep doing things the same as usual (which LOL full disclosure: is exactly what I’m doing too: oh wow – check out how this book totally agrees with all the things I already believe: what a coincidence!!!!)
But I don’t know – what do you think?
Eeeeeee! Plot and characters and nice art and interesting subject matter in the same comic, consider me well sold. The only downside being ‘book one’, I’m always wary of stories that haven’t been finished yet, I don’t want to get invested in case the series gets canned. Or, if the series does really well, there’s the incentive to stretch it out forever.
I know it’s going to sound weird with how understated it was, but I really appreciated the art-style on this one – very minimalist, very sober, it really fit the mood of the story. It’s not the big flashy art of Promethea, but I’d say it’s just as well suited to the story it’s telling. I’m a sucker for monochrome high-contrast stuff too, so this was very much up my alley. The writing and framing device seemed pretty solid – especially compared to a certain comic about logic
My theory on the ‘friendly and courteous’ thing is that with such easy global communication, it’s like everyone being herded together in a few giant rooms. The internet is just dominated by whoever shouts loudest, and that’s inevitably the zealots of any side of any argument – the people who will stay online all day and write essays / film youtube rants / etc.
I’m not sure I could have stayed remotely courteous, let alone friendly, in that situation. When you’re threatened and attacked, when you’re abused for just being yourself and people tell you to be nice and polite about it and not make a fuss, that’s beyond infuriating. I don’t think anger is often useful, but it’s entirely justified.
Barbican Comic Forum
00000000 / Kraken
There’s only three books in the March series and they’ve all been published so you don’t have to worry too much about the series being canned. 🙂
(Unless of course maybe due to the success of it: they decide to do a March 4 and have it be set on the Moon or something? Or well: you know – it could be about how to further the cause of social justice we should all buy a pair of Nikes or something lol).
Re: zealots and the conversation being dominated by whoever shouts loudest – well yeah: you know – that’s what I loved about the Jim Lawson and the Fellowship of Reconciliation stuff: a whole bunch of people who discovered that the way to peace is not through shouting the loudest but by being the calmest and instead of spewing back hate at hateful people using the powers of friendliness and courteousness to try to bring people onside. I kinda wanna say “empathy” altho I realise that maybe that could be a little controversial because it doesn’t seem like a word that they used and – from my perspective – it seems that mostly when people use the word empathy nowadays it’s to refer to the people who are already on the right side of the debate. Of course of course I totally agree that we need to extend our love and trust and belief to all of those that the system hurts the worst but my feeling is that in order to help to end the cycles of hate and oppression – you need to try to understand and empathise with the people whose views you find most difficult to deal with…
There’s a guy called Daryl Davis who I tend to mention a lot.
Daryl Davis is a blues musician, but he also has what some might call an interesting hobby. For the past 30 years, Davis, a black man, has spent time befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan.
He’s basically a total hero of mine. Because well from the things that I know and how I see the world it seems like this is the only true way to make a positive difference in the world and anything else is just well… a form of mental masturbation that does nothing but inflames your own sense of righteousness and the passions of those on the other side… (whoops – sorry: too much?).
(“Narcissism” is a good word – don’t you think?)
In fact yeah – the whole (sigh) #Comicsgate thing is a particularly good example of this. No one’s minds being changed or reached out to. But very well defined teams and a good chance to either get angry about whatever or pouring scorn on those people getting angry and other people not getting angry enough….And all of it spurring on this kinda desperate rush-to-the-bottom to find the most idiotic / hateful post so that people can hold it up as the type of thing that the enemy believe in. Like: I can’t help but wonder what it would be like the other way round? To try and find the most reasonable post / idea from the othe stuff and try to engage with that instead? Like: one of my friends said a few weeks ago – why is everyone arguing with the most stupid people instead of trying to start a discussion with those that are within reach and whose minds might be swayed….
Like: not only would you stand a chance of actually making a positive difference to the world but yeah also: I’m just not sure that getting mad all day is conducive to your mental health you know?
Or maybe that’s just me? LOL