Column by Steve Bennett
Posted by Steve Bennett on July 22, 2020 @ 1:23 pm CT
Given his age plus the fact I knew he had been battling cancer, I can't say I was shocked to learn that longtime US congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis had died. Over the years I've written about his comic book connections, like how his lifelong fight for freedom, equality, and basic human rights had been inspired by a comic book; Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story (see "Confession Of A Comic Book Guy -- The Good Kind Of Trouble").
It was a 16-page comic book published in 1957 that recounted the story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott which been called “the world’s most dangerous comic” because "People were told to read it, memorize it, and destroy it because if they were caught with it, they could be killed" (see “Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy -- The World’s Most Dangerous Comic”).
Lewis went on to co-author, with Andrew Aydin, March, a trilogy of autobiographical graphic novels drawn by Nate Powell and published by Top Shelf Productions. In interviews, Lewis said he told his story in graphic novel form because he wanted to “get young people — another generation — to feel the hope, the dreams, the aspirations of a people that wanted to be free."
Then, as outlined in The Washington Post, back in 2015 while promoting March: Book Two, Lewis attended Comic-Con where he cosplayed as his 25-year-old self. He wore what he did in 1965 (a trench coat, shirt, tie, and backpack) when he led 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. And he did it leading two-dozen third-graders from a nearby elementary school through the main corridor of the San Diego Convention Center.
Lewis has said that part of the message of March was to encourage young readers to get into “good trouble — necessary trouble.” Adding: “I am so hopeful. I am so optimistic about the future.” In a time of nearly never-ending crisis, hope is hard to come by and optimism harder to maintain, but if John Lewis can feel that way, I can too. At least I’m going to try.
Speaking of Comic-Con, Comic-Con@Home is finally upon us and Rob Salkowitz (see "Best Business Panels For Comic-Con@Home") has done a solid job of breaking down the panels that will be available on YouTube on a day by day basis. As someone who has never gone to one, I’m curious to see how this virtual version of Comic-Con plays out. And as someone unlikely to ever attend one, I'm hoping that when we can safely have a proper San Diego Comic Convention it will still have a sizable online presence. For all of the stay-at-homes, such as myself.
And finally, the website of a local San Diego TV station has reported fans have taken to leaving "flowers, t-shirts, and notes of their memories from past Comic-Cons" across the street from the San Diego Convention Center where Comic-Con is normally held. Chris Morrow, “one of the organizers of the shrine", says the tribute was organized as a way for fans to continue connecting over their shared love of the convention.” First, I had no idea these sorts of shrines have official “organizers” and second, maybe it’s because I automatically associate them with tragic deaths, building a shrine to honor a postponed event seems kind to be kind of an oversized reaction. But then, who am I to judge?
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
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