Review of Run: Book One

Run: Book One
by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; illus. by L. Fury with Nate Powell
Middle School, High School    Good Trouble Productions/ComicArts/Abrams    160 pp.    g
8/21    978-1-4197-3069-6    $24.99
e-book ed.  978-1-68335-382-9    $18.65

The story begun in the March graphic memoirs (rev. 1/14, 5/15, and 9/16) — events of the civil rights movement as seen through the eyes of young activist (and later longtime Congress member) John Lewis — continues in this first volume of a projected new series. It picks up after the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as Lewis questions his own effectiveness as SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) chairperson. But Lewis’s personal story is mostly a springboard to larger events. Depictions of efforts by segregationists to close or move polling stations; the unpunished 1966 murder of young Black man Samuel Younge Jr.; and the prevention of Julian Bond’s being seated in the Georgia General Assembly show how white supremacists and segregationists were emboldened to maintain existing power structures. Taking over most art duties from March illustrator Powell (who illustrates the pages leading up to the title page), Fury renders emotionally devastating, often violent events and quieter moments with equal finesse. Her grayscale art is reminiscent of Powell’s, but with cleaner-lined, less stylized figures. Extensive back matter includes biographical information on dozens of individuals, meticulous source notes, and additional background on both the civil rights movement and the book’s creation. Most of the finished pages were completed before Lewis’s death in 2020; plans are in progress for the series to continue with additional material he and Aydin worked on together. As informative and essential an addition to the nonfiction comic canon as its much-lauded predecessors.

From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter is the school librarian at Fred A. Toomer Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia.

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