After winning the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature—the first graphic novel ever to win an NBA—March Book Three has received yet another accolade, topping the annual PW Graphic Novel Critics’s Poll with five votes.
Published by IDW/Top Shelf Productions, the book is the final volume in the story of Rep. John Lewis’s part in the struggle for civil rights, and includes the historic events of “Bloody Sunday” and the 25-year-old Lewis’s historic role in the march across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Al. in 1965. Co-written by writer Andrew Aydin and rendered by artist Nate Powell, the bestselling graphic memoir is a stirring record of the struggle for racial equality, a message that resonated heavily with readers this year.
March Book Three “transforms the 1960s civil rights movement from abstract history to an immediate and human story. Seldom has the comics medium been such a powerful force for truth,” wrote Shaenon Garrity of the book.
The PW Graphic Novel Critics Poll is compiled by a group of participating critics who list the ten books they consider the best graphic novels of the year. We add up multiple votes for any title and the book with the most votes wins. Titles receiving an Honorable Mention received one vote.
Taking part in this year’s poll are PW graphic novel reviewers Shaenon Garrity, Glen Downey, John Seven, Maia Kobabe and Steve Bunche. Also participating are PW graphic novels reviews editor Heidi MacDonald, PW senior news editor Calvin Reid and PW bookroom editor Drucilla Schultz.
March Book Three had a powerful impact on readers. “This is one of the best comics I've ever read,” wrote Kobabe. “It made these events feel more real and immediate to me than any other book I've read about that era. But this book isn't just history. Some of Johnson's speeches feel as if they could have been given yesterday. The Voting Rights Act still needs desperate defense.” Wrote Downey, “Like its predecessors, an incredibly important book which reminds us that in the search for justice in the matter of civil rights, one’s vigilance can never afford to waver.”
Coming in second with four votes was Rosalie Lightning, author Tom Hart’s devastating memoir about the aftermath of the death of his two-year-old daughter, Rosalie. Reid called it “A work done with deep introspection and imaginative cartooning, created under the oppressive magnitude of unimaginable loss.” “What can you even say about a graphic novel like this?,” Downey asked, reflecting the searing pain of reading the memoir.
As usual, a wide ranging list of titles rounded out the top picks, from Daniel Clowes’s long awaited SF romance Patience to Isabel Greenberg’s myth making One Hundred Nights of Hero to the spunky adventures of five papergirls in Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s Papergirls.
Here’s the rest of the list.
“Glidden captures many of the concerns of 2016 better than anyone in this expansive, sober examination of the way journalism works and the way human nature works during her travels in the Middle East several years ago.” – John Seven