Comics tend to garner a bad reputation among casual readers because of a misconception that comics are only ever about light and playful topics. The use of drawings and illustrations, especially those in a traditional “cartoony” style, also veers away from those looking for a more serious topic to read. However, the Graphic Novel trilogy March — written by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell — recalls the Civil Rights movement era through the viewpoint of civil rights activist and American politician John Lewis.

The novel recounts the struggle against segregation and the battle for broader human rights. This theme shows that, in truth, comics can tell a story that is much less playful and bright. Graphic novel March: Book One illustrates robust and resilient passion through the authors’ use of symbolism and dialogue.

In the novel’s beginning, symbolism is used to express Lewis’s soon to be passion for the civil rights movement. Symbolism is an image or an object that is used to represent a theme or an abstract idea. Lewis’s childhood dream was to be a preacher, and he would express this dream through preaching to chickens that his family had on their farm. While narrating, Lewis says “I imagined that they [the chickens] were my congregation” (28).

As Lewis tells this backstory, readers are progressively shown how attached Lewis was with his chickens. He recalls the many other times when he preached to his chickens, refused to eat chicken, and even a time where he would perform baptisms on the chickens. In one particular baptism, Lewis had gone a little too far, and the chicken he was baptizing passed out on the verge of death.

He says that “I never felt more guilt than I did that day” (Lewis 32). Lewis’s preaching past symbolizes his future, where he preaches the importance of equity during the rise of the civil rights movements to humans. This symbolism illustrates strong passion for Lewis’s cause by using the past to mirror the future. Readers can see that Lewis has always been passionate, and his passion continued to grow: growing outside of chickens, outside of baptisms, and outside of bible reading. His passion for group leading and for preaching equality blossoms, which makes the use of symbolism a key part in the trilogy.

As the story continues, the authors use speech bubbles and fonts to express the activists’ resilient passion for the civil rights movement. In comic books, dialogue, such as speech bubbles and fonts, or even the delivery of the dialogue itself, can be used to describe graphic design choices in the comic. As he recounts his childhood in the beginning of the novel, Lewis tells the story of his lifelong dream, saying “Growing up, what I really wanted to be was a preacher” (26). The narration then shifts to Lewis and his past where he begins to recount the story of him reading the bible at age five, and how a particular phrase stuck out to him despite not knowing what it meant.

The quote reads “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Lewis, Aydin, and Powell 27). This quote is pasted atop Lewis’s shadow, in a thin yet large, and almost scratchy font, and it fills in Lewis’s whole figure. This use of a large and different font on Lewis’s figure, as well as the font and delivery’s stark contrast with the rest of the dialogue, helps further illustrate Lewis’s passion for preaching in a visual representation. This kind of imagery is more powerful than just having Lewis say that he loved reading the bible and preaching outright.

Thus, the use of dialogue and symbolism helps further illustrate the topic of passion for equity.  John Lewis’ passion could be compared to fate. Using symbolism, it is easier to grasp his love for the civil rights movement when looking at his past and comparing it to his future. Using different fonts also helps create a clearer image of Lewis’s passion during his past. Therefore, the authors of March use symbolism and dialogue to display great passion throughout the novel.

Works Cited

Lewis, John, et al. March. Top Shelf Productions, 2016.

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William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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