When Andrew Aydin convinced his boss, Congressman John Lewis, to detail his experiences on the front lines of the American Civil Rights movement as a graphic novel, there's no way he could have expected that he himself would end up at the forefront of another struggle in 2016. But like much of what's going on in America these days, "predictable" is not a word often used to describe the current political landscape.
During last week's Comic-Con International panel for his, Rep. Lewis and artist Nate Powell's Eisner Award-winning graphic novel trilogy "March," Aydin addressed the audience and explained how he has grown his current facial hair in response to the "awful things" Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said about Muslims.
"My father was a Muslim immigrant," Aydin said. "I work on Capitol Hill, and I work with people who think it is OK for him to say what he is saying. My mother never wanted me to grow facial hair... She didn't want me to look Muslim. When Donald Trump started saying all of that mess, I started growing a beard. My mother hated it. Because I want the people on Capitol Hill, the people who are the Congressman's colleagues, the people who are my colleagues, and they ask, 'Hey, why did you grow a beard?' I want them to know, [it's] because of their bigotry, because of what they are doing to our society.
"Nonviolence is not a tool or a tactic," Aydin continued. "It is a way for all of us to live our lives. I hope in some small way that I am doing that. I think 'March' is a nonviolent act."
Published in 2013, "March: Book One" spans Lewis' youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.
The bestseller was followed in 2015 by "Book Two," which follows Lewis and his fellow Freedom Riders as they board a bus into the deep South, where they're faced with beatings, police brutality and even murder. "Book Three" is set for release in August.