Nyack: Fellowship of Reconciliation, 1957. Barry, Sy. First Edition. Small 4to, 10 ¼ x 6 ¾ and, each 16 pp. A fine copy, unread, with slightest normal tanning, but exceptionally preserved overall. Fine. Item #List2004
A year after moving its headquarters from New York City to Nyack, New York, the Fellowship of Reconciliation - an interfaith group founded in 1915 with pacifist roots - published this, an illustrated story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which helped introduce the country to Martin Luther King, Jr. The comic was produced by a number of artists under the direction of Al Capp, who is best known for L’il Abner. The FoR had, a year earlier, assigned the white Methodist minister Glenn E. Smiley, to assist the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Montgomery bus boycott. Smiley, as well as executive secretary and director of publications Alfred Hassler - a prolific anti-war writer - directed the production of this comic book, with the help of Capp’s studio, who assigned the artist Sy Barry to illustrate the work. Dr. King contributed to and endorsed the work himself, offering several editorial suggestions. Besides telling the story of King and the boycott, the comic introduced the principles of nonviolence and nonviolent resistance. John Lewis cited the work as an inspiration for his three-part graphic novel series March.
Through grant funding, the FoR was able to produce an initial run of 250,000 copies, which were distributed through a network of civil rights groups, churches and schools. Offered here is a pristine original copy of the first edition (distinguishable from later reprints by the presence of a “For Additional Copies, Contact:” stamp on the rear cover, listing the address of the Philadelphia area FoR office). FoR staff, in particular Jim Lawson and Glenn Smiley, distributed the comic throughout the south to younger audience members while giving workshops on nonviolence. The FoR produced a second version, drawn by a different artist, for Latin American audiences.
Despite the comic's importance, very few original copies have survived (we locate no others for sale at the time of this writing). The comic historian and artist Tom Christopher posted an article about it on his website in 2004, which led to a revival in interest and eventually additional reprints and translations.
Overall a pristine copy of a very important comic book, which helped introduce and define the Civil Rights Movement and its messages of nonviolence and nonviolent resistance.