Today we got to sit down with Andrew Aydin, the co-author of “March” a graphic novel collaboration with his boss Congressman John Lewis and artist Nate Powell The graphic novel's story follows the early days of Congressman John Lewis' life, how he became involved in the Civil Rights Movement and the story of the Nashville sit-ins. What Andrew and company bring to the table is a brand new approach and platform to bring this great story of Congressman John Lewis' life to readers through a graphic novel.
Let's get started with our questions!
Chris: We know from your bio. that you are from the great state of Georgia and more specifically Atlanta. Tell us about your childhood and growing up in the South.
Aydin: I was born and raised in Atlanta. It was just me and my mom. I know it was tough for her being a single mom but she worked really hard to make sure I had everything I needed. We would go to the library almost every week and she instilled in me at a young age a deep love of reading. That was my escape. She never had a problem with me reading comics. I guess she figured reading is reading, even if it has pictures too.
Chris: How did you get your start in politics, what was your first job or internship, and how did you make your way to DC?
Aydin: I first interned on the hill when I was 19, working for Rep. Donald Payne, Sr. I did that during summers and breaks from college for more than two years. It was a wonderful way to learn about Congress and everything that goes on in a Congressional office. After college, I went to work as Special Assistant to the Connecticut Lt. Governor Kevin Sullivan and then later for Rep. John Larson. I took a job answering letters for Congressman Lewis in 2007 and moved to DC. Except for a few campaigns, I've been here ever since.
Chris: Tell us about your experiences working for such a prolific Civil Rights leader like Congressman John Lewis.
Aydin: Working with Congressman Lewis, you really have to hustle to keep up. He has an unbelievable amount of energy. I have been fortunate enough to work with him in many capacities so we have a great understanding of each other and collaborating together is really fun for us. He has taught me so much, about politics and government, but also about life and our obligations to each other as well as our communities.
Chris: Many in this town know that it is a big transition to go from working on the Hill to being in the private sector, but most of those transitions are a move over to K Street. To our knowledge you are the first to go from Hill Staffer to Comic Book writer. Tell us about the transition and working with Mr. Lewis and your team on this comic.
Aydin: Well it was something we sort of had to figure out as we went along. There wasn't a guide to follow or someone we could look to who had done this before. We had to find our own path and our own way. I'm still a hill staffer but this has been a wonderful thing to do to keep my mind off of all the disfunction going on in Congress. Its nice to feel like you're doing something meaningful and actually working towards inspiring people instead of playing political games that end up hurting people, which seems all too common these days.
Chris: So not to sound hokey but you would say you are very similar to Superman? Communications/Press by day and Comic Book Writer by night? Good thing with both jobs you can wear the same clothes since we have a great lack of phone booths these days.
Aydin: Uh, I don't know about that. I wear my glasses for both gigs too.
Chris: Tell us about Comicon and all the time on the road that you have spent promoting the book. Is it a lot like being a rock star on the road? Any furniture nailed to the ceilings of your hotel rooms during your tour?
Aydin: I'm definitely not the rockstar at these appearances. Folks who get a picture with all of us usually politely ask if Nate and I wouldn't mind stepping away so they could get a picture with just Congressman Lewis too. But Congressman Lewis is so gracious. If someone ignores us and just goes right to him, he always asks that we be included, whether its signing something or being interviewed or whatever. Its not often you get to do something like this with someone so kind and considerate. But the travel has been tough because its almost always on weekends. I end up leaving work on Friday like everybody else but instead of going home to blow off steam, I grab my bags and head to the airport. Then I'm back at work on Monday after talking and signing 12-18 hours a day with Congressman Lewis and Nate. Honestly, by the time we get to our hotel rooms we're too tired to do much of anything. That being said, the best part is getting to meet some incredible people. In San Diego we met Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Lou Ferrigno, J.H. Williams III, and Scott McCloud, to name a few. Its still sort of unbelievable to me when some of these people that I really look up to ask me to sign their copy of 'March'. Its surreal!
Chris: We always like to throw out a few gitchy questions so that our readers can really get to know you. So rapid fire!
Bojangles or Popeyes? (Trick question, the answer is always Chick-fil A if you are from Georgia)
Aydin: Definitely Chick-fil-a but my mom lives in North Carolina and she's got a Bojangles down the road a bit so I'll admit we go there from time to time too.
Favorite Christmas Party in DC?
Aydin: Southern Company.
Favorite dive bar in DC?
Aydin: Tune Inn but I don't know if I'd call it a dive, its just got a lot of character.
Favorite monument or museum
Aydin: I really enjoy the Newseum. They have a cool exhibit about SNCC right now and I know they've been talking about doing a comics exhibition that I'm excited about.
Thanks again for taking the time to sit down with us at Cloture Club, and we want you to know it is always exciting to have one of our own (Hill Staffers) make a big splash and we wish you great success in the future!