By Christopher Chiu-Tabet.
“Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story” was a seminal 16-page comic published by the pacifist organization United States Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR USA) in 1957, which depicted the life of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. up until that point, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 and 1956.
It’s been known for some time that FOR USA activist Alfred Hassler co-wrote the comic with Benton Resnik, who was an editor and writer at Toby Press (not to be confused with the current Amazon-owned book publisher), but the artist has remained anonymous – until now.
The Beat reports that during the 2018 Big Apple Comic Con, they were able to speak to veteran artist Seymour “Sy” Barry and verify that he drew the comic.
It had been hypothesized for a while by comics historians that either Sy Barry or his late brother Dan had penciled the book, but no one had been able to find and speak to him.
Barry explained that he was given the job by the Capp Studio, which was run by Elliot Caplin, the brother of “Li’l Abner” cartoonist Al Capp, and founder of Toby Press. Barry stated that his name had been on the cover of the first edition of “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story,” but subsequent printings laid a text box over his signature.
Barry noted the comic demonstrated he was adept at drawing black people, a skill that later landed him a job on the African-set comic strip “The Phantom,” which he drew from 1961 to 1994.
“The Montgomery Story” remains a highly influential comic book, both in the world of comics and civil rights, and can be read below.