America’s bitter divisions propel Brad Meltzer to launch a graphic novel about Gandhi

Art from “I Am Gandhi.” MUST CREDIT: Dial Books

BRAD MELTZER was becoming deeply concerned about the tone of our national discourse. It was a toxic form of crosstalk that he believed needed visual antidote.

“The election was Bruce Wayne’s bat smashing through my window,” says Meltzer, the political-thriller novelist and TV host, referencing Batman’s alter ego when describing his “aha” moment. The Eisner Award-winning Meltzer has written for Batman with such high-selling comics as “Identity Crisis.”

“I saw the way we were talking to each other, tearing each other apart,” he continues. “We need to be better than what angers us.”

His creative response is a graphic novel, written by him and illustrated by about two-dozen top artists, titled “I Am Gandhi: A Graphic Biography of a Hero,” due out next May from Dial Books.

All royalties from the book will go to Seeds of Peace, a nonprofit group that seeks to cultivate future global leaders.

Meltzer had been working on his children’s book “I Am Gandhi,” which was published in October, to help students learn about the Indian human-rights icon.

“I gave the script of [it] to my 15-year-old son. … I just wanted him to hear the message,” Meltzer tells The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs via email. “As he was reading, I was reading over his shoulder. And then it hit me: I needed Gandhi’s lessons as much as he did.”

Right then, he knew he needed to make it a graphic novel, so he reached out to such artist friends as Gene Ha, Rags Morales and Bryan Hitch, with whom he’d worked on DC comic books. He also found support from such industry figures as Dan DiDio, Brian Michael Bendis, Marc Andreyko and Tom Brevoort.

The artists donating their talents at no cost include such cartoon luminaries as Amanda Conner, Siddharth Kotian and David Marquez, as well as “March’s” Nate Powell.

The top artistic slate also includes Art Adams, John Cassaday, Carlos D’Anda, Michael Gaydos, Stephanie Hans, Phil Jimenez, David LaFuente, David Mack, Alex Maleev, Francis Manapul, Steve McNiven, Saumin Patel, Stephane Roux, Marco Rudy, Kamome Shirahama, Bill Sienkiewicz and Abhishek Singh.

“We get to put Gandhi’s message into the world,” Meltzer says. “As I told my son that first night: ‘No one wins in a fight.’ Right now, the world needs to hear that. We need more love in the world and less hate.

“My favorite superheroes taught me that growing up.”



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