The Sorrows of Young Abraham Lincoln

Reading between the lines.
Nov. 2 2012 11:00 PM

The Sorrows of Young Lincoln

A debut graphic novel explores the 16th president’s depressive early years as a lawyer in Springfield, Ill.

Page from The Hypo
An image from The Hypo

Illustration by Noah Van Sciver.

Springfield, Ill., 1837. Young Abraham Lincoln arrives to practice law after a successful term in the state legislature. Bedeviled by social and financial hardship, engaged to a woman he’s sure he does not love, alone in a bleak law office during a harsh Midwestern winter, Lincoln experiences a deep depression—which he calls “The Hypo”—that threatens his sanity and his future.

Noah Van Sciver is a Denver cartoonist whose comic book, Blammo, was nominated for an Ignatz award. In his first graphic novel, The Hypo, Van Sciver’s dense, detailed pen-and-ink drawings offer a vivid portrait of a little-explored part of Lincoln’s past. His Lincoln is a thoughtful misfit, a young man gripped by despair who has no idea he will one day become one of our greatest leaders.

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We’re very pleased to feature Noah Van Sciver as the Slate Book Review illustrator for our November issue.

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The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln by Noah Van Sciver. Fantagraphics Books.

The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln

~ Noah Van Sciver (author) More about this product
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Dan Kois is a senior editor at Slate and a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.