July 14, 2012
A short video interview:
July 10, 2012
As the story goes Abraham Lincoln arrived in Springfield, Illinois during a housing shortage, and with two saddlebags under his arms he walked into a wooden two story building that housed a general store partly owned by Joshua Fry Speed, the son of Judge John Speed and member of a prominent Kentucky family. Lincoln, a seemingly hopeless man in a denim suit with very little money, walked up to the store’s counter to inquire about the furnishings for a bed.
Speed remembered ” I looked up at him, and I thought then as I think now, that I never saw so gloomy, and melancholy a face.” After a short introduction he offered to share his bed upstairs with Lincoln, pointing towards the staircase. Lincoln, saying nothing walked up the stairs, dropped his two saddlebags down on the floor, came back down the stairs and “with a face beaming with pleasure and smiles,” declared; “Well Speed, I’m moved.”
Not only was Joshua from a well to do family and well educated, but he was also considered to be quite good looking. Says one biographer “Joshua was a friendly, handsome, blue-eyed, medium sized youth with the culture and bearing of a gentleman.” The two new friends got along right away, and soon enough were helping each other through their personal struggles.
In The Hypo, I chose to focus on the friendship between Lincoln and Speed. Lincoln being a heavy hearted character and Speed being more of a jocular ladies man. And there shouldn’t be any concern with whether or not Joshua Speed was a womanizer. That is a well documented fact.One story I chose to include in my book involves Speed giving lincoln directions to a brothel to meet with a woman for sex. This section appeared in a comics anthology called HIVE published in Minneapolis and shortly afterwards I was asked by a few people if the story was true or not. It is a true story and is told in many Lincoln biographies.
I quote from the book Abraham Lincoln: A life by Thomas Keneally:”His hulking bedfellow, Speed, was quite the womanizer, and kept ‘a pretty woman in the city.’ One day Lincoln asked Speed, ‘ Do you know where I can get some?’ According to Speed, he sent Lincoln with a note to this woman, who appears to be something of a prostitute. Lincoln and the girl stripped and were in bed before Lincoln remembered to ask about the price. The girl told him five dollars. Lincoln declared he could afford to pay her only three dollars, and the girl said she would trust him for the rest, but Lincoln declared he had other debts to meet, and rose and clothed himself again. As he left, according to Speed’s secondhand telling of the encounter, the girl said, ‘You are the most conscientious man I ever saw.’”
One subject that the two men did not see eye to eye on was slavery. Lincoln protested slavery in public as early as 1837, while Speed was raised in a slave-holding family on a southern hemp plantation. And in 1840, after Judge John Speed had passed away, Joshua had to move back home to take care of the family plantation. During a visit Lincoln took to the farm in 1841 he saw for the first time slavery in action. He had witnessed slaves being sold in New Orleans almost ten years before, but never had he lived and breathed among working slaves. This was a very distressing experience for him. That trip in particular was important for me to draw in The Hypo because it’s considered to be when Lincoln’s staunch position against slavery was fully formed.
July 6, 2012
An example of my work to avoid confusion in The Hypo comes in the first chapter of the book; in the year 1837. Abraham Lincoln is 28 years old and has just moved from the small village of New Salem (where his business as a store owner has failed and left him with debt) to Springfield. Lincoln and his political party, The Whigs, have claimed victory and have successfully relocated the state’s capitol from Vandalia to Springfield. Lincoln is on his way to study law under his friend from The Black Hawk War, and prominent lawyer, John Todd Stuart.
In 1837 Lincoln is already engaged to the sister of a friend in New Salem named Mary S. Owens. Whom he had met in 1833, while she was visiting her sister from Kentucky. It was during that visit that he began a relationship with Mary, and told her sister that he “would marry Miss Owens if she came a second time to Illinois.” Shortly after proposing marriage to Mary Owens in 1836, she returned to New Salem, and Lincoln’s feelings towards her had changed. Upon seeing her again his enthusiasm soured. Later he would write to his friend, Eliza Caldwell ”I knew she was over-size, but she now appeared a fair match for Falstaff; I knew she was called an ‘old maid,’ and I felt no doubt of the truth of at least half of the appelation [sic]; but now, when I beheld her, I could not for my life avoid thinking of my mother; and this, not from withered features, for her skin was too full of fat to permit its contracting in to wrinkles; but from her want of teeth, weather-beaten appearance in general, and from a kind of notion that ran in my head, that nothing could have commenced at the size of infancy, and reached her present bulk in less than thirty five or forty years; and, in short, I was not all pleased with her.”
Now, he was in a predicament. Hooked up with a woman he found repulsive. He responded to this situation by moving away and writing to her letters that hopefully would turn her off to the whole idea of a marriage to him, while at the same time let her know that he was a man of his word and would keep up his end of the bargain he had with Mary’s sister. I chose one of these letters to open The Hypo with.
In earlier drafts of The Hypo, this relationship was featured only a little more prominently, but when the chopping block came out I found it an easy piece to slice off. In addition I decided to refer to her when mentioned in the book as “Miss Owens” so that the reader would not confuse Mary Owens and Mary Todd, whose story I was more interested in writing. So there it is. The story of the other Mary from Kentucky in Abraham Lincoln’s life.
July 3, 2012
June 21, 2012
Denver Comic con
Here’s a panel I did with other Denver cartoonists. I’m wearing my white trash hunter’s hat.
More random sketchbook junk:
I have a two page comic in this week’s Westword called “12 Types of Denver Musicians.” If you live in my city then you should pick it up.
If you live elsewhere, here is a link to the comic on Westword.com
I also did a comic about visiting the Denver Zoo
The link to this comic is here here here here here
And finally, I was recently in NYC promoting The Hypo with Fantagraphics editor Eric Reynolds. Heres a link to an interview I did with MTV about the book which will be out in a couple months Here here here here here
I’m that awkward one on the end of this panel. I’m pretty impaired at putting my thoughts into words. I should work on that I think. Maybe I’m too shy.
June 10, 2012
May 28, 2012
May 23, 2012
I’ve been in this strange in-between time in my life lately. I’m trying to figure out what I’m gonna do, where I should live, what my goals should be and so on. I’m alone a lot lately. I’m lonely. But, I guess I’m okay. I’d like to be a lot of things. But I’d settle for being a stronger cartoonist than I am.
May 11, 2012
I asked Minneapolis artist Raighne Hogan to do the coloring on the cover of my Fantagraphics book The Hypo after I finished it. I love his style and wanted the colors on the cover to have more emotional depth than flat computer colors could have given. He’s an amazing artist and sent me a lot of different versions to choose from. He’s also the co-publisher of 2d Cloud, a little boutique publisher that has published a few of my comics and will continue to do so in the future. I strongly recommend talking to him if you want your book to have the 2d cloud look.
Check out more of Raighne’s work and maybe pick up some of the comics he publishes HERE.