October 7, 2013
I originally wrote this piece for Forbidden Planet. Here it is once more, on the one year anniversary of my first graphic novel’s publication!
The Hypo: Behind the scenes
The idea to draw The Hypo came in early 2009. I had just drawn a story called “The True Tale Of The Denver Spider Man” and it had been accepted by Eric Reynolds at Fantagraphics for his anthology MOME (it appeared in issue #15). It was about a man in Denver, Colorado who, in 1941, had broken into another man’s home, killed him, and then began secretly living in the home’s tiny attic without the notice of the dead man’s wife. The research for this comic was very satisfying, and led me to look for another obscure historic story to illustrate.
After digging around, I found a story of a near duel, in 1842, between Abraham Lincoln and an Illinois state auditor named James Shields. I had never heard of this before and was fascinated. I decided to draw the incident and publish it in my comic book series “Blammo.” I remember that I was going to call the story “Broadswords” after the weapon of choice for the duel. I went to a bookstore and bought a copy of Carl Sandburg’s “Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and The War Years” to familiarize myself with Lincoln a bit more before attempting to draw him.
Chapter 4, of Sandburg’s book consists of Lincoln’s early days in Springfield, Illinois. A time when young Lincoln was practicing law and trying to establish himself in Springfield’s society. Though this book rushes through this period of Lincoln’s life, it mentions that Lincoln was a “Haunted man.” He was melancholy. At the end of this chapter, Lincoln is quoted from an 1841 letter to John T. Stuart, at a time when he seemed to be going through a manic episode. In the letter he wrote:
“Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forbade I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me.”
This really struck me hard. It was so dramatic and I wrote it down in my notebook.
After finishing the book I realized that what I was really interested in wasn’t his rise to presidency, or the Civil War or even his assassination. I was interested in finding out more about his struggles with the restraints of poverty and how he dealt internally with his deep gloom. His apparent emotional troubles made him more three dimensional to me, and more relatable. I made a choice to expand “Broadswords” into a bigger story that would focus on, and make a story out of his time in the burgeoning new Illinois capitol, when not many knew the name Abraham Lincoln. And I would name the book after Abraham Lincoln’s term for his depression: “The Hypo” (short for hypochondriasis). Now the hard part was to find out as much information about this particular period in his life as I could. Most books I would find on the bookstore shelves flew through Lincoln’s bachelor years on their way to the Civil War. I gathered as much as I could from the first few chapters of as many books as I could find, but most told the same anecdotes over and over again offering me only slightly different wording. The book that fixed that problem for me was “Lincoln’s Melancholy” by Joshua Wolf Shenk. It’s a real treasure. An in-depth look at where Lincoln’s depression may have come from. It was an irreplaceable and inexhaustible information bank for me during my time working on “The Hypo.”
Drawing “The Hypo” was an all consuming process that required me to become a shut-in and a loner. I was drawing pages all the time! I would ditch work and go to a coffee shop to draw until it was dark out. I would draw in bed while my girlfriend watched a movie. I would draw on the couch all alone. Most days I would only leave my apartment to get a coffee from the 7-11 across the street. But I am extremely proud of this book. I believe it is the most original book based on the true life of Abraham Lincoln that there has ever been. I created the exact book that I wanted to read. A story about the struggle to make something of yourself, to become something great, even when it seems the world and even your own mind is conspiring against you.
-Noah Van Sciver
July 11, 2013
June 30, 2013
So basically, I drew most of the comics in this issue after splitting with a long time girlfriend who I had shared an apartment with. I had to move in with my mom in a spare bedroom. I spent my time there locked away writing. This issue is the result of that time. A mix of comics that all in some way were about what I was going through. If you want a copy and can’t find one in a store please paypal firstname.lastname@example.org $5 and I’ll mail you one. Here’s a review on the Comics Beat!
May 7, 2013
I’ve been drawing a story lately called “Saint Cole.”
The story centers around a 28 year old man named Joe in an American suburb who works overtime at a pizza restaurant to support his girlfriend, Nicole, and their child, Oscar. Nicole invites her mother, Angela, who has recently split with her boyfriend, to move into their 2 bedroom apartment and sleep on the futon. Only until she gets herself on her feet again.
Angela is a battling drug-addict with only 9 fingers. A bad influence who has a strained relationship with her own children. Nicole being the exception. Angela is an emotional manipulator who knows how to play Nicole and used tactics to gain a place in her daughter’s already crowded small apartment.
Nicole and Joe have been having problems ever since Nicole got pregnant. Joe never wanted to have a family, didn’t necessarily want to stay with Nicole and feels trapped by her. Nicole is a sweet girl who loves Joe in spite of his mood swings and is trying to keep things together at least for the sake of Oscar. Nicole doesn’t work. She hasn’t since she had Oscar. This is a giant cause of tension between herself and Joe.
Alcohol is becoming a major problem in Joe’s life. Since gaining the responsibility of raising a child and supporting Nicole Joe has been escaping into alcohol and work everyday. His life isn’t what he wanted for himself and he doesn’t want to deal with it. He thinks he loves Nicole but resents her at the same time. He wasn’t ready to settle down with anyone at all, and when she got pregnant he had to. Probably they wouldn’t still be with each other if he didn’t feel he had to be. Joe wants out somehow. He’s angry. He’s in a position to act rashly.
I’ve been posting the chapters of the story here:
Every chapter represents one day of 4 days in which the story unfolds into a chaotic mess.
April 18, 2013
October 20, 2012
October 10, 2012
September 28, 2012
Here’s some mote pages I’m selling! Email me at email@example.com with the name of the page you are interested in! Here we go!
Dog on Wheels (sold)
paint on bristol. This comic will appear in the upcoming Blammo #8 and was painted shortly after my heart was decimated by a long time girlfriend. Though working on it did take my mind off of the agony. $100 and it’s yours. Good riddance.
Mary Todd migrane #1
This is a deleted page from The Hypo wherein Ms. Todd suffers from a migraine headache. This page was drawn when I lived in a two bedroom apartment with a very messy roommate who had his loud friends over every night to play loud video games in the living room. I, the suffering young artist, had to learn to work amongst these awful and inconsiderate humans. $100
Mary Todd Migrane #2 (sold)
Here is the next page from that same deleted scene. Here we find Ms. Todd vomiting in the last panel. Also drawn whilst painfully enduring the horrors outside my bedroom door. Those were the days. I think.
Well lookie here! This page of dresses was published in the back of my highly acclaimed debut graphic novel The Hypo. Holy cow. $75 and you can own this perfectly delightful piece of artwork!
Another deleted scene from The Hypo. Good lord! I sure did struggle through a lot of changes while working on that book! This is a respectable piece of comic art. Isn’t it? ??
Limp Bizkit (sold)
I don’t remember what I drew this for. I dislike the band but I still felt the urge to draw their music video into a comic. I guess I’m just some asshole hipster. This page is for $50
THE HYPO COCA COLA (sold)
Here’s a nice thing! Gosh darn it! A superb piece of humor here. A rare treat. This is a coca cola ad for The Hypo. You can own this page and confound your friends! I really like this page and would love for you to have it.
Thank you very much! Here I am with my new girlfriend Liz!