by Orville Evjen

"'I see much sorrow in your future. But…I also see you will be a light in the darkness!'"

In his graphic novel, Evjen sympathetically examines the hardships and complexities of the lonely sixteenth President and the sinister circumstances that torment him. His story focuses primarily on Lincoln’s struggles with melancholy, where the author reveals he lost his parents, too, and like Lincoln, found comfort in reading (and in art) to free himself from the “long hard road of grief.” He portrays the pivotal losses at different stages of Lincoln’s life which drive him toward deep depression. There is a lore to this haunting story as Evjen paints a vivid portrait of the large-handed, strong-bodied intellectual as an isolated man facing extraordinary situations among villains, ghosts, demons, and angels.

While the study of Lincoln’s bouts of depression is far from anything new, it is Evjen’s approach that is unique. Through the graphic novel medium, he depicts Lincoln’s coming-of-age as an origin story, idealizing Lincoln as a kind of powerful superhero who fights against dark forces threatening humanity. Admittedly, Evjen takes liberties with key events but blends historical fiction with historical facts steadily. One almost forgets they are reading history as Lincoln laments the loss of his mother, battles against foes physically, yearns for greatness while discovering the good and bad of the world, falls in love, or wrestles spiritual demons for his soul.

Evjen competently observes Lincoln’s growth from boyhood to adolescence as well as his days as a politician that culminate in his presidency. It is a fast, entertaining read with striking black and white art that fills the pages amid Evjen’s dialogue and Lincoln’s words to elicit authentic emotions. By its end, the author sets the stage for a second book, one which promises to be another dramatic graphic novel of Lincoln and the “worst war in our history as a nation”—the American Civil War.

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