beckons - Abe escapes assassination to reach Washington,
and struggles to save the Union and defeat slavery.
Under extreme duress, Ol' Abe finds solace with friends,
family, and old rivals.
“The life of Abraham Lincoln
was an ideal story to start realizing our vision with.
Though there are numerous books on the civil war, slavery,
and President Lincoln himself, none leveraged the medium
of graphic novels to convey the story”, remarks
Angel Oberoi, Editor and Producer for Gossamer Books.
Angel in her childhood in
Punjab had learnt history and folk tales through comic
books. “We never realized that we were getting
an education too”, comments Angel.
Over the last three years, Angel
in her volunteer tutoring program Project Read had struggled
with her student to understand and grasp all the details
from the state mandated history book for grades 4-6.
In her opinion, the schoolbooks were well written, but
they presented too many facts together. As a result,
the students cram the history lessons for the exam,
and remember little after a few weeks. “We have
a beautiful country”, says Angel,
“ and by understanding and remembering the sacrifices
of our heroes, we guarantee that future generations
will look after this place too”.
had to be very sensitive in designing Lincoln’s
profile”, observes Saral Tiwari,
co-author and illustrator. “He is more than a
national hero -- even though we were presenting the
story in a comic medium, we had to ensure that the dignity
of the person remained”. Though the story is based
on Lincoln’s years when he was frequently photographed,
his flashbacks required significant research work. “We
do not have many references on how Abe looked in his
early Springfield years”, notes Saral.
Moreover, Saral also worked
diligently to show aging of Abe’s character within
the narration of the story itself. The story begins
with Abe’s 46th birthday where he is clean-shaven
and enthusiastic about having won the election. In the
next 44 pages, the reader sees Lincoln cropping a beard;
go through the stresses and the frustrations of war.
“Lincoln on page 42 of the book looks very different
than the president elect on page 2. Like any human being,
each incident affected him, and we worked hard to show
the connection”, Saral
These were some fictional and non-fictional characters
where the authors and the research staff could not find
historical references for pictures. For Mary, the strong
headed fiancé of Jack who disguises herself as
a man to fight the war, and risked her life to free
Samson, the team felt the need not to look any further
for Abe was a fun”, recalls Ginger.
“History provided us with profiles like Lincoln,
Stanton, John Roll, Nanny and Nanko, which would have
been really difficult to conjure. We only tried to make
them as engaging and capturing as the real ones”.
Ginger adds, “and it
was a challenge”
“We were fortunate to be doing this project in
the age of the Internet”, comments research staff
member Supreet. “Google’s
image search service did wonders for us. The whole Internet
was our library”, Supreet
adds noting that Hergé had to spend most of his
time building an archive of all materials he thought
might be useful for future projects.
“This is a great story”, Angel
commented. “We were fortunate to get a chance
to tell a story that involved stories as the president
elect disguising himself to reach the inauguration ceremony,
him sharing his deepest anguishes with his son Tad,
goats being driven in the white house, iron ships ramming
against boats to break the siege, and many more”.