When Westword cartoonist Noah Van Sciver's graphic novel The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln was released this past September, he wasn't sure what its critical reception would be. His prior work was almost entirely comedic, and here he was tackling a complex, biographical-historical novel about one of the nation's greatest presidents.
"I remember when the book first came out, I was like, 'Oh I don't know. They're going to tear me apart.' I was really worried about it," he remembers. "But it was like the complete opposite. Everybody was really thrilled and, I think, surprised by it."
Now, as the year winds down, Van Sciver's received one of the greatest critical accolades of all: a top spot on a year-end best-of list.
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Actually, he's on at least two of them, and these lists could not be more diverse. Not only did Library Journal name The Hypo as one of its top five graphic novels of 2012, but MTV Geek put the book in its top spot, naming it the best of the year. Van Sciver's pleased with both nods, for very different reasons.
"Well, the Library Journal is good for library orders, so that'll help out with sales. I think MTV is just more ... it makes me look cool," he says.
Van Sciver recently returned from a publicity tour for the book and is already hard at work on his next projects, which include a collection of Brothers Grimm tales in comic form and a serial novel called Saint Cole, "a character study about a man who works in a pizza restaurant trying to support his family," he says.
"In four days he ruins his whole life. Every chapter is a different day and you see how his life gets more and more messed up," he adds. "It's my thriller, my suspense story."
The first chapter of Saint Cole is already available, with the second to follow shortly. Fans of Van Sciver's "Four Questions" strip in Westword should rest assured that the success of The Hypo won't keep him from sticking with the strip, though.
"I'll never quit 'Four Questions.' They'll have to fire me," he promises.
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You can read more about The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln or order a copy from its publisher, Fantagraphics