Tuesday, 10 April 2012
On The New Adventures Of Abraham Lincoln
Scott McCloud's memories of the response to The New Adventures Of Abraham Lincoln aren't happy ones. "People hated this book when it first came out!", he's written on his blog, adding that he prefers to think of the work as a "noble failure". I'm not sure that I can agree with him there. The book is profoundly flawed, and in places it reads as if McCloud, the arch-formalist, had entirely lost control of his own material. The computer-generated art can seem trudgingly banal, while the narrative's often uncomfortably caught between sharp if somewhat hesitant political satire and thin Hanna-Barbera cartoon pastiche. There are even moments when it's impossible to believe that The New Adventures Of Abraham Lincoln would ever have seen print in this form if McCloud's name hadn't been attached to the project.
Yet to agree that the book's a "noble failure" and little else would be to obscure how absolutely brilliant certain of its set-pieces are. A curate's egg in the modern, though very much not the original, sense, The New Adventures Of Abraham Lincoln is a graphic novel which I'd be absolutely loathe to find missing from my bookshelves. This week's column in The Year In Comics series is my attempt to explain why I feel so passionately about this fundamentally marred book, and I hope you might join me over at Sequart to take another look at one of comic's most beguilingly odd, compromised, and occasionally quite enchanting projects.