Rick Geary’s latest true crime graphic novel has an abundance of bad guys, which is what makes it worth reading. The crux of his treatment of “The Murder of Abraham Lincoln” is a nuance that is mostly untaught in American history classes: More than a Presidential assassination, the events at Ford’s Theater on April 14th represented the endplay in a wider conspiracy to bring down the government. Geary’s play by play follows the action as it lurks through the capitol, flees across the Anacostia, hunkers down in the thickets of Maryland, and eventually, once the bad guys are all dead, travels the nation on the back of a funeral train. The narrative is quick and a little quirky, and bows before the illustrations for the honor of heightening the drama.
The tale of Lincoln’s assassination is the sixth in a graphic series, “A Treasury of Victorian Murder.” It follows five other sensational cases that, while more macabre than Lincoln’s death, have less historical significance. Geary, who has illustrated numerous children’s books and magazines, including Mad Magazine, sometimes lets his lighter side out during his cold-blooded tales, and the covers of some of the other books in the series hint at this – Jack the Ripper’s knife appears, for all the world, to drip strawberry jam. In the background behind serial killer Henry Holmes, the gruesome boarding house and scene of his crimes vaguely resembles a tuba, maybe a French horn. But with the help of the footlights of Ford’s Theater, Lincoln’s final moments are just exactly creepy enough. Virtually every character in this portrait, including the President and his hysterical wife, get the sinister treatment of Geary’s pen.
Among the details that will come as revelations to many readers are the fact that Secretary of State Seward was also attacked on April 14th, but a steel neck brace to which an recent accident had confined him saved him from Lincoln’s fate; that Presidential security was lax that night, even by the standards of the day and a dozen couples declined the Lincoln’s invitation to join them at the theater; and that Lincoln had a prescient dream of his death just one night before he was killed. The most delightful moment is the meeting of the seven conspirators at Gauthier’s Restaurant in Pennsylvania Avenue. In Geary’s tableau, the desperate mustachioed rebels hatch their plot over a bottle of champagne.
The book is available via Amazon and in most book stores.Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.