For the past couple of years I have been working on a personal project that has taken up most of my time and proved to be more of an inspiration that I could ever have imagined. It started modestly, as a little bit of family research, and has grown into something much much bigger.
After my grandmother passed away a few years back my mother found some items that belonged to my great great grandfather hidden away in a closet. A pocket telegraph key, a relay, and an ambrotype all dating from the Civil War. I decide to find out what I could about these items and ended up uncovering a story that goes beyond my family, deep into the workings of the Civil War and the profound influence of the invention of the telegraph.
I have begun to chronicle the journey of my research in a blog called “73: What Hath God Wrought”. But more importantly I have discovered the story of two brothers thrown into the unique roll as telegraph operators on the front lines during the Civil War. Brothers Richard and John O’Brien, who were 19 and 13 years of age respectively at the time they were called into service. Both of whom were friends with a young Andrew Carnegie; met Lincoln, Grant, Sherman, Butler and Wool; were eyewitnesses to the Battle of the Ironclads; and saw first hand the contraband camps and ramifications of the Emancipation Proclamation.
With a story full of such drama, coupled with my professional experience, it seems only natural to pull all this research together into a graphic novel. Which, I am happy to say, I have begun scripting and illustrating. It’s too early to tell where or how it will all end up, but it is, without a doubt, the most ambitious project I have ever undertaken and an adventure beyond anything I could ever have dreamed up myself.