There is a group of compelling, bewitching folk songs that are part of American's cultural DNA: murder ballads, work songs, sea shanties. Though many of them originated in the British Isles, immigrants brought them here and filtered them through American experiences, making them part of the foundation of American music.

And they are weird. From songs narrated by a bird witnessing murder committed by a spurned lover to a song about a fiddle made of flesh and bone playing the song of its creation, they explore—as Greil Marcus famously dubbed it—the old, weird America.

The songs may seem initially clear, but they’re also impossible to completely understand. Even when you’re looking at them you can’t quite see them, as in a dream, or a nightmare. Listening to them, it often feels that there’s an entire world of meaning beneath the lyrics and the events described that one knows is there but has no hope of accessing. It's that sense of mystery and wonder and memory that is present in each story in Labor and Love.

Labor and Love is a collection of comics adapting 4 of these classic folk ballads. It is written by Sam Costello, the creator of Split Lip, and drawn by Neal Von Flue. The comic contains adaptations of the songs:

  • The Wind and The Rain
  • The Wreck of the Old 97
  • The Mermaid
  • Henry Lee.

Besides the comics, each story includes a common or canonical version of the lyrics, information about what albums each song can be heard on, and notes about the song or the comic's creation.



   Print edition


   eBook for iPad, tablet, and PC

Comic Details

Written by: Sam Costello
Art by: Neal Von Flue

44 pages
Full color
Cardstock cover
Price: $7

The Songs

Free MP3 downloads of some songs from Labor and Love:
    Henry Lee, by Dick Justice
    Wreck of the Old 97, by Ernest     Stoneman And Kahle Brewer

Know of other public domain versions of these songs? Email us

Download different recordings of all 4 songs at iTunes