In this thematically and narratively linked series of one-page stories originally
published in the National Lampoon’s “Funny Pages” section throughout
the 1970s, the master of the macabre eschewed his usual ghouls, vampires,
and end-of-the-world scenarios for a wry, pointed look at growing up
normal in the real, yet endlessly weird world.
Watch as our stoic, hunting-cap-wearing protagonist (known only as “The Kid”) copes with illness, disappointment,
strange old relatives, the disappointment of Christmas, life-threatening escapades, death, school, the awfulness of camp,
and much more — all delineated in Wilson’s roly-poly, sensual, delicately hatched line.
“Nuts” was (partly) collected in a now long-out-of-print volume back in 1979. This new hardcover edition reprints
every single “Nuts” story from the Lampoon, rescuing over two dozen pages from oblivion, with a critical essay about the strip by Fantagraphics Publisher Gary Groth.
If you don’t remember what it was like being a child, this book will bring it all back… for good or for ill!
"Gahan Wilson’s Nuts is the best, most clear-eyed explanation of and memoir about childhood
I’ve ever read. Small, cramped, perfect drawings that show children as they are — explorers
without a map or a book of instructions in the land of mad giants." —Neil Gaiman
"The all-time greatest comic strip about what it is to be a child, ever. Insightful, hilarious, poignant and dripping truth from every panel, Nuts is, was and ever will be in my pantheon of most life-altering reads. It showed me that comics could be more than just gag-driven. Beautifully drawn and essential to any library of cartoon books." – Bob Fingerman
"One of the greatest gag cartoonists, whose monthly contributions to Playboy may prove that magazine’s
most durable legacy, Wilson gave National Lampoon something to be remembered for, too — his only
comic strip, collected here. Titled to echo Charles Schulz’s great newspaper feature full of kids who think
and talk like adults, the six-paneled Nuts develops a realistic situation from out of memory (the strips
typically begin with the word “remember”). All the fully visible characters are children, mostly boys, but,
contra Peanuts, what they say expresses kids’ enthusiasms, fears, and frustrations in the words grown-up
memory gives them (the slightly precocious language is Wilson’s primary departure from naturalism,
except for his loopy drawing, of course). The frustrations are particularly important, so much so that,
despite the acorn next to it in every first panel, the strip’s title is best understood as a child’s curse, “Nuts!”
The scenarios include summer camp, going to horror movies, being sick and obsessing about it, making
models, eating too much, not knowing the answer (or even the subject) in school, selecting comics in the
local cigar store, and other normal-enough stuff that holds the potential for humiliation, failure, and maybe
worse. In Nuts, that potential is always realized and, as memory colors it, so uproariously that you just
about choke with laughter. For sheer hilarity, this is Wilson’s masterpiece."
– Ray Olson, Booklist (Starred Review)