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Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1943-1945
A funny thing happened on the way to comic-strip immortality.
For many years, Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, with its odd-looking, squat
heroine, nearly abstract art, and often super-corny gags, was perceived as the
stodgiest, squarest comic strip in the world. Popular with newspaper readers, true — but definitely not a strip embraced by comic-strip connoisseurs,
like Krazy Kat, Dick Tracy or Terry and the Pirates.
But then those connoisseurs took a closer look, and began to realize that
Bushmiller’s art approached its own kind of cartoon perfection, and those
corny gags often achieved a striking zen quality. In its own way, it turned
out Nancy was in fact the most iconic comic strip of all. (The American Heritage Dictionary actually uses a Nancy strip
to illustrate its entry on “comic strip.”)
Charter members of the Nancy revival include Art Spiegelman, who published Mark Newgarden’s famous “Love’s
Savage Fury” (featuring Nancy and Bazooka Joe) in an early issue of RAW; Fletcher Hanks anthologist Paul Karasik;
Zippy the Pinhead creator Bill Griffith; underground publisher Denis Kitchen, who released several volumes of Nancy
collections in the 1980s; Understanding Comics’ Scott McCloud, who created the “Five-Card Nancy” card game; Joe
Brainard, who produced an entire Nancy Book of paintings in 2008; and Andy Warhol, who produced a painting based
Now, fans will be dancing with joy as Fantagraphics unveils an ongoing Nancy reprint
project. Each volume will contain a whopping full three years of daily Nancy strips (a Sunday Nancy project looms in the
future), collected in a fat, square (what else, for the “squarest” strip in the world?) package designed by Jacob (Popeye,
Beasts!, Willie and Joe) Covey.
This first volume collects every daily strip from 1943 to 1945. (Fantagraphics will eventually release Nancy’s first
five years, 1938-1942, but given the scarcity of archival material for these years we are giving ourselves some extra time
to collate it all.)
This first Nancy volume features an introduction by another stellar Bushmiller fan, Daniel Clowes (from whose
collection most of the strips in this volume were scanned), a biography of the artist, and much more.
Nancy Likes Christmas: Complete Dailies 1946-1948
It's three more full years of Ernie Bushmiller's beloved comic strip,
featuring over one thousand meticulously restored daily strips from its
post-World-War II graphic high point — superbly crafted but not yet
quite stylized into the almost machine-life sleekness of later decades.
And what can you say about the jokes in Nancy other than that, contrary
to its reputation for a zen-like, ultra-square oddness, many of them are
actually just extremely funny?
Nancy Likes Christmas is topped off with a new introduction by Zippy the Pinhead creator Bill Griffith, a lifelong fan of Nancy
and admirer of Bushmiller's genius, and once again designed with pop-art
snap and crackle by Fantagraphics senior designer Jacob Covey.