Flannery O'Connor was among the greatest American writers of the second half of the 20th century; she was a writer in the Southern tradition of Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, and Carson McCullers, who wrote such classic novels and short stories as Wise Blood, The Violent Bear It Away, and A Good Man is Hard to Find. However, it may be a surprise to most to learn that this much beloved icon of American literature did not set out to be a fiction writer, but a cartoonist. This seems to be the last well-kept secret of her creative life.
Flannery OConnor: The Cartoons, the first book devoted to the author's work in the visual arts, emphasizes O'Connors most prolific period as a cartoonist, drawing for her high school and college publications in the early 1940s.
While many of these images lampoon student life and the impact of World War II on the home front, something much more is happening here. Her cartoons are a creative threshing floor for experimenting and trying out techniques that are deployed later with such great success in her fiction.
O'Connor learns how to set up and carry a joke visually, how to write a good one-liner, and set it off against a background of complex visual narration. She develops and asserts her taste for a stock set of character types, attitudes, situations, exaggerations, and grotesques, and she learns how to present them not to distort the truth, but to expose her vision of it.
She worked in both pen & ink and linoleum cuts, and her rough-hewn technique combined with her acidic observations to form a visual precursor to her prose. Fantagraphics is honored to bring the early cartoons of this American literary treasure to a 21st century readership.
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"Flannery O’Connor drew cartoons? She did, early in her life, before issuing collections like A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and the prints collected here are droll and strange." — The New York Times
"The images — rendered in black-and-white in a stylistically wobbly hand — demonstrate the thinly veiled dark humor and snappy dialogue O'Connor would come to perfect in her short stories. She was often the butt of her own jokes: the none-too-perfect girl, hair full of snarls and body full of lumps, unable to get the guy but smart enough to get the last laugh. An engrossing and entertaining look at the blossoming talents of one of literatures great iconoclasts." — Under the Radar