It's three more full years of Ernie Bushmiller's beloved comic strip, featuring nearly 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.
Get ready for a second helping of silliness and Sluggo in Nancy Likes Christmas: Complete Dailies 1946-1948 by Ernie Bushmiller, coming this November! It's another three years of goofy gags and graphic genius packaged with pop-art panache, and featuring an intro by Zippy creator and Nancy aficionado Bill Griffith. Our advance copies have arrived here at HQ (obviously) which means we'll be bringing you more previews and sneak peeks in the days to come; in the meantime you can get your pre-order in here, and find a money-saving deal on a combo of this and the previous volume here.
Creator of the seminal NANCY comic strip in addition to Fritzi Ritz, Ernie Bushmiller would have been 107 today. A truly 'algebraic' comic, the oddly yet perfectly balanced strip was and still is hugely popular with comic strip readers despite its squat protagonist and cornball comedy. A cartoonist who rarely took a day off, Bushmiller inspired generations of future cartoonists and Fantagraphics is proud to reprint the strips. As Tom Spurgeon was so nice to point out, when Fantagraphics was located in Stamford, Connecticut, our neighbor WAS Ernie Bushmiller! Celebrate the love of Bushmiller and read some Nancy today. The strip below was reformatted to fit the blog.
But why stop at reading Nancy in appreciation of Bushmiller, you could also a Nancy tattoo! OSU Librarian Caitlin McGurk sports Nancy's head while cartoonist and Fantagraphics intern Ben Horak flexes a Sluggo tattoo. But we're still looking for the elusive 'three rocks' tattoo. Happy Birthday, Mr. Bushmiller.
Recently Fantagraphics stopped by Ohio State University's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in Columbus. This structural testament to housing and preserving original cartoon strips makes it a one-of-a-kind-place. Curator Jenny Robb said hello but my after-hours and behind the scene tour guide was librarian Caitlin McGurk!
Students of OSU and traveling scholars (like me!) can request to see original art and read books in the main reference room. The room itself is lined with popular comics reference material, less Marvel's Anatomy and more History of Chinese Comics that was written by a scholar rather than a draw-er.
Caitlin pulled everything I asked for from the collection and more! Fantagraphics utilizes the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library when creating our classic reprint lines. They even have an amazingly sophisticated camera for large scans---we're talking longer and wider than a human.
The stacks were automated, slowly sliding over on tracks after a crank is turned AND button pressed. To avoid trouble, the stacks are lined on the bottom with emergency-stop bars. It's pretty damn cool. The Library houses the larges manga collection in the United States, possibly the world.
The flat files have dim lighting, plastic sleeves around the strips and dust covers to fit over the artwork to prevent sliding or damage. GLOVES are a must.
Prince Valiant by Hal Foster lay inside one of the drawers, well many strips lay in there just begging to be looked at.
Dan DeCarlo's Betty & Veronica cover was not only environmentally topical but sassy like most of his artwork.
Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy. People seem to love her or hate her but Ernie Bushmiller's mathematically complex and erudite leading lady is a joy to see. Caitlin pulled one of the wackiest strips she could find for me dating back to November 16th, 1947.
How many can YOU blow?
Last but not least, was an original Nell Brinkley in a gold frame. Having won over the hearts of many a Gibson girl Brinkley's sparkling ladies went from pining lovers to adventurous maidens.
The collection also boasted some amazing newspaper inserts called The Book of Magic, originally printed with broadsheet newspaper The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Book of Magic was full of comics, stories and ads geared towards children.
A big, warm hug to Caitlin McGurk for the after hours tour and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum for existing! You should make a stop there on your next visit to Ohio or on a road trip. Look out because in 2013 they are moving to a primo new building complete with comics festivities!
• Review: "Certainly, the comic’s self-contained gag-a-day format, along with the clarity and force of Bushmiller’s compositions, can often make each strip seem like an instance of emphatic singularity, a totem to be worshipped in dumb awe. But Nancy Is Happy returns to this gag-a-day strip precisely its daily qualities, so often overlooked. There is, we rediscover, an aspect of the quotidian to Nancy, a rhythmic unfolding in time, an ordinariness repeated with such unrelenting frequency that we’ve opted to shunt it into the sublime. Reading Nancy in continuity, rather than in isolation, may be an unfamiliar experience, but it is one which reveals the strip’s patient and inquisitive reaction to the bric-a-brac and ins-and-outs of everyday life—an attentive curiosity whose effect is diminished by removing the comics from their daily or weekly contexts." – Sean Rogers, The Comics Journal [Disclosure: I stole the pull-quote from TCJ.com editor Dan Nadel – Ed.]
• Interview:Inkstuds podcast host says "Sammy the Mouse cartoonist/publisher/printer Zak Sally joined me for a comics talk that goes into some interesting directions. We cover his latest book, as well as variety of funny book topics."
• Hooray for Hollywood:Screen Daily reports that the in-development film adaptation of Jason's I Killed Adolf Hitler has a director attached, a cult-fave actor in casting talks, and a CGI Hitler
• Review: "This series of short comic book tales is sure to offend the weak at heart and easily excitable. As with some of the best horror, The Furry Trap curb-stomps all expectations, zigs when zags are expected, and taps into areas some are just too uncomfortable to talk about.... There’s some sick shit happening in this hardcover and if you’re brave enough, you’ll crack The Furry Trap open and enjoy the stories free of restraint and convention, yet teeming with unbridled creativity and absolute insanity." – Mark L. Miller, Ain't It Cool News
• Review: "Without the rich cultural heritage of African-Americans, life in the U.S. would resemble Rachel Carson's Silent Spring: A dead zone, the silence broken now and again by the hissing of lawn sprinklers and whirring air conditioning units. Such are the thoughts inspired by Listen, Whitey: The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975 by Pat Thomas.... The revolution seemed imminent because the portents were everywhere one turned in those years, and Thomas seems to have captured every single one of the portents in his explosive book. He allows us to see and hear the oppressed flexing muscles and tossing anger directly into the faces of their perceived oppressors.... It's the best of both worlds, a coffee table book with real scholarly heft." – Alan Bisbort, CT.com
• Review: "...I do not believe the details of the demise of the spiky-haired girl’s parents were ever revealed, but it would be uncharitable to assume the spunky, independent girl murdered them in their sleep.... Despite its homogenization, Bushmiller produced a funny and often clever gag strip.... Nancy was good enough to keep our elders laughing through the Great Depression and World War II. Nancy is certainly good enough to keep us laughing through the 2012 elections." – Mike Gold, ComicMix
• Preview: At The Beat, a 6-page sneak peek from Joe Daly’s Dungeon Quest Book 3, with Jessica Lee saying: “If you’re a fan of over-the-top action, heavy stoner humor, and quirky characters in the wildest of settings, now is your chance to catch up on Dungeon Quest. South African cartoonist Joe Daly ’s newest installment Dungeon Quest Book Three is proving to be the most epic of the series thus far.”
• Plug: At 20minutos.es, Ánxel Grove looks ahead to Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons: "That O'Connor is one of the best American storytellers of the twentieth century and that her stories are a must for anyone who enjoys good literature is already known. That she also was an excellent draftsman, writer and creator of cartoons was a secret known only to specialists in her work or dedicated fans." (Translated from Spanish)
• Profile: David Berry of Canada's National Post profiles the Toronto-bound Jason: "'I guess I’m not the most talkative person myself, so most of my characters end up the same way,' says Jason (a.k.a. John Arne Sæterøy) who, true to form, conducted our interview over email from his current home in France. 'I just think silence can be more effective than a lot of words.' The truth of that is in the book he’ll be showing off at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, Athos in America. The collection of short stories is in a lot of ways a quintessential distillation of his themes and tendencies, blending together his cast of mostly melancholy (and quiet) anthropomorphized characters, dryly existential humour, sparse but careful composition and plots borrowed but tweaked from Hollywood genres such as crime, science fiction and, in the case of the titular musketeer, historical derring-do."
• Review: "...Mauldin created great art. His illustrative skill still catches our eye. His depth of thought and feeling still draw us in. We ponder Willie and Joe. We weigh their posture. We stare into their ravaged eyes. Who are these men, we ask? Where did they come from? Where will their paths lead?... Mauldin’s creations are as isolated and as awaiting-of-an-unknown-fate as Vladimir and Estragon. Their foxhole encapsulates their existence with the totality of Nagg and Nell’s garbage cans. Day-by-day, Willie and Joe confronted their readers, making no progress but enduring.... Fantagraphics has honored... the survivors and the fallen, while enriching the rest of us with this collection." – Bob Levin, First of the Month (via TCJ.com)
• Plugs: Lawrence Ferber of Next Magazine mentions a few of our titles in his MoCCA Fest report: "Batman received a subversive skewing in Josh Simmons’ gleefully un-PC The Furry Trap(another of its screwy adults-only tales involves a rape-happy elf). Trap's publisher, Fantagraphics Books, will release volume three of excellent gender-bending coming-of-age Manga series, Wandering Son, this summer, along with a queer comics compilation edited by San Francisco’s Justin Hall, No Straight Lines."
• Plug: "I loved Nancy in childhood, and I love Nancy now. The accuracy and economy of Ernie Bushmiller’s art and the genial simplemindedness of his humor make an irresistible combination. So I am happy that Fantagraphics at last has published Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1943–1945." – Michael Leddy, Orange Crate Art
• Review: "Gagne’s selections are first-rate. These stories are fiery fare. Lovers clash like storm-tossed waves on rocky shores. They battle misconceptions and social injustices.... Even stories created under the constraints of the Comics Code pack a wallop. In the skilled hands of Simon and Kirby, love is most definitely a battlefield. The book’s special features are also top-notch.... Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics belongs in the personal library of all Simon and Kirby fans and all serious students of comics art and history. It’s a prime example of what I mean when I say this is the true golden age of comics." – Tony Isabella
• Review: "[Nuts] is certainly a very good strip... and it was this completely left-field life event, showing a style of comics I'd never seen before.... The book looks just great, even if I would quibble with the designer's very odd choice to call this a 'graphic novel' on the front cover, and while something about it honestly lacks the genuine, timeless brilliance of Wilson's decades of Playboy comics, this is still an important and very readable collection.... Recommended." – Grant Goggans, The Hipster Dad's Bookshelf
• Interview: At Publishers Weekly, Casey Burchby talks to Kelly Gerald, editor of Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons: "I’d been researching and working on the cartoons for a while, but I can’t take any credit for getting this project off the ground. Gary Groth and Fantagraphics approached O’Connor’s agent about doing a book and worked out an agreement for an exclusive contract in late 2009, which was when I was contacted. Some years ago, I gave a presentation on the cartoons at an O’Connor conference in Milledgeville where some representatives of the O’Connor estate were present. They liked what they saw and remembered me when the Fantagraphics contract was developed. I’m very grateful to them."
• Profile: At The Comics Journal, R.C. Harvey on the life and work of Ernie Bushmiller: "Various among us have long been baffled and sometimes afflicted by the persistent presence, lurking at the fringes of cartoon afficionadom — or, sometimes, burrowed deep, prairie-dog-like, into its heart — of a sect or cultish non-organization of penumbra dimension, cult-ivated (so to speak) by a person or persons unknown.... In an effort to explain this mysterious and irrational dedication, we now paw through the alleged facts of Bushmiller’s life and work."
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions — now up to date!
• Review: "The Locas grow up. Collecting material from Love and Rockets‘ second volume (previously found in Ghost of Hoppers and The Education of Hopey Glass), the latest in Fantagraphics’ perfectly executed series of L&R digests [Esperanza] finds Maggie, Hopey, Izzy, and Ray D. coming to terms with no longer being the life of the party and the heart of their scene — at least not without exhausting effort.... But if there’s one thing Jaime’s Locas stories in general, and this volume in particular, tell us, it’s that sometimes you have to be a grown-up for a long time before you grow up. It’s worth the work, and the wait." – Sean T. Collins, The Comics Journal
• Review: "In the pages of Palestine, Sacco relates his experiences in the first person, with breathtaking honesty and haunting detail. With a narrative style that’s a little bit stream of consciousness, and a lot of oral tradition, he depicts not only his own experiences, but those of the many Palestinians he meets in his travels.... A comic book, no matter how poignant and groundbreaking, is not going to resolve a decades old stalemate. What Palestine does do is shed some light on a near forgotten people, lost behind the name of a broken nation." – Mike Re, Asbury Park Press
• Review: "Where have you gone Ernie Bushmiller, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you. All kidding aside, you sure as shootin' can bet Nancy is happy, and so am I that the crucial years of this strip (or at least the dailies) are FINALLY being reprinted, and in chronological order to boot, by the fine folk at Fantagraphics. ...Nancycontinues to deliver on the fun puns 'n great art for us real-life comic strip fans while all of that extraneous junk that's been hitting the comic pages o'er the past few decades does little but mirror the rest of the contents of yer modern day newspaper industry that deserves to die a quick and inglorious death! ...[A] project like this is but one that really brings out that never-suppressed slobbo suburban kid feeling in me, and with more books to look forward to all I can say is...what the hell do we need Gary Trudeau for anyway?" – Chris Stigliano, Blog to Comm (via The Comics Journal)
• Plug: "Panther power has a way of roaring back to life when you least expect it: Years ago, Mushroom drummer and music archivist Pat Thomas told me he was working on an epic multimedia compilation on the Black Panthers. Now, hot on the heels of The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, comes Thomas' equally inspired lyrical documents of the Oakland-bred group: a hefty Fantagraphics tome, Listen, Whitey!... and a CD of spoken word, music and comedy." – Kimberly Chun, San Francisco Chronicle