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
Just beginning to catch up on Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Profile: With his big new art book out and his museum retrospective on the way, Daniel Clowes gets the New York Times profile treatment from Carol Kino: "Mr. Clowes can create a striking face with a few deftly placed lines or brush strokes, often seizing on some specific characteristic that summons up an indelible personality. Think of Enid Coleslaw, the snarky teenage anti-heroine of Ghost World, and her big, black nerdy-hip glasses; they cover most of her face, but they can’t conceal the tiny shifts in expression that loudly telegraph her mood."
• List:Daniel Clowes may be headed for a museum retrospective, but he is neither dead nor retired — but that doesn't stop Flavorwire's Elona Jones from naming 10 candidates to carry the torch of "his storytelling skills, interest in surrealism, and eye for biting observations," including Jason, who "receives international acclaim for his brilliant storytelling."
• Review: "The John Benson-edited anthology The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Satirical Comics assembles largely forgotten work by the likes of Jack Davis, Will Elder, Ross Andru, and Jack Kirby, parodying everything from Mickey Spillane novels to Rex Morgan, M.D. Some of these pieces can stand up to the best of Mad (or at least match the magazine’s average), but even the stories that are clunky and unfunny are fascinating for the way they rip off Mad shamelessly, including all the asides and mini-gags that Will Elder once labeled Mad’s 'chicken fat.' It’s a testament to how quickly the innovative and subversive can become mainstream." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Next to Pogo, the newspaper comics collection that fans have been most anticipating would be Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, which over the past few decades has garnered a reputation as the purest distillation of the gag cartoon, a triumph of minimalism... Nancy Is Happy: Dailies 1943-1945 joins Bushmiller’s magnum opus in full swing ... Bushmiller’s genius [was] to make everything in his strip so basic that anyone, anywhere, at any time, could get the joke." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review (Video): Video blogger Robert Crayola looks at Nancy Is Happy: "If you like comics or comic strips especially and you haven't read Nancy or if you have and you just want more, I think you'll enjoy this.... Hopefully we can get many more volumes of this. I hope you support it. It's a great book."
• Review: "One of the signature achievements of ’80s alt-comics, Drew and Josh Alan Freidman’s Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental: An Anthology of Comic Art, 1979-1985 is now back in print in a spiffy new edition that doesn’t really add anything to the original, but is still a necessary addition to any library that doesn’t already have a copy.... Drew Friedman’s stipple-heavy photo-realism and his brother Josh’s gleefully cruel humor combine to craft an alternate history of American entertainment that’s preposterous and yet feels true. Even now, decades after other cartoonists and comedians have tapped this well, the Friedmans’ pioneering work in the field of 'brattily dicking around with icons' remains unparalleled." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Folly... serve[s] as a good introduction to Rickheit’s beautifully ugly visions, of a world where cute girls and humanoid stuffed animals commit atrocities against oozing flesh. With a drawing style that resembles Jason Lutes and Charles Burns, and a storytelling style similar to Jim Woodring and Al Columbia, Rickheit excels in making nightmares lucid. Some characters recur from story to story in Folly, but really this book is just page after page of beautiful images juxtaposed with wounds and excreta. The single-mindedness of Rickheit’s approach — and the level of detail he applies to it — is impressively horrifying." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Plugs: Cynthia Clark Harvey of the Phoenix New Times looks at "Noteworthy Graphic Novels by Women," including C. Tyler's You'll Never Know — "The first two installments of Tyler's wonderful trilogy, a memoir about her father's WWII soldiering and its effects on her family, were on best and award lists. I liked Book 1 and loved Book 2, leaving me on tenterhooks for Book 3..." — and Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons — "...as I look at O'Connor's early cartoons, I'm sure I'll be thinking: What if she were working today? What if she'd been able to fully express her literary vision with her first love, comics? What if Flannery O'Connor wrote Wise Blood as a graphic novel? Imagine that."
• Review:VICE's Nick Gazin looks at some of his favorite strips from The Complete Peanuts 1983-1984: "There's this one where Schroeder actually tries to communicate his understanding of beauty to Lucy. Of course Lucy doesn't really care about his inner world, she's just a groupie and wants the idea of Schroeder. It answers the question of what would happen if Schroeder actually gave Lucy the time of day. This is a moment where it seems like Sparky is really opening up to us about his own personal ways of relating to women, falling in love with distant princesses. It also harkens back to that scene in Citizen Kane when a guy mentions that he never forgot a beautiful girl he saw crossing the street decades earlier."
• Review: "Complete Crumb Comics Vol. 1 by Robert Crumb — This is a newly revamped edition of the inaugural volume, featuring some new, (I’m assuming) just discovered art... The real discovery here is the Jim and Mabel story, as Crumb is able to wring an amazing amount of depth and characterization from this seemingly simple story of a surly twenty-something woman bringing lunch to the elementary school kid who’s got a crush on her. As raw and awkward as it is at times it’s also rather poignant and shows how skilled he was at an early age." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review (Audio): Washington, DC (and environs) comic shop Big Planet Comics also has a podcast and call Kolor Klimax: Nordic Comics Now "one of the best anthologies I've ever read" on the Feb. 24, 2012 episode (review starts at 35:40; thanks to KK editor Matthias Wivel for the info)
• Plug: "Having read and reread and rereread the previous Nancy strip collections and nearly committing all their contents to memory, having some new (relatively speaking) material to enjoy really is a treat." – Mike Sterling, Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin
• Book Reports: For a fresh critical perspective, check out the student reviews of many graphic novels published by us and others collected at the Graphic Novels Reading Rainbow blog (and the accompanying photos and illustrations can be a hoot too)
Sorry this slipped through the cracks last week, everyone!
Last Wednesday's comic shop shipment included the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.
336-page black & white 8.5" x 8.5" flexibound softcover • $24.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-360-6
"This is lovely material, lovingly presented, as satisfying a production-style execution of a strip collection as I've seen in a long while. And that's not exactly a category light on well-executed books." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
"A big fat square brick of Ernie Bushmiller's poker-faced masterwork. Fantagraphics has had this on the schedule for eons; good to see it finally coming out!" – Douglas Wolk, ComicsAlliance
"I’ve never really delved into Ernie Bushmiller’s iconic creation before but I know there are plenty of folk who consider it a near-Zen masterpiece and I’m curious as to the effect sitting down with a sizable block of Nancy strips will have on me. Perhaps my third inner eye will finally open!" – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
"If you didn’t see it last week, gird your loins for Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1943-1945, presenting the Ernie Bushmiller classic from materials scanned mainly from the collection of Dan Clowes, who provides an introduction..." – Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"The new @fantagraphics Nancy collection is so goddamn funny I can barely handle it." – Secret Headquarters
"There are other new comics out today, too, I guess, but I don’t know why they bothered." – Mike Sterling
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 read- ers, 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 on Nancy.
Beginning in the Winter of 2011, 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 will collect 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 will feature 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.
Order this book and receive this FBI•MINI comic as a FREE bonus! The very best dailies (and Sundays) from the legendary "audition" by Ivan Brunetti to take over the Nancy strip in a perfect Bushmiller style. Click here for details. Limit one per customer while supplies last.