On the occasion of our impending release of Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1943-1945 by Ernie Bushmiller, our pal and colleague Ben Schwartz has penned an excellent essay on the strip for the current issue of Bookforum. Do get a copy if you can; click the scan above for a larger, legible version and we've taken the liberty of excerpting the parts where he heaps praise on the book below:
"In this, the reading public has a rare opportunity. No, make that a rare challenge — to read Bushmiller without the benefit of recontextualization of any sort. The fact that you laugh at a Nancy gag — and you will — is all on you. There will be no downtown doyenne to comfort you in the know ledge that the gag about, oh, bathroom plungers, or cotton candy, or squirt guns, is an ironically loaded statement on anything at all. No, you'll be stuck in a room alone with Ernie Bushmiller, who will force you to confront your inner stoopid like no other American artist. Indeed, it is genuine, nonironic praise to say of Bushmiller that if you don't get a Nancy joke, you are a moron.... Now, Nancy Is Happy arrives after three decades of pro-Nancy revival and mainstream humor often as archly silly and unreal as Bushmiller's — Letterman, Conan, Pee-wee Herman, The Mighty Boosh, or the grown-up fan base of Yo Gabba Gabba! It bodes well for Bushmiller's legacy that there's finally an audience educated enough to appreciate his brand of dumb."
• Review: "While other colleagues have seen their short stories and graphic novels draw serious attention in literary circles, Griffith remains the 'Are we having fun yet?' guy to many. Perhaps the long-overdue collection Lost and Found: Comics 1969-2003 will change that. Leaning heavily on the stories Griffith drew in the early ’70s for undergrounds like Young Lust, Short Order Comix, and the revolutionary Arcade, Lost and Found shows off more facets of Griffith, putting his obsessions with Hollywood, suburbia, and a certain type of corporate cockiness into a larger context." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Diane Noomin has seen her work scattered around anthologies like Wimmen’s Comix and Twisted Sisters since she made her comics debut in 1972, but has never received the dedicated study afforded by her new book Glitz-2-Go: Collected Stories, which brings together nearly 200 pages of Noomin’s work.... From the cluttered panels to the bracing honesty, these strips are very much of a piece with the original underground comics movement, and may not be immediately accessible to people unused to that tradition. But for those who fondly remember the glory years of Dori Seda, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Joyce Farmer, and Roberta Gregory, it’s a pleasure to see Noomin get her own showcase." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Nancy possesses in spades the quality common to all great art — a singularity of vision.... The clarity and unity of purpose made it quite impossible to miss a single punch line. Nancy is simplistic, yes — but it is simplistic by design, a strip without clutter, diagrammatic in its relentless formalism. Set against today’s comic-strip landscape, where Doonesbury has the ambition and scope of the Great American Satirical Novel and even gentle family comedies like Zits and Foxtrot boast character casts expansive enough to baffle a new reader, the dumbness of Nancy starts to look like some kind of genius. The roly-poly, Brillo-mopped mischief-maker and her lowlife pal Sluggo stand eternal, as iconic as the puppets in a Punch and Judy show or the Columbines and Harlequins of commedia dell’arte." – Jack Feerick, Kirkus Reviews
• Review: "At 7.6% ABV, Nibiru is a beer that doesn’t pull any punches, but its potency is disguised by the refreshing herbal and citrus flavours on offer. Like its European cousin, Duvel, it's light enough to be easy-drinking, but the intensity of alcohol mean that it’s a beer that demands to be savoured." – Gavin Lees, Graphic Eye
• Interview (Audio): On the new episode of the Mostly Harmless Podcast, host "Dammit Damian" chats with Noah Van Sciver about "how Noah got into making comics, his family and making comics for a living," among other topics
• Scene (Video):Graphic Eye's Gavin Lees captured Jim Demonakos & Mark Long's slideshow presentation of their graphic novel (with Nate Powell) The Silence of Our Friends on video at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery this past Saturday
Just arrived via FedEx this evening, the first advance copy of Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1943-1945 by Ernie Bushmiller! We're all pawing at it excitedly, admiring Jacob Covey's above-and-beyond design job. Wait'll you see it, folks, seriously.
I always was very fond of the mini-comics format -- take two to four 8 1/2 x 11 sheets, fold them once, staple, and voilà! You have an adorable little 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 comic book for mere pennies. But I could never really figure out what to do with this old-school, low-tech format.
For this catalog season, we have created 21 "FBI•MINI" booklets (most in this format, although there are a few oddities), as premiums for customers who order books directly from us. They are available free with the purchase of their "matching" book or books -- or for those customers who've already bought those books but are desperate to get the FBI•MINI, free with the purchase of $50 worth of any other Fantagraphics mail-order merchandise.
If any of these catch your interest (and if you're reading this blog surely at least one of them will) you can click right on any of them to a more detailed listing on our website -- or just click right here and all 21 will pop up for you to peruse.
The new Diamond Previews catalog is out today and in it you'll find our usual 2-page spread (download the PDF) with our releases scheduled to arrive in your local comic shop in December 2011 (give or take — some release dates may have changed since the issue went to press) and a selection of gift book suggestions. We're pleased to offer additional and updated information about these upcoming releases here on our website, to help shops and customers alike make more informed ordering decisions.
In addition to the inductees selected by the judges, the nominees to be selected by voters and announced at Comic-Con this summer include comics scholar Bill Blackbeard, who edits our Krazy & Ignatz series, and Kim Deitch. You can also find the work of nominee Harvey Pekar in our Complete Crumb Comics series. Eligible voters can cast their ballot right here.
I'm enjoying the flow of decontextualized absurdity and sight gags at the anonymous Nancy Panels Tumblr page, which is exactly what it says it is. Perhaps it will tide you over while you patiently (or impatiently) await Nancy Is Happy, our first collection of Ernie Bushmiller Nancy strips, which is now rescheduled for December 2011.
Yeah, we're great, and our books are late. Why, what did you think the headline meant?
Anyway, a new year is upon and it's time to 'fess up about all the late Fantagraphics titles you were expecting to have by now, and don't, because we suck. Specific apologia and weaseling have been added to some titles, others we just pass under mortified silence. 2011 will be better!
The following have been rescheduled: • THE ANTIC CARTOON ART OF T.S. SULLIANT will be reformatted, rethought, re-solicited, and released in early 2012 • FORLORN FUNNIES VOLUME 1 by Paul Hornschemeier will be released in the Summer of 2011 • THE HIDDEN by Richard Sala will be re-solicited and released in July 2011 • HOW TO READ NANCY will be re-solicited and released in 2012 in a vastly expanded version from what we first expected • IS THAT ALL THERE IS? (né MODERN SWARTE, originally announced for 2007) in late Fall 2011: Yes, Joost has turned in all the files and publishers in three countries are synchronizing their watches! • NANCY IS HAPPY will be released in late 2011: It turns out that there was more production work than we anticipated to make the book as perfect as humanly possible.) • POGO VOLUME 1 will be released in the Fall of 2011 - yes, seriously, for real this time
As work progresses on our first volume of Ernie Bushmiller's NANCY (yes, it's late, we admit it), collecting 1942 through 1945, we belatedly realize that our source for most of the strips is missing the first year. Oops. So we are sending out the plea to NANCY collectors: If you have clippings for 1942's NANCY daily strips, we would love to hear from you. (For that matter, as we are missing a handful of strips from 1943-1945, and some of the ones we do have are a little rough around the edges in terms of repro quality, if you have ANY NANCY tearsheets from this period...)
Contact editor Kim Thompson at
(and yes, we are in contact with the Ohio State Library, but even they have significant holes in their NANCY run) — and be sure to pass on this plea to anyone else you think might have contacts, message boards, what have you. NANCY fans unite!
If we can't get our hands on the elusive 1942 we'll probably just switch the first volume to 1943 through 1946 (we do have all of 1946) and get back to 1942 in the future when we've had more time to dig, dig, dig for source material.
In other NANCY news, the much-anticipated HOW TO READ NANCY by Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden has unfortunately been delayed 'til next Summer or Fall, as Paul and Mark have been vastly expanding the contents with additional images, additional interviews, additional research, and additional fact-checking. This will be a completely mind-blowing book when it is finished, so we ask that eager fans adopt a Bushmiller-like serenity and it'll be there before you can say "three rocks."
Can you tell we've been rooting around in our warehouse a lot lately? Our most recent find: vintage copies of two thought-to-be-lost issues of the seminal magazine on classic comic strips (edited by Rosebud Archives' Rick Marschall):
Nemo: The Classic Comics Library #2 dates from 1983 and includes an exclusive interview with Siegel & Shuster and their early pre-Superman "Superman" story; a history of William Randolph Hearst; early Western funnies by Fred Harman; a history of superhero strips; a Caniff Terry and the Pirates tale; and a profile of Art Young.
Nemo: The Classic Comics Library #30 from 1989 features an introduction to Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland; the evolution of Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy; a biography excerpt of Puck founder Joseph Keppler; and (20 years before our book collection) a selection of Sam's Strip by Mort Walker & Jerry Dumas.
We also still have copies of the final double issue, #31/32, with a rare long interview with Charles Schulz, a feature by R.C. Harvey on Milton Caniff (dealing with Vietnam), Edward Sorel on Krazy Kat, and 16 pages of Polly and Her Pals Sundays, shot from crisp black & white syndicate proofs. Supplies are limited, so get them while you can!