Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nancy Forever

Batman & Robin: Batman Reborn has been out and circulating among every set of hands at the store. It's been an exceptionally good quarter of a year for comics and comic art books. There's been the Art of Steve Ditko and Wednesday Comics and, and, and! There's plenty more to come in 2010, most notably Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1942-1945. I have been waiting most of my adult life for this book. For real. Ernie Bushmiller was a genius. The appeal of Nancy is perhaps summarized best by Scott McCloud:

Ernie Bushmiller's comic strip Nancy is a landmark achievement: A comic so simply drawn it can be reduced to the size of a postage stamp and still be legible; an approach so formulaic as to become the very definition of the "gag-strip"; a sense of humor so obscure, so mute, so without malice as to allow faithful readers to march through whole decades of art and story without ever once cracking a smile. Nancy is Plato's playground. Ernie Bushmiller didn't draw A tree, A house, A car. Oh, no. Ernie Bushmiller drew THE tree, THE house, THE car. Much has been made of the "three rocks." Art Spiegelman explains how a drawing of three rocks in a background scene was Ernie's way of showing us there were some rocks in the background. It was always three. Why? Because two rocks wouldn't be "some rocks." Two rocks would be a pair of rocks. And four rocks was unacceptable because four rocks would indicate "some rocks" but it would be one rock more than was necessary to convey the idea of "some rocks." A Nancy panel is an irreduceable concept, an atom, and the comic strip is a molecule.

Indeed. Scheduled to release in August from Fantagraphics, it will do my shop-worn copy of Nancy Eats Food a lot of good. Reserve your copy now and by this summer, we can be up to our ears in antics.

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