Friday, September 14, 2018


My comedy troupe in college would sometimes start the show with the cast making jokes about the comics.  One line that got a good response was about the strip Nancy. One actor asked why does anyone read Nancy since it's never funny.  Another responded that's intentional--if they ever ran a funny one, the wait would be over and no one would read at it again.

But was that fair?  Everyone read Ernie Bushmiller's original Nancy.  It had a solid graphic style, instantly recognizable and understandable, with basic, no-nonsense gags.  What's wrong with that?

So when I saw How To Read Nancy by Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden, I had to check it out.  The reader can decide how funny the strip is--the authors are more interested in demonstrating that Nancy is a perfect example of how a comic is done.

And they do it in a rigorous manner.  Much of the oversized book tells the story of Bushmiller and Nancy, but the main attraction is the section made up of 44 two-page chapters that look at the same particular strip--the one reproduced above--from numerous angles to explain how comics work.

They leave no stone unturned.  They look at the gag, the dialogue, the characters, the background, the composition, the lettering and so on.  It's quite an achievement.  When you've finished, you certainly know more about Nancy, and comics, and perhaps a little more about life in general.  Recommended.


Blogger New England Guy said...

In the strip pictured-Wouldn't Nancy's feet be getting wet? Of if she had to turn the nozzle to squirt Sluggo, I think he would win the draw and Nancy would be wet first. Do they explain that in the book?

4:16 AM, September 15, 2018  
Blogger New England Guy said...

Wait! A trigger handle hose! Now it all comes into focus. Geniuses.

4:18 AM, September 15, 2018  
Blogger brian said...

Perhaps Bushmiller should have broken with tradition and put in a 4th panel to clarify.

I always thought that the Sunday Funnies riff was pretty brutal to Nancy which was a harmless gag comic. It certainly was not always to my taste but every once in a while it really hit home. It seems clear the audience is children and maybe it means you've grown up when you think it is not clever enough.

As to the book it is getting rave reviews. I am thinking about it as a Christmas gift for my son with an animation major.

8:40 AM, September 15, 2018  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bushmiller just gives the basics so the joke is there, and you don't have to think about it, much less overthink it. Look at that fence in panel three. Seriously, of what use is that fence except to block the hose from Sluggo's sight?

9:52 AM, September 15, 2018  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

C'mon, Anonymous. You know the rule. If you show a fence in panel 1, it' better go off by panel 3.

7:35 AM, September 16, 2018  

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