Nancy is Happy
September 30, 2013 7:13 AM   Subscribe

Nancy is Happy. Selected panels from Bushmiller-era Nancy comics.
posted by Greg Nog (38 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- frimble

Nancy is surprisingly awesome.

For those playing at home, cut these out to play Scott McCloud's Five-Card Nancy (or play online).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:21 AM on September 30, 2013 [9 favorites]

I recently received two big Nancy compilations as a gift and my god that comic is a work of genius. And on top of that, it is a really insightful peek into WWII-era America, with war efforts, and rationing and so on. One of my favorite strips involves Nancy and Sluggo watching a movie where a bank is being held up across the street from a butcher shop full of meats and sausages and one says to the other "I told you it was an old movie."

Highlighting the individual panels like this really brings out the great little touches in Bushmiller's art that I tend to miss because I'm reading the comic for the gag.
posted by griphus at 7:22 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Man up!
posted by thelonius at 7:27 AM on September 30, 2013

I feel like I should know this already, but what size were the original drawings?
posted by mittens at 7:29 AM on September 30, 2013

Needs more rocks.
posted by Curious Artificer at 7:40 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

old timey comics were like 8ft long
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:40 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

posted by Strange Interlude at 7:56 AM on September 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


well that is just fabulous.
posted by sweetkid at 7:59 AM on September 30, 2013

posted by invitapriore at 8:04 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

People talk about the surrealism of "Krazy Kat", but for my money, the true native Dada is in "Nancy".
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:11 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

My father HATES Nancy. We've never been able to figure out why. All we know is that it involves the phrase "And that Sluggo -- he's the WORST!"

Naturally, we bought him a Nancy mug.
posted by Madamina at 8:15 AM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]

It's America's Classical Music
posted by thelonius at 8:18 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

God I love Nancy and Sluggo.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:19 AM on September 30, 2013

One of my favorites.
posted by orme at 8:19 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Many people have forgotten that, back in the fifties, you could order Nancies by clipping tiny ads in the back pages of Esquire Magazine...
posted by moonmilk at 8:35 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

cough...cough...Get some Nancy fix HERE.
posted by pibeandres at 9:06 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's a good point. I think the difference might be that Krazy Kat is de facto surreal--talking animals in a shifting, timeless landscape--but Nancy is set in Everytown, USA. Recognizably human children in a mid-century setting are doing and saying and encountering these things.

Bushmiller was a genius. But the bar was so much higher then. Not even counting Winsor McCay and his brand of the surreal (Little Sammy Sneeze, Dream of the Rarebit Fiend), a number of the classic comic strip artists nudged their otherwise-"normal" strips into extra-normal areas, e.g., Frank King's Gasoline Alley).
posted by the sobsister at 9:09 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Going through these brought up a question I have had for a long time---who are the couple (dark-haired man, light-haired woman) Nancy is shown as staying with sometimes? The running gag is that the woman is very indulgent of Nancy and the man finds her annoying, as in this panel. Are they relatives or neighbors?
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:10 AM on September 30, 2013

Sidhedevil: From what I remember they're just Fritzi's neighbors.
posted by pibeandres at 9:14 AM on September 30, 2013

Yep, they are the neighbors who babysit Nancy on occasion.

There's a wonderful strip where after Nancy finally goes home to Fritzi (after about a week or two of strips) and what's-his-name sits down to relax in a quiet house and the last panel is just him standing in Fritzi's doorway looking sad and asking if Nancy can come over.
posted by griphus at 9:28 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Interview with Bill Griffith by Goblin Magazine (1995)

Goblin Magazine
GM: I've gotten the impression that you have a particular hatred for Nancy and Sluggo, or is it that fine line between love and hate?

BG: No, I love Nancy and Sluggo. However, I think that most people who claim to love it do so it in a slightly condescending way. Nancy is comics reduced to its most elemental level. There are a few collections of Nancy and Sluggo released recently, and if you read a whole lot of them you might conclude that its kind of simple-minded, punch-line humor. Yet "The Best of Nancy and Sluggo" is the best case for its being a work of genius. Ernie Bushmiller was like a primitive artist, a kind of naive genius, who had a lot more depth then even he or his audience understood. "Nancy" is a Zen strip.

posted by crazy_yeti at 9:39 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

This post is incomplete without a link to Mark Newgarden's and Paul Karasik's terrific essay "How to Read Nancy." (PDF)
posted by Dr. Wu at 9:40 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

YouTube: The Greatest Nancy Panel Ever Drawn.
posted by JHarris at 9:51 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

(Building off of Strange Interlude's NO link.)
posted by JHarris at 9:52 AM on September 30, 2013

Was digging around for links on the original Fritzi Ritz and stumbled on this: Have you read Nancy lately? is of the opinion that Nancy has been updated, but when you actually go and look, the artist's take on modernity appears to be rooted in 1965 or so.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:15 AM on September 30, 2013

Guy Gilchrist, the current artist for Nancy, lives here in Nashville and is by all accounts a really nice guy. There is (or was) a Nancy retrospective going on in one of the terminals at BNA, in case you happen to be passing through (or arriving...welcome!).
posted by jquinby at 10:45 AM on September 30, 2013

My favorite format for Nancy comics was in these small but very thick little books that had one, or maybe four, panels per page. The books were about 3 inches by 4 (I'm guessing here). And, if my memory serves, they had little animated drawings on the corner so you could flip the pages and see them move. I haven't seen one of those since my childhood in the 40s so maybe I'm imagining.
posted by charlesminus at 11:09 AM on September 30, 2013

charlesminus: Big Little Books. I picked up a Nancy one on eBay a while back for less than $20.
posted by pibeandres at 11:15 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by Dr-Baa at 12:01 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by not_on_display at 1:25 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Speaking of Bill Griffith, there's a Zippy the Pinhead strip has been lodged in my head for 20-odd years now. The seeing or hearing the name 'Sluggo' usually dredges it up as a sort of mental reflex... Bogie, Bogie, Bogie. Sluggo, Sluggo, Sluggo.
posted by usonian at 2:06 PM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

Nancy today is so far removed from the charm of the Bushmiller era that it's jarring to see old strips. These days, Aunt Fritzi is a vacant-eyed hottie who advertises country acts on her tight tshirts and reminisces about her baby boomer childhood, despite looking about 25 years old. She is seen here crying about Ronnie Milsap.

Her boyfriend Phil Fumble entered the strip earlier this year looking much the same as he did back in Fritzi's flapper days. Since then he has had a manly makeover. He works at the Christian mission, mentors Suggo and is sexually frustrated by Fritzi.

Sluggo, always just a little pug nose dude hanging around with Nancy, now has a tragic backstory. It starts here. Basically, instead of calling any authorities about the orphan child living in an abandoned house,the entire town of Three Rocks decided to secretly pay his bills and stock his pantry so he can continue to live alone, with dignity or something.

I apparently take my newspaper funnies very seriously.
posted by Biblio at 2:07 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm rather comfortable with the 'New Nancy'; it is trying to do more than most of the aging 'Legacy Comics', even though, in its prime it tried to avoid any meaning altogether.

The portrayal of Fritzi is admittedly odd, with her 1940's hair and 60s-70s memories, and vacillating between love of the Beach Boys and Elvis and more 'contemporary Country' music. And Gilchrist has shown her paying tribute to several recently departed rock/pop/country legends.

Of course this is better than previous post-Bushmiller artist Jerry Scott, who pretty much phased out Fritzi entirely before Gilchrist took over... it must be noted that Scott went on to create and write (but not draw) both "Baby Blues" and "Zits" and currently lives a few miles from me in San Luis Obispo, ensuring that his current strips will never be dropped from OUR local paper - if I ever see Jerry Scott around town, I'll have more "Nancy" questions for him than anything else.

Boyfriend Phil Fumble remains problematic, though; maybe his syndicate remembers the recent brouhaha about Garfield's Jon getting a real girlfriend and just kissing her, so there are obvious constraints involved.

As for Sluggo, I liked the introduction of "Les and 'More (Seymore)", two long-haul truckers with Duck Dynasty beards as his mostly-absentee adopted 'Uncles'; it fills in his background and makes him more 'settled'. And remember one longtime weirdness of the officially "mythical" town of Three Rocks: Nancy is also an orphan, living with Aunt Fritzi who never formally adopted her - she just lives with her. No Child Services Agency there.

But the oddities are well within tolerances for me personally, sometimes providing good fodder for the humor, and no worse than any of the other comic strips where characters never get older. (Hey, Luann is now 5 years older than when her comic started in 1985)
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:05 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I just find the new ones kind of... weird to look at. They lack the simplicity and clarity of Bushmiller. They're more.. I dunno, Gasoline Alley or something than Nancy. It's really weird.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 3:15 PM on September 30, 2013

The seeing or hearing the name 'Sluggo' usually dredges it up as a sort of mental reflex... Bogie, Bogie, Bogie. Sluggo, Sluggo, Sluggo.

That is classic Zippy right there!

Once again, oneswellfoop shows he is the comics king. He really needs a Jughead crown for his role.

Wait, the town in Nancy is now called Three Rocks? Because that would be perfect.
posted by JHarris at 5:32 PM on September 30, 2013

It's newspaper comics. There's a brouhaha about any change.
posted by JHarris at 5:40 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I just spent like an hour reading Nancy comics because of this post.
posted by griphus at 8:10 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

As a kid I found Nancy's hair repulsive. I mean I had an absolutely visceral reaction to it. Couldn't read the strip at all, so offended was I by the hair, and I really loved all kinds of comics.
posted by HotToddy at 8:19 PM on October 1, 2013

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