Nancy with the Laughing Face
Recovering the dumb genius of Ernie Bushmiller.
Fifty-one years ago, Andy Warhol co-opted a panel of Ernie Bushmiller’s comic strip Nancy. Ever since, the strip’s squat, spike-haired protagonist has beguiled artists, theorists, pranksters, essayists, and cartoonists as a patron saint of dorky innocence. But despite decades of meta-Nancy secondary texts, this month marks the initial installment of the first-ever comprehensive reprinting of Bushmiller’s peak period (1943–59), with Nancy Is Happy (Fantagraphics, $25).
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 knowledge that the gag about, oh, bathroom plungers, or
… full text available to registered users