Wednesday, December 17, 2014

BOOK REVIEW! NANCY LOVES SLUGGO by Ernie Bushmiller (Fantagraphics, 2014)

Heading into the early-fifties, we are now beginning to come upon the chubby cheek era of NANCY, the years where she and her pals began to look like squirrels hiding nuts in their jowls for the wintertime. The art, at least in my opinion, didn't quite look up to typical Ernie Bushmiller snuff once the year 1951 rolls into view (I dunno, due to a new assistant?) but don't worry because by the late-fifties it all finally works out once the NANCY style that I fondly remember develops and oozes into the living rooms of many a prone (or maybe even supine) kid reading the funnies as part of that daily ritual that made the day of many a suburban slob element! And if we only knew enough to appreciate it back when it was here and now 'stead of then and there, because in no way was any of it gonna last forever.

Pretty good gaggeroonies in this 'un from a series of strips where Sluggo inexplicably gains about fifty pounds overnight to one where a cute Spanish gal has Sluggo acting a whole lot hornier than his seven-year-old hormones would normally allow. Thankfully the usual NANCY gags, gaffes and (dare I say) cliches are in full force, what with Nancy at her most hungry/jealous/envious/fantasizing, Sluggo at his laziest and most-disheveled, and of course Aunt Fritzi is a bigger bitch than any of us could imagine the way she's more'n prone to whack Nancy for even the slightest of infractions!

The forward to this 'un was written by cartoonist Ivan Brunetti, who oddly enough had submitted a month or so of strips when United Features Syndicate had finally decided to drop the horrid "update" of this venerable strip that had been running since '84 or so and get back to the original minimalism of it all. (You can read the entire saga complete with the comics that were submitted for the syndicate's approval here.) As we all know the Gilchrist Brothers got the contract and, after a short while of redrawing old Bushmiller strips as well as doing some new gags in a fairly decent style, went off on their own tangent to the point where it too has become not only "modernized" but downright unreadable. If Brunetti had gotten the gig I get the feeling, at least judging from his samples, that the state of NANCY 2014 would have been a much different ballgame 'n what has been happening on the funny pages as of late. Probably not, but then again how could anyone really have followed in the footsteps of the mid-Amerigan master known to one and all as Bushmiller?

Yeah it ain't the same as readin' 'em onna parlor floor osmosing the same world that begat NANCY in the first place, but it's about as close as yer ever gonna come so shut your trap for once!

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