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Friday, November 13, 2009

Fancy more Nancy?

Here's a peek at Seth's cover design for Nancy Volume 2, forthcoming from our John Stanley Library collection in summer 2010!

I really like Seth's toonish "big head" take on everyone's favorite malleable mallet-head. Composed of basic shapes tied together with a bow, Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy was designed with such economy and balance that her component parts are instantly recognizable even when they have been disassembled, distorted, and reconfigured, as demonstrated most memorably in Mark Newgarden's avant-guard formal cartooning experiment/tribute "Love's Savage Fury."

With Paul Karasik, Mr. Newgarden also authored the seminal 1988 essay "How to Read Nancy," soon to be published in expanded book form by Fantagraphics. In a few concise pages, the authors deconstruct one of Bushmiller's strips in order to explain the significance of composition and design in the construction of the perfect sight gag. Although John Stanley's Nancy comics rely less on gags than on wordplay and narrative, Stanley demonstrably shared Bushmiller's considerable talent for composition and rhythm. (Although the comics were drawn by Dan Gormley, Stanley's scripts took the form of highly detailed storyboards.)

Consider, for example, the page below. Never mind the bizarre content and bad condition; instead, please note the symmetry in the first two rows of panels, the visual rhythm of Nancy's comings and goings, and the diagonal line of Nancy's trajectory that starts in the upper righthand corner and switches direction halfway down the page. Now go read that essay. And have a nice weekend.


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