Friday, November 25, 2011

Art Collection: "Nancy" Comic Strip By Ernie Bushmiller, 1944

Click for much bigger, Fritzier!

Above is an original drawing by Ernie Bushmiller, 6.5" x 20.75", pen, brush, and ink with Benday dot screen on Strathmore illustration board,  for the Nancy strip which ran in newspapers on June 23, 1944. Note that it has the same arrangement of pre-printed panels seen in the other strip from the 40s in my collection.

This is a coveted, rare Aunt Fritzi-centric episode, but even here, Nancy dominates. Poor Fritzi Ritz! Relegated to a "generic authority figure" role in a strip she used to be the star of, one which bore her name until Nancy came along and ruined everything.

This is a weird cartoon for Bushmiller with two entire panels of the illegible writing, and it's another example of his transitional 1940s style, where he still retains a a lot of his earlier, fussier techniques. Look, for instance, and how much more detailed Fritzi's hair is compared to what would come later:

The 40s were also a transitional period for Bushmiller because he was moving away from continuing stories and into a "gag a day" approach. This one has a foot in both worlds: in this two-week-long "story", Fritzi is "out of town" (at a farm, presumably?), so Nancy is staying with the fussy, mean guy next store who hates her. Most of the strips feature Nancy inadvertently tormenting her uptight host, and then there's this "meanwhile" one where Fritzi receives Nancy's letter.

I don't know if this gag works all that well, but I love the drawings of Fritzi, and the schematic barn and silo in the first panel hint at the radical simplification which was to come. There is visible underdrawing in the word balloons, but Fritzi and the other details were inked freehand (see above). Impressive! Note that he didn't leave himself any room for a signature.

1 comment:

samael7 said...

I love Fritzi's curls and the layered swirls with, I'm assuming, different pen widths.

Also, he makes the whole hand-holding-something look so effortless. I couldn't do that, though, not without penciling in the eclipsed parts. But I also can't draw at all, so that's not really saying much.