Thursday, April 24, 2014

Art Collection: Drawing For 11-27-1965 "Nancy" By Ernie Bushmiller

(Click for bigger.)

What a treat: a rare mid-sixties Bushmiller original is absolutely pristine condition. There isn't a hint of yellowing in the Benday overlay, and the board looks practically like it just came off the press:

(Detail of Benday dots with cuts visible, and a little knife scraping on the upper left.)

The gag is so perfectly constructed. At first I wondered why Bushmiller hadn't condensed the strip into three panels, but there's actually no way to do it as economically as he does here. The second panel can't be dropped without damaging the gag.

Irma is doing the classic Bushmiller "head bob" up and down from panel to panel, bouncing the composition forward (see here and here for more examples). Note, too, the subtle way the horizon line leads the eye forward in the first two panels.

The payoff is just glorious Nancy sight gag nirvana.

One thing I love is that Bushmiller used Benday dots for Irma's dress, but did the ultra-laborious "tweed" pattern on Nancy's dress (it's November!) by hand, which is a useful indication of the border between what an obsessive technician is and is not willing to do:

It was tempting to title this "Nancy's Candy Glory-Hole".

And don't even get me started on fences in Bushmiller. You'll have to wait for Mark Newgarden and  Paul Karasik's How to Read Nancy, due to be released, I believe, later this year by Fantagraphics, because evidently it will include extensive Bushmiller fence scholarship. Praise!


Toriko said...

I am wondering, considering the era and your knowledge of Bushmiller, would he have a) known about the sexual reference b) believed that a significant portion of his readers might have known about glory holes as well? Nancy seems like such an innocent comic. Some of the previous posts were slightly subversive, but this seems quite blatant.

Peteykins said...

I honestly doubt it. If Bushmiller had been aware of... glory holes... then he wouldn't have published the gag. He was fairly insistent on keeping Nancy "clean", other than the occasional "hubba hubba Fritzi Ritz" moments.

Comradde PhysioProffe said...