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How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels

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Everything that you need to know about reading, making, and understanding comics can be found in a single Nancy strip by Ernie Bushmiller from August 8, 1959. Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden’s groundbreaking work How to Read Nancy ingeniously isolates the separate building blocks of the language of comics through the deconstruction of a single strip. No other book on comic Everything that you need to know about reading, making, and understanding comics can be found in a single Nancy strip by Ernie Bushmiller from August 8, 1959. Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden’s groundbreaking work How to Read Nancy ingeniously isolates the separate building blocks of the language of comics through the deconstruction of a single strip. No other book on comics has taken such a simple yet methodical approach to laying bare how the comics medium really works. No other book of any kind has taken a single work by any artist and minutely (and entertainingly) pulled it apart like this. How to Read Nancy is a completely new approach towards deep-reading art. In addition, How to Read Nancy is a thoroughly researched history of how comics are made, from their creation at the drawing board to their ultimate destination at the bookstore. Textbook, art book, monogram, dissection, How to Read Nancy is a game changer in understanding how the “simplest” drawings grab us and never leave. Perfect for students, academics, scholars, and casual fans.


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Everything that you need to know about reading, making, and understanding comics can be found in a single Nancy strip by Ernie Bushmiller from August 8, 1959. Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden’s groundbreaking work How to Read Nancy ingeniously isolates the separate building blocks of the language of comics through the deconstruction of a single strip. No other book on comic Everything that you need to know about reading, making, and understanding comics can be found in a single Nancy strip by Ernie Bushmiller from August 8, 1959. Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden’s groundbreaking work How to Read Nancy ingeniously isolates the separate building blocks of the language of comics through the deconstruction of a single strip. No other book on comics has taken such a simple yet methodical approach to laying bare how the comics medium really works. No other book of any kind has taken a single work by any artist and minutely (and entertainingly) pulled it apart like this. How to Read Nancy is a completely new approach towards deep-reading art. In addition, How to Read Nancy is a thoroughly researched history of how comics are made, from their creation at the drawing board to their ultimate destination at the bookstore. Textbook, art book, monogram, dissection, How to Read Nancy is a game changer in understanding how the “simplest” drawings grab us and never leave. Perfect for students, academics, scholars, and casual fans.

30 review for How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels

  1. 4 out of 5

    Derek Royal

    Absolutely fascinating! Karasik and Newgarden do a phenomenal job of close reading one Nancy strip and then demonstrating how it works. The core of the text is the more formal examination of the strip, breaking down its elements across 44 steps or approaches. But the authors also provide a succinct biographical overview of Bushmiller and appendixes that explore a variety of cultural and industry-related contexts. A must-read for anyone interested in comics form and how the medium works.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ed Erwin

    I thought this would be more than I would ever want to know about Nancy, but I was wrong: I want more! The supposed main text here is 44 two-page chapters examining in great detail the same single 3-panel, single-gag comic about Nancy squirting Sluggo with a water hose. Different chapters talk about thickness of lines, placement of speech, how the text is drawn, how the balloons are drawn, punctuation (or lack of it), weird constraints imposed by publishers, etc., etc. This could seem excessive, I thought this would be more than I would ever want to know about Nancy, but I was wrong: I want more! The supposed main text here is 44 two-page chapters examining in great detail the same single 3-panel, single-gag comic about Nancy squirting Sluggo with a water hose. Different chapters talk about thickness of lines, placement of speech, how the text is drawn, how the balloons are drawn, punctuation (or lack of it), weird constraints imposed by publishers, etc., etc. This could seem excessive, but it rarely is. (One case where it does go to far is applying Freudian analysis. But this may be tongue-in-cheek because they prefaced it with a quote from Bushmiller saying that there is no Freud in Nancy.) The real main text, in my opinion, is the introduction and the appendices. The introduction is a mini biography of Bushmiller and history of the American newspaper comics scene in general. The appendices cover lots of ground on various related topics. Since this was published in 2017, it has nothing to say about the revived strip now written by "Olivia Jaimes", and can sadly shed no light on whether Sluggo is lit.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Lewonczyk

    This immediately joins "Understanding Comics" on the top shelf of books ostensibly about comics but are actually about everything, which everybody in any art medium that involves words and/or pictures should read multiple times. Though its subject is a deep dive into Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy, it's greater subject is art and aesthetics in general, and it's as exhaustive as it is delightful. The book is divided into roughly four sections: - A historical introduction to the life, times and context This immediately joins "Understanding Comics" on the top shelf of books ostensibly about comics but are actually about everything, which everybody in any art medium that involves words and/or pictures should read multiple times. Though its subject is a deep dive into Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy, it's greater subject is art and aesthetics in general, and it's as exhaustive as it is delightful. The book is divided into roughly four sections: - A historical introduction to the life, times and context of Ernie Bushmiller - An incredibly detailed dissection of a single Nancy strip from 1959, with 42 different sections devoted to everything from the broad (panel composition) to the minute (the way Bushmiller draws water droplets) - A series of appendices that illuminate the touch points between Nancy and the wider world of popular culture and fine art - A collection of Nancy strips that further illustrate the 42 points brought up in the main part of the text Anyone who's obsessed with comics undoubtedly has this book on their radar; anyone with a more casual interest, or a strong interest in any other aspect of the arts, from theater to painting to film and beyond, should drop everything to seek this out and have your mind blown.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Buddle

    This exegesis of a single Nancy comic strip scratches the thin veneer of Ernie Bushmiller's seeming simplicity and reveals that Nancy, all clean lines and dumb gags, isn't so simple after all. No, it's the work of a master craftsman, every line intentional, the Platonic form of a comic strip. The simplicity is almost surreal; everything points to the gag. It is, indeed, a master class in design. But it's also a master class in concision. With that, I'd recommend this book to cartoonists, graphic This exegesis of a single Nancy comic strip scratches the thin veneer of Ernie Bushmiller's seeming simplicity and reveals that Nancy, all clean lines and dumb gags, isn't so simple after all. No, it's the work of a master craftsman, every line intentional, the Platonic form of a comic strip. The simplicity is almost surreal; everything points to the gag. It is, indeed, a master class in design. But it's also a master class in concision. With that, I'd recommend this book to cartoonists, graphic designers, and poets. What is needed to convey the message? What can be shaded? How can we depart from reality here? What gets the job done? Nancy is a strip that has been unjustly maligned as stupid: the art is too simple, the gags predictable. Well, sure, that's kind of the point. Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts and himself a Nancy devotee, brought an unprecedented humanity to his inked characters. When I found Charlie Brown as a kid, I found myself. It was my first encounter with great art. Nancy flips that script. Nobody is Nancy. She's unreachable, obscure. But somehow we find something in the strips. Why? Because it's art, dammit. You don't need to say anything more.

  5. 5 out of 5

    flannery

    This book is good but also kind of bullshit. Like a three panel Nancy comic can totally withstand 40-odd chapters of analysis, that's fine, also there's a lot of fun stuff and they take seriously the work that goes into a good gag. That's cool! But the introduction talks about how many "bad" comics there are out there and (while I agree) their definition of "bad" is like... sloppy linework or improvisation or whatever.... there's something kind of macho about qualitative judgments made within. B This book is good but also kind of bullshit. Like a three panel Nancy comic can totally withstand 40-odd chapters of analysis, that's fine, also there's a lot of fun stuff and they take seriously the work that goes into a good gag. That's cool! But the introduction talks about how many "bad" comics there are out there and (while I agree) their definition of "bad" is like... sloppy linework or improvisation or whatever.... there's something kind of macho about qualitative judgments made within. But who's more like Nancy: Marlys or one of Chris Ware's weird masturbating guys? Obviously Marlys. Sometimes fun, sometimes maddening. Do these guys even like to laugh?

  6. 4 out of 5

    DeAnna Knippling

    An in-depth analysis of what makes a Nancy comic strip work. Like, REALLY in depth. You'll learn more about how to focus on your audience in this book than any other given stack of how-to books. Highly recommended for creative types, across media. Writers, musicians, and artists all welcome. An in-depth analysis of what makes a Nancy comic strip work. Like, REALLY in depth. You'll learn more about how to focus on your audience in this book than any other given stack of how-to books. Highly recommended for creative types, across media. Writers, musicians, and artists all welcome.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    Probably the best book ever written about how to read comics.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Heather McC

    Skimmed mostly for the classic 'Nancy' comics, this book provides a history and background to the eight-year-old imp with a very big appetite and heart. Skimmed mostly for the classic 'Nancy' comics, this book provides a history and background to the eight-year-old imp with a very big appetite and heart.

  9. 4 out of 5

    tim

    I've always had some primal attraction to Nancy and Sluggo despite that many find the comic tedious and lacking humor. This book explains and carefully illustrates why it is really such great art. Ernie Bushmiller was a gifted artist and his approach to illustration cautious and deliberate. The book delves into his history and influence, beautifully explaining his approach by way of a frame by frame analysis of a single strip. The book is full of Bushmiller's work before and during the heyday of I've always had some primal attraction to Nancy and Sluggo despite that many find the comic tedious and lacking humor. This book explains and carefully illustrates why it is really such great art. Ernie Bushmiller was a gifted artist and his approach to illustration cautious and deliberate. The book delves into his history and influence, beautifully explaining his approach by way of a frame by frame analysis of a single strip. The book is full of Bushmiller's work before and during the heyday of Nancy comics and in its various incarnations. It is well written and thorough. You still may not find Nancy amusing but will appreciate its influence and execution. Finally, I can enjoy this old fashioned comic without guilt or self-consciousness!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brandt

    So for this year's (2019) Goodreads Challenge I set a goal of 250 books to read, with a sub-goal of 100 of the 250 being "real" books. What I mean by a "real" book is a novel or non-fiction that is mostly prose with few illustrations. This is because I read a lot of comic books and I count them as reading, even if they don't fit under the category of real books. This is the 180th book I have finished for the challenge and the 58th "real" book--more on why I am counting it as such in a bit, which So for this year's (2019) Goodreads Challenge I set a goal of 250 books to read, with a sub-goal of 100 of the 250 being "real" books. What I mean by a "real" book is a novel or non-fiction that is mostly prose with few illustrations. This is because I read a lot of comic books and I count them as reading, even if they don't fit under the category of real books. This is the 180th book I have finished for the challenge and the 58th "real" book--more on why I am counting it as such in a bit, which gives means that over 66% of the books I have finished this year are comics. In short, I love comics. As recently as when I started reading comics in the mid-1980s, there was a prevailing wisdom that comics "were for kids." Little did I know when I started reading comics that visionaries like Alan Moore and Frank Miller among others were putting the lie to this, but I was blissfully unaware, not reading books like Maus or Watchmen until I was almost out of high school. Due to creators finding the comic form a valid expression of storytelling as well as the works of "legitimate" artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein validated the comic form, allowing for more academic investigations of the form. The one I had previously tried to read, Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics is a meta-work on the form, explaining comics in comic form. However, I did not realize that an essay called How to Read Nancy was also published in 1988. This work is an expansion on that essay. How to Read Nancy is a thoroughly researched book that dissects Nancy into 43 component themes that the authors wish to explore to explain why the particular Nancy strip they had chosen (from August 8th, 1959) "worked" as a comic strip. This dissection of the strip goes through details the reader would never think of consciously--yes, we may consider why a comic strip gag works, but thinking about line work and negative space likely never enter our consciousness when reading Nancy, and these are only three of the over forty elements investigated. In addition, Karasik and Newgarden, realizing that the production of Nancy was not done in a vacuum, provide readers not only with the context of Ernie Bushmiller's life and work, but with appendices that help accentuate some of the points made during their autopsy of the strip. (My favorite thing I learned was that the strip was originally Aunt Fritzi's and created by someone else, only to have Nancy take over the strip after her initial appearance, much like Popeye did in Thimble Theater.) In the end, even though this book is beautifully designed and contains many graphics, including the same Nancy strip, in whole or in part, 44 times, this book is essentially an academic work (which is why I am counting as a "real" book) that addresses the philosophy of comics. Ultimately, there is no exact "right" way to execute doing a comic (there is much in the book about Bushmiller not liking Charles Schulz's approach to Peanuts, which I think we can agree may be the greatest newspaper strip of them all) Karasik and Newgarden want you to know that it can definitely be done wrong, and they hold Nancy up as their example of comics done right, boiled down to their essence. Bushmiller is likely not held in the same regard as Schulz, Moore or even Will Eisner, but he was successful in creating a pop culture icon. If you are as much of a fan of comics as I am, these sorts of deep dives into the philosophy comics are always going to be interesting.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Col

    I expected the analysis portion of this book to be the most interesting bit, but I ended up bored to tears, and was far more interested in the introductory third and the varied appendices. Perhaps I'm not as analytically minded as I think I am. I'm sure there's someone out there for who this is the perfect book, but it's not me. I expected the analysis portion of this book to be the most interesting bit, but I ended up bored to tears, and was far more interested in the introductory third and the varied appendices. Perhaps I'm not as analytically minded as I think I am. I'm sure there's someone out there for who this is the perfect book, but it's not me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Peter Landau

    Kudos to Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden for their entry into the canon of Nancy, with HOW TO READ NANCY: THE ELEMENTS OF COMICS IN THREE EASY PANELS. They might not be the first to find inspiration from the bristle-headed icon — she’s been the subject of fine artists almost since her inception — but no one has yet to parse the genius of Ernie Bushmiller with such intelligent depth. Intelligence might not be what one expects from the simply rendered gag machine that is the emphamera of Nancy, bu Kudos to Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden for their entry into the canon of Nancy, with HOW TO READ NANCY: THE ELEMENTS OF COMICS IN THREE EASY PANELS. They might not be the first to find inspiration from the bristle-headed icon — she’s been the subject of fine artists almost since her inception — but no one has yet to parse the genius of Ernie Bushmiller with such intelligent depth. Intelligence might not be what one expects from the simply rendered gag machine that is the emphamera of Nancy, but it takes a lot of work to create something so immediate. Bushmiller works in stark contrast to his biggest competitor, Charles Schultz and his more verbal Peanuts, but is no less a craftsman. Both were masters of humor, just approaching the subject from different sides. Less words and more visual impact was how Bushmiller worked his trade. The authors deconstruct one comic strip from August 8, 1959 down to a blank page. They drill down into each element of the strip, no matter how seemingly insignificant, and in doing hit comic gold. Then they build the strip and readers back up with a master class in cartooning. It’s like a trip through time and space, and that’s only the 44 chapters examining the one comic strip, which is sandwiched with a nice biography of the artist and appendixes. There are pages of Nancy strips at the end, which illustrate the lessons learned over the course of reading the book. You might not laugh out loud, but you'll be smarter for Karasik's and Newgarden's erudite book, and Nancy never fails to elicit a smile.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    Read a bit, discovered it wasn't my cup of tea, but- I am absolutely certain, that there is a budding comic strip writer, who is going to relish this book! I was a fan of the Nancy comics as a kid, but I guess not enough of one to want to look behind the curtain and see the wizardry that create it all. This book is going to make some readers very happy! Read a bit, discovered it wasn't my cup of tea, but- I am absolutely certain, that there is a budding comic strip writer, who is going to relish this book! I was a fan of the Nancy comics as a kid, but I guess not enough of one to want to look behind the curtain and see the wizardry that create it all. This book is going to make some readers very happy!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matt Carton

    Who knew that reading a book about close reading one Nancy comic could be such a joy to read? Truth be told, I am not a Nancy fan. I purchased this book when my family visited the Fantagraphics bookstore in Seattle. Approached I take as an English teacher with text the writers do here. I put this alongside The Noble Approach in terms of discussing process. Highly recommended.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy and Sluggo live in the most perfect of cartoon worlds, and this new book, How to Read Nancy, explains why. Read my full review at https://www.interestingideas.com/upda... Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy and Sluggo live in the most perfect of cartoon worlds, and this new book, How to Read Nancy, explains why. Read my full review at https://www.interestingideas.com/upda...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    How to Read Nancy is a superb book. Ingenious concept, attractive design, clear writing, and perfect editing — I didn’t see a single typo!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Martin Maenza

    Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in comics, cartooning, and components that make this genre work effectively.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kirsti

    Much more complex and sophisticated than I had anticipated. I am now a fan of Ernie Bushmiller.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Norman Cook

    Growing up, I read Nancy every day although even at that young age I didn't think it was particularly funny; I'm not sure why I read it, perhaps because it only took a couple of seconds to scan the almost always simple two or three panels, in the hope that someday it would be funny (I seem to recall I did laugh at least once). I certainly read it more often than more well regarded strips like Pogo, Li'l Abner, and Doonesbury, but then those weren't necessarily aimed at kids. So why did I pick up Growing up, I read Nancy every day although even at that young age I didn't think it was particularly funny; I'm not sure why I read it, perhaps because it only took a couple of seconds to scan the almost always simple two or three panels, in the hope that someday it would be funny (I seem to recall I did laugh at least once). I certainly read it more often than more well regarded strips like Pogo, Li'l Abner, and Doonesbury, but then those weren't necessarily aimed at kids. So why did I pick up this book? As an avid reader of comics I wanted to see what insights these authors have about comics in general, using a particular strip to illustrate their points, and I figured it didn't really matter what example they used, the concepts are pretty universal. And that's exactly what this book is. The authors delve into every imaginable facet of one particular strip to make general observations about every comic. In 44 chapters, they examine literally (yes, literally) every line (and non-line) in a 3-panel gag. Many of the chapters are short, because there's not much to say about certain topics, but as a whole they cover more than most would ever want to know about cartooning. The first 70 pages are devoted to the biography of writer/artist Ernie Bushmiller. I found this to be quite interesting. He started his career in the newspaper business around age 15. One of his first jobs was to lay out the crossword puzzle grid each day. He took over a strip called Fritzi Ritz a few years later. He introduced Nancy as Fritzi's niece, intending it to be a short stint, but Nancy's popularity eventually convinced Bushmiller and his editors to spin off Nancy as a separate strip, with Fritzi now in a supporting role. The meat of the book are the 44 chapters devoted to every aspect of one particular strip, published on August 8, 1959. The strip is reproduced at the top of each chapter with the particular subject of the chapter highlighted, and other elements of the strip covered up. The authors seem to assume that the reader is at least somewhat familiar with how to read a comic strip, so this is not an analysis for the beginner. It seems most appropriate for artists and comics fans who want to really dig into how comics are made, rather than casual readers. I thought some of the analysis was a bit too picky or unsubstantiated. I doubt that Bushmiller consciously thought about many of the design elements. Nevertheless, most of the analysis is worth considering. The book ends with 18 appendices that cover some general technical information about comics, how Nancy handled its merchandising and how it influenced other comics, and various other topics. Then there are a number of Nancy strips for the reader to ostensibly try to analyze using the techniques from the 44-chapter main body. Finally, there is a reference and bibliography section, showing how very extensive the authors' research was. This really is more of an academic research dissertation than a general interest book. For more casual readers, I highly recommend Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud. That book requires absolutely no knowledge of how to read comics, and uses comics themselves in a fun way to demonstrate all the factors that go into making sequential art. But for Nancy fans and artists who want to improve their craft, this is a great book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matt Gonzalez Kirkland

    I had somehow managed to avoid ever reading Nancy (outside of experiencing it secondhand via pastiche or homage) even tho I grew up as the type of nerdy kid who bulldozed through anthologies of comic strips from Doonesbury to Peanuts to uh.. Foxtrot... But anyway, I ended up deciding to buy this after being impressed by some classic-era strips that i saw online (can't remember where) - the resurgence in interest after the recent Olivia Jaimes reboot (which is also quite good) probably helped piq I had somehow managed to avoid ever reading Nancy (outside of experiencing it secondhand via pastiche or homage) even tho I grew up as the type of nerdy kid who bulldozed through anthologies of comic strips from Doonesbury to Peanuts to uh.. Foxtrot... But anyway, I ended up deciding to buy this after being impressed by some classic-era strips that i saw online (can't remember where) - the resurgence in interest after the recent Olivia Jaimes reboot (which is also quite good) probably helped pique my interest too. So anyway; 'Nancy' (the comic); gnomic, spare, airless, sweet, funny, an ultrasimplified platonic ideal of the newspaper strip. it's great! 'How to Read Nancy' - interesting, illuminating, occasionally overexplanatory analysis of the form and function of the newspaper comic by means of a single Nancy strip. Having read a fair share of comix analysis/writing, a few portions of the book felt a little bit unnecessary (and as far as a 'guide to the form' for beginners goes, I'd still give 'Understanding Comics' the win as far as readability and clarity go, although it is certainly less detailed/academic). That said, the opening portion about Bushmiller's life and art practice was quite good, the appendices at the end are fun and wide-reaching (a ton of research clearly went into this) and the insane focus of breaking apart a single innocuous Nancy cartoon into 44 constituent parts makes the main portion of the book compelling, though some portions of the analysis feel a little bit forced. I feel like I'm being perhaps unnecessarily harsh towards a book that I overall had a good time reading, but I guess it's just because the book ends with 40 pages or so of selected Nancy strips, which end up being so much more entertaining than the preceding analysis (and which get across their points with so much clarity and so much less padding) that they end up making the text feel over-explanatory to a degree; but hey, that's basically the point the author has been making about Bushmiller/Nancy (see Appendix 4: 'Too Many Words'), so maybe it was all intended to work that way, haha.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jack Wolfe

    "What is this shit?" -my wife, watching me read this book Good question, my wife! If there was an award for "most time and energy spent on something that means very little to the vast majority of people," "How to Read Nancy" would probably deserve a Lifetime Achievement statue. Though the book begins in semi-conventional fashion, with a biography of the cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller (a man who I never expected to learn more than zero things about), its real meat is in its epic explication of a sing "What is this shit?" -my wife, watching me read this book Good question, my wife! If there was an award for "most time and energy spent on something that means very little to the vast majority of people," "How to Read Nancy" would probably deserve a Lifetime Achievement statue. Though the book begins in semi-conventional fashion, with a biography of the cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller (a man who I never expected to learn more than zero things about), its real meat is in its epic explication of a single strip of "Nancy." Karasik and Newgarden analyze the strip from about fifty different angles, removing elements and highlighting others to show how thoroughly (and to their mind, brilliantly) Bushmiller worked on his gags. Of course the book ends up being about more than "Nancy"... It's pretty much an Art and Art History 101 and 102 in three hundred pages... but make no mistake: the authors believe deeply and unironically in their subject matter, and the thing they seem most ardently trying to convince their readers of is the greatness of, uh, a silly comic strip for kids that has wayyy too many jokes about "oh no I'm getting rained on." Watching Karasik and Newgarden do THEIR work is fascinating and entertaining, and it does make me appreciate the immense craft and singlemindedness of Ernie Bushmiller. But did "How to Read Nancy" convince me, the cartoonist who wasn't, to read more "Nancy"? Man, not really. Now, did it compel me to look at "Nancy" more critically, and hopefully make me willing to use that "eye" on other things that seem, uh, kind of quaint and stupid? Absolutely!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julesreads

    As Nancy is quoted saying on the back cover, “Best Book I Ever Read.” Ok, ya got me, partner. It’s not the best book I ever read, but it lives up to its billing as an in-depth exploration of the comics—specifically a single Nancy three-panel cartoon by the one and only Ernie Bushmiller—and boy howdy does it help any Joe Schmo come to terms with the complexity of even the simplest little gag strip. I love comics and I love cartooning. Not because of plot or character or whatever, but because of t As Nancy is quoted saying on the back cover, “Best Book I Ever Read.” Ok, ya got me, partner. It’s not the best book I ever read, but it lives up to its billing as an in-depth exploration of the comics—specifically a single Nancy three-panel cartoon by the one and only Ernie Bushmiller—and boy howdy does it help any Joe Schmo come to terms with the complexity of even the simplest little gag strip. I love comics and I love cartooning. Not because of plot or character or whatever, but because of the damn drawings. A very fun book and a very easy read, but also an insightful and thoughtful entry into the theory, history, and operation of comics. Nancy, Sluggo, will you both marry me so we can be the happiest throuple in the whole wide world?

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dan Tasse

    I don't know how I came across this, but I'll always read a book picking apart the ol' newspaper funnies. This is pretty good - a lot of details about exactly one comic strip. Feel like I learned some things, but I was kinda burning through it so who knows exactly what. The newspaper comics are kind of a weird time capsule! Reading something like Nancy (well, Nancy was before my time, but similarly Blondie or Beetle Bailey or Wizard of Id or anything else) always felt super corny. But you get a s I don't know how I came across this, but I'll always read a book picking apart the ol' newspaper funnies. This is pretty good - a lot of details about exactly one comic strip. Feel like I learned some things, but I was kinda burning through it so who knows exactly what. The newspaper comics are kind of a weird time capsule! Reading something like Nancy (well, Nancy was before my time, but similarly Blondie or Beetle Bailey or Wizard of Id or anything else) always felt super corny. But you get a sense that maybe they were corny when they started, even. Anyway, if you like analyzing newspaper comics, you'll probably like this; if not, don't bother. But I did!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Beatrice Pratte

    Beyond the impressive scope of the book, beyond its beautiful printing and design, beyond the authors unabashed and evidenced love of the subject, beyond any of the obvious qualities that make How to Read Nancy a work worth reading is its ability to bestow an experience of both absolute clarity and endless reflection on Nancy and all other media. Reading How to Read Nancy was one of the best condemnations I've ever received as an arts lover; my being told that I had been satisfied with only scra Beyond the impressive scope of the book, beyond its beautiful printing and design, beyond the authors unabashed and evidenced love of the subject, beyond any of the obvious qualities that make How to Read Nancy a work worth reading is its ability to bestow an experience of both absolute clarity and endless reflection on Nancy and all other media. Reading How to Read Nancy was one of the best condemnations I've ever received as an arts lover; my being told that I had been satisfied with only scraping the surface of so many magnificent works was like finding out I could replant the seeds of every crop I had ever harvested.

  25. 4 out of 5

    H

    One of the simpler diversions of my year has been reading Nancy comics, and this book is an absolute joy for unpacking why it is that such dumb, crisp gags are so delightful and so powerful. Come for the taut formal analysis, stay for the history and the fascinating view into the cartooning life. A worthy read for any fan of the medium.

  26. 5 out of 5

    J.T. Davidson

    Yeah, well, I tried hard, really hard to love this book and at best it is fascinating. Halfway through it teeters out into obscurity in the guise of minutiae. It made me appreciate the cartoonist Bushmiller much, but only to a point where it all leaves you cold.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Definitely read the original essay the book’s an expansion of, and if you want it to be 7 times as long with 1.05 times as much insight, get the book!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Liz Yerby

    Did I read this book? Well I read all the Nancy comics and skimmed it at least! Lots of good concepts highlighted, I should read more Nancy

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shana

    So much said in so little space. This book was interesting.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Valladares

    Great analysis; will always trust in fans of termite art. Could do without the modern art/whippersnapper snideness. Best parts are the appendices of Nancy strips and the historical footnotes.

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