Friday, June 14, 2013

Nancy: Dreams and Schemes

1990, first edition, from Kitchen Sink Press
Ernie Bushmiller
Nancy: Dreams and Schemes
Bought newish for $7.95
Worn paperback

Even more than before, there are comics that have been featured in the earlier collections, but there's enough here of interest, including surrealism, and not just when Nancy's dreaming.  Roy Blount, Jr.'s introduction assumes that it's Nancy having the dreams because "Lord knows they don't seem like anything a grown man would have," but I'd argue that a grown man like Bushmiller definitely would.  Blount was a "charter member of the Bushmiller Society" but seems just as confused as anyone about the paradoxes of Nancy's world.  Even when it's set in "the real world" rather than Nancy's night and daydreams, it's pretty bizarre.

Let me take just one strip as an example (I could provide you with dozens), in this case where their walk-on pal Eddie looks grim and Sluggo asks why the long face.  Instead of telling them, Eddie says, "I just feel grumpy."  Sluggo tells Nancy it's too nice a morning for a long face.  In the penultimate panel, they see something startling offpage.  Then with exaggeratedly long faces, they walk towards a sign that says, "SCHOOL OPENS TODAY."  The disconnect with reality here is not so much the cartoonish faces, since that comes with the territory, as that somehow no one (not Eddie, not Aunt Fritzi) has told them about school opening today.  What if they hadn't seen the sign?  And what kid over the age of five doesn't count down the weeks and then days till school starts?  As always with Bushmiller, everything is sacrificed for the joke.  And presumably this is not the same school year (I think from the 1960s) when Nancy and Fritzi both develop crushes on the 1932-handsome teacher.

Bushmiller is more timely at times, as with a Khrushchev caricature.  But if you want topical, stay tuned for the next collection, where Nancy takes on not only modern art but "Bums, Beatniks and Hippies"....

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