Thursday, April 19, 2018

The new NANCY by Olivia Jaimes

(Andrews McMeel Syndication/GoComics) Upon noticing that a new artist started on the Nancy daily comic strip a few weeks ago I caught up and told some folks about it, and then, to my genuine surprise, the Internet gave a shit about it. There has been a nice/not so nice wave of over-love and over-hate for this strip for the last couple days. Whomever Olivia Jaimes is, I am going to say I'm a fan, first and foremost, because the comic does something I am amazed at: despite roughly 100% of the strips either being about social media or meta jokes about comics, visually and humor-ly, this captures the spirit of Bushmiller much better than the artist who has helmed the comic for nearly a quarter century. Bushmiller "only" put in 44 years, so Guy Gilchrist's tenure a significant stretch. And Gilchrist is a significant cartoonist - he and his brother worked directly with Jim Henson to do the excellent Muppets comic strip in the early 80s. But Gilchrist's version of Nancy is barely a comic. Gilchrist is a music fan/songwriter and it seemed like he was more interested in getting Nancy's sexy aunt Fritzi in rockabilly gear, or referencing fave bands (last Sunday's strip -- Gilchrist still does the Sundays -- has Fritzi wearing a "Whispering Bill Anderson Fan Club" white tee, which should, but can't possibly be, an actual thing). There was one comic I recall that had six panels describe the Moody Blues in florid praise-terms, and the "punchline" was, "...it's The Moody Blues!" I don't know what that is, but it's anti-comical, and immeasurably removed from the pure visual joke deliver system Bushmiller perfected. The legacy of the original Nancy comic should be that in addition to being visually stunning in its jarring simplicity and perfect composition, it was fucking hilarious. It is an all time Top 10 comic strip, if not Top 2. And though Jaimes is not exactly copying the style (especially on teachers and non-Bushmiller characters) and isn't exactly copying the jokes, there is something here that is capturing the weirdness, bluntness, and sublime comedy of Nancy. The actual robot drawing in the Bot strip is a delight, not to mention Nancy's shade.
And, yes, these are not the funniest strips ever, but daily comics are rarely flat out funny, Bushmiller is exceptionally exceptional. It is a grind to create/illustrate a gag a day, so like morning radio jocks trying to fill 4 hours, there's some leeway here. Kinda funny is an A, and you can go weeks without an A+ on a comics page (excluding the Peanuts reprints).
Also, there's a sense with this new strip that with newspaper comics, and newspapers, losing relevance, we are now in wild wild west-land, where one can do whatever they want, and a couple of these comics have delved into some underground/indie/semi-sequitor stuff.

Bottom Line: I'm team Jaimes/Team Sluggo, and Team Read the Funnies Every Day  Til I Die.  

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