Nancy (The Comic Strip)

Daily comic strips are still out there, though most folks don’t bother with physical newspapers anymore. Even my 83-year-old mom reads the obituaries on her laptop.

As a kid of the 1970’s, I would tear through a newspaper funnies page. “Peanuts,” “B.C.,” and “Beetle Bailey” were favorites. I had drugstore paperbacks of “Wee Pals,” probably the first strip with an integrated cast. I even read “Love Is…,” the one-panel that makes “Ziggy” look deep.

The few comics I still check out are now digital and not so much a daily read as a binge every week or two. “Nancy” is one of them.

In 1925, writer and artist Ernie Bushmiller took over a comic strip about a flighty flapper, “Fritzi Ritz.” Bushmiller eventually added Nancy, a secondary character and Fritzi’s niece. It was never Bushmiller’s plan, but by 1938, the little girl with the red bow and helmet hair took over the strip. Retitled “Nancy,” the strip was known for its minimalist but distinctive art and gags. Nothing else looked or read like “Nancy.” Here’s a strip from 1943 that has come back around.

Bushmiller developed Parkinson’s Disease but kept working on Nancy with assistants, dying in 1982. One of those assistants, Al Plastino, was the first of several creators to take over Nancy. Plastino was also a popular Superman comic book artist in the 1950s and 1960s, co-creating Braniac and Supergirl.

Since the middle of 2018, “Nancy” has been written and drawn by the first woman in the job, Olivia Jaimes. I’d tell you more about Jaimes, but that’s a pseudonym. She was approached by United Feature Syndicate about taking over the strip because of her previous comic work and because she was a “Nancy” fan. Jaimes has given interviews about her creative process, but that’s all she wants out there that could reveal her.

What Jaimes has  done with “Nancy” is expand and modernize the strip, while also taking it back to its roots. Nancy’s best pal, Sluggo, is still around, but so are a classroom of friends, including Amal and Jerome and twins Lucy and Agnes. Some weeks, you might go a few days without Nancy actually appearing in her own strip. You also see Nancy and the kids interacting with remote learning and smart phones and anime. I would post the “Nancy” strip about the visual language of Japanese comics, but I’m not sure UFS wouldn’t charge me $35, so just click through here instead.

While adding updating “Nancy,” Jaimes has also brought back the strictly visual gags of the Bushmiller days. Again, click here.

I’d also suggest that if you want the t-shirt at the top of the post, inspired by the time Nancy became an unintentional meme, click on the link a few words back now.