Thursday, June 24, 2010

Yes, please.

Normally we don’t really do “news” here at CC, but I’m fanboyishly excited about the Nipper series that Chief Oliveros just announced. This’ll be an affordable reprint series of Wright’s masterpiece. I adore the Doug Wright monograph D&Q released last year and found Nipper to be a elegant, expressive and deeply resonant comic strip. It’s a little out of my usual taste, I have to say, but there’s something about the body language and the precision of Wright’s period details that just gets me. Anyhow, it’ll be out in September. In the meantime, go out and get the Doug Wright book as an introduction. It’s more than worth it.

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25 Responses to “Nipper!”
  1. Jeet Heer says:

    Absolutely on target. The Collected Doug Wright was the most woefully underrated book of the last year. A lot of people think Wright was just a Canadian counterpart to Hank Ketcham, but actually he had a fidelity to observed reality which really set him apart. Last year at TCAF I made the point this way: “Ketcham’s housewives are always this stereotyped Fifties image of a housewife, and even when they’re vacuuming, they’re always wearing high heels which no woman does. But if you look at the housewives in the Doug Wright, they’re actually dressing like housewives… And that’s just one detail of hundreds where throughout his work, there’s a real attention to the actual lived experience of suburbia.”

    I hope the new book will win Wright the audience he deserves. In terms of stature he’s not quite a Schulz or a Crumb but he’s only a notch below, about the level of a John Stanley.

  2. Matt Seneca says:

    Nice to see, I was despairing of ever getting more Doug Wright. Especially given the mystifying non-response to that great book, which I thought was one of the very best reprints the Golden Age has given us — both in terms of material collected, design, and bonus “rescue points”. Hopefully the low price tag will get a lot more people on this one.

    Would love to hear more on what draws you out of your usual taste to Nipper, Dan!

  3. patrick ford says:

    A couple of weeks ago I had trouble logging on to Robin McConnell’s Inkstuds site.
    All is well now. Lot’s of great stuff to listen to while chopping onions.
    Does Jeet or anyone talk about the Wright book anywhere in one of the interviews?
    One thing I love about Wright (and where he reminds me of Roy Crane) is despite his simple line style he doesn’t shy away from very meticulous ambient detail where needed.
    For example pebbles on a lake shore, or in Cranes instance the exquisite finely detailed arabesque windows in the 8/27/33 Captain Easy Sunday page. The detailing in panel three of that page is off the charts in not only the intricacy of the design, but the extraordinary accuracy with which it is rendered.
    In the case of Crane, and Wright’s lake shore the detail puts you in the scene, you are there because the reality has been established in the background, which in turn makes the characters live.

  4. Jeet Heer says:

    @Patrick Ford. Brad Mackay, who wrote the excellent biographical essay at the beginning of the Doug Wright book, was interviewed on Inkstuds. See here:

  5. patrick ford says:

    Thanks Jeet, I should have noticed that.
    I’ll listen later today. Robin might want to add “on Doug Wright” to the Mackay listing if that is the subject of the interview.

  6. llj says:

    I remember a large majority of critics focused on picking apart that “Canada’s Master Cartoonist” label when the Doug Wright collection came out, almost at the expense of looking at the material itself. Even when they did, the collective attitude tended to be, “Eh, he’s no Charles Schulz!”

    Very strange that one little phrase would invite such automatic hostility.

  7. zik says:

    I think it’s easy to read, “Hey, you know all your sacred cows? Well, THIS guy’s JUST as good and YOU’VE never even HEARD of him!” as antagonistic. People are very protective over their favorites and their “status.”

  8. brad mackay says:

    Thanks for the Nipper love Dan! I think these collections will definitely be more accessible — not to mention easier to shelve…

    I think everyone involved in the CDW was hoping for a bigger splash, but weren’t entirely surprised by the underwhelming reaction. I chalk up a lot of it to the “Canada” part of the title. Let’s face it, there are still a lot of readers and booksellers in that great big United States who slot “Canadian” thins in the “regional” part of their minds.

    I tried to tackle this at the top of my essay in the book by bringing up Schulz; but it was never intended to imply that Wright was “better” than Schulz. It’s an invalid comparison really. But that Crane comparison that Patrick draws above is pretty apt.

    (PS. Jeet, i’d place Wright a notch above Stanley, if only because of his masterful composition. Stanley is swell, but didn’t have the same level of art chops.)

  9. Don’t you guys think that simply folks don’t have a connection to his work like they have/had with Peanuts? I never hear anyone mention that. They mention the “He’s no Schulz” but nothing about the work being less of a direct connect to memory.

  10. Brad mackay says:

    Frank, I think that’s definitely a part of it. But it’s not like Captain Easy has huge fan club either but FBI got pretty good coverage for its reprint project.

  11. DJM says:


  12. patrick ford says:

    dmj: ”

    This most be the most extreme example.
    Tubby as Wimbledon Greene?
    The approach doesn’t bother me in the least. It’s only the cover, the guts of the books are perfect.
    Part of this is intelligent marketing by D&Q. I’d guess Seth is one of the best selling alternative guys around. Simply by Seth’s images adorning the cover a portion of his fan base is captured. Some of Seth’s fans will want the books just because Seth designed them. The covers also serve as an recommendation by Seth for the content. A wordless blurb expressing Seth’s endorsement.

  13. patrick ford says:

    Make that: “might be the most extreme example.”

  14. Can we please not have a flamewar about Seth’s book designs again? Please?

  15. Jeet Heer says:

    Slowly I turned … step by step … inch by inch…

  16. patrick ford says:

    Pssst…Hey Frank whisper “Niagara Falls” in Jeet’s ear.

  17. Haha. I love that Three Stooges short. A classic. For all the “kids” out there who don’t know what we’re talking about please brush up on your Three Stooges history. There will be a pop quiz in a week or two…

  18. patrick ford says:

    Heeeey! Abbott!
    That skit is so old it was first performed by Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy.

  19. I missed the vaudeville train when it passed thru Pittsburgh…I’ll ask Grampa Santoro. Wait, he’s dead. And soon all these cultural references will be too. I can’t even get the kids down at the record store to understand my “Caddyshack” riffs…

  20. patrick ford says:

    Frank: ” dead cultural references”

    When I was a kid (60’s-early70’s) there was a revival of interest in things from way before my time. A whole wave of new fans became interested in things they couldn’t have felt nostalgia for because they were from a time before the new fans were born.
    The Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Bogart, Universal horror movies and other old classics came to the attention of young people, and were enthusiastically embraced.
    At the time I’d have thought this would keep reoccurring every few years. That every new generation would become enamored of Bogart, but that hasn’t happened.
    I wonder if it isn’t because of how easy it is now to find the old stuff if you want it. In the old days there was an “event” quality to discovering the old classics. TV stations would devote a week to a Marx Brothers festival, or you might see the old films in a revival house.
    Now finding this stuff is “no big deal” and that, in a way, doesn’t promote the old culture.
    Jeet pointed this out when talking about how the Seth covers place comics reprints in a modern context. Some of the “cool” of our world points the spotlight.

  21. “Word up!” haha. Dead center target.

  22. brad mackay says:

    Frank – You mean Caddyshack 2, right?

  23. DanielBT says:

    Good to know there’ll be a more afordable version of the Nipper strips. I feel that the size of the previous collection might’ve scared off any potential buyers. It was bigger than the Fantagraphics Popeye reprints, which are pretty large themselves. It also didn’t help that the image of one bald-headed laughing boy was almost invisible, only to be obscured by the text. If the interior got to the strips instead of the essays (which took up almost half the beginning of the book), casual audiences might’ve been more willing to give it a shot.

    One of the things I remember reading was how Doug Wright influenced various Canadian artists such as Chester Brown, Lynn Johnson and Dave Sim. I hope to do a future blog entry on how influential he was in motivating these cartoonists who went on to influence others as well.

  24. patrick ford says:

    Was the big Wright book really not affordable? Or did it just look unaffordable?
    Most people probably took one look at it and figured it was $75-$100.

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