Posts Tagged ‘Mark Newgarden’

Bushmiller’s Nancy and Iconic Solidarity


Sunday, June 13, 2010

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Nancy and her doppelganger-cousin

One tired jab against Ernie Bushmiller was that he didn’t draw his characters but merely rubber-stamped them on the page. Bushmiller was aware enough of this complaint to draw at least on one occasion a strip where Nancy and Sluggo do in fact emerge from the push and pull of a rubber stamp, a sort of comic strip version of the myths whereby the Gods of old emerged out of nothing. It is true that in the prime years of Nancy, say from 1945 to 1970, Bushmiller’s characters possessed a startling degree of iconic solidarity: any simple drawing of Nancy or Sluggo in profile looks remarkably like another such drawing, right down to the uniform bristle that surround Nancy’s hair. But Bushmiller wasn’t content to have his characters look recognizably similar from panel to panel and strip to strip which is after all what almost all cartoonists do. Bushmiller also had a propensity to proliferate images of Nancy and Sluggo within each panel, as if to show off his virtuoso skills at replication. Examples would include stories where Nancy and Sluggo have almost identical looking doppelgangers (such as the 1947 story with Nancy’s cousin Judy, which manages to be both stupidly funny in the Bushmiller manner and also a little bit creepy).  Also panels where the characters see themselves in mirrors or dreams. Or the general tendency of all of Bushmiller’s secondary characters to look like Platonic-types of characters rather than individual characters.

Comics theorist Thierry Groensteen, in his formidable and daunting book The System of Comics, has made “iconic solidarity” a key feature of the language of comics (within of course a much more complex system). But if “iconic solidarity” is a formalist property common to comics in general, what Bushmiller is up to is heightening this formal property by making it as blunt and visible as possible. In effect, Bushmiller’s gambit is to make us aware as possible that we’re reading a comic by taking a key formal property and making it part of the narrative itself. Hence all those twins and mirror images. This might explain why so many comics aficionados have a special regard for Nancy, which often seems to be the very beating heart, the very distilled essence, of comics itself (for those who still believe, of course, in essences). And wasn’t that part of the point of Mark Newgarden’s “Love’s Savage Fury”, to show how Nancy could retain her iconic solidarity even if distorted in countless different ways?

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Attention Nancy Boys


Thursday, April 15, 2010

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Mark Newgarden, CC pal and advocate for actually making good books about cartoonists, writes in to ask for YOUR help in completing his and Paul Karasik’s sure-to-be masterpiece HOW TO READ NANCY.

Mark says:

There are a small handful of specific images that we are still seeking quality scans of.

We are searching for hard copies (or high rez scans 350 dpi or higher) of the following:


NANCY 6/ 29/ 55

DEBBIE (AKA LITTLE DEBBIE) by Cecil Jensen 6/ 27/ 55


We are also looking for additional photographs of Ernie Bushmiller; preferably in his studio (and/or related memorabilia). Please let us know what you have in your vaults!

Of course all contributions will be fully acknowledged in the book and all lenders will receive a gratis copy—and a hearty handclasp!

If you can help, please email Mark: mark (at) laffpix (dot) com.

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Uncle Marky Makes Marks


Monday, February 1, 2010

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Special CC correspondent Mark Newgarden reports in about his recently unveiled mural at Bill’s Bar and Burger in NYC:

This little mural was part of a four person installation at Bill’s curated by David Scher, painter, drawer, sketchbook wizard and sometime restaurant designer.

David, Dawn Clements, Katie Merz and I were asked to punch in at 2:30 am for two consecutive nights this past Dec. The big idea was total improvisation; BYOB (bring your own brushes). We had no solid idea what we would be doing, which wall we would be working on – or even what color paints would be on hand. No sketches, no plans, no forethought. Just caffeine, adrenaline and a ticking clock. This is pretty much 180 degrees from the way I usually approach things. What the hell.

Nobody from the restaurant seemed to be expecting muralists. The walls weren’t primed. There was some vague rumor that we would be painting on the ceiling. I walked behind the bar looking for a screw driver and was chastised to stay away from the liquor. David’s filmmaker friend showed up with some of the world’s brightest lights and most expensive video equipment. There was no coffee.

Dawn annexed the stamped metal wall in the back, Katie took the big landscape format to its left, David grabbed a corridor near the men’s room and I got an 8 x 8 foot square right next to the kitchen door. Everybody went to work. And everybody was good.

Go there and see.

I basically approached my space like a big telephone doodle pad. The carnivore theme was pure wish fulfillment; I’ve been off red meat for a while and was now decorating its shrine. We drew & painted til dawn, came back the next night and did it all over again. There was a smiling hostess and brewed coffee for part two, but titanium white was in precious supply. The back door flew open and shut all morning long as food deliveries and freezing snow blew in. We expired around 9 am.

David went back a third night for mop-up and sent me an email the next day: “Yours is the big hit, the staff loves it. One of the cooks was explaining it to me. I can’t do justice to his poetic exposition, but it was something like this: “The Americans are attacking the hamburger like Pearl Harbor.” I’ll buy that.

2 Ninth Avenue @ 13th Street
New York, NY 10014-1204

–Mark Newgarden, February 1, 2010

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Structure 101


Thursday, August 27, 2009

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I spoke yesterday with my friend and mentor Mark Newgarden. We talked about structure in comics. It was a very enlightening conversation. Basically, Mr. Newgarden reminded me that reduction is the key to making sequencing and transitions work.

So, as I polish up my next rant about what structure actually is and how most comics today lack any real understanding of structure, I thought I’d direct our readers over to Mr. Newgarden’s website. There you will find not only an assortment of laughs and novelties, but also a remarkable essay entitled “How to Read Nancy”. This 1988 essay written by Mr. Newgarden and Mr. Paul Karasik is a priceless jewel of information. I’d venture to say that it is a self contained comics graduate class. Comics Comics readers are encouraged to start here before any further discussion of structure can take place on this blog.

Please download the “How to Read Nancy” pdf here.

Thank you.

Oh, and don’t forget that “How to Read Nancy” is being expanded into a book that will be published by Fantagraphics in the spring of next year. Details here.

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The Milt Gross Files


Saturday, April 11, 2009

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I’m very pleased to announce that Mark Newgarden and I are pretty deep into a long-term Milt Gross biography/art book. We have spoken to hitherto undiscovered sources, found incredible artwork, and are finally beginning to understand the scope of Gross’s epic career in comics, film, prose, animation, fine art, and even television. We don’t have a release date for the book yet, but assure you that we will spend summer ’09 sweating it out over our keyboards. Anyhow, should any of you out there have rare Gross photos or ephemera, please contact me: dan (at) pictureboxinc (dot) com.


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Luzern Jams


Friday, April 10, 2009

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More Luzernnotes: We were having dinner with Yokoyama and Ichiba when I asked them both for their “autograph.” Yokoyama was happy to oblige but instead of just signing his name or making a little drawing in my notebook, he got Ichiba to “jam” with him on the same drawing. It was a drawing game. The notebook is folded back, and the participants are drawing while facing each other, holding the folded notebook between them so that each person cannot see what the other is drawing. Yokoyama made a mark where the top and the bottom of the head will be, a mark that both can see. This way it’s a surprise what the other will draw, but the proportions of the face will “line up.” It was pretty funny just to watch Yokoyama and Ichiba bantering in Japanese and laughing while they tried it twice. Later at the “Jazz Kantine” bar, Yokoyama and Mark Newgarden gave it a whirl and made me laugh so hard I choked on my wine. (I love how on their drawing it’s difficult to tell who did which half. Any guesses?)

Oh, and Yokoyama kept drawing faces with a “Do You Know?” word balloon. I asked him what that was about and he said that everyone—meaning Dan and me—kept asking him questions like “Do you know Jack Kirby?” or “Do you know Suehiro Maruo?” So he began writing it on these head drawing and said to me that the drawing is saying, “Do you know ME?”

Funny shit.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

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A daily drawing by Blutch

Fumetto was certainly a blast. Essentially the festival takes over the town of Lucerne, Switzerland, and mounts about a dozen exhibitions, holds panel discussions and demonstrations, as well as signings and tours. It’s a non-commercial festival, with one great store located in the festival center and that’s it. It was wonderfully well-organized, well programmed and just, well, kinda perfect. It’s also interestingly broad, encompassing illustration and art as well as more traditional comics. By the end, we were told, 150,000 people had been through the festival. For me, it was a great chance to be involved with a different vision of what a festival can be, as well as a fun international cultural exchange. After all, PictureBox was there in the form of an exhibition by Frank, Lauren and CF, as well as a show by Yokoyama. But so was Ever Meulen, with a wonderful little retrospective. And so was Blutch, the “artist-in-residence” who provided excellent new drawings everyday in his hotel lobby. Mark Newgarden mounted, for me, the best exhibition of the festival, with a conceptually tight showing of his original artwork and ephemera. Shary Boyle was there with a fantastic show, and so was David Shrigley, not to mention Daisuke Ichiba, Elvis Studio, Alex Baladi, and numerous others. Anyhow, here are some pictures from the scene and there is much, much more on Flickr. Thanks to Lynn Kost and the Fumetto staff for such a wonderful experience!

Elvis Studio’s show.
Study for RAW cover and finish by Ever Meulen.

Newgarden made gorgeous large-format prints of Love’s Savage Fury.

Preggers Lauren is a great cook.

CF and Yokoyama bonded.

Yokoyama live drawing demonstration.

CF: I love Ernie Bushmiller! Mark Newgarden: Me too! CF: Let’s be friends! Mark: OK!

The epic signings.

Oh yeah, one day me and Frank went to see Lee Perry at his mountain retreat an hour from Lucerne. He and Frank collaborated on this Batman drawing.

At the feet of THE RULER.

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Reporting In


Thursday, April 2, 2009

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Here’s a quick look at what’s happening in Lucerne…

Group interview time! Santoro, Weinstein, me, Forgues, Yokoyama. Major topic: Hemingway and humanism. Also: war comics.

Very large painting by Yokoyama, circa 1994

Part of Frank’s installation.

Part of Lauren’s show.

Oh, there’s this.

Brinkman here in spirit but not body.

I do love Ever Meulen.

Mark Newgarden makes his presence known.

More later.

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Swiss Trips


Sunday, March 29, 2009

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Well, two-thirds of Comics Comics will soon be in glorious Lucerne, Switzerland for the Fumetto Festival. That’s right, I’ll be there with Frank Santoro as well as Lauren Weinstein, C.F., Yuichi Yokoyama and others. PictureBox itself has a nice exhibition of work by these artists and the festival sounds pretty great in general, with shows and/or talks by Mark Newgarden, Mat Brinkman, Blutch, Shary Boyle and others. Frank and Lauren are already there and apparently Frank and Blutch had a drawing contest of some kind, resulting in a nicely Swiss “even draw”. Anyhow, I’ll be there from April 1 to April 6. Hey Europeans, come see us!

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Attention Nancy Lovers


Friday, December 5, 2008

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A message from Mark Newgarden & Paul Karasik:

Perhaps you can help us!

Paul Karasik & I are currently expanding our 1988 essay HOW TO READ NANCY into a book-length treatment. Our essay originally appeared in Brian Walker’s THE BEST OF ERNIE BUSHMILLER’S NANCY and is currently being used in comics lit curriculums all over the country.

As you may (or may not) recall one particular NANCY strip [below] is deconstructed in great detail. We are trying to determine exactly when this strip was originally printed.

Our source was the 1961 NANCY Pocket Book which obliterated the original publication date & © info on these strips. From studying a fair amount of period syndicate proofsheets it seems most likely that this strip appeared sometime between 1958-1960 as many of the other strips reproduced in this book did.

Unfortunately many of the likely sources (UFS, Walker, Kitchen, Ohio State) do not have complete runs of the strip for this period and neither do we.

We are circulating this request among NANCY lovers and comic strip collectors confident that someone has the info we seek.

Additionally we are hopeful that someone has high quality reproduction material for this strip (either a proof or the original) and would be willing to contribute a high rez scan.

Even if you don’t have any of this (but perhaps could point us in the direction of someone who does) your name will surely be enshrined in the golden roll of the Secret Bushmiller Society for all eternity!


Mark Newgarden & Paul Karasik

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