Very brief update on my Nancy post, after having read most of Brian Walker's The Best of Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy. Zen, schmen, the strips are all about the gag, and many of them are funny. Clearly artists are drawn to Bushmiller's visual wit: until I saw a large collection I had no idea how devoted he was to puns and sight gags; they're almost half of his output. Here's my theory on the Nancy revival (with help from Mr. Wilson), adapting Kubler-Ross's "stages of grief" for comedy:

Denial. Boomers in the '60s see Nancy as a legacy of the "square" '40s and '50s--no way it could be funny.

Anger. Hipsters start looking at Nancy in a new way, saying it's "zen" or "so stupid it's good." This is still a putdown.

Bargaining. The generic, "anyone can make Nancy" gags start to appear.

Depression. Artists begin appreciating the strip for its craft, and for Bushmiller's "visual intelligence." (OK, my analogy doesn't work so well here.)

Acceptance. Boomers (and younger) read Nancy and laugh their asses off. Yes, I know, it's not that funny.

- tom moody 6-27-2003 12:04 am