What The Heck Happened To Nancy and Why Does It Look Weird?

So, the comic strip Nancy has a new writer and artist. After Guy Gilchrist’s retirement there were a couple weeks of reruns, and a striking lack of news about the comic. Then this weekend I saw, on Usenet group rec.arts.comics.strips, the announcement that Olivia Jaimes would take over the comic, with the first new strip Monday, the 9th of April.

Michael Cavna’s article about this, in The Washington Post, reports that Jaimes is a pseudonym, and that Andrews McMeel Syndication is being secretive about her career. Editorial director John Glynn’s quoted saying he had seen Jaimes’ web comics and been impressed. And that Jaimes is a fan of Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy.

I don’t know anything of Jaimes’ web comics (so far as I know). That she’s a fan of Nancy seems clear enough from the first strip, which is all I’ve seen as I write this. Much of what’s celebrated in Bushmiller’s style is a minimalist but well-drafted style, and a narrative flow that gets weird to surreal. The strip for the 9th is straightforward in form, but web-comic-weird or surreal in content.

Person looking at Nancy, who's got a slice of pie. 'That Nancy, she's such a sweet girl.' (Nancy sprinkles salt on the pie; also she's got a soda pop.) Person: 'Also a salt girl.' (Nancy holds a stick of butter; a hamburger and a muffin have appeared.) Person: 'And she doesn't shy away from that butter, either.' (Close-up on the person.) 'Wow, she is going IN on that cornbread.'
Olivia Jaimes’ Nancy for the 9th of April, 2018. This should not be pulling my focus but is … is salting pie a thing? I’ve heard about cheese on pie, as a thing New Englanders do to remind us that we’re not New Englanders and they’ll tolerate us being around but would rather we not. But that’s cheese. Salt is a new one on me, or on my pie.

So, I’m curious where this is all going. I don’t know anything about Jaimes that I haven’t said already. I also don’t know whether the strip is going to resume, or respect, the characters and situations that Gilchrist had developed. (The important ones there being Aunt Fritzi marrying Phil Fumble, and Sluggo being adopted by that pair of truckers.)

Also yeah, it’s never a good idea to read the comments. But you might want to read the comments. There’s a lot of GoComics.com commenters who hate the new look. I don’t fault them not liking it right away. The change in style is drastic and without transition. But, wow. I don’t know if it’s a bit, and I’ve decided I don’t care. The guy who hopes the new artist will “not [be] afraid to be politically incorrect and offend a few men-hating Feminazis [sic]”? That’s some of the choicest opinion on the goings-on of Nancy and Sluggo that I’ve seen in a long while. So, sure, go ahead and hope that Nancy will continue to be a bulwark against the onslaught of the New Atheists, Guy Who’s Watching The Culture-Clash Play Out In Nancy.

By the way, the reporting on this has made me aware of a new book by Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden. It’s How to Read Nancy: the Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels, and apparently it’s 274 pages that thoroughly investigate the Nancy comic of the 8th of August, 1959. I’m glad to have found a library near me that has a copy. I accept the thesis that Bushmiller’s work had more skilled craftsmanship behind it than people realize. I’m not sure I can imagine 274 pages about a single strip that isn’t even a Sunday panel. And yes, I say that as a person who owns more than 650 pages worth of book about containerized cargo. But you know your business better than I do. Enjoy, if you like.


Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

30 thoughts on “What The Heck Happened To Nancy and Why Does It Look Weird?”

  1. Thanks for the blast from my past! I haven’t read Nancy since she appeared in my small hometown newspaper when I was growing up in the 1970s. Even then the comic had a weird vibe to it, like I was reading comics that were really written in the 1930s but that had magically teleported to the future (my 1970s present). I always read it and found it amusing, but it certainly wasn’t one of my favorites at the time (I was an “Eek and Meek” man). Still I’m glad to see it getting a new airing.

    I’m not sure I understand the comic you presented above, though. I think that is just a sign that I’m not “hip” or “with it” any more.

    23 skidoo!


    1. I don’t understand the salted caramel fad either, but I do like that we have got something that future decades can use as a way to comically date the food of the 2010s. It’s not as colorful as, like, herring-gelatin fondue with a 7-up glaze like we could use for the 70s, but we do live in a world of diminished opportunities.


    1. I would say dada; it harmonizes with going from sweet to salt to butter. Maybe it even foreshadows that cornbread is coming next; not sure. But it’s got to be showcasing how they’re on a journey to a weird place by the last panel.


    1. There’s not much debating whether someone finds something funny. But I have mostly enjoyed the new Nancy. It feels weird yet, between the change in art style and the really big change in humor style. But, for example, today’s (“I respect my viewers’ time”) is a good solid joke by my lights. If it’s flawed, it’s that it feels to me like an arbitrary personality trait that Nancy respects her viewer’s time today, and that if Jaimes has an idea for tomorrow where Nancy wants her viewers to work at it, she’ll write that joke too. But that isn’t a fault of either joke, just of the current tone of the strip.


    2. I had never read Nancy before, but these new ones don’t seem funny at all – the ones I saw all seemed like the same “joke” over and over, involving her cell phone. Blecch. No thanks. It’s amazing to me how so often untalented people, in all walks of life, inexplicably find huge success.


      1. Nothing’s going to be to everyone’s taste, certainly. And I do think the new Nancy is getting slightly overrated, probably because people are delighted by the novelty of Nancy making social-media jokes that actually make sense to people who’ve used social media.

        Couldn’t go along with saying the strip’s by someone untalented, though. Even if you don’t like the jokes, they’re written cleanly and it’s clear why something is supposed to be funny, and the illustration is done proficiently. Olivia Jaimes is doing the work at least.


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