I finally got around to buying Nancy is Happy and it is delightful. After years of getting my Nancy fix in short bursts from places like Tumblr and GoComics, it feels amazing to get three years’ worth of strips at once. Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, to me, is like the purest ideal of a comic strip. My appreciation may have started as ironic, but like Dan Clowes talks about in his introduction, it became something else. I suppose part of it’s because Nancy and Sluggo inhabit this semi-magical world of comics yesteryear and it’s very comforting. Sometimes, however, that timeless world that is sullied with reminders that World War II is going on in the background and stuff like Nancy’s Chinese friend Floy Floy, which, uh, did not age well. I actually groaned at that, like “C’mon, Ernie,” as if this dude who’s been dead for decades could hear my plea to be less racist because it’s not a good look.
One thing that bugs me is there’s a story arc where Nancy gets a monkey. The first strip in that sequence, which explains how Nancy got the monkey, is blown up to fill up a whole page (this is a recurring aesthetic thing), but it appears after the second and third strips. At first I thought it was just amazing dream logic, like “Ok, Nancy has a monkey now, let’s just roll with it,” and was kinda disappointed that wasn’t the case.
Speaking of Nancy, apparently the guy who took over the strip gave Sluggo a rather intense backstory a few years ago. It’s his strip and all, but I think the mysteries of how Sluggo survives is not for mortal men to answer.
The most grating thing about the current strip is the relentless baby boomer nostalgia from Nancy’s aunt Fritzi Ritz which makes no sense for someone who’s around 25 (my guess for someone who used to be an unmarried flapper girl in the 1920s). Well, Wikipedia says she’s actually in her 50s based on specific references. I think it’s more likely people who make cartoons just never updated their cultural references (how fucking old are Doc McStuffin’s parents if they remember disco?) and don’t give a shit about timeline inconsistencies. My headcanon is that Fritzi Ritz is 25 in 2017, and grew up in the 1950s, and occasionally gets together with Blondie Bumstead to reminisce about their flapper days in the 1920s, which also happened.