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Bill Griffiths talks the life and legacy of Ernie Bushmiller

"If you want to appreciate Nancy on a sort of kitsch level, feel free, but you’ll be missing what’s really going on"

I think it’s fair to say that there’s a pretty big disparity when it comes to comics’ relationship with biographies. There are plenty of graphic novel biographies on the lives of film stars, historical figures, activists, sports legends — even the guy who invented Tetris, for God’s sake. What there is a shortage of, however, is comics about…well, the people who make comics. For that matter, there are even fewer about the great minds of the near-bygone era of newspaper strip comics.

As fate would have it though, there are people like cartoonist Bill Griffith — creator of Zippy the Pinhead, and one of the few cartoonists who has been churning out hilarious, poignant, and clever daily comics strips for nearly half a century — whose obsession with Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy has lead to the publication of Three Rocks: The Story of Ernie Bushmiller, the Man Who Created Nancy.

For readers and fellow cartoonists alike, Bushmiller’s Nancy has been widely regarded as one of the cornerstones of formalism, humor, and entertainment in comics history, and Griffith’s personal passion for the cartoonist and his work shines bright through the new biography. Following Bushmiller from his teenage roots as a copy boy for the New York World newspaper to his soaring legacy through the panels of Nancy, Griffith unpacks a life of a cartoonist that offers a nuance akin to the same eponymous three rocks of it’s title. Following its debut at Comic Con International: San Diego just this year, Popverse was able to catch up with Hall of Fame inductee Griffith post-convention via email to ask about the process of researching — and cartooning in his own right — such an iconic life and strip.

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Chloe Maveal avatar
Chloe Maveal: Chloe Maveal is the Editor-In-Chief of the guerilla website The Gutter Review, and is a freelance essayist who specializes in British comics, pop culture history, and the subversive qualities of “trashy” media. Their work has been featured all over the internet with bylines in 2000 AD, The Treasury of British Comics, Publishers Weekly, Polygon, Comics Beat, and many others.
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