Friday, September 28, 2012

Nancy by Jerry Scott

After Ernie Bushmiller passed away in 1982 his comic strip Nancy went through numerous hands. Mark Lasky and Al Plastino briefly took over, but in 1984 the strip's duties went to Jerry Scott, who drew the comic for more than 10 years.

Scott initially drew Nancy in Bushmiller's style, but over time he began to draw the strip in his own style. The strip's art became looser, and Nancy herself became more energetic, almost like a girl version of Calvin. Sluggo was also redesigned, wearing a backwards cap like many cartoon boys were depicted at the time.

Another notable aspect is that Aunt Fritzi disappeared. Scott initially drew her but later in his run he turned her into an off-screen character, appearing only as dialogue balloons pointing off-panel.

The strip's new style angered many Bushmiller purists as a result. So the syndicate editors probably made a sigh of relief when Scott left the strip, having gained success with his own titles Baby Blues (with Rick Kirkman) and Zits (with Jim Borgman). Guy Gilchrist was hired to take over the strip, bringing the style back to its roots. Despite its decade-plus run on the strip, hardly anyone remembers that Jerry Scott worked on this strip.


rodineisilveira said...

Charlie Brubaker,

I could notice how Jerry Scott modernized the Nancy comic strip in the 80s and 90s.
But, after that Guy & Brad Gilchrist took over this same strip, they recovered the old charm that the late Ernie Bushmiller employed on the strip.
I remember of having read on a Brazilian newspaper which Madonna is a loyal fan of this strip. On this same newspaper, I also remember of a commentary which Madonna made about Nancy: "Besides she having that silly face, she wasn't nothing silly."
Here in Latin America, Nancy is known as Periquita.

Mike said...

There's a delicate balance involved in taking over a strip. You need to honor the basics without being so overawed that you simply repeat the old gags over and over. I think Jerry over-reached and was better off doing his own strips rather than trying to honor someone else's vision.

By contrast, Staton and Curtis are playing with Dick Tracy but doing a nice job of honoring the tradition while staking out their own territory. And Ces's work at Sally Forth is remarkable - the subtexts in that strip are astonishing and yet somehow the basics of the strip survive.

Brubaker said...

That's an apt summery.

I remember Scott saying in an interview that he never liked the original Bushmiller strips. Based on that, I don't think he even tried to honor the original vision, and pretty much treated it as if Nancy was his own strip.

Yowp said...

The first time I noticed Scott's strip, I thought "At least someone's trying to do something funny with it for a change."

rodineisilveira said...

Charlie Brubaker,

I've found on the Ger Apeldoorn's blog, The Fabulous Fifties (, an interesting topic about the Nancy comic strip (the original by Ernie Bushmiller) which he included today on his blog.
Enjoy to see this topic, clicking on the Nancy and Ernest Bushmiller labels.
I wish you good luck!

Michael Sporn said...

I once aproached the syndicate about getting the rights to Nancy for an aniamted series. They were basically going to give it to me and would come in as a partner. Unfortunately, I was somewhat innocent at the time and was unable to sell it to any of the Networks. I think everyone thought of Nancy as the Ernie Bushmiller character and couldn't see the new strip that was there in front of them.

Brubaker said...

It would have been interesting to see your take, Michael.

Nancy was animated a few times. Terrytoons did a couple of cartoons in the 1940s, and Filmation animated them in the 1970s.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

In the comment section I replied to Rodine that I always likes Scott's version. Maybe not much of an hommage, but a darn funy strip and very well drawn.

The Unflattered said...

I've heard the argument about how Gilchrist "recovered the old charm", but I disagree profusely. If there's one thing about Bushmiller, it's that he was a rendering machine. Making something that closely approximates his original style only works when the artist is really capable (like Roger Langridge & his Popeye take). I don't feel that AT ALL with Gilchrist. Bushmiller's visual shorthand was honed to a razor's edge. Every panel of Gilchrist's just screams "poor imitation". At least Scott's work had a sure line.

Neither of them get the humor right, but neither did the Stanley stuff.

Bushmiller FOREVER!!!!!!!

Andy B said...

I preferred Scott's strip to the ones that came before or after it. Seemed funnier and Nancy seemed to have more spunk.

Aaronibus said...

Thanks for sharing these Nancy Sundays by Jerry Scott. The Boston Herald was running the strip daily under Scott but for some reason declined to carry the Sunday strips. A friend of mine once said he appreciated that Scott gave Nancy a "punchline" in every strip. Scott's take was definitely funny and exciting visually. A shame we didn't get Scott's version of Nancy around the time Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network were on the rise, as an animated version based on Scott's work would've been really good.

Daniel said...

Indeed, thanks for posting these! I was born in '79, so I grew up with the Jerry Scott version. For a kid that couldn't get enough Calvin and Hobbes, I remember enjoying his modern Nancy. When the Gilchrist reboot happened, I drifted away, unimpressed.

Something reminded me of the comic today. Had to do a little Googling..

Leah said...

I found my way here because I remember a particular Nancy strip which must have been Scott's work, one in which Sluggo tells Nancy that Luke Perry puts on his pants one leg at a time like everyone else, and Nancy responds by sighing over "Luke Perry's pants!" His untimely death reminded me. I haven't managed to find it online.