The Only Dirty Thing Ernie Bushmiller Ever Did

« On my entire street there were only two kids that went to high school… that was the equivalent in those days of making Phi Beta Kappa. »

On this, the one-hundred and thirteenth birth anniversary of the oft-misunderstood Ernie Bushmiller (23 August 1905 – 15 August 1982), was I going to go through a veritable mountain of Nancy strips, naïvely hoping to pare it down just the one? No sir, not me. Life’s too short.


A tidy bit of autobiography from the pen of Mr. B.


Instead, here’s an oddity that Ernie created, historians say, for the Dutch Treat Club* Yearbook (1961). Bushmiller referred to the often-imitated and bootlegged, now-famous cartoon as « the only dirty thing I ever did ».

I decided, a couple of years back, to colour the piece myself, and to restore Bushmiller’s signature. Can you believe the gall of some people? (Rhetorical question, I know.) Here at WOT, we firmly believe in proper authorial attribution.

Happy birthday, Mr. Bushmiller, and thanks for all the chuckles.

– RG

p.s. Thanks to Bushmiller scholar-cartoonist Mark Newgarden for doing the legwork as to provenance. I’m standing on the shoulders of giants, as usual! Oh, and since it’s quite relevant (and even if it wasn’t), if you’re a true-blue Bushmiller aficionado, you owe it to yourself to check out Messrs Paul Karasik and Newgarden’s « How to Read Nancy » (2017, Fantagraphics).

A portrait of Ernie from the brush of his esteemed colleague Frank Godwin.

*If you’re, er… qualified, it’s not too late to join the Dutch Treat Club!

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