Hallowe’en Countdown V, Day 30

« Every time I go to Oona Goosepimple’s spooky old house something SCARY happens to me! » — Nancy

Back in the blog’s early days, my partner ds, wrapping up her tribute to John Stanley, stated:

« And I haven’t even mentioned Stanley’s Nancy, nor her friend (and my favourite character) Oona Goosepimple. Next time… »

Well, that time has come. Despite my deep and enduring love of John Stanley, I never could warm up to what’s generally considered the cornerstone of his œuvre, Little Lulu. It’s hardly Stanley’s fault: I just happen to dislike Lulu creator Marjorie ‘Marge’ Henderson Buell‘s visual conception of her characters.

On the other hand, I’ve always been in thrall to Ernie Bushmiller‘s world. Purists will, and surely have, objected to the bold liberties that John Stanley took with Nancy and Sluggo, but I don’t care a whit. This collision between the singular visions of a pair of cartooning geniuses is every bit as delightful as I might have hoped.

Night Howls first appeared in Nancy and Sluggo no. 174 (Jan.-Feb. 1960, Dell). It was reprinted in Nancy, Volume 4: The John Stanley Library (2013, Drawn & Quarterly). Script and layout by John Stanley, finished art by Dan Gormley.

One more short one?

The Ghost Story first appeared in Four Color no. 1034 – Nancy and Sluggo Summer Camp (Sept.-Nov. 1959, Dell). It was reprinted in Nancy, Volume 2: The John Stanley Library (2009, Drawn & Quarterly). Script and layout by John Stanley, finished art by Dan Gormley.
Fancy, uh? This is Nancy, Volume 2: The John Stanley Library (2009, Drawn & Quarterly); meticulous series design (and covers) by Gregory ‘Seth’ Gallant. Now if only D&Q would finish building the library, or at the very least give us Kookie and Dunc & Loo!
In 1975, when fandom movers and shakers Robert Overstreet and Donald Phelps visited Stanley in his home, « … he dug into a closet, and said, ‘I have something that might interest you.‘ He pulled out the roughs for the first Oona Goosepimple story for Nancy. Stanley told Phelps he could keep it. (Actually, it was the script for an unpublished story). » [ from the late Bill Schelly‘s illuminating Stanley bio, Giving Life to Little Lulu (2017, Fantagraphics). ]


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!