There are some faces so iconic and unforgettable that just to see them is to make one smile. I think it’s safe to say that without a doubt, ”Nancy” a comic strip character created in 1938 by Ernie Bushmiller is one of them.
The artist Joe Brainard (1942-1994) created more than one hundred works using Nancy, and Siglio Press in Los Angeles collected fifty of them for the first time for inclusion in The Nancy Book which also features essays by Ann Lauterbach and Ron Padgett.
It’s hard to express just exactly what makes these works and the book so charming. Or, for that matter, what made the original Nancy herself so endearing.
Perhaps Ann Lauterbach sums it up best in her essay.
“Brainard’s Nancy works, many of which are simple collages, are an inventory of daydreams, a mobile landscape of identifications. Consider: Nancy gets to be a drawing by Larry Rivers, numerous paintings by de Kooning, a sexy blond, an interior decorator, rich, President Roosevelt (her head on Mount Rushmore), André Breton at eighteen months, a New York City building, Abraham Lincoln (as a stamp), a ball, and Art Nouveau. By inserting Nancy into these “public” frames — persons, objects, places, paintings — Joe Brainard gave us not only an intimate self-portrait, but also, because Joe/Nancy was conceived as “everyone”, he left us an astonishingly accurate, funny, and compelling portrait of ourselves.”
Ann Lauterbach – Joe Brainard & Nancy