Cameo appearance by my fingers.

§ April 12th, 2024 § Filed under cerebus, nancy, sir-links-a-lot § 8 Comments

So I’ve had a mostly-working eye out for one of these for a while. One had been on the eBays with torn and missing pages, so I kept waiting for a copy that didn’t suck to show up on there for a halfway-reasonable price. And lo, my patience did pay off, as a complete copy of the Nancy Better Little Book from 1946 finally made an appearance:

This volume measures around 4 by 4 inches (maybe a little taller than it is wide). Whitman, the publisher, put out several books in this format, mostly under the name “Big Little Books” which may be more familiar to most of you.

Here’s a look at the spine:

And here’s the back cover:

The first page:

This is the beginning of the actual content, with a small text piece setting up the situation:

But aside the very occasional text piece like that, the book is all comics, one panel per page:

…which differs from most Big Little Books I’ve seen, which would have a piece of art on one page, facing a page full of prose. This has me curious whether the other Better Little Books listed on that back cover are similar in format. Especially the Popeye volume…I’m a sucker for that ol’ sailor man.

Anyway, that’s the latest addition to the Once Vast Mikester Comic Archives. Well, aside from everything else I’ve picked up recently.

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  • There was a new Dreadstar graphic novel just released, Dreadstar Vs. The Inevitable, available via Kickstarter. I gots mine (with a little squiggled signature from Steve Apollo himself, Jim Starlin, on the cover) and I kept meaning to write a litle something about it. But Chad Nevett wrote a lot of something about it, and there ain’t nothin’ there I can disagree with. Go read it, it’s quite the review.

    My personal, and much less in-depth, review: art’s great, the story is wafer-thin despite the obvious allegories, and it comes to a conclusion that I didn’t expect but oddly works anyway. Also, no Skeevo, so points off for that.

  • So Tom Ewing’s been writing a multi-part overview of Cerebus, which are all on one page here, or you can find them at the top of the sidebar in order on the individual posts. It goes deep into its qualities and its impact, good and bad, and this entire series of essays is worth consuming whether you were a Cerebus reader at any time, or just interested in the artform in general.

    I keep saying “I’m going to reread Cerebus one of these days.” Yes, I read it all, in mostly periodical form, mostly one issue at a time, one month at a time. (I started picking it up around issue 70-something, bought back issues back to 26, and have the first 25 in the multiple Swords of Cerebus paperbacks. Though I’m making progress in buying actual copies of the first 25 now!) Tom’s writings make me wonder if I want to make that a half-reread, stopping around 150 or so. …However, I feel like if I make that commitment, I’m going to have to see it through to the end.

8 Responses to “Cameo appearance by my fingers.”

  • Michael Grabowski says:

    Thanks for the link to Tom Ewing’s Cerebus reviews. I look forward to checking those out.

    I reread the whole magilla recently and it took about 5 years to find the time. Verdict: I’m glad I did, and I hope I get to do that again but it will be long while. Also. If you can read it from as many of the recently remastered phonebook volumes as possible, that will enhance your appreciation of the experience. I can barely stand to look at the yellow, muddy pages of my original comics, the Swords collections, or the early printings of the full books, but the art looks largely stunning in the new editions and the pleasure of seeing it that way I believe makes a difference in the overall experience.

    I think one can safely skip the text in the Reads section of the work, though some of it has resonance with the judge’s lecture at the end of Church and State. Likewise, I think you could skip the fine print Biblical commentary that dominates the second half of the Latter Days portion. Otherwise, it’s all worthy, in my view, if at times uncomfortable, but hey, on the second page of the first issue Cerebus reveals what kind of a jerk he will be throughout the series, and pretty much a significant theme of the work is that despite some attempts to be better, his selfish nature always wins out, and he pays the ultimate consequence as defined in the book’s theology. (The penultimate consequence is pretty shocking, though!)

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    See? I knew you’d be able to get pictures of the interior pages on here somehow!

  • rubber cat says:

    That Nancy panel with Clem is one of my favorites – the abruptness of this child who appears to live alone suddenly having a previously unmentioned family member, the name “Clem Clinker,” that he’s specifically and somewhat rudely introduced as Sluggo’s “hillbilly cousin,” Sluggo’s stilted explanation clearly establishing the premise for a week or two of hillbilly gags, that Clem’s first line of dialogue is simply “Hi'” with an apostrophe that seems to indicate his dialect although I’m not entirely sure how, and the lack of periods making this all seem a little abstract.

  • Thom H. says:

    I like that “Hi’,” too. I’m from Kentucky where there are no long “I” sounds to be found. I don’t know from whereabouts Clem hails, but I assume it’s generally the same there. In any case, I could immediately hear what Mr. Bushmiller was going for.

    In superhero comics — like Rogue from the X-Men — the shortened “I” sound is usually written as “ah.” But that would make it seem like Clem was laughing inappropriately. The apostrophe is an elegant alternative.

  • I’m happy you found that one, Mike. Dad’s folks were from Kentucky, if you need help with Clemspeak, let me know.

    Take care.

  • Snark Shark says:

    ““Big Little Books” which may be more familiar to most of you.”

    Yes, I owned a few and saw then often enough.

    “the back cover”

    I have heard of ALL of those, except Invisible Scarlet.

  • RAR says:

    There was at least one other all-comics Better Little Book, “Marge’s Little Lulu, Alvin and Tubby,” published in 1947. Though the emphasis on “Marge” (Marjorie Henderson Buell) might make one expect this to be a collection of her “Saturday Evening Post” cartoons, this actually contains stories from Dell’s “Four Color” by John Stanley.

  • RAR says:

    Oh, wait, there was another, “Draftie of the U.S. Army,” which you can see for yourself at the Internet Archive:

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