Relatable Urchins: Nancy by Olivia Jaimes

Relatable Urchins: Nancy by Olivia Jaimes

Nancy by Olivia Jaimes

Published: October 1st, 2019
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Pub
Genre(s): Comics
Format: Hardcover
Length: 144 pages

I’ve never read any of the classic Nancy comics, but her look is iconic. I feel like I could identify a Nancy comic from across the room by the shape of Nancy’s head alone. The fact that those comics were ubiquitous enough to become iconic but passé enough that I’d never read any of them is a fascinating contradiction.

Nancy is one of a handful of undead syndicated comics, kept running by a series of artists after the original artist died. It’s the sort of thing that newspapers carry by default for the sort of people who still get newspapers and read the comics section. That’s why the handoff to Olivia Jaimes was such a shock to the system; after decades of comfortable, predictable irrelevancy, Nancy was suddenly reentering the pop culture discussion and getting read and shared by young people.

One of the most interesting things about Jaimes is that she wanted to bring Nancy back to her original spirit while updating the trappings of the strip for modern times. Her predecessor had turned Nancy into a parade of cutesiness and made the strip toothless and unfunny. Jaimes’ vision of Nancy was as a stubborn little girl who is always scheming, in a strip packed full of absurd jokes that sometimes get a little meta.

The most famous Nancy image from Jaimes’ reign so far, “Sluggo is Lit“, is a meta joke about the cartoonist not wanting to do a strip and providing previews of upcoming stories, but it’s also a poke at the sort of people upset that Jaimes is updating Nancy with modern sensibilities. The only reason that anyone is talking about Nancy comics in 2019 is because Jaimes made them resonant for our times.

This collection includes strips from Jaimes’ first year of running Nancy. It has several laugh out loud moments throughout, and I find myself wanting to read more of the daily strip. There isn’t an overarching storyline to the collection. Instead, the strips are mostly just episodic hi-jinks or one-off jokes. Nancy does slowly but surely learn more about building robots in her robotics club, but that’s more about the comedic potential of Nancy building and controlling something mechanical.

If you’re looking for a good laugh from a strip that feels “relatable” without pandering, then you should definitely check out Olivia Jaimes’ Nancy.

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Full disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from NetGalley.

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