Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden awhile back wrote an essay entitled “How To Read Nancy” that uses a single strip of Ernie Bushmiller’s “Nancy” strip to illustrate several of the basic principles of comic construction. “Nancy” is a very basic strip in appearance and execution which makes the authors’ point all that more salient – even the most simple looking strips require a great deal of thought in composition and writing to be effective. The essay is relatively short and well worth a read for anyone who is interested in creating comics or in comic theory.
I’ve never been a big fan of “Nancy.” Some of the strips are funny, a lot of them to me are not very sophisticated. I find the drawing to be a little stiff (although befitting the time in which it was created.) That being said, I can acknowledge that Bushmiller was one of the ones who truly mastered the comic strip.
Good news: the “Nancy” strips are being reprinted in several volumes, and the “How To Read Nancy” book will be expanded to a full book next year. I’ll be excited to read it.
Here is the pdf for the original essay: howtoreadnancy