About the Book
In The New Nancy Jeff Karnicky explores how today’s successful daily comic strips are flexible and relatable, and he uses Olivia Jaimes’s 2018 reboot of the long-running comic strip Nancy to illustrate the ways that contemporary comics have adapted to twenty-first-century technology and culture.
Because comic creation has become part of the gig economy, flexible comics must be accessible to both online and print readers, and they must quickly grab readers’ attention. Flexible comic creators like Jaimes must focus both on the work of producing comics and on building an audience.
Daily comics also must form a relatable connection with readers. Most contemporary comic creators cultivate an online persona through which they engage readers with specific identities, beliefs, and expectations. This work might form a mutually beneficial bond that results in a successful daily comic strip, but it risks becoming fraught, toxic, and sometimes even dangerous.
Jaimes cultivates a relatable persona in connection with longtime readers and new fans. Nancy finds its humor in both nostalgic objects (like cookie jars) and contemporary technological objects (like smartphones). Rebooted comic strips like Nancy directly confront the stereotypical representations that haunt the past of comics. Focusing on Nancy’s role in contemporary culture, Karnicky uses literary studies, cultural studies, and media studies to argue that Jaimes’s comic strip has something to say about comics, contemporary culture, and the intersection of the two.
Jeff Karnicky is a professor of English at Drake University. He is the author of Contemporary Fiction and the Ethics of Modern Culture and Scarlet Experiment: Birds and Humans in America (Nebraska, 2016).
“Extremely impressive. Jeff Karnicky demonstrates why Olivia Jaimes’s Nancy is a work of central importance. The book offers insights on the materiality of contemporary comics, including their labor conditions, their publication practices, and the ways they reflect current events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. . . . An important advance in the scholarly conversation about comics.”—Aaron Kashtan, author of Between Pen and Pixel: Comics, Materiality, and the Book of the Future