Nancy is an American daily and Sunday comic strip, originally written and drawn by Ernie Bushmiller and distributed by United Feature Syndicate. The character of Nancy, a slightly chubby and precocious eight-year-old, first appeared in the strip Fritzi Ritz about the airheaded flapper title character. Larry Whittington began Fritzi Ritz in 1922, and it was taken over by Bushmiller three years later.
On January 2, 1933, Bushmiller introduced Fritzi’s niece, Nancy. Soon she dominated the daily strip, which was retitled Nancy in 1938. Comics historian Don Markstein detailed the evolution, as the readership of Fritzi Ritz increased:
Bushmiller’s bold, clear art style, combined with his ability to construct a type of gag that appealed to a very broad audience, brought the strip to new heights of popularity — and his introduction of Fritzi’s niece, Nancy, in 1933, carried it higher yet. Two important developments occurred in 1938. Sluggo Smith, Nancy’s friend from the “wrong side of the tracks”, was introduced in January; and later that year, Aunt Fritzi’s name was dropped from the title of the daily strip, which continued as Nancy. At the same time, Bushmiller’s Sunday page underwent a similar change. Formerly, half of it had been devoted to Fritzi and the other half to her boyfriend, Phil Fumble. Phil’s half was taken over by Nancy. Years later, when newspaper space became tighter and cartoonists were no longer allowed whole pages to themselves, Fritzi’s half disappeared, and the transformation was complete. Fritzi Ritz was a bit player where she had formerly been the star.
Phil Fumble made a reappearance in the November 27, 2012 strip, and has become a regular character as of early January 2013, with the intention of furthering his relationship with Aunt Fritzi, including a hint at marriage.
Fritzi Ritz continued as a Sunday feature until 1968. At its peak in the 1970s, Nancy ran in more than 880 newspapers.
Al Plastino worked on Sunday episodes of Nancy in 1982–1983 after Bushmiller died. During that period, David Letterman showed on TV a Nancy panel with Plastino’s signature and made a joke about Plastino as a superhero name. (Letterman’s writers were apparently unaware that Plastino was known for his superheroes.)
The strip has continued to the present day by different writers and artists. Mark Lasky briefly handled the strip in 1983 until his death from cancer at age 29. The strip was handed to Jerry Scott in 1984, who drew the strip in a much different, more modern style than other adaptations. In 1995, Guy and Brad Gilchrist assumed control of the strip, returning the artwork to its traditional forms. The strip is now by Guy Gilchrist solo. The strip has an international popularity, especially in Japan and South America. It runs as Periquita in several dozen Spanish-language newspapers.
Bushmiller won the National Cartoonists Society’s Humor Comic Strip Award for 1961 and the Society’s Reuben Award for Best Cartoonist of the Year in 1976.
In 1995, the strip was selected as one of the 20 in the “Comic Strip Classics” series of commemorative U.S. postage stamps.
24 pages/strips Nancy 1939
42 pages/strips Nancy 1940
24 pages/strips Nancy 1944
15 pages/strips Nancy 1948
43 pages/strips Nancy 1949
44 pages/strips Nancy 1950
40 pages/strips Nancy 1951
13 pages/strips Nancy 1953
14 pages/strips Nancy 1958
25 pages/strips Nancy 1964
15 pages/strips Nancy 1971
28 pages/strips Nancy Various
25 strips 1941
11 strips 1942
8 strips 1943
13 strips 1963
4 strips various