The Nancy Show: Bushmiller and Beyond, presented by The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum


On image text reads "Nancy Fest. May 24 to 25, 2024. Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum." The image also features the face of the comic character Nancy and her friend Sluggo from the comic strip titled Nancy.

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum presents The Nancy Show: Bushmiller and Beyond, celebrating the beloved and iconic comic strip Nancy. On view May 22–Nov. 3, 2024, the exhibit will feature original art, stunning color Sunday newspaper pages, photographs, merchandise and other artifacts celebrating Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy comic strip.

Bushmiller’s daily comic strip Nancy ran in American newspapers from 1938 to 1982 and reached a peak circulation of 880 papers in 1971. The strip starred eight-year-old Nancy, her friend Sluggo and Nancy’s aunt, Fritzi Ritz. Bushmiller purposefully wrote and designed his iconic characters and the world they lived in to communicate to the widest audience possible, understanding that a comic strip is a medium of mass entertainment. It was crafted with an eye toward simplicity and humor above all.

Despite its popularity, Nancy was never taken seriously. Bushmiller’s deceptively simple approach is exactly why many cultural elitists failed to understand Nancy. They missed the point. To appreciate the perfection of Bushmiller’s creation, readers must let their defenses down, step out of the role of critic, and accept it for what it is—a comic strip, pure and simple.

“The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is thrilled to share this wonderful exhibit with our audiences,” said Caitlin McGurk, Curator of Comics and Cartoon Art and Associate Professor. “Few strips serve as a better vehicle for understanding the essence and mechanics of cartooning than Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy. Plus, it’s just plain fun to read.”

The Nancy Show: Bushmiller and Beyond is divided into two sections. The Robinson Gallery focuses on Ernie Bushmiller’s life and work, and the Friends of the Library Gallery highlights a wide variety of artists who were inspired by Nancy, and the cartoonists who continued it after his passing.

In recent years, cartoon historians and aficionados have lauded Nancy for its zen-like qualities and have studied Bushmiller’s craft in detail. For over fifty years, Bushmiller continued his single-minded pursuit of the Perfect Gag. “I never quite seem to find it,” he admitted. But he sure came close. Many thousands of times.

Curated by Brian Walker, the exhibition will provide an in-depth look at the creative genius of Ernie Bushmiller and his impact on popular culture and the art of cartooning.

The Nancy Show has something for everyone,” said Brian Walker, exhibition curator. “The humor in Ernie Bushmiller’s masterfully crafted strips can be appreciated by fans of all ages. The artists he inspired have challenged the boundaries between comic art and fine art. Visitors will be both entertained and educated.”

Nancy Fest: May 24-25

Join us at Nancy Fest May 24-25, 2024 for a two-day celebration of Ernie Bushmiller and his iconic creation. The festivities start Friday with a reception to celebrate the exhibit opening and a program featuring curator Brian Walker. Explore the exhibit, enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres and refreshments from the cash bar. Come dressed as Nancy, Sluggo or Fritzi Ritz for a chance to win a prize for best costume! On Saturday, enjoy a day of Nancy programming featuring Bill Griffith (Three Rocks – The Story of Ernie Bushmiller the Man Who Created Nancy), Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden (How to Read Nancy) and many more.  Don’t miss the world premiere of A Morning with Ernie Bushmiller written by and starring Tom Gammill (comedy writer of Seinfeld, the Simpsons, Curb Your Enthusiasm). Nancy Fest and the reception are sponsored by the National Cartoonists Society and the National Cartoonists Society Foundation. Nancy Fest is co-sponsored by Andrews McMeel Universal and Scripps. 

Registration is required. For more information and to register, visit cartoons.osu.edu/events/nancy-fest/.