Opinion: For the love of Nancy! Beckett/Bushmiller gag gets ‘em every time


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Back in the halcyon days of the 20th century, L.A. Times contributor A. S. Hamrah, along with the great illustrator R. Sikoryak, concocted a Hamrahesque gag so recondite it worked: an exploration of the striking similarities between the spare, absurd stage dramas of postmodern pioneer Samuel Beckett and the spare, absurd ‘Nancy’ comic strips of Ernie Bushmiller. Appearing in Issue # 15 of the late, lamented Hermenaut, and scandalously absent from the web ever since (which is the real point of this post), ‘The Beckett/Bushmiller Letters’ purported to be the newly discovered correspondence between the two creators.

If it was unintentional hoax, it is still proving to be an effective one after nearly a decade. Editor and Publisher reports with a straight face that R.C. Harvey’s Rants & Raves newsletter (also apparently with a straight face) has begun a new investigation into this intriguing, and heretofore totally unknown, literary friendship. Once again, though, the story has proven too good to be true. Tom Spurgeon suspects this thing’s as fishy as a makeshift rod and reel Sluggo would leave dangling while he catches a nap. Dan Nadel concludes that it’s as phony as a three-dollar bill from Rollo’s chauffeur. I can also attest that the Beckett/Bushmiller correspondence is entirely a product of the imaginations of bored Gen-Xers, back when they still had those.


The rumor about how Sluggo died from eating Pop Rocks and drinking Pepsi, however, is 100% true.

Update: E&P has updated its article, calling the article a ‘hoax,’ which it’s actually not, but it’s worth it for this observation:

‘Nancy’ has been perceived as a simple children’s strip by some and sort of existential by others.