Barnabyby Crockett Johnson
A legendary comic strip finally given the Fantagraphics treatment.Before authoring one of the most beloved children’s book series of all time Harold and the Purple Crayon cartoonist Crockett Johnson created the comic strip Barnaby for over ten years (1942 to 1952). Its subtle ironies and playful allusions never won a broad following, but the adventures of 5-year-old Barnaby Baxter and his fairy godfather Jackeen J. O’Malley was and is a critical favorite.Fantagraphics will introduce the wonders of Barnaby to a new generation of children and parents alike. Co-edited by Johnson biographer Philip Nel (Dr. Seuss: American Icon) and Fantagraphics Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds, with art direction by graphic novelist Daniel Clowes (Ghost World), this five-volume Barnaby series will collect the entirety of the original newspaper strips from 1942-1952. The first volume will collect all the strips from 1942 and 1943.Barnaby revolved around a precocious five-year-old named Barnaby Baxter and his fairly godfather Jackeen J. O’Malley. Yet O’Malley, a cigar-chomping, bumbling con-artist and fast-talker, was not your typical protector. His grasp of magic was usually specious at best, limited to occasional flashes, often aided and abetted by his fellow members in The Elves, Leprechauns, Gnomes, and Little Men’s Chowder & Marching Society.Barnaby’s deft balance of fantasy, political commentary, sophisticated wit, and elegantly spare images expanded our sense of what comic strips can do. With subtlety and economy, Barnaby proved that comics need not condescend to readers. Its small but influential readership took that message to heart.
Gr 5 Up—Originally published as a daily newspaper strip, albeit in small circulation, this collection introduces the daily expostulations and exasperations of preschooler Barnaby Baxter and his rotund, inappropriate fairy godfather. Mr. J.J. O'Malley uses his cigar as his magic wand and has a host of acquaintances from the magic world that casually abuts our own: a prankster leprechaun, a morose ghost, and other members of the Elves, Leprechauns, Gnomes, and Little Men's Chowder and Marching Society. The adventures are very much of the time in which they were written, with references to wartime rationing, scrap-metal drives, and machine politics, as well as many casual pop-culture allusions that may escape today's readers, but the chatty glossary at the back will help. The artwork is redolent of the ligne claire school, with little shading and with a slight stiffness to the characters' positioning. The humor can be a slow burn, immune to the gag-a-day requirements of many newspaper strips, with a cumulative effect causing an unexpectedly familiar chuckle every few pages and a sense of delight as the ever-expanding cast comes together en masse. Highly verbal and quietly unexpected, the strip is a clear antecedent of the sort of comic situations experienced by Calvin and Hobbes-and the visuals predict Johnson's own Harold with his purple crayon, but with a peculiar picaresque aggregation as each story line tumbles almost imperceptibly into the next chaotic chapter. Cleverly absurd, with solid contextual reference material to aid readers.—Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH
What People are saying about this
Meet the Author
Crockett Johnson was the pen name of cartoonist and children’s book illustrator David Johnson Leisk (October 20,1906–July 11, 1975). He is best known for the Harold series of books begun with Harold and the Purple Crayon and for the comic strip Barnaby. He was married to the children’s book author Ruth Krauss, with whom he collaborated on several books, including The Carrot Seed.
Daniel Clowes is a celebrated graphic novelist, Academy-Award nominated screenwriter, and frequent cover artist for the New Yorker. He lives in Oakland, CA. He is
a multi-Harvey, Eisner, and Ignatz Award winner, and his papers were recently acquired by the University of Chicago library.
Eric Reynolds is the Associate Publisher of Fantagraphics Books and lives in Seattle, WA.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >