Three Rocks, The Ernie Bushmiller Story – A Sneak Peek at Bill Griffith’s Graphic Biography

Bill Giffith has a few obsessions in his life. There is his lifelong preoccupation with observing human beings and commenting on the social implications of those people and their actions.

His enthusiasm for people has recently lead him into a second career as a graphic biographer.


Seemingly as far back is his passion for Nancy and Sluggo and Ernie Bushmiller.


Now these fascinations of Bill has lead him to create what may be his Magnum Opus
(at least until his next project, Bill has a habit of always topping himself).

From an interview early this year promoting his Schlitzie book:

Can you give us a preview of your next project?

I’ll just say that it’s a deeply researched biography of Nancy cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller–and the cartooning worlds he lived among in New York from the late 1910s to the 1970s–helped along considerably by interviews with Ernie’s still-living friend Jim Carlsson and the generosity of yourself in giving me access to interviews and research you and Paul did for How to Read Nancy. I’ll just add a line of mine from an introduction I wrote for a Nancy anthology: “Peanuts tells you what it’s like to be a child. Nancy tells you what it’s like to be a comic strip.”

“Deeply researched” describes all of Griffy’s historical offerings.


Recently we were wondering about the progress of the Bushmiller Project,
so we contacted a highly placed source inside the Griffith Observatory.

Our source, who wishes to remain anonymous, not only offered information,
but managed to sneak out some early rough images which we present here.


While not the final art, here is one cover proposal for the forthcoming
Three Rocks, The Ernie Bushmiller Story.

This also gives an idea about how Bill Griffith will use Ernie Bushmiller art in the book. Griffith uses Nancy and Sluggo to roam through the narrative to make footnote-like remarks; but Bill will not draw those characters.

All the drawings of Nancy, Sluggo, Fritzi, and other Bushmiller characters are drawn by Ernie. Some of the images have been repurposed, such as Nancy and Sluggo in the back seat above, but they are pure Bushmiller art.

But don’t fret, there is plenty of straight Ernie Bushmiller art and strips shining throughout the book;
as seen in this pre-publication page below showing a bit of Ernie’s early career.
And, of course, plenty of Fritzi and Nancy unaltered strips.


Back to that 2019 Nobody’s Fool interview:

I adopted the “fly on the wall” method in creating many scenes in the book. I always made sure I had the best evidence before doing this, but I took artistic license to flesh out interactions and events. After months of source reading and several key interviews I did with two people who knew Schlitzie in his later years, I felt I was well grounded enough to make educated guesses about how events would play out. Cartoonist’s intuition!

Bill uses that same judgement technique with the Ernie Bushmiller biography:

Three Rocks, The Ernie Bushmiller Story by Bill Griffith
is scheduled for a 2020 release from Abrams ComicArt.




9 thoughts on “Three Rocks, The Ernie Bushmiller Story – A Sneak Peek at Bill Griffith’s Graphic Biography

  1. cant wait to pre order this-Invisible Ink and Nobody’s Fool are classics of the graphic novel-Griffith is a genius

  2. I agree whole-heartedly! Griffith is a genius! He just gets better every year . . . funnier, more deftly ironic, more dazzlingly absurd. And his art has tightened up into a really classic comics style. America should wake up to his unique greatness. Viva Griffy!

  3. Oops! I forgot to say . . . But I really don’t care for Nancy one bit, in any way. The new-fangled Nancy Appreciation religion just leaves me mystified. I can read all the deeply trivial analyses and understand the concept, but I just can’t care! Nancy irritates me.

    And . . . big confession here . . . am I the only person in the world who has never cared at all for Peanuts? I don’t DISlike it, but I have never seen the profundity or the psychological and spiritual depths that are said to be there. I never laugh at it, either. This was my reaction right from the start, in the 50s and onward. Am I an insensitive moron?

  4. No Katherine, you are not a “moron”. I do wonder what does interest you in this area if anything?

  5. to Randolph Besch: To answer your question — Mister, you have no idea. I’ve been marinated in comics for almost my entire 72 years. It is easy for me to mention the ones that don’t interest me, because there are hundreds or maybe thousands that do. I’m being crowded out of my apartment by my collection of reprint books, and Sunday pages, and collections of clippings, etcetera. If I don’t care for Nancy or Peanuts, and therefore you can’t imagine what I DO like, that just shows how limited, pedestrian, and run-of-the-mill your tastes are.

  6. Randolph Beach simply said he wondered what interested Katherine Collins, not that he couldn’t imagine what she did like. Extrapolating that he has “limited, pedestrian, and run-of-the-mill” tastes from that misreading of his statement seems unnecessarily hostile.

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