Reviews and Remembrances

We ran an obituary for cartoonist Jerry Palen last week. But…


Many people knew him as a fellow rancher, others through his iconic characters Elmo and Flo in his syndicated comic strip “Stampede,” the most widely syndicated cartoon in both the U.S. and Canada.

Still others will remember Jerry Palen as the sculptor, artist and general all-round good man who represented the cowboy way of life and quintessential Wyoming.

Regardless of they knew him, all of those contacted agreed that the loss of Palen at the age of 78 on Nov. 25 left a crater-size hole in the lives as his friends and fans.

Friends, fans, and fellow ranchers remember Jerry Palen for Cowboy State Daily.


We also have mentioned the Life As I See It book and Exhibit.

Johnson and Floyd are two examples of the wonderful humor, wit, imagination, and insight that fill the anthology, and they also represent its central frustration. The comics are constantly gesturing to, rebelling against, and ultimately being shaped by the conditions of white supremacy and domination. Even at their funniest, there’s a visible exasperation and coping by humor within these cartoons.

Zito Madu, at The Nation, has a more in-depth review of the book.


A new history book of American comics is out.


In American Comics, Jeremy Dauber, the Atran Professor of Yiddish Literature, Language, and Culture, takes readers through the fascinating, but little-known history of the medium. He starts with the Civil War and cartoonist Thomas Nast, creator of the iconic images of Uncle Sam and Santa Claus; then moves on to the golden age of newspaper comic strips and the first great superhero boom; the moral panic of the Eisenhower era, the Marvel Comics revolution, and the underground comix movement of the 1960s and ‘70s; and, finally, into the 21st century, taking in the grim, gritty Dark Knights and Watchmen, alongside the rise of the graphic novel by acclaimed practitioners like Art Spiegelman and Alison Bechdel.

Columbia University interviews author (and Columbia professor) Jeremy Dauber.


Unless you’ve been at Daily Kos since the early days, you may not realize how much of the front-page content originated in the Community…The site lacked a comic strip, however, until 2010, when Eric Lewis, aka ericlewis0, launched Animal Nuz

Lewis distilled current events, progressive political views, art, humor, and occasionally Daily Kos members into four panels of a comic strip every week from 2010 to 2016. The first strip, published on July 6, 2010, introduced a TV news desk format, along with news anchors Oliver the cat and Daisy the dog. The strip covered three election cycles, GOP-fabricated crises, and environmental disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, while crawls (strips of text) in each panel highlighted other news, real and imaginary, beginning with “whales to get krill vouchers.” This first strip is reprinted in full at the end of this story.

Besame remembers Daily Kos’ first exclusive comic strip for the site.


David Kunzle. Rebirth of the English Comic Strip: A Kaleidoscope, 1847-1870,
Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2021.
Hardcover: ISBN: 978-1-4968-3399-0, 472 pp., 309 b&w & 12 color illustrations. US $90.

… Only two of the chapters of The Nineteenth Century related to “England”–just 36-odd pages out of the total of 300–and in Rebirth, Kunzle expresses regret that “space restriction inhibited closer look at the English contribution,” especially given “the riches of Britain’s contribution to the comic strip” (x).

This richness is now given its due, with nearly all the main subjects first explored in 1990–and additional topics discovered in the intervening decades–examined with customary thoroughness and incisiveness; and all in the unmistakable prose style that has led so many of us to follow Kunzle into the serious study of comics…

The language is not preserved in the amber-like fixity of the formal “academese” past tense–it is living and present. It is often funny. It is emotive. From the very beginning to the charming and beautiful postscript at the very end (437). Kunzle is also a master of dropping in and out of different modes, such as a divergence into Victorian theatricality in the Prologue (xv-xvi), the “Once upon a time” (xi), or the excurses that appear in several chapters (50-52; 97; 112-113; 200; 410-412). This is to say nothing of the way Kunzle–and the publishers–allows the comic art to speak for itself for page after page (a fortunate byproduct of intellectual property law, and the presence of such work in the public domain, rather than in corporate hands).

Richard Scully reviews the book for The International Journal of Comic Art.


Now Available from Amatl Comix, A Landmark Critical Examination of
Black Representation in the History of Animated Motion Pictures! By Darius Gainer!

Like many of a certain age, Dr. William Nericcio grew up loving Speedy Gonzales.

“All of my early knowledge of other cultures was through Warner Bros. cartoons,” says Nericcio, who now works as an English professor at San Diego State University and has published academic papers exploring the Speedy Gonzales character. “I knew the French through Pepé Le Pew. I knew Mexicans through Speedy Gonzales. That type of imprinting is there forever. They won’t go away. What’s interesting though is what kinds of imprintings are happening now?”

These kinds of representations and subsequent mental impressions are at the heart of Darius S. Gainer’s “Black Representation in the World of Animation,” the latest “issue” of Amatl Comix.

The San Diego Union Tribune talks to the man behind the San Diego State University imprint.


It’s deadline for Jesse Springer, a Eugene-based cartoonist and graphic designer, who runs a cartoon every Saturday in The Register-Guard. I’m eternally curious what Oregonian topic Springer will pluck from the news so we may do a spit-take over the letters to the editor.

And so Springer brings you his greatest hits from the last quarter-century in his new book “Only in Oregon: 1995-2021: 26 Years of Oregon Political Cartoons.”

Pardon the triteness of the expression, but reading the book will make for a conflicted (and humorous) stroll down memory lane: September 1995, the Warner Creek area being logged after an arsonist roasted the forest, to September 2003 when Oregon’s classrooms were pathologically overcrowded, to April 2021 when it finally felt like we were returning to some degree of normal in these Covidien times only for that rug to be pulled out from under us.

The Register-Guard alerts Oregonians they can relive the recent past via cartoons.


Comics and the Origins of Manga reveals how popular US comics characters like Jiggs and Maggie, the Katzenjammer Kids, Felix the Cat, and Popeye achieved immense fame in Japan during the 1920s and 1930s.

Modern comics had earlier developed in the United States in response to new technologies like motion pictures and sound recording, which revolutionised visual storytelling by prompting the invention of devices like speed lines and speech balloons. As audiovisual entertainment like movies and record players spread through Japan, comics followed suit. Their immediate popularity quickly encouraged Japanese editors and cartoonists to enthusiastically embrace the foreign medium and make it their own, paving the way for manga as we know it today.

John Freeman, for Down the Tubes, reviews an oddity.