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He Done Her Wrong: The Great American Novel
Synopses & Reviews
First published in 1930, the famously wordless He Done Her Wrong is Milt Gross' graphic masterpiece, the result of his prior collaboration with Charlie Chaplin on the 1928 silent-era film classic The Circus. Sharing the same goofy, over-the-top comic mayhem that was Chaplin's trademark, and preceding the expressive, cartoony art style of MAD magazine legend Harvey Kurtzman, all of He Done Her Wrong's hilarious slapstick, tragic heartbreak, heroism and villainy, character development, high emotions and raucous thrills somehow manages to take place, astonishingly, without a single word of text, or conversation, or even a footnote.
The story follows the convoluted misadventures of a naive frontiersman with superhuman strength exploited by a larcenous robber baron who eventually double crosses our hero and steals his girl. The pursuit leads to New York City where a sordid cast of cantankerous salesmen, officious government bureaucrats, bumbling hospital attendants, a lusty widow with a defensive Chihuahua and one angry barber wreak more havoc in our characters' lives than a hundred Little Rascals in a Marx Brothers film.
Born in the Bronx in 1895, Gross would go on to spend his teenage years working as an office assistant at the Hearst publication The New York Evening Journal. He befriended the paper's renowned comic strip bullpen that included such early 20th century comics legends as Tad Dorgan, Cliff Sterrett, Harry Hershfield and Tom McNamara, who allowed Gross to cut his teeth drawing background and dialogue lettering jobs on their strips. He eventually won space on the paper's sports page for his first large daily strip titled Kinney B. Alive, making its debut in 1916. The strip only lasted for one week, but subsequent efforts such as Frenchie, White Feitlebaums in the South Seas, Count Screwloose of Toulouse and the best-selling books Hiawatta Wit No Udda Pomes and Nize Baby asserted more staying power. Gross' stylized cartooning won the public devotion of such noteworthy fans as President Calvin Coolidge and Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. According to The Comics Journal, Gross's skillful work displays a "Fast-action style Furiously tangled line work A freewheeling onslaught of immensely droll squiggles apparently done at top speed Inspired slapdash like nothing else in the cartoon art of his time [Gross] was a master of graphic invention and a one-man comic riot."
He Done Her Wrong is a classic comics work, legendary among aficionados, and arguably the 20th century's first graphic novel. Fantagraphics Books is proud to put this back into print in a facsimile edition, unabridged, with newly designed covers.
"With a unique blend of high-velocity drawing and unabashed love of language, Gross remains one of the great cartoonists of the 20th century. One of his masterpieces was the innovative 1930 wordless graphic novel, He Done Her Wrong. Conceived in response to the wave of wordless picture story books such as Lynd Ward's God's Man, Gross blended elements from dime novels, the high drama of Ward's work and, of course, his own background in the Yiddish humor tradition to create a lengthy work of cartoon genius. It follows a typical story arc: lumberjack hero and dainty damsel fall in love until the slightly dim hero is tricked by the rascally villain, who succeeds in separating the lovers for much of the book. Eventually, the hero and his love are reunited and the villain defeated, but Gross takes the action from woods to city to cliffs and mansions and back again, never forgetting to make the whole thing extremely funny and suspenseful. Fantagraphics has produced a perfect facsimile edition of the original book, complete with an excellent essay by Paul Karasik. He Done Her Wrong should be on every graphic novel devotee's shelf and is, in fact, as Gross's original subtitle cheekily suggests, an honest-to-goodness great American novel." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
An acknowledged masterpiece of the form returns!
- Considered by many to be the very first graphic novel
- A legendary classic amongst fans
- The great American novel--without words!
- Advance reading copies
About the Author
Milt Gross was born in 1895 and died in 1953. Though he achieved fame in his lifetime as much for his scriptwriting and radio shows as his cartooning, he is now considered one of the early pioneers of the graphic novel format.
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