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Barnaby, Volume 1: 1942-1943by Crockett Johnson
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Young Barnaby Baxter wishes on a star in hopes of gaining a Fairy Godmother. Instead, Barnaby gets a cigar-chomping, squat little man named Mister O'Malley who claims to be an expert Fairy Godfather. O'Malley is at best an inept Fairy Godfather, but soon Barnaby is caught up in nearly daily adventure, accompanied by an ever expanding cast of characters, including Gus the ghost and Gorgon the talking dog. For all the sweetness and silliness of the strips, they are consistently disrupted by the dark reality of the time when the strip began, in 1942. Air-raid warnings, Nazi spies, and rationing all seep into various plotlines. Along with concerns about the outside world, Barnaby's parents spend most of their time fretting about their son's obsession with what they believe is his imaginary Fairy Godfather, and the deep concern that Barnaby will not be normal. Johnson's strict and sharp lines, along with an ever-consistent typeface, give the strip a smooth and accessible appearance, appealing to both kids and adults. This first volume is also filled with the history of the strip and background on Johnson, giving testament to the weirdness and joy of childhood, and the eternal struggle to be yourself. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A legendary comic strip finally given the Fantagraphics treatment.
About 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, a multi-Harvey, Eisner and Ignatz Award-winner, is a Chicago native living in Oakland, CA, with his wife Erika. His many books include David Boring, Ghost World, Wilson, Ice Haven, Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, Caricature, and 2011's Mister Wonderful.Eric Reynolds is the Associate Publisher of Fantagraphics Books and lives in Seattle, WA.
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