By Jules Feiffer (Fantagraphics Books)
Jules Feiffer has always been much more than “just a comic-book guy” even though his credits in the field sound and are suitably impressive. As well as working with Will Eisner on The Spirit, he created his own Sunday strip ‘Clifford’ (1949-51) before settling at the Village Voice.
Novelist, playwright, animator, children’s book creator (why isn’t there a single word term for those guys?) and screenwriter, he turned his back on cartooning in 2000, but the 42 year run of his satirical comic strip in The Village Voice ranks as some of the most telling, trenchant, plaintive and perspicacious narrative art in the history of the medium.
The strip, originally entitled Sick, Sick, Sick, then Feiffer’s Fables, before simply becoming Feiffer was quickly picked up by the Hall Syndicate and garnered a devoted world wide following, with many collections appearing over the years since the first book in 1958. His incisive examination of American society and culture, as expressed through politics, art, Television, Cinema, work, philosophy, advertising and most especially in the way men and women interact, informed and shaped opinions and challenged accepted thought for generations. They were bloody funny and wistfully sad too – and still are today.
Fantagraphics Books are collecting the entire run and this first volume of 568 pages covers the period from its start in October 1956 to the end of 1966.
Explainers is a “dipping book”. It’s not something to storm your way through but something to return to over and again. Fieffer’s thoughts and language, his observations and questions are fearsomely eternal – it is terrifying how many problems of the 1950s and 1960s still vex us today – and the Battle of the Sexes still breaks out somewhere every night. Moreover his expressive drawing is a masterclass in style and economy all by itself.
If you occasionally do Thinking and sometimes wonder about Stuff, this book should be your guide and constant companion… and it will make you laugh.
For more on the artist check out www.julesfeiffer.com
© 2007 Jules Feiffer. All Rights Reserved.