A legendary comic strip finally given the Fantagraphics treatment.
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.
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, which began 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 is a celebrated graphic novelist, Academy-Award nominated screenwriter, and frequent cover artist for the New Yorker. He lives in Oakland, CA. He is
a multi-Harvey, Eisner, and Ignatz Award winner, and his papers were recently acquired by the University of Chicago library.
Eric Reynolds is the Associate Publisher of Fantagraphics Books and lives in Seattle, WA.
What People are Saying About This
I think, and I’m trying to talk calmly, that Barnaby and his friends and oppressors are the most important additions to American arts and letters in Lord knows how many years.