By Patrick Bérubé
Jun 18, 2010 - 8:06
The first time I actually read a Bringing Up Father comic strip was in Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers. Spiegelman had decided to reprint various classic strips which he found particularly adapted to the 9/11 situation. My first reaction after reading George McManus' strip was how still relevant was the topic and with that in mind I delved into this volume reprinting strips from 1913 to 1914, hoping that I would feel the same way for the rest of McManus' landmark creation.
For those who do not know this classic strip, Bringing Up Father is the creation of George McManus, which he drew for forty years. It is about Jiggs, an Irish immigrant who suddenly becomes rich and his wife, Maggie, who with her husband’s new fortune hopes to one day make it into the so-called high society. Unfortunately for her, even with all his money, Jiggs is still at heart a simple guy who prefers to hang at the saloon and enjoy a beer instead of trying to marry his daughter to a duke or to act like a nobleman.
I have to admit that I really enjoyed this volume of Bringing Up Father, a lot more than you would expect from an almost century old comic strip in any case. As I mentioned above, the topic alone makes for a universally appealing story and McManus' strip still remains funny even if its context is wildly different from today. He perfectly plays the differences between social classes and he was probably a keen observer since many of his character's behavior are dead on. Visually, he had from the start of the strip a very clear line and most of his characters were already well defined. It really helped me get into this book since many classic strips are quite different in their earlier days and somewhat harder to get used to.
The book in itself is also a part of why I enjoyed it. When reading older reprinted material, I appreciate when the design helps the content shine instead of overshadowing it. This is the clearly the case here as the book simply contain strips, a great introduction by R.C. Harvey and an essential annotation by comic historian Allan Holtz which really helped understand some of the early 20th century pop references.
If you are interested in comic history or if you like classic comic strips you should definitely check out this book.