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October 11, 2011

Nursery Rhyme Comics

from the desk of Nursery Rhyme Comics editor Chris Duffy

I'd argue that Nursery Rhyme Comics is a one-of-a-kind book. As its editor, I'm inclined to believe that--where else will you get such a great variety of cartoonists bringing their imaginations to such classic material?  But it's also a fact that back in the Golden Age of comic books (the 40s and 50s), there were a handful of comic books that featured comics versions of nursery rhymes. Most of these were the work of Walt Kelly, who, even if he hadn't gone on to draw Pogo, would still be remembered for some of the best kids stories in comics--in Dell comics titles such as Animal Comics, Fairy Tale Parade, Brownies, and Mother Goose Comics.

I've read enough of Kelly's nursery rhyme work to have favorites--and to me his best work in this sub-sub genre were his "Animal Mother Goose" comics that ran in Raggedy Ann + Andy Comics in the mid-1940s. The recipe is simple: Cast the rhyme with animals (even when there are no animals in the original) and riff gently.

Pancake and calendar001
Sugar and spice001
Sugar and spice002

I think the cartoonists in Nursery Rhyme Comics carries on in this same winning tradition: They keep the rhyme's words intact and joyfully flesh out the details while never fighting against apparent meaning (when there is one) of the rhyme. And when there's no immediately clear story in the rhyme, Kelly and the artists in Nursery Rhyme Comics just make sure the reader has a very good time.

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