Creator Olivia Jaimes Talks About The Reboot of 'Nancy'by Stephen Roth
It's been quite a ride since Olivia Jaimes took over creative duties for Nancy in April 2018. There have been positive reviews and glowing write-ups in The New York Times, Washington Post, Vice, and many other publications. There's been ongoing debate among Nancy fans about the strip's new direction, and Nancy's modernized sensibilities. There's even a trending hashtag, #sluggoIsLit, on Twitter. Most importantly, the 85-year-old strip has become relevant and topical again. As the Vice article mentioned, somewhat snarkily, "Nancy is, for the first time since the Eisenhower Administration, actually good."
GoComics recently caught up with Jaimes, who writes the strip under a pseudonym, to see how she is handling all the buzz and attenion just five short months into her tenure as the seventh artist to work on Nancy. Here's what she had to say:
GoComics: When did you first become familiar with Nancy? Was this a strip that you grew up with, or did you discover it later in life?
I knew it existed when I was growing up, but I only really got into it when I was in college and found a blog that posted single panels from Ernie Bushmiller strips in isolation. Even without context, the panels were hilarious.
GoComics: What do you find most appealing or interesting about Nancy, the character? If you were back in grade school, would you want her to be your friend?
I like the way she solves her problems. A lot of other children characters in the shows I watched growing up tapped into their imagination to have fun; i.e. those extended fantasy sequences where they have an adventure in their living room by pretending it's outer space or a prehistoric forest.
That's great, but not really Nancy. She's going to, very pragmatically, use real life things to get what she wants, which is usually food or attention.
I also like food and attention, but Nancy and I probably wouldn't get along if we were in grade school together. Nancy kinda has some growing up to do on the 'is a good friend to her friends' front. And grade school me had a lot of growing up to do there, too.
GoComics: How do you feel about the media attention that the reboot of Nancy has generated?
Grateful and humbled, which is a boring answer but true. Mostly, I try to pretend it doesn't exist, or I risk becoming incredibly full of myself.
GoComics: How about the reaction among Nancy fans? Have you had much interaction with them since April? Do you pay much attention to their comments (we love your Aug. 19 strip about the "exact right temperature to leave a nice comment")?
I get a very filtered version of the general sentiment from my friends, but otherwise try to avoid all comments and will tuck and roll out of the room the moment somebody starts to bring them up.
This doesn't mean I don't appreciate having fans (I DEFINITELY DO); it's just that, if I read too many nice things, I really will become way too pleased with myself and comics production will grind to a halt while I preen at myself in the mirror. Meanwhile, whenever I read a single unkind thing, I'm bitter about it for the next six weeks. So it's really more efficient for me to pretend only my editor and my parents are reading these, and then occasionally hear that "people liked the one yesterday" from my mom.
GoComics: With her fluency and familiarity with technology, Nancy is very much a child of our times. Her habits and interests seem like those of a typical eight-year-old kid in 2018. How are you able to write Nancy in that way, and do you have any sources of inspiration?
This is great to hear, because I've totally been winging it and writing Nancy as my own self-insertion. Inspiration for Nancy: me. The inspiration for Fritzi is also me. Sluggo is inspired by all the friends who have to put up with me.
GoComics: Before taking over creative duties for Nancy, how did you prepare? What did you find most challenging about reviving the strip?
Here's the most challenging thing: figuring out how big Nancy's eyes should be. I kept shrinking them over the summer without realizing it. Then I picked up an old Bushmiller collection from off my bedroom floor and was like, "whoops." I think the next step is for me to overshoot on the eye size, so she ends up having these deep alien orbs in the middle of her face. Stay tuned for this new artistic direction.
GoComics: You chose to write Nancy under the pseudonym of Olivia Jaimes. What led to that decision, and do you plan on remaining anonymous?
Yep. Anonymity is great and freeing.
GoComics: Much has been made in some articles about being "the first woman artist to draw Nancy." What do you think about that?
It's cool! I dig it.