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Portrait of Mark Newgarden

Adjunct Professor

Mark Newgarden

  • School of Art & Design
  • Illustration

How To Read Nancy

Co-Author: Paul Karasik

Everything that you need to know about reading, making, and understanding comics can be found in a single Nancy strip created by Ernie Bushmiller and published on Saturday, August 8, 1959.

How To Read Nancy reveals the syntax of a mass medium through the molecular deconstruction of a single comic strip. It also explores the benefits of deep reading, where focused contemplation reveals a subterranean world of hidden structures and ingenious choices.

Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden’s How To Read Nancy is part encyclopedia, part history, part biography, part treatise, part humor theory, and part how-to-be-a-cartoonist-in-43-easy-lessons-sorry-folks-no-refunds!

Cover of How To Read Nancy

How did you first come up with the idea for this work?
How to Read Nancy was originally published as an essay in 1988 and developed during a semester that my co-author and I were teaching a comics class together.

What was your research process like?
It was laborious. We interviewed dozens of people and combed private collections & archives worldwide for high resolution scans of hardcopy primary documents.

How long did you work on this before it was published?
Our book was literally decades in the making. The original 1988 essay became a staple in comics classes and we decided to expand it into a book length treatment. We thought it would be a sprint but the deeper we dug, the more there was to discover. It was almost another decade before we held an actual printed book in our hands.

Does this work relate to your role at FIT? If so, how?
How to Read Nancy relates directly to my teaching practice (comics, storytelling, comics history).

What was your biggest challenge? What was most rewarding?
The research and long-distance collaboration (Mark Lives in Brooklyn and Paul lives on Martha’s Vineyard.)

It was very rewarding to be recognized by our peers with an Eisner Award for the Best Comics-Related Book of 2018.

  • Professor at FIT since Fall 2021