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OH SKIN-NAY in The Post Standard/Herald-Journal

Updated May 22, 2007

13 May 2007
The Post Standard/Herald-Journal

American comics, as an art form, have been around now for more than a century. I've been around for a bit less, but still, I've seen my share of comics history. Some of it was as it happened, and a lot of it was through reprint volumes.

"Pogo," "Peanuts," "Krazy Kat," "B.C.," "Dick Tracy" - the shelves of Comics Central are lined with the usual suspects. But even more exciting, publishers today are excavating more rarified relics from comics' distant past.

"Oh Skin-nay! The Days of Real Sport Drawn and Quarterly"; $24.95.

Take for example, Drawn and Quarterly's latest tome: "Oh Skin-nay! The Day's of Real Sport" by Clare Briggs with verses by Wilbur D. Nesbitt. Not exactly on my short list for archiving, but it turns out to be a charming look at a past that was quaint, even in the year of its original publication (1911, in case you're interested). The strip, a look at 1880s America, as seen by an average 12-year-old kid (the usually off-panel Skin-nay), tackled such contemporary controversies as playing post office, the last day of school, Sunday picnics and the like.

The book in question is a facsimile edition of a 1913 collection of the strips, accompanied by short verses elaborating on the day's theme. It's a fun, low-key and nostalgic trip through a period long gone. Today's reader might look askance at a few of the strips, politically incorrect (a la Mark Twain) as they are, but they still reflect an innocence that seems to be absent from contemporary life.

The book is rounded out by an afterward by comics historian Jeet Heer profiling Briggs' career.

Featured artist

Clare Briggs

           Featured product

Oh Skin-nay!

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