PRINT December 2013

Books: Best of 2013

Art Spiegelman

Society Is Nix: Gleeful Anarchy at the Dawn of the American Comic Strip, 1895–1915 (Sunday Press), edited by Peter Maresca, is a staggering sixteen-by-twenty-one-inch (!) anthology of Sunday pages printed at the original broadsheet size, introduced when rotary color printing and American comics were both brand-new. The beginnings of any medium—before limits and definitions set in—are the most giddy and fertile; and seeing these hitherto-hidden treasures in their full-scale splendor invites the reader to literally take their measure and experience the shock of the new. Size does matter. So does the scrupulously reproduced color from a period when the printers were as jazzed by the new technology as the artists.

For the first time in their history, comic strips now actually have a history—with more and more works rescued from the slow-burning forest fire that is

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