The word that comes to mind when I think about the comic strips of Jules Feiffer is this: soliloquy.
My Microsoft Word dictionary – hey, it’s convenient! – defines it as “the act of speaking while alone, especially when used as a theatrical device that allows a character’s thoughts and ideas to be conveyed to the audience.”
That sounds about right to me, because the best of Feiffer’s strips – known, incidentally, as “Feiffer” –usually consisted of one character looking at the reader – breaking the so-called fourth wall – and going on for six or eight panels. The results weren’t always funny, but they were always sure to be thought provoking.
This month, Fantagraphics published Explainers, the first of four dense collections of Feiffer’s entire run of weeklies in The Village Voice. This volume of 500 strips is from 1956 through 1966; the strip ran through 1998.
Oh, and he won a Pulitzer Prize for his comic strip, too.
Jules Feiffer is one of comics’ great characters himself. He famously got his start with Will Eisner, creating and drawing a children’s strip called “Clifford” and eventually writing during the last years of “The Spirit”’s original run in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Besides his long-running strip “Feiffer,” he might be best-known for his children’s work, from illustrating The Phantom Tollbooth and writing the original screenplay for the Robin Williams film, Popeye, to his book The Man in the Ceiling, which is being adapted as a musical by Disney. He also wrote the original screenplay for Carnal Knowledge, starring Jack Nicholson.
Feiffer’s also just completed his memoirs, which will be published in 2009.
I could keep going, but then you’d never get to hear from the man himself.
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© 2008 by Bob Andelman. All rights reserved.
June 1, 2008 at 7:59 am
Thank you, Mr, Andelman.
I feel honoured by your comment in my blog Tonnerre de Brest.
I was taking a look at your blogs and they are impressive. (And I thought that having to feed a blog and to satellites was hard, but, look at your blogs. What do you have, Thirteen?).
I will subscribe to your blogs and read (and listen!) to them. It is quite an improvement this podcast blogging. And thank you for your kind advice. I’ll stay tuned.
Being the writer of the Dark Horse book about Will Eisner, I must recommend you a Spanish book that I think is out of print but, who knows? The book is El eSPIRITu de los comics by Javier Coma. It’s publisher was Toutain and it is a historic and critic essay with many references to all the Spirit comics. Javier Coma is an authoritative voice in comic critics here in Spain, with more than forty books, novels and dictionaries portraying the evolution of the Comics Media and in general the American Pop Culture.
I know, it’s in Spanish and it is a book published in 1981, but it really help us in the 80s to have a complete picture of this great comic book author’s work.