America's Sweetheart, Reimagined

8.6.2008

By Noah Michelson

>The Nancy Book (Siglio Press, $39.50), now available in stores, collects nearly 50 works by gay artist Joe Brainard, each starring two-dimensional American sweetheart Nancy sprung from her funny-page confines and cast in a series of surprising, often scandalous vignettes.

In Brainard's hands Nancy becomes an "acid freak," an androgyne lifting his skirt to reveal a petite line-drawn penis, and "an underground comic character" caught in an autoerotic frenzy with a cartoon vibrator humming in her mouth.

The startling discrepancy between what we expect -- or don't -- from the comic icon and how she is represented by Brainard evokes a delightful mix of nostalgia, discomfort, and deviant pleasure.

See more of Brainard's work at Popnography.

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