Would you folks like some GOOD news? A great comic strip of the past by a great female cartoonist is finally getting a reprint edition. Shary Flenniken‘s gorgeous Trots and Bonnie is getting a collection this fall from New York Review Books. Bonus: Introduction by Emily Flake!
Flenniken’s strip ran in National Lampoon from 1972 to 1990. Drawn in an exquisite pastiche on the classic comic strip style of George McManus (Bringing Up Father) and the like, it was a slyly whimsical take on feminism, hippies, the counterculture, and more. The strip features Bonnie, a naive teen, and Trots, her cute dog, and oh, the scrapes they get into. It was much admired in its day, but there has never, ever been a collection of it.
Flenniken was a rare woman contributor to the National Lampoon, but a valued one — she once served as the magazine’s editor. During the endless arguments c. 1970-2000 about whether women ever made good comics (yes), Flenniken’s name would often be submitted as an example… but she was rarely mentioned the way she should have been: one of the best cartoonists of her time, full stop.
A Trots and Bonnie reprint has often been seen as a holy grail for strip-reprint publishers. Over the last decade or more, whenever someone picked my brains on lost treasures to republish, Trots and Bonnie was always the first title out of my mouth. In fact, I think when I was lunching with NYRB’s Lucas Adams before the line launched, and he asked about little-known gems they could search for, I said “Trots and Bonnie” before the sentence was out of his lips. Finally my dream has come true!
Why the long delay? Well I once asked Flenniken herself about this, when she was a guest at a Big Apple Con, and I think she just wanted to make sure she had the right publisher. I know she did get approached many times over the years.
Given the sterling quality of NYRB’s comic volumes, I think she made the right decision to wait.
“Trots and Bonnie is hilarious, poignant, raunchy, gorgeously drawn, and more relevant than ever. Shary Flenniken is an absolute genius.” —Roz Chast
In the 1970s and 1980s, National Lampoon was home not only to some of the funniest humor writing in America but also to many of its best cartoons. One of the greatest was Trots and Bonnie by Shary Flenniken, a comic strip that followed the adventures and mishaps of the guileless teenager Bonnie and her wisecracking dog, Trots.
Bonnie stumbles through the mysteries of adulthood, as Flenniken—one of the few female contributors to National Lampoon—dissects the harsh realities of American life. Dating, sex, politics, and violence are all confronted with fearlessness and outrageous humor, rendered in Flenniken’s timeless, gorgeous artwork. After all these years, they have lost none of their power to shock and amuse.
This collection, handpicked by Flenniken and with an introduction by the New Yorker cartoonist Emily Flake, is the first book of Trots and Bonnie ever published in America, a long-overdue introduction to some of the most stunning and provocative comics of the twentieth century.
You can pre-order Trots and Bonnie from Bookshop.org here.