THE COLLECTED DOUG WRIGHT reviewed by Booklist

Booklist Review - The Collected Doug Wright

Booklist     |    Ray Olson    |    June 1, 2009

Approximately 18-by-11-and-one-half inches, height to width, its board covers sheathed in shiny red like a Christmas gift, with an oval portal in the front cover revealing an embossed figure of its subject’s most
famous creation, this is one impressive volume, and so are its contents. Wright (1917–83) created Nipper,
a kid strip that, while Peanuts and Dennis the Menace became cultural icons in the U.S., was Canada’s
favorite. Nipper (or Doug Wright’s Family, as it was retitled in 1967) markedly differed from its American
coevals. It had no written speech, its variable number of panels were stacked top-to-bottom, and its
children aged, albeit much slower than real kids. It wasn’t philosophical, psychological, or wisecracking
like Peanuts and Dennis. It showcased physical comedy as naturalistic as anything in the silent films of
Chaplin and Keaton. It was like Dennis in that it dealt with family life and was drawn to a T by a genuine
dab hand. Arriving at strip cartooning via advertising in his native Britain, Wright could render detail with
near-photographic verism (he especially liked cars, and the models front-and-center in Nipper changed
regularly), though never to show off his chops next to his cartoony, bald child hero (heroes as time went on
and Wright’s family grew), whose antics, however, are utterly realistic and all the more hilarious because
of it.

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