OLIVIA JAIMES, the young cartoonist who has thoroughly revivified “Nancy” since taking over the 80-year-old strip in April, will make her first public appearance next week at a burgeoning comics festival in Ohio.
Jaimes, who has been protective of her identity since inheriting the popular comic, will appear at the four-day Cartoon Crossroads Columbus festival that begins next Thursday, according to event organizers.
“Olivia Jaimes” is the nom-de-toon of a cartoonist who has chosen not to reveal professional details about herself. Andrews McMeel Syndication executives hired her to bring a “21st-century female perspective” to “Nancy” after being impressed by her webcomics.
“The CXC organizers went to great lengths so I’d feel comfortable at the event,” Jaimes told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs about her festival session. “The panel’s happening in a room that seats only about 40 people, and they’re coat-checking all phones and recording devices at the door.
“What I’m saying is: If you aren’t one of those 40 people and don’t want to be separated from your phone just to see me, don’t stress about it — I’m pretty boring in person,” she adds wryly. “But if you do jump through the hoops, I’ll be touched and honored to answer your questions [in this format]. As always, the right balance between connecting with fans and maintaining personal boundaries is my lodestar.”
John Glynn, the president and editorial director of the Andrews McMeel syndicate, begs to differ with Jaimes’s self-characterization. “It may be hard to believe,” he said, “but Olivia is even better in person than she is in Nancy form.”
“I’m excited for the CXC audiences,” Glynn added. “Olivia is the pointy-haired enigma that they’ve been waiting for.”
Festival organizers were thrilled to land such a rising star.
“Getting such an important, in-the-moment cartoonist like Olivia is a big deal for us,” CXC executive director Tom Spurgeon said. “Olivia is funny, she’s a talented artist, and her approach to ‘Nancy’ both breaks away from — and pays homage to — the great Ernie Bushmiller. She’s a dream guest.”
Nancy debuted on the comics page in 1933 in the United Feature strip “Fritzi Ritz,” and the renamed gag comic “Nancy” was written and drawn for more than a half-century by Bushmiller, an Eisner Hall of Fame cartoonist under whom the strip’s client list grew to nearly 900 papers.
Jaimes has infused “Nancy” with a clever blend of meta humor and nods to modern technology, recently prompting the meme “Sluggo is lit.”
More than that, Glynn said, “Olivia is lit.”
Featured guests at this year’s CXC will include cartoonists Keiler Roberts, Dustin Harbin, Liana Finck, Georgia Webber and author/editor Mark Siegel.