Subversive, funny, and effortlessly droll, Jules Feifferâs cartoons were all over New York in the 1960s and â70sâfeatured in the Village Voice, but also cut out and pinned to bulletin boards in offices and on refrigerators at home. Feiffer describes himself as âlucking into the zeitgeist,â and thereâs some truth to the sentiment; Feifferâs brand of satire reflected Americansâ ambivalence about the Vietnam War, changing social mores, and much more.
Feifferâs memoir, Backing into Forward, like his cartoons, is sharply perceptive with a distinctive bite of mordant humor. Beginning with his childhood in Brooklyn, Feiffer paints a picture of a troubled kid with an overbearing mother and a host of crippling anxieties. From there, he discusses his apprenticeship with his hero, Will Eisner, and his time serving in the military during the Korean War, which saw him both feigning a breakdown and penning a cartoon narrative called âMunroâ that solidified his distinctive aesthetic as an artist. While Feifferâs voice grounds the book, the sheer scope of his artistic accomplishment, from his cartoons turning up in the New Yorker, Playboy, and the Nation to his plays and film scripts, is remarkable and keeps the narrative bouncing along at a speedy clip. A compelling combination of a natural sense of humor and a ruthless dedication to authenticity, Backing into Forward is full of wit and verve, often moving but never sentimental.
âJules Feifferâs original and neurotic voice. . . . reinvented comics in the 1950s and made possible whatâs now called the âgraphic novel.â His engaging new memoir is told in that same witty and perceptive New York cadence, mellowed and laced with wisdom. Heâs an inspiration.ââArt Spiegelman
About: Subversive, funny, and effortlessly droll, Jules Feiffer’s cartoons were all over New York in the 1960s and ’70s—featured in the Village Voice, but also cut out and pinned to bulletin boards in offices and on refrigerators at home.
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