on February 27, 2006
I'm not sure what Milt Gross would have made of contemporary critics and their claim that he was the father of the modern graphic novel. I'm guessing his reaction would have been akin to A HARD DAY'S NIGHT director Richard Lester's famous reply to MTV. (When the music network hailed him as the 'Father of Music Videos', Lester responded by insisting on a blood test!)
One of the great American humorists of the 20th Century, Gross was a brilliant New York-based newspaper cartoonist whose creations included DAVE'S DELICATESSEN, BANANA OIL, THAT'S MY POP, PETE THE POOCH, OTTO AND BLOTTO, COUNT SCREWLOOSE FROM TOOLOOSE, and GROSS EXAGGERATIONS - classics, all. His original, wildly cartoony drawing style and hilarious "Yinglish" dialogue, still funny after three quarters of a century, held not a hint of modern-day pretentiousness. Comparing him to Frank Miller and Art Spiegelman can only demean him. (Sorry, fanboys!)
HE DONE HER WRONG is a bona fide classic, like all Gross' books - and one that seems impervious to time, since it was deliberately anachronistic from the git-go. Originally a burlesque of Lynd Ward's wordless woodcut novels of the 1920s, that point of reference is lost on modern readers because, like Lewis Carroll's song parodies, the spoof has become more famous than the original, (a felicitous turn of events!)
This book was notoriously censored (and re-titled HEARTS OF GOLD) when it was reissued in 1983, further indication - as if we needed any more - of America's contempt for its own cultural legacy. Luckily, the wise folks at Fantagraphics will publish the restored, uncut version - rather than dignify all the self-appointed P.C. Thought Police out there. (You KNOW who you are!) Hopefully - although it's a facsimile of the first edition from 1930 - they'll find a way to include Al Capp's affectionate tribute to Gross from his introduction to the 1963 edition.
Also, hopefully, it'll pave the way for the wholesale republication of other Gross classics - like NIZE BABY, DUN'T ESK, FAMOUS FIMMALES, I SHOULDA ATE THE ECLAIR, HIAWATTA WITT NO ODDER POEMS, DEAR DOLLINK and DE NIGHT IN DE FRONT FROM CHREESMAS - all of which have been too long out-of-print.
A definitive, coffee table art book on Gross and his contributions to American comic strips and animated cartoons is long, long overdue [UPDATE: see "The Complete Milt Gross Comic Books and Life Story" IDW 2010]. For more on Milt Gross, visit Shane Glines' excellent website: Cartoon Retro, and the ASIFA Animation Archive.
The publisher here has given us a pretty good overview of this work in their synopsis and our one reviewer has given us a wonderful history of this great good. I will refrain from doing a book report here. I will say though, that this is one of the most delightful works I have had the pleasure of reading over the years. I first encountered this work in the early 1960s and have off and on over the years read it again and again. As the author so well puts it "The Great American Novel Told Without Words." Ths illustrations are of course pure Gross and there is humor in every frame, from the first to the last. This is certainly a work that proves that a picture is worth a thousand word, although in this case, the pictures cover many more words than the saying goes. I am delighted to see that this one is in print again and hopefully some of the author's other work will be also reprinted soon. We will be much richer for it. I highly recommend this one.
on January 13, 2006
Everything the publisher says about "He done her wrong" is true, though it omits Goss's own description: "The Great American Novel. And not a word in it--no music, too."
All I can hope is that someone will start reprinting Gross's words, too. He was as adept at dialect humor as he was at cartooning and was a famous man in his day--my father still recalls the opening of "Hiawatta wit no odder pomes". Search the used book shelves for the non-adventures of his Lower East Side narrators in books like "Nize baby" and "Dunt Esk!"--they're guaranteed to make you like the Keeng in "Nize Baby's" version of Romplesealskin: "extrimmingly jubilious, wot he robbed gliffully de hends."
on September 4, 1997
Gross was one of the geniuses of American cartooning. This satire of the then popular novel-in-wood-cuts is a masterpiece of inspired silliness, one of the first graphic novels. Under the title "Hearts of Gold" it was reprinted in an expurgated paperback version. Presumably this Dover edition restores the censored sequence in a Harlem night club
on April 12, 2005
This is one of the greatest books ever written! Milt Gross is right up there with George Herriman and Bill Watterson. He's truly one of the best cartoonists of all time, and this is his "wordless novel", not unlike the comic strip in the Nickelodeon magazine: "Scene But Not Heard/ by Sam Henderson". Why aren't they coming out with a book of Gross' comic strips? (Nize Baby, Banana Oil, That's My Pop, Count Screwloose etc.) Well, this is a great book, nonetheless.
on October 24, 2011
Welcome to the wacky world of Milt Gross, which has withstood the test of time. Most remembered are his dialect stories (Nize Baby), but I enjoy his drawing, particularly the old cartoon strips (Dave's Delicatessen; Louie Dot Dope). His humor defies description, but the word "unique" comes to mind.
Amazon has it. Go for it.
on September 5, 2015
Single paneled comics strung together to tell a story not unlike a silent film. Milt Gross drew a world full of heroes, villains, damsels in distress, and big noses. I read it in 1 sitting, but went back to look at the complex, but deceptively simple looking art work. There are a few gags that wouldn't fly today.