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Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons Hardcover – 2 Jul 2012


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Review

...[A] revelatory new book... While her cartoons only hint at the fully drawn grotesques of O'Connor's mature fiction, they foreshadow her vividly imagistic prose and close observation of her characters' quirks and foibles -- and, in their own right, they are delightful. --Stephen Maine"

She was a master of Southern Gothic literature... But in the early 40s, Flannery O Connor drew raw and biting comics, which are now collected in Flannery O Connor: The Cartoons. Mostly tackling school and propriety, they re a pitch-black hoot. "

Here are the early ejaculations from the primordial form of what was to become one of the great American writers. Here is Flannery O'Connor as she is formulating her unique vision of America... I personally wish to thank Fantagraphics for... publishing this book, if for no other reason than to put Flannery O'Connor back into the pop culture discussion. --Daniel Elkin"

The images rendered in black-and-white in a stylistically wobbly hand demonstrate the thinly veiled dark humor and snappy dialogue O Connor would come to perfect in her short stories. She was often the butt of her own jokes: the none-too-perfect girl. . . An engrossing and entertaining look at the blossoming talents of one of literature s great iconoclasts."

About the Author

Flannery O'Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1925. When she died at the age of thirty-nine, America lost one of its most gifted writers at the height of her powers. O Connor wrote two novels, "Wise Blood" (1952) and "The Violent Bear It Away" (1960), and two story collections, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" (1955) and "Everything That Rises Must Converge" (1964). Her "Complete Stories", published posthumously in 1972, won the National Book Award that year, and in a 2009 online poll it was voted as the best book to have won the award in the contest s 60-year history. Her essays were published in "Mystery and Manners" (1969) and her letters in "The Habit of Being" (1979). In 1988 the Library of America published her "Collected Works"; she was the first postwar writer to be so honored. O Connor was educated at the Georgia State College for Women, studied writing at the Iowa Writers Workshop, and wrote much of "Wise Blood" at the Yaddo artists colony in upstate New York. She lived most of her adult life on her family s ancestral farm, Andalusia, outside Milledgeville, Georgia.

An independent scholar specializing in the literature of the American South, Kelly Gerald holds B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in English as well as a second Master s degree in philosophy and religion. Her previous publications include work on Flannery O Connor, Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, and Cormac McCarthy. Kelly works as senior writer-editor and director of media relations for the Phi Beta Kappa Society in Washington, D.C. and part-time as an Associate Professor of English for University of Maryland University College.

Flannery O'Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1925. When she died at the age of thirty-nine, America lost one of its most gifted writers at the height of her powers. O Connor wrote two novels, "Wise Blood" (1952) and "The Violent Bear It Away" (1960), and two story collections, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" (1955) and "Everything That Rises Must Converge" (1964). Her "Complete Stories", published posthumously in 1972, won the National Book Award that year, and in a 2009 online poll it was voted as the best book to have won the award in the contest s 60-year history. Her essays were published in "Mystery and Manners" (1969) and her letters in "The Habit of Being" (1979). In 1988 the Library of America published her "Collected Works"; she was the first postwar writer to be so honored. O Connor was educated at the Georgia State College for Women, studied writing at the Iowa Writers Workshop, and wrote much of "Wise Blood" at the Yaddo artists colony in upstate New York. She lived most of her adult life on her family s ancestral farm, Andalusia, outside Milledgeville, Georgia.

BARRY MOSER is the prize-winning illustrator of many beautiful books for children and adults, including Harcourt s Telling Time with Big Mama Cat and Sit, Truman!, both co-illustrated by his daughter Cara Moser and written by Dan Harper. He has won the American Book Award and earned accolades from the American Library Association and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Mr. Moser lives in western Massachusetts.


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Amazon.com: HASH(0x90b89dc8) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90a63edc) out of 5 stars Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons 3 Aug. 2013
By Daniel Elkin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As a lover of American literature, for me the name Flannery O'Connor evokes the thick voice of the South as it used to sweat all over the more grotesque aspects of the American Dream. O'Connor's use of language could both embrace and destroy in the same sentence. Her novel Wise Blood defined a certain gothic sensibility for me, and it continues to be a touchstone for comparison for any new thing I read that affects even the slightest of drawls.

Needless to say, when I heard that Fantagraphics had published Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, my upper lip moistened slightly with excitement. One of my favorite American authors augmenting her craft with her visual sensibilities? It seemed like a no-brainer, a must-have, a need-now. What I got in the package of Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, though, was a conundrum.

This book complies cartoons that O'Connor created in the 1940s for the various publications from the high school and college she attended. Apparently, O'Connor's original intent was to pursue cartooning (then journalism) as a full-time career, but was diverted from this path when she nestled into the warm womb of the Iowa Writer's Workshop where she gestated and was reborn a dangerous writer. The cartoons contained in this collection are single panel commentary pieces about wartime campus life and a seemingly cavalier attitude toward the institutions of education. For the cartoons in this collection, O'Connor worked almost exclusively by cutting out her images in linoleum, which was then covered in ink and stamped on the paper.

The artwork is rough, rudimentary, stripped down, static and heavy. As a print, each picture relies on negative space to convey its form (a notion upon which I could endlessly over-intellectualize, but for the sake of this review shall eschew), so each is primarily dark blocks punctuated by these pale outlines of figures contorting in all sorts of odd poses. The captions that run along with the cartoons are, for the most part, rather pedestrian in and of themselves, and are now so far removed from their original context that they have become either anachronistic or confusing.

And herein lies my conundrum. Were I to come across these cartoons out of the context of them being A) by Flannery O'Connor and B) collected in a hardbound book by Fantagraphics, I probably would look them over, give a solid "Hmmmm," nod to the artist for having the intestinal fortitude to put their art out there and then go about my day without giving them a second thought. Devoid of their context, these cartoons are relatively nondescript -- oddities at best.

But when I put them back into the context that these cartoons are A) by Flannery O'Connor and B) collected in a hardbound book by Fantagraphics, something else occurs. What happens in this context is that these serviceable little whatnots gather depth of meaning. Here are the early ejaculations from the primordial form of what was to become one of the great American writers. Here is Flannery O'Connor as she is formulating her unique vision of America and all that it entails. This context leads other reviewers to write things like "the cartoons reveal O'Connor as profoundly concerned with the emotionally fraught relationships between individuals and the institutions that both guide and constrict them" or "what's clear (in these cartoons) is the perspective of the outsider." Both of these reviewers sound like they know what they are talking about. They are able to unearth rather obtuse intellectual understandings from these linoleum prints and crash those concepts into nicely constructed sentences. And it all sounds like it means something, doesn't it?

But would they have done so in the absence of the context? Had these very cartoons been done by my grandmother for the Elmont Gazette and found in an old box in the attic, would these reviewers still wax so intellectually? Is it the work itself here that is being reviewed, or is it the context?

I don't know. I'm not smart enough to figure out these sorts of things.

What I do know is that I really enjoyed looking at Fantagraphics' Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, but I fear that experience occurred only because I am a fan of Flannery O'Connor. I would probably enjoy looking at copies of her handwritten grocery lists or the notes she took in the margins of her copy of The Great Gatsby (which I would REALLY like to see). So ultimately the question is, am I reviewing the work, or am I reviewing the context?

What value does Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons have inherently? I think the answer to that question is entirely subjective. If you are a fan of O'Connor and interested in anything she may have produced in her far too brief of a career, then this book is right up your alley. If you're not, then I cannot imagine that this book will hold your interest for too long.

Still, regardless of any of this, I personally wish to thank Fantagraphics for going out on a limb and publishing this book, if for no other reason than to put Flannery O'Connor back into the pop culture discussion for however briefly it may be.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90a6b360) out of 5 stars Wonderful. 16 Nov. 2013
By Erwin B Williamson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are a Southerner, you already know and love Flannery O'Connor - a unique if quirky American genius. If you are a Northerner you are already culturally-challenged and will be mystified by many of these images. Nonetheless, buy the book and broaden your horizons.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90a03798) out of 5 stars Faithfilled Images 11 Sept. 2014
By John - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Intriguing, artful contemplation.
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By T Shell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought this as a gift for my sister. Came on time and in great condition. The drawings are great. It's a great little peak into more of Flannery O'Connor's life.
0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90a06048) out of 5 stars Promising 7 Dec. 2012
By Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Um...Flannery O'Connor drew cartoons? Uh, yes please. I have this book and have just started perusing. A must have for anyone interested in weird people who draw. :-)

Full disclosure: I haven't spent too much time with this since I got it last week because I have been super busy but so far so good--it's a nicely made book with some interesting illustrations that anyone interested in Flannery O'Connor can appreciate.

I will update this review when I have had a chance to read in more depth.
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