# ISBN: 0805057412
# Format: Hardcover, 320pp
# Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated
# Edition Description: 1 ED
From the Publisher
The final installment of De Haven's dazzling tour of twentieth-century America, revealed through the world of the comic strips and their creators. In 1967, the Summer of Love, Roy Looby, a gifted young cartoonist, deserts his mentor and joins the drop-outs of San Francisco's Haight Ashbury. There Looby creates "The Imp Eugene," a libidinous comic book character who is a far cry from his mentor's signature figure, Derby Dugan--the cheerful icon of a more optimistic generation. Celebrated and vilified for his creation, Looby soon disappears, rumored to have lost his mind during the drug-fueled creation of a cartoon masterpiece, and it's to his long-suffering brother, Nick, to find him. A long, strange trip across a wildly changing America, Dugan Under Ground is a rich, inventive tale celebrating the mythic qualities of American popular culture.
From The Critics
The ageless Derby Dugan, comic-strip kid, is back, complete with magic yellow wallet and Fuzzy the talking dog, in this entertaining sequel to Derby Dugan's Depression Funnies. Dugan, passed from artist to artist like a cursed heirloom, has met a hard road in the 1960s, as the hobo adventures that carried him through the Depression and the war years aren't playing to the Kennedy-era nuclear family. Candy Biggs, his current artist (who only received Dugan after being stabbed in the chest with a pencil by his previous creator), drinks his way through Dugan's decline, watching his beloved comic strip vanish from one newspaper after another. Candy's only solace is teaching the Way of the Comic Artist to Roy Looby, a weird, talented neighborhood boy, and his kid brother Nick. In Roy's hand, Dugan morphs into the Imp Eugene, a randy roustabout who epitomizes the late-'60s independent comix craze, smoking dope and gallivanting with chicken-headed busty women. Roy moves to San Francisco and becomes an artist icon, bolstering his fame by disappearing for weeks at a time to produce Eugene's new adventures. Nick, ever the suffering Salieri to Roy's Mozart, is left behind in New Jersey with Roy's abandoned wife and young son. Finally, Nick, who narrates most of the novel, sets off in pursuit of his brother, trying to lay his own claim to Eugene's psychedelic world. This is a nostalgic romp through the funny-book business, as well as a compelling look at the people who struggle to make art out of four-color panels. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
The enigmatic life of a renegade cartoonist is and isn't revealed by the testimony of those who knew, loved, and hated him: a fascinating, frustrating partial sequel to De Haven's Funny Papers (1985) and Derby Dugan's Depression Funnies (1996). Roy Looby learned his trade from newspaper cartoonist Ed "Candy" Biggs, the last of several illustrators who produced the famous "Derby Dugan" strip, featuring an indomitable itinerant orphan (Little Annie's brother, you might say) who always defeated the bad guys. But Roy's creation "The Imp Eugene" proved to be Derby's X-rated evil twin, provoking the question "How did America's once-beloved and always optimistic little orphan boy turn into this- . . . maniac?" That's the subject of De Haven's parallel narratives, both of which offer glimpses of Roy as a sullen teenager; as first among equals in the Lazy Galoot Comix Collective, formed in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district in 1970; and as a homeless recluse who keeps disappearing. Thus, we come to know a great deal about Roy's younger brother Nick, his embittered "inker" and gofer; his former publisher Joel Clark, arrested-development personified, who ends up lecturing to college students on the art of comics; Roy's former wife Noreen and somewhat devoted groupie Cora Guirl; and especially the irascible Candy, whose memories of the waning "great days" of newspaper cartoons provide many of the liveliest pages here. Indeed, our attention is drawn much more to them than to the pivotal, yet almost undrawn figure of Roy Looby-a narrative choice De Haven defends in a tongue-in-cheek metafictional epilogue that seems to suggest yet another novel about the cartoonist's life in the offing. One hopesthat's so, because this one-an antic, distracting Citizen Kane-does finally fail to deliver on its very considerable promise. A shame, too, since Dugan Under Ground positively rattles with energy, invention, and roughhouse wit. It's chaotic-and quite wonderful.
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