Born in the South Bronx, New York, on August 23, 1905, Ernie Bushmiller was the son of immigrant parents, Ernest George Bushmiller and Elizabeth Hall. His father was an artist, vaudevillian and bartender. Bushmiller quit school at 14 to work as a copy boy at the New York World newspaper, while attending evening art classes at the National Academy of Design. He ran errands for the staff cartoonists and was given occasional illustration assignments, including a Sunday feature by Harry Houdini. Early in 1925, cartoonist Larry Whittington, creator of the comic strip Fritzi Ritz, left to produce another strip, Mazie the Model. Bushmiller then took over Fritzi Ritz, ghostwriting it, before eventually taking over officially. Bushmiller’s name did not appear on the strip until May 1926. Bushmiller introduced Nancy, Fritzi’s niece, to the strip in 1933. The character proved popular, so she appeared more often. As Aunt Fritzi was seen less frequently, the strip was eventually retitled Nancy in 1938. The popular strip was translated into various languages, including Italian, German, Swedish and Norwegian. Bushmiller started working each day about 2pm, and he often sat at his drawing table well into the early morning hours of the next day. He usually began a strip with the last panel and then worked back toward the first panel.
Two old Nancy strips by Seth (ca. 1994?). According to the cartoonist: “Unfunny Nancy dailies done as a tryout for United Features… It was probably hypocrisy for me to do this—I do believe these strips should die with the creators—but hell; I was tempted by the money!” (Sorry, Seth—this was too great not to post.) From the Comics Journal 193 (1997).