Playing 5-Card Nancy

June 26, 2008

A scatter 5-Card Nancy deck

For reasons I’ll never understand, one of my teaching jobs occasionally pitted me against vicious packs of screaming teens expecting entertainment. So we played 5-Card Nancy instead.

Years ago, an old friend printed me a deck on company cardstock right before his employer went bankrupt. It turns out the deck’s a great teaching tool. Doing film, the Soviets, the Kuleshov Effect? Here’s Nancy, here’s a burger. Pacing? What happens if you put thirteen panels of Nancy walking in a row? Leibniz? Each panel’s a monad!

A 5-Card Nancy play

Most of the people I’ve played with don’t really know the strip. A few have never seen it before. But they all take to the game– that is, Ernie Bushmiller’s comic strip– like it’s as natural as breathing. Everybody knows when a panel’s right, or wrong, or deliciously wrong.

A 5-Card Nancy Play

Some panels are so right they don’t need anything else. Like this one, which I wish were on a 12×12 canvas hanging in my postindustrial loft:

Nancy Gets Rained On

Or better yet, on billboards all through the countryside, advertising Nancy’s absorbent hair as it drinks in the pathetic fallacy’s rotgut.


There is an online version, in color, with its own clutch of panels. And a huge list of examples from someone’s LJ.

And I have trouble arguing with the Greatest Nancy Panel Ever Drawn, or even its video. Copacetic!

Previous post:

Next post: