This is daunting. Certainly, there have been numerous much better cartoonists who have sung Nancy's praises more articulately and lyrically than I possibly ever can. Actually, those same artists were responsible for initiating my own journey with Nancy, pointing me towards its beauty and intricacy. These earlier collected editions of Nancy contained seminal essays that forever and profoundly changed the way I look at comics, draw comics, and now teach comics; I absorbed these words as much I did the strips themselves. In retrospect, I can see Nancy as a rivulet of influence that runs through the list of just about all my favorite cartoonists.
Nancy nurtured me when I was a budding cartoonist, before I ever picked up a nib or radiograph (abandoning markers forever) or used a drafting tool, much less invested in the luxury of bristol board. Back then, I was still figuring out that you could—in most cases, should—draw your original larger than the intended print size. In fact, all of the above ideas entered my brain as the direct result of my seeing photographs of Ernie Bushmiller at his worktable. In that pre-Google world, when cartoonist and scholar were often one, these archival bits and pieces gradually unlocked the mysteries and mechanics of cartooning for me.