Paper $19.00 ISBN: 9780226240350 Published April 2012 Not for sale in the British Commonwealth except Canada

Backing into Forward

A Memoir

Jules Feiffer

Backing into Forward
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See some drawings by Jules Feiffer.

Jules Feiffer

456 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2012
Paper $19.00 ISBN: 9780226240350 Published April 2012 Not for sale in the British Commonwealth except Canada

Subversive, funny, and effortlessly droll, Jules Feiffer’s cartoons were all over New York in the 1960s and ’70s—featured in the Village Voice, but also cut out and pinned to bulletin boards in offices and on refrigerators at home. Feiffer describes himself as “lucking into the zeitgeist,” and there’s some truth to the sentiment; Feiffer’s brand of satire reflected Americans’ ambivalence about the Vietnam War, changing social mores, and much more.

Feiffer’s memoir, Backing into Forward, like his cartoons, is sharply perceptive with a distinctive bite of mordant humor. Beginning with his childhood in Brooklyn, Feiffer paints a picture of a troubled kid with an overbearing mother and a host of crippling anxieties. From there, he discusses his apprenticeship with his hero, Will Eisner, and his time serving in the military during the Korean War, which saw him both feigning a breakdown and penning a cartoon narrative called “Munro” that solidified his distinctive aesthetic as an artist. While Feiffer’s voice grounds the book, the sheer scope of his artistic accomplishment, from his cartoons turning up in the New Yorker, Playboy, and the Nation to his plays and film scripts, is remarkable and keeps the narrative bouncing along at a speedy clip. A compelling combination of a natural sense of humor and a ruthless dedication to authenticity, Backing into Forward is full of wit and verve, often moving but never sentimental.

“Jules Feiffer’s original and neurotic voice. . . . reinvented comics in the 1950s and made possible what’s now called the ‘graphic novel.’ His engaging new memoir is told in that same witty and perceptive New York cadence, mellowed and laced with wisdom. He’s an inspiration.”—Art Spiegelman

David Carr | The New York Times Book Review
Backing into Forward is . . . .youthful, full of insouciance, vanity and playfulness. While other accomplished men bronze their success or dip it in amber, Feiffer treats his own as one big wonderful caper.”
Publishers Weekly
“Writing with wit, angst, honesty, and self-insights, Feiffer shares a vast and complex interior emotional landscape.”
Art Spiegelman
“Jules Feiffer’s original and neurotic voice. . . . reinvented comics in the 1950s and made possible what’s now called the ‘graphic novel.’ His engaging new memoir is told in that same witty and perceptive New York cadence, mellowed and laced with wisdom. He’s an inspiration.”
Contents
Part One: Gunslinger
Boy Cartoonist
Comics Caravan
The Bar Mitzvah Hostage
A Jewish Mother Joke
Danny
Red Ed
Idol
Stomachache
One Basket
Ed
Theater
Fear
Breakthrough
Breakup
Road Movie
“Jules, What Are You Doing Here?”
I Ain’t A-Gonna Be Treated This A-Way
Joe
The Secret of My Success; Or, Over the Cliff
Madness
SOS
Camp Gorgon
Pony
Fifth Street

Part Two: Famous
The Village
A Dance to Spring
Hackwork
The Voice
Odets is Back!
Lucking into the Zeitgeist
Our Gang
Red Scare
The Mating Dance
Heckle and Jeckle Meet Mike and Elaine
Spokesman
Tedso
Playboy at the Second City
Process
Sellout
Herb
Alex and Al
Salon
White Liberal
The Warrior Liberal
The Adjustment
Hall of Fame
College Days
Dave
Birth Trauma
Death Trauma

Part Three: Another Country
Closet America
The Assassination of Cary Grant
Harry, The Rat
Working
Unmaking It
Into Exile
Yaddo
What I Did on My Summer Vacation
First Mistake
Flop
Little Wonders
Riot
My Candidate
The Comeback Kid
Pro Bono Playwright
The Jewish Mother Cabal
No Sense of Direction; Or, How to Get from Carnal Knowledge to Bark, George
Alice
Mimi
Voiceless
The Professor of I Don’t Know Where I’m Going with This but Let’s Find Out
Bedtime for Memoir
And in Conclusion

Last Panels
Acknowledgments
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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