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Passionella and Other Stories HC

Jules Feiffer
Jules Feiffer

Jules Feiffer has had one of the most varied and illustrious careers of any 20th century cartoonist. For over 40 years he contributed strips to The Village Voice, and has long been a regular contributor to the London Observer and Playboy.

Passionella and Other Stories collects Feiffer’s finest extended graphic narratives of the late ’50s and early ’60s. It opens in full-colour with “Excalibur and Rose,” the fable of a village comedian who embarks on a crusade in search of his serious side, which he finds in spades when he encounters his true love, the pathologically depressed Rose.

The volume’s centrepiece, “Passionella,” a retelling of Cinderella set in modern Hollywood, concerns a chimney sweep whose fairy godmother transforms her into the “mysterious exotic bewitching temptress” ­ and movie star ­ Passionella.

Other stories include “The Lonely Machine,” an account of one man’s attempt to find the perfect relationship through robot love, and “Harold Swerg,” the predicament of the world’s greatest athlete who’d rather stay at his mundane job than compete against others, despite his country’s desperate pleas to enter the Olympics. Three more classic graphic tales and several entertaining one-act plays round out this handsomely designed hardcover edition.

Fantagraphics, hardback, 180 pages, published September 2006

From the Kirkus review: “I’d go from publisher to publisher, and all these publishers thought I was terrific, and they passed the book around, and they’d take me out to lunch, and they’d rave about what I was doing, how fresh it was,” Feiffer tells Gary Groth, the founder and editor of Fantagraphics, in the book’s introduction. “Finally this stopped being a compliment, because early on you think, well, this is terrific, I’m in! But then you discover you’re not in, you’re out, because they say, well, we don’t know how to market this.”

Apart from the title story, the tale of a sad chimney sweep transformed into a vapid but buxom screen siren, the collection includes a number of these “unmarketable” pieces. “The Lonely Machine,” a jab at the selfish bachelor lifestyle, was originally published by Hugh Hefner in Playboy, and “Harold Swerg,” the story of how the best athlete in the world can’t bring himself to be interested in com-petition, was written for a sports magazine.


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